The basics
THE USA: Applying to University

GRE: Revised General Test

Read our full guide to the GRE test for admission to Graduate and Business School in America, including how the test is structured, what it tests and tips to help you prepare...

GRE Revised General Test

What is the GRE test?

The GRE (Graduate Record Examinations) is used by Graduate Schools and Business Schools in America to distinguish top applicants who are applying to study with them. It is administered by ETS and has been helping higher education institutions decide which students they should accept to (post)graduate study since 1949.

The core test which candidates take is the revised General Test which seeks to closely reflect the kind of thinking you will be required to do at that level and demonstrate that you are ready for graduate-level work. These skills are those which you cannot learn, but instead those which you will have acquired and sharpened as part of your studies up to this point (namely as part of your undergraduate studies).

The GRE is a computerised test.

There are also a number of GRE subject tests which you can take additionally.



GRE structure

The GRE lasts approximately 3 ¾ hours. It's split into 6 sections:


Analytical Writing

This section is made of two tasks, and measures critical thinking and analytical writing skills, specifically your ability to articulate and support complex ideas clearly and effectively. The two separately-timed tasks are an Issue task and an Argument task.

The Issue task assesses your ability to think critically about a topic of general interest and to clearly express your thoughts about it in writing. Each issue statement makes a claim that you can discuss from various perspectives and apply to many different situations or conditions.

Example question:

As people rely more and more on technology to solve problems, the ability of humans to think for themselves will surely deteriorate.

Write a response in which you discuss the extent to which you agree or disagree with the statement and explain your reasoning for the position you take. In developing and supporting your position, you should consider ways in which the statement might or might not hold true and explain how these considerations shape your position.


The Argument task assesses your ability to understand, analyze and evaluate arguments and to clearly convey your evaluation in writing. You are presented with a brief passage in which the author makes a case for some course of action or interpretation of events by presenting claims backed by reasons and evidence. Your task is to discuss the logical soundness of the author's case according to the specific instructions by critically examining the line of reasoning and the use of evidence.

Example question:

The following is a memorandum from the business manager of a television station.

"Over the past year, our late-night news program has devoted increased time to national news and less time to weather and local news. During this time period, most of the complaints received from viewers were concerned with our station's coverage of weather and local news. In addition, local businesses that used to advertise during our late-night news program have just canceled their advertising contracts with us. Therefore, in order to attract more viewers to the program and to avoid losing any further advertising revenues, we should restore the time devoted to weather and local news to its former level."

Write a response in which you discuss what specific evidence is needed to evaluate the argument and explain how the evidence would weaken or strengthen the argument.


Verbal Reasoning

This section measures your ability to understand what you read and how you apply your reasoning skills. There are 3 types of question in the Verbal Reasoning section:

  • Reading Comprehension
  • Text Completion
  • Sentence Equivalence

Example questions:

Here are some examples of the kinds of questions you’ll encounter in the Verbal Reasoning section


Quantitative Reasoning 

This section measures your problem-solving ability, focusing on basic concepts of arithmetic, algebra, geometry and data analysis. There are 4 types of questions in the Quantitative Reasoning section:

  • Quantitative Comparison Questions
  • Multiple-choice Questions — Select One Answer Choice
  • Multiple-choice Questions — Select One or More Answer Choices
  • Numeric Entry Questions

Example questions:

Here are some examples of the kinds of questions you’ll encounter in the Quantitative Reasoning section



How is the GRE scored?

  • Verbal Reasoning – 130-170 points
  • Quantitative Reasoning – 130-170 points
  • Analytical Writing – 0-6 points



How much is the GRE to take?

The revised GRE test costs $195 to take no matter where you take it. If you are interested in receiving additional score reports, an additional $27 fee per recipient you send to is necessary (though you can view scores online for free). There are a number of additional fees if you wish to reschedule your test or change your test centre.

You can read more about the costs of the GRE here.



Where can I take the GRE?

There are about 850 GRE exam centres in more than 160 countries. Find a GRE test centre near you here.



GRE vs GMAT: Which should I take?

There has been much discussion about whether students should take the GRE or the GMAT when applying to graduate study. Originally the GMAT was created as part of admission to graduate Business programmes in America. However increasingly more institutions are accepting the GRE as well. Find out from the institution you’re interested in which test they accept.

If they accept both and you can choose, read our guide comparing the GRE and GMAT to find out which is best for you.



What now?

You need to register for a MyGRE account to register for your test and to view your scores later. Start preparing by reading our guides, ‘How to prepare for the GRE test: Q&A w/ Guy’ and ‘The GRE: One student’s experience’.



But if you need to take the GMAT....

Read our guide, ‘GMAT: Pathways to Business School’ for a guide to the GMAT’s structure, how the test is scored and more.



Now that you know all about the GRE, start looking for a (post)graduate course in America now


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About Author

GRE Revised General Test

Paul Ellett is the editor for Hotcourses Abroad. His role is to plan, produce and share editorial, videos, infographics, eBooks and any other content to inform prospective and current international students about their study abroad experience. When he's not thinking about student visas in Sweden and application deadlines, Paul is an avid fan of comedy podcasts and Nicolas Cage films.


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