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Everything You Wanted to Know About the GRE

Posted on Jul 14, 2018
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The GRE, or Graduate Record Examination, is a test taken by students who plan to apply to graduate school. It assesses the verbal, quantitative and writing skills of the applicant. A good GRE score is necessary if you are planning to study in a Masters degree college technical, science, math or liberal arts based degrees. You’d need a GRE for pursuing a PhD program too. If you’re thinking about applying to a graduate program, it’s important to find out as soon as possible whether it requires applicants to submit GRE scores for admission.

The GRE has three major sections:
1. Analytical Writing,
2. Quantitative Reasoning, and
3. Verbal Reasoning.

Important Points to Note About GRE

The GRE will also include one 20-question research section which won’t be included as part of your score. This will be either a Verbal or Quantitative section, but you won’t know which section is the research section.

Analytical Writing
For Analytical Writing on the GRE, you’ll have to write two essays: Analyze an Argument and Analyze a Task. You’ll have 30 minutes to write each essay.

In the Analyze an Argument essay, you’ll also have to critique a given argument. For Analyze a Task, you’re given an argument, and you’ll need to explain your own stance on the issue and justify that stance with evidence.
Verbal Section

The GRE’s Verbal Reasoning measures your skills in analyzing and drawing conclusions from written excerpts, identifying main points in texts, summarizing passages, and understanding the meaning of words, sentences, and complete passages.

The GRE is 3 hours and 45 minutes long. You have 1 minute between sections and a 10 minute break after three sections.

There are three different categories of questions:

Reading Comprehension
You’ll be given a passage and have to answer big picture and specific detail questions that relate to it.

Text Completion
These questions will have a short passage containing one or more blanks. You’ll have a list of words you can choose to put in each blank, and you’ll have to decide which is the most appropriate word.

Sentence Equivalence

The sentence equivalence test is unique to the GRE. It asks you to fill in a blank in a sentence with two separate words, with the aim of creating two sentences that have the same meaning. You’ll need to choose the two options that both fit in the sentence and produce sentences that have the same or similar meanings.

The verbal section in GRE tends to include more challenging vocabulary and reading passages, which can make it especially difficult if you’re not a native English speaker.
Quantitative Reasoning
Quantitative Reasoning tests your skills in the following areas:
1. Algebra
2. Arithmetic
3. Data Analysis
4. Geometry

The majority of questions are multiple-choice; however, there will able be several numeric entry questions where you’ll have to enter in the correct answer instead of just selecting from given choices.

Multiple Choice Quantitative Comparison

The GRE also has a few multiple-choice questions known as Quantitative Comparison questions. For these questions, you’ll be given two quantities: Quantities A and B. You’ll be asked to determine if Quantity A is larger, Quantity B is larger, the two quantities are equal, or the relationship can’t be determined.

GRE quantitative questions are mostly either straightforward multiple choice or numeric entry, both of which you likely have a lot of experience with.

How to Crack the GRE and Get a High Score

1.Build Your Mental Endurance
The GRE is 3 hours and 45 minutes long. You have 1 minute between sections and a 10 minute break after three sections. In long tests like these, it is very likely that by the middle of the test your concentration will begin to flag and the one minute between sections gives you barely enough time to catch your breath.

2.Build a Strong Vocabulary

The GRE focuses on strong vocabulary, as it tests you on your word skills. Vocabulary cannot be built overnight. It requires regular use, loads of practice, and focused preparation. Start building a strong vocabulary in advance. Reading lists of words will get you nowhere. Instead, pick up a good book, or a periodical and look out for words that seem alien to you. Learn the context in which the words were used. This way, you will ensure that the words stay with you forever.

3. Identify Your Strengths And Weaknesses
You can’t be perfect in all areas. If math is your strength, it is possible that verbal is your weakness. Identify your strength and weaknesses so that you can make targeted preparation. Seek help of an expert or a coach to brush up on your fundamentals so that you can improve the weak areas.

4.Practice With Full Length Timed Mock Tests
The magic of practice is unbeatable. Even the most average performer can raise his or her score by 50% simply because of practice. Keep at it. Don’t give up. Be obsessed about practice. Regular practice is neither cumbersome nor stressful. Take up a full length timed mock test before your exam. The more you test yourself in simulated environment, the greater your comfort with the test.

5. Go Back to the Basics When Needed
If the basics are weak, you may need to go back to your eighth and ninth grade fundamentals. Work on your fundamentals as much as it is needed. They will hold you in good stead when problems become complex.

6. Have Realistic Goals But Keep Your Target Ambitious

It is important to keep a goal high enough but not unrealistic. A good GRE score will help you open doors not just to the top schools, but also for financial aid. You don’t want to miss out on the opportunities. However, make a realistic plan and work in that direction to avoid disappointment. Your mock tests will give you a realistic overview of your preparedness. If you feel that you have done your best, keep a positive spirit and appear for the test with confidence.