Graduate Record Examinations (GRE) Known A to Z

Graduate Record Examinations (GRE) is a standardized test that is an admissions requirement for many graduate schools in the United States and Canada. The GRE is owned and administered by the Educational Testing Service (ETS). The test was established in 1936 by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching.[rx]

The GRE General Test is one of the world’s largest assessment programs for graduate admissions and the exam is conducted by Educational Testing Service (ETS). Over half-a-million individuals from over 160 countries take the GRE General Test every year, across 1,000 test centers set up by ETS. GRE scores of candidates are accepted at thousands of graduate programs around the world, for masters and doctorate degrees.

More than 1,200 business schools around the world accept the GRE scores, including top-ranked MBA programs according to The Financial Times, U.S. News & World Report and Bloomberg Businessweek along with a handful of US law schools accept GRE scores. In this article, we are going to talk about each and every aspect related to the GRE Exam. Candidates looking to appear for their GRE examination will learn about the following GRE Topics

Record Examination: General Test
Acronym GRE
Type Computer-based or paper-based standardized test
Developer/administrator Educational Testing Service
Knowledge/skills tested Analytical writing, quantitative reasoning, and verbal reasoning.
Purpose Admissions to master’s and doctoral degree programs in various universities
Year started 1936; 84 years ago
Duration About 3 hours and 45 minutes (includes 1-minute breaks after each section and a 10-minute break after the third section)
Score / grade range Analytical writing: 0.0 to 6.0 (in 0.5-point increments),
Verbal reasoning: 130 to 170 (in 1-point increments),
Quantitative reasoning: 130 to 170 (in 1-point increments).
Score / grade validity 5 years
Offered Computer-based test: Multiple times a year (depends on the availability of the test center)
Paper-based test: Up to 3 times a year in October, November, and February[rx]
Restrictions on attempts Computer-based test: It can be taken only once after 21 days from the day of the exam in every year. Maximum of 5 times a year. (Applies even if the candidate cancels scores on a test taken previously.)[rx]
Paper-based test: Can be taken as often as it is offered.[rx]
Countries / regions About 1,000 test centers in more than 160 countries[rx]
(Paper-based test offered only in areas where computer-based testing is not available.)
Languages English
Annual number of test takers 584,677 (2016)
Prerequisites/ eligibility criteria No official prerequisite. Intended for bachelor’s degree graduates and undergraduate students who are about to graduate. Fluency in English assumed.
Fee US$ 205[rx]
(Limited offers of “Fee Reduction Program” for U.S. citizens or resident aliens who demonstrate financial need, and for national programs in United States that work with underrepresented groups.[rx])
Scores/ grades used by Most graduate schools in USA, and few in other countries

Recent Updates in GRE

CORONAVIRUS/COVID-19 ALERT: ETS, the conducting body for the GRE exam has launched the GRE General Test Special Home Edition from April 2, 2020. Worldwide, candidates will be able to take the exam from home except in mainland China and Iran. Currently, registration is open for dates from June 2020. However, candidates need to make sure that they meet the equipment requirements set by the ETS for registration. The at-home testing solutions are similar to the one taken at the test center. Candidates will be able to preview, skip questions, review and change answers while giving the test at home.

ETS has postponed testing in India till April 11th-2020. In addition to this, the April 4 GRE Subject Test administration has also been canceled worldwide. Candidates registered for this date will receive an email alert from the ETS. Also, candidates need not do anything right now. Subject Test administration dates for the 2020–21 testing year will be published by ETS in April 2020 and registration will open from July 1, 2020. ETS has also temporarily waived off rescheduling fees for all the test takers due to the novel Coronavirus pandemic.

Why take the GRE Exam?

Apart from being one of the most commonly accepted exams by universities for admission to graduate programs, students looking to pursue masters, MBA, or Ph.D. are also required to appear for the GRE General Test. Also, students appear for the GRE exam to secure a merit-based scholarship for grad school. The GRE Test is accepted by thousands of graduate schools across the world. Apart from this, various Business and Law schools and different departments within these schools accept GRE test scores.

Types of GRE

There are two types of GRE tests, GRE General Test and GRE Subject Test.

What is GRE General Test?

Students seeking admission to MS courses in different fields in the US and various other countries appear for GRE General Test. Through this test, a candidate is evaluated on his analytical writing, quantitative ability, and verbal reasoning skills. The GRE Exam is conducted around the year, and candidates can appear for the GRE General Test as per their convenience. A large number of students opt for this test as the majority of universities across the world accept GRE scores.

What is GRE Subject Test?

The GRE Subject Test evaluates the candidates’ ability on a particular subject. The subject tests are conducted in the following topics: Mathematics, Literature (English), Physics and Psychology, Biology, Chemistry, and Biochemistry (Cell and Molecular Biology). Generally, this test is required for getting admission to specialized courses. The GRE General Test is offered year-round as a computer-delivered test in most locations around the world. The Paper-delivered GRE General Test is offered up to two times a year in areas of the world where computer-delivered testing is not available.

GRE 2020: Key Highlights

Exam Name GRE
GRE full form Graduate Record Examination
Official Website
Most popular for MS courses in the USA
Also accepted for MBA courses outside India
Conducted by ETS (Educational Testing Service)
Mode of Exam Computer and Paper – delivered test
GRE Fee US $205
Score Range Verbal Reasoning score range: 130–170

Quantitative Reasoning score range: 130–170

Analytical Writing score range: 0–6

GRE Contact +91-1244517127 or 000-800-100-4072

Monday–Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. IST


What are the Eligibility criteria for GRE Exam?

There are no specific eligibility criteria for the GRE exam. Anyone can register for this exam, irrespective of age or qualifications. The only thing that a candidate is required to keep in mind is the fact that he/she would be required to produce their original passport as proof of identity at the exam center, so candidates are required to have a valid passport before they register for the GRE exam.

Age Criteria 

There is no age limit set for candidates wanting to appear for their GRE exam.

Educational Qualification

ETS has not announced any official statement regarding qualification required to appear for GRE. However, candidates are expected to possess a graduate degree in any discipline from a recognized university

GRE Exam Fee

The application fee for the GRE General Test is $205 worldwide, which would roughly translate to Rs. 14,699 approximately. GRE Subject Test costs $150 worldwide, which would cost Indian students Rs. 10,756 approximately. Also, if the applicants want to change the center or reschedule the test then they would be required to pay an extra fee for the same.

GRE Cancellation Fee/ GRE Rescheduling Fee

Candidates who must cancel or reschedule their GRE General Test registration are required to do so no later than 4 days before the test date or the GRE exam fee would be forfeited. Candidates would be required to pay $50 for rescheduling their GRE test. Apart from this, candidates are charged $50 if they want to change a subject in the GRE Subject Test.

GRE Special Handling Requests

Candidates wanting to avail additional services would be required to pay an extra fee for the same. Charges for special handling requests for services are mentioned below.

Services Fee
Late Registration Fee $25
Standby testing $25
Changing the test center $50
Rescheduling fee for rest of the world $50
GRE Subject Change Fee $50

How to Register for GRE?

GRE Slot Booking: There are multiple ways to register for GRE. Popular ways through which aspirants can register for GRE are online and over the phone. Apart from this, aspirants can also register through mail or even by fax. For booking a slot for the GRE test candidates would require a debit or credit card to pay a registration fee of US$205 and a valid passport.

Ways to register for GRE

  • Online
  • Phone
  • Mail
  • Fax

How to register for GRE online?

Candidates are required to follow the below-mentioned steps to register for GRE via the online method. 

  • Candidates need to create an ETS account.
  • Select the type of GRE exam they want to take – the GRE General or GRE Subject Test.
  • Select the date when they want to appear for the GRE Exam and find the nearest test center.
  • Give their academic details.
  • Proceed ahead and pay the registration fee of $205.

How to register for GRE over Phone?

Candidates can call the Regional Registration Center (RRC), which is ‘Prometric’ located in Gurgaon, Haryana. The phone number is 91-124-4147700. The call must be made at least two business days before your preferred test date. A confirmation number, reporting time and the test center address will be provided to you when you make the call for registration. You can make the payments online through JCB, MasterCard, American Express, Discover, or Visa credit or debit card. As mentioned, other methods of registering for your GRE Exam include via mail and through Fax.

Things to remember before registering for the GRE 2020:

  • The information you provide on the ETS application should always match your passport. The name you provide should always be the same as it is on your passport. The testing authority can prohibit the aspirant from entering the test center in case of any discrepancies.
  • Check out which test-taking format is available in your location and if you are comfortable with that format or not.
  • Also, carefully read the policies of the exam before registration.

GRE Test Dates 2020

Like other international standardized exams, there are no fixed official GRE dates and you can choose any date according to your convenience and availability. The exam date that you choose should be at least two months before your first application deadline. So if the deadline for your application is November, you should choose a test date for September. If you feel the need to retake the GRE exam, you can take it in October again. So you need to make a judicious decision about when you need to start preparing for GRE. e!

GRE Exam Pattern

GRE exam pattern is as follows – three sections, namely, Analytical Writing, Verbal Reasoning, and Quantitative Reasoning. The Analytical Writing section will always be the first, whereas, the Verbal Reasoning, Quantitative Reasoning, and unscored sections may appear in any order. Along with the time duration difference, the pattern also differs for paper-based and online exams. Candidates looking to appear for the paper-based format of the GRE Exam can visit the official website for the same.

The GRE General Test consists of three sections

  • Analytical Writing
  • Verbal Reasoning
  • Quantitative Reasoning

GRE paper pattern for the GRE Computer-based Exam

Candidates looking to appear for the GRE General Test can find the detailed GRE Exam Pattern mentioned below.

GRE Syllabus

The GRE syllabus is different for both GRE tests, GRE General Test and GRE Subject Test. General Test is the standard exam that tests students’ verbal reasoning, quantitative reasoning, and analytical writing skills. Students who wish to pursue specialized subjects, need to take the Subject Test that might be required by the college/university they are seeking admission to, as Subject Test focuses on judging the candidate’s expertise in specific fields.

GRE Scores

Candidates who have appeared for their GRE exam can access their GRE scores by logging into their GRE account using their credentials.

When are GRE results available?

Your official GRE test scores will be available in your account on the GRE website 10-15 days after your test date. They will be sent to the universities of your choice within three weeks of your test date. Once the results are out, you will receive an email from ETS that your official GRE result is available in your account.

How is the GRE Score calculated?

You need to have some idea about how the scoring pattern works to better understand how your GRE score will be calculated. The GMAT Score Report comprises of the following components along with their score range according to the official website.

Section Score Range Mean*
Verbal Reasoning 130–170 150
Quantitative Reasoning 130–170 152
Analytical Writing 0–6 3.6
Total 260–340

*Source – ETS

Scaled score percentiles

The percentiles for the current General test and the concordance with the prior format[rx] are as follows. According to interpretive data published by ETS, from July 1, 2015 to June 30, 2018 about 2 million people have taken the test. Based on performance of individuals the mean and standard deviation of verbal section were 150.24 and 8.44. Whereas, mean and standard deviation for quantitative section were 153.07 and 9.24. Analytical writing has a mean of 3.55 with a standard deviation of 0.86.[rx]

Scaled score Verbal reasoning percentile Verbal prior scale Quantitative reasoning percentile Quantitative prior scale
170 99 760–800 96 800
169 99 740–750 95 800
168 98 720–730 93 800
167 98 710 90 800
166 97 700 89 800
165 96 680–690 86 790
164 94 660–670 84 790
163 93 650 82 780
162 90 630–640 79 770
161 88 620 76 770
160 86 600–610 73 760
159 83 590 70 750
158 80 570–580 67 740
157 76 560 64 730
156 73 540–550 60 720
155 68 530 56 700–710
154 64 510–520 53 690
153 60 500 49 680
152 54 480–490 45 660–670
151 51 460–470 41 640–650
150 46 450 37 630
149 41 430–440 34 610–620
148 37 420 30 590–600
147 33 410 26 570–580
146 29 390–400 23 550–560
145 26 380 19 530–540
144 22 370 16 500–520
143 19 350–360 13 480–490
142 16 340 11 460–470
141 14 330 9 430–450
140 11 320 7 400–420
139 9 310 6 380–390
138 8 300 4 350–370
137 6 290 3 330–340
136 4 280 3 300–320
135 3 280 2 280–290
134 2 270 1 260–270
133 1 260 1 240–250
132 1 250 <1 220–230
131 1 240 <1 200–210
130 <1 200–230 <1 200

Field-wise distribution of takers of GRE revised General Test.[rx]

Analytical Writing score Writing % Below
6 99
5.5 98
5 92
4.5 81
4 57
3.5 39
3 15
2.5 7
2 2
1.5 1
1 <1
0.5 <1

GRE Subject Test Score

GRE Subject Test is calculated on a scale of 200 to 990 with an increment scale variation of 10 points.

GRE Score Range

The GRE score range can be understood with a section-wise distribution system:

  • Verbal Reasoning score: On a 130–170 score scale, in 1-point increments
  • Quantitative Reasoning score: On a 130–170 score scale, in 1-point increments
  • Analytical Writing score: On a 0–6 score scale, in half-point increments
  • GRE Total Score: On a 260–340 score scale

How long is GRE Score valid for?

Candidates who have appeared for their GRE exam should be aware that their GRE score is valid for a period of five years from the day of the exam.

GRE Cut-Off

GRE is mainly made up of three sections, Analytical Writing, Verbal Reasoning, and Quantitative Reasoning and students are given a total of 3 hours and 45 minutes to complete the test. While there is no blanket cut-off, every college and course accepting GRE scores would have their own cut-off listed on the official website. Candidates wanting to get admission into top Graduate Colleges are required to lean towards the higher margin.

What is a Good GRE Score?

If you are applying for MS courses in the US in particular, remember that colleges don’t have minimum ‘cutoff’ marks required for admission. However, you still need to have an idea about average GRE scores across Top US universities.

GRE 2020 Preparation Tips

If money is a consideration and one is quite confident of being able to prepare well without supervision, then self-study may be the better option to prepare for GRE. You could save money on personal tuitions and classes, but you need to keep in mind other factors too. To be able to study on your own effectively, you need a few good books and resources for GRE, along with motivation and self-discipline. Candidates can also check out our customized 4-week GRE Preparation plan to better their GRE Exam performance.

On the other hand, if time is a constraint and one needs professional guidance to ensure the competitive edge in GRE exam preparation, then coaching classes are the better option. You will have access to a better resource of study materials and will have a team of experts guiding you. Your time will be better managed as being regular to classes will become part of your routine. Moreover, being around other students will increase their motivation levels. Candidates could also check out our take on Reasons Why You Should Choose Online GRE Prep. Try your hand at GRE Practice papers to self-evaluate your understanding of GRE.

Interesting facts regarding students from India based on previous GRE exams

  • About twice as many men, women take the GRE General Test in India. However, the number of women in the younger age range (18-22) has grown slightly year over year. From 29.5% of the Indian test-taker population in the 2013-2014 test year, a growth of 30.3% in the 2015-2016 test year has been reported. Globally, more women take the GRE General Test than men (53% women vs 45% men). There are more women test-takers in the 18-22 age group.
  • GRE test takers were interested in graduate study in the US, CanadaAustralia, New Zealand, and Western Europe.
  • Engineering (34%) and Physical Sciences (28%) were the most dominant areas of interest.

Who Accepts GRE?

Those students who wish to enroll in graduate, business or law schools should opt for the GRE test. It is accepted by thousands of schools across the globe. You can check the list of MBA programs worldwide that accept the GRE General Test here. Apart from this, you can check out the complete list of institutions and fellowship programs here.

Universities accepting GRE Scores

University accepting GRE Scores Verbal Quantitative Writing
Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) 158 159 5.3
Stanford University 159 158 4.8
University of California, Berkeley 153 – 156 167 4.5
The University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) 155 167 5.0
University of Virginia 163 166 4.5
University of Michigan – Ann Arbor 160 167 5.0
University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill 158 160 4.5
Georgia Institute of Technology 158 167 4.3
University of California – San Diego 162 160 5.5
University of Illinois – Urbana/Champaign 155 165 4.0
University of Wisconsin – Madison 163 163 4.5
University of Washington 156 167 4.0
Pennsylvania State University 150 165 3.0
University of Florida (UFL) 154 165 3.0
University of Texas, Austin 155 165 4.0
Ohio State University 156 165 4.0
California Institute of Technology 160 157 5.0
Duke University 160 160 4.5
University of Chicago 158 167 4.0
Northwestern University 160 160 5.0
Washington University in St. Louis 161 160 5.0
Johns Hopkins University 163 164 4.8
Rice University 160 167 5.0
Emory University 153 163 4.0-6.0
University of Notre Dame 165 165 5.3
Vanderbilt University 157 166 4.8
William and Mary 158 160 4.5
Johns Hopkins University 159 162 4.2

GRE for Engineering School

Candidates who have appeared for their GRE can check out popular Computer Science & Engineering colleges abroad for admissions. GRE scores are widely accepted by engineering colleges across all courses.

GRE for Business School 

Business schools across the globe use GRE scores for giving admission to MBA aspirants. Apart from this, students who want to pursue business programs and other specialized master’s courses seeking admission in business schools worldwide also take the GRE test.

GRE for Law School

Those who are seeking admission in law school can also give the GRE 2020 Test. Various law schools across the world are accepting GRE General Test Scores for giving admission. Some of the law schools accepting GRE Scores are:

American University Washington College of Law Boston University School of Law
Brooklyn Law School Chicago-Kent College of Law
Columbia Law School Harvard Law School
Florida International University College of Law Cornell Law School
John Marshall Law School New York University School of Law

GRE Scholarships

The GRE aspirants must note that ETS, the body that conducts GRE does not provide any scholarship even to the top scorers. There is no such thing as a GRE scholarship. Scholarships are provided by the graduate schools and GRE score is not the sole criterion for granting financial aid. Your academic background, work or research experience or any other achievements are also considered for awarding a scholarship. So, it doesn’t mean that GRE scores are not important, they are given equal importance with other factors while applying for a scholarship.

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