Do you want to pursue graduate studies abroad? The GRE Test, called the Graduate Record Examination, is a computer-based multiple-choice question test required for admission to graduate programs and MBA programs worldwide. The standardized exam has been developed by the Educational Testing Service (ETS) to assess whether a student is ready for graduate school. 

An above-average score on the GRE makes candidates stand out, indicating to the admissions committee that the candidate has the potential to excel and meet the demands of a graduate school curriculum. A high GRE score can compensate for weaknesses in other application parts. 

Did you know that several graduate schools award scholarships or financial assistance to students based on their GRE scores? This article is a comprehensive guide to the GRE test, covering important details about the GRE, providing study tips, and more. So, let’s get started! 

How to Register for GRE? 

Students can register for the GRE online, via phone, or by mail. Although you can appear for the GRE general test any time of the year, early registration is a good idea because spots tend to fill quickly. 

Online registrations for the GRE take place on the ETS website. Students can pay the registration fee with a credit or debit card. After signing up for the test, students can instantly print out their vouchers (or reprint them if required). Signing up online allows students to check the real-time availability of test centers.

To register by phone, call 1-800-GRE-CALL or 1-800-473-2255. When you make the call, ETS will provide you with your confirmation number, reporting time, and the location of the test center.  

You can even register by mail by filling out the Authorization Voucher Request Form from the GRE Information and Registration Bulletin. Send the completed form and the registration fee to the address mentioned on the voucher. 

Recommended GRE Score 

The total score of the GRE is the sum of the scores obtained in the Quantitative and Verbal sections of the test. The score ranges from 260 to 340, with a minimum score of 130 for each section and a maximum score of 170. 

You need a minimum score of 320 to get into the top B-schools in the US. However, a minimum score of at least 330 is recommended for Ivy League colleges. Students who successfully got into Ivy Leagues had an average score of 155 to 166 for the Verbal section and 155 to 170 for the Quantitative section. 

Most programs in the top colleges require a score of around 160 in these sections or prefer it if students fall within the top 10-15 percentile of all test-takers. For instance, the verbal score range is between 147 and 170, while the quantitative range is 150 to 170 at Harvard Business School

Cost of Taking GRE and Related Services

In all areas except China, taking the GRE costs around $205. In China, however, the cost to take the GRE is higher, approximately $231, according to ETS. The fee includes the option to send score reports to up to four graduate institutions. 

Students can send their GRE scores to more than four graduate schools or business institutes through the Special Handling Request service, which involves an additional fee of $30 per recipient. 

With the Special Handling Request Service, students can also reschedule their GRE test or change their test center paying an additional $50. Students can also separately review their test scores for the verbal Reasoning & Quantitative Reasoning sections for $50 and the Analytical Writing measure by paying $60. 

General Overview of the GRE Test Structure 

The GRE Test contains three parts, verbal reasoning, Quantitative reasoning, and analytical writing. It checks your ability to analyze and understand written material, think critically, and solve problems. The test takes around 3 hours and 45 minutes to finish. 

To ace the GRE, you must thoroughly understand the test structure. Here’s an overview of the GRE test: 

Verbal Reasoning 

The verbal section is subdivided into two 30-minute parts of 20 questions each. The GRE has three questions: Reading Comprehension, Text Completion, and Sentence Equivalence. 

On average, you get around one and a half minutes to answer each question. However, each question type needs a different approach, and you might spend more time on Reading Comprehension questions than the others.

In Reading Comprehension, you are given a passage composed of one or several paragraphs based on many topics such as sciences, social sciences, or humanities. There are about 10 Reading Comprehension questions. The passage is followed by questions to assess your understanding of the text. The questions could be global (evaluating your overall performance of the passage) or require you to refer to the text to answer the question with the required details.

The Text Completion questions in the GRE Verbal section require you to fill in the blanks in the provided sentences or paragraphs. You must evaluate the structure and tone of the passage to pick the most accurate words from the answer choices to fill in the blanks. You can solve the Sentence Completion questions with a robust vocabulary, although you have some context to guide you. 

For both subsections, you must understand the meaning conveyed by punctuation. The verbal resection contains about 6 Text Completion questions. Moreover, in the Sentence Equivalence questions, you are provided with a sentence with one blank and six answer choices, and you have to fill it with two answers that create sentences with similar meanings.

Quantitative Reasoning 

Like the verbal section, the quantitative reasoning section is divided into two parts of 35 minutes each, comprising 20 questions. 

The questions are of two types: Problem-Solving and Quantitative Comparison, covering common essential mathematical topics such as algebra, geometry, and word problems. A small group of questions provides information on a graph, assessing your data interpretation skills. 

Most of the questions in this section can be completed with a basic understanding of algebra and geometry. However, don’t expect the test to be easy because it evaluates your problem-solving abilities instead of your mathematical knowledge.

The GRE Quantitative section consists of Problem-Solving questions that involve picking the correct answer from five options. Other questions consist of answers and require you to select one or more correct answer choices. Numeric Entry problems require you to provide your answer by entering it numerically. 

The problems could range from straightforward equations you need to solve for “x” to word problems or geometry problems with diagrams that you may need to copy on your scratch paper. 

In the GRE Quantitative section, you’ll encounter Quantitative Comparison questions. These questions present a quantity in two columns, Column A and Column B. The quantity could be a number, a variable, or a reference to provided diagrams. To solve the question, you must compare the quantity in Column A with the quantity in Column B. 

Instead of solving a problem, you must determine the relationship between the quantities in the two columns based on the given information of the four answer choices. 

Analytical Writing

As the name suggests, the Analytical Writing section evaluates your writing abilities. Essay scores range between 0 and 6, based on the strength of your argument and use of the English language. 

The essays are scored based on the evaluation of the computer system called “e-rater.” The e-rater may disagree with the human grader by more than one point. So, a second human grader scores the essay. 

There are two essays in the AW section: The “Analyze an Issue” and the “Analyze an Argument” essay, which has 30 minutes of completion time. For the “Analyze an Issue” essay, you must express agreement or disagreement with evidence to support your view. The “Analyze an Argument” essay requires you to critique an argument, find flaws and suggest improvements.

3 Tips on How to Prepare for the Test 

Performing well on the GRE requires more than a basic understanding of math and language. Here are some tips that can help enhance your performance: 

Tip 1: Brush up Basic Math and Language Skills 

Although you only need a high school-level understanding of the GRE’s basic math and language concepts, you can only ace the GRE by reinforcing your basic concepts. The fundamental concepts of grammar and math, such as introductory algebra, geometry, grammar, and writing skills, are the foundation of developing robust problem-solving skills for the GRE test. Refreshing your memory on these basics will make you more efficient and confident during the exam. 

Tip 2: Practice GRE Mock Tests

Once you’ve brushed up on the basic math and language concepts, practice is vital to improving your performance. You can hone your problem-solving skills and reinforce your concepts by taking as many practice GREs as possible before your test date. It’s ideal to take at least two practice tests but aim for three or four throughout your GRE preparation period. 

Tip 3: Review Your Incorrect Answers

Completing practice tests is not enough. Reviewing all the questions you answered incorrectly is crucial for score improvement. Although reviewing incorrect answers may be time-consuming and tedious, it prevents you from repeating the same errors on the GRE and increases overall performance.  


With adequate preparation, the GRE may take you closer to attending your dream graduate school! Strong analytical skills are critical to excelling in Verbal Reasoning and Analytical Writing, while application-based knowledge will help you succeed in Quantitative Reasoning. Therefore, before appearing in the GRE, ensure you excel at these skills to get above-average marks. Lastly, remember practicing questions for each section is your key to success. 

After reading this guide, we hope you will be better prepared for your GRE Test. Make sure also to check out our Scholarships Page for different information on scholarships and universities across the globe!

About the Author: Hyun Lee

Hyun is the founder at Global Scholarships. He has received a full-tuition scholarship at Birmingham-Southern College as well as $1,000 Burger King Scholarship for his undergraduate degree and has been offered a fully funded scholarship consisting of tuition, living stipend, and health insurance for computer science Ph.D. program at North Carolina State University. Read more about his scholarship journey here.

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