Graduate Record Examinations (GRE) – A Complete Guide

Learn everything you need to know about the Graduate Record Examinations (GRE) in this comprehensive guide. Understand the test format, registration process, and score calculation to achieve your desired results.

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Graduate Record Examinations (GRE) – A Complete Guide
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Apr 17, 2023 04:44 AM

What is the Graduate Record Examination?

The Graduate Record Examinations or GRE is a standardized test in the USA for getting admissions into a Master’s program or even the PhD programs. The test is conducted and owned by Educational Testing Service (ETS). GRE is designed specifically to test the skills of the students in verbal reasoning, analytical writing, quantitative reasoning, and critical thinking.
In 1936, The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching introduced the GRE test. GRE test is a computer-based exam with a user-friendly design conducted in different testing centers and institutions owned by Prometric. The importance of GRE scores varies from institution to institution and can be a mere admission formality to an important selection factor. By performing well in the Graduate Record Examinations, students can also receive a merit-based scholarship.

What are the Types of Graduate Record Examinations?

1. GRE General Test

The GRE General Test is entirely computer-based and consists of six sections. First is analytical writing, which has a separate time-bound argument task. The subsequent five sections can occur in any order consisting of two sections of verbal reasoning and two sections of quantitative reasoning or an experimental research section. The General Test is a multistage test, unlike the standard computer adaptive test. The whole test procedure is about three hours and forty-five minutes, with a one-minute break in each section and a ten-minute break after the third section.
Coming to the paper-based GRE Test, it also consists of six sections, where the analytical writing splits up into two sections and one section for each issue and argument task. The paper-based test has no experimental section and is available where the computer-based version is not available.

2. GRE Subject Test

Along with the GRE General Test, there is the GRE Subject Test which also has six sections for evaluating the candidates in specific subject areas. The subject areas include Biology, Chemistry, English Literature, Mathematics, Physics, and Psychology; the length of each test is 170 minutes. This test is required if one is applying for specialized courses in a Master’s program in the USA.

How to Register for GRE?

1. Online Portal Registration

You can register for the Graduate Record Examinations online by creating an account on the ETS website. After signing into the GRE official website, your name and ETS ID will be provided. Click on the ‘Register/ Find Test Centers, Date’ to register yourself and select the Test Type, Test Center and the Date of the exam. Complete the remaining registration process and pay by credit or debit card.

2. Registration by Mail

To register yourself by mail, you need to print and complete the form and send it to the following address, including the fee with it.
The address for sending the GRE form:
Prometric,2nd Floor, DLF Infinity Tower-A, Sector 25, Phase II,DLF City, Gurgaon,Haryana-122002,India
Send the form before the GRE test date you have chosen so that the organization can receive the registration form at least three weeks before the test date. You will get a confirmation number, reporting time for the test and the address of the center through email, fax or mail.

3. Registration through Phone

To register by phone, call the Regional Registration Center (RCC) of Prometric, located in Gurgaon, Haryana. The calling number is +91-1244147700. Call the RCC at least two working days before the test date that you wish to appear. You would receive a confirmation number, reporting time, and the address of the test centre.

4. Fax Registration

To register yourself for the GRE test through fax, you have to print the form, fill it and fax it to +91-1244147700, including the fee. Send the form at least seven days before the GRE test date.

How Many Times Can You Take the GRE?

The GRE general test can be attempted five times in a continuous 12-month period starting with the first test and with a minimum gap of 21 days between two consecutive attempts. The subject tests, on the other hand, can be taken three times a year, in April, September and October. The scorecard would be available to you after 10 to 15 days of the test.

What Is the Pattern of the GRE?

The GRE general test has six sections, including analytical writing, verbal reasoning, and quantitative reasoning. These six sections will be scored, and there are also additional unscored sections used for analysis purposes.
First comes the analytical section, and the quantitative reasoning, verbal reasoning, and unscored sections can be in any order. Thirty minutes gets allotted for the writing sections and consists of two tasks, and the total time for the section is one hour.
In a gist,
Analytical writing has one issue task and one argument task. The time for each task is 30 minutes, and the total time is one hour.
Verbal reasoning has two sections, and each section has twenty questions. Thirty minutes are allotted for each section.
Quantitative reasoning also has two sections with 20 questions for each of them. The total time allotted for this whole section is 1 hour 10 minutes, and it means that each section has 35 minutes to be solved.
The subject GRE test does not have any sections.

How Are the Scores Calculated in GRE?

The validity of the Graduate Record Examinations scores is for five years.
Now let’s talk about the score range for each section in the General test.
GRE Test Section
Scores Range
Analytical Writing
0-6, half-point increment
Verbal Reasoning
130-170, one point increment
Quantitative Reasoning
130-170, one point increment
The total score range is 260-340.For Subject tests, the score range is 200- 990, in ten-point increment


You can check your official exam score in your account on the ETS portal. Within six weeks of your test date, the scores get forwarded to the universities of your choice. The ETS will notify you once your GRE results are published in your account.

Is It Possible to Cancel your GRE Scores?

Yes, it is possible; however, you can cancel the scores only on the day of the exam. Once you complete your exam, you will be given a choice to report/view or cancel the scores. If you take the report/view option, you cannot cancel your scores after that. So, you have to make an informed choice quickly. There will be no refund for the cancelled scores. If you change your mind after cancelling your scores, you will be allowed to reinstate them within 60 days from the date of your examination. This can be done through your ETS account for an additional fee.

How to Prepare and Approach the GRE?

The test preparation time depends on how you have prepared yourself and the amount of time you have. You should get familiar with the administrative procedures, question types, total number of questions, and the allotted time for each of them.
There are vast resources available on the net, test preparation institutes, books, sample tests, and courses from the university book for those wishing to appear for the Graduate Record Examinations. ETS even provides preparation software called PowerPrep, which replicates both the test format and the questions used and can even predict the GRE scores.

For Verbal and Quantitative Reasoning Sections

There are a variety of formats for verbal reasoning and quantitative reasoning sections. Some have a single answer choice, and some have one or more answer choices, while others require entering a numeric answer. For quantitative reasoning, an on-screen calculator is available.
You can skip the questions that you face difficulty with while answering in the GRE General Test. The software has a ‘mark and review’ feature that helps you to mark the questions that you need to revise during the time given to work on it. The software also lets you view the complete list of all the questions in the section so that you can identify which questions you have answered and left. In addition to that, you can also review the questions that you have already answered, provided you have time for it.
Please do not drain your time in the review screen, as it will snatch away your time allotted for the other sections.
There is no negative marking if you answer a question wrong; thus, it is best if you answer all the questions in the Verbal Reasoning and Quantitative Reasoning measures.

For Analytical Writing Section

As there are two tasks in analytical writing measures, the time limit is 30 minutes for each task. However, the time is limited so try to portray the best possible writing of yours in the first draft.
If you save a few minutes from each task, you can check for obvious errors. You do not have to worry about the occasional typo, spelling, and grammatical errors, as they do not affect your score.

Scratch Paper

A supply of scratch paper will be supplied to you before the test begins, and you can replenish the scratch papers throughout the trial, asking the test administrator.


A 10-minute break follows the third section, and a one-minute break is allowed between the other sections. The section-time won’t stop if you opt for an unscheduled break, so practice proceeding with the test without interruptions once you begin.

Where Are the Test Centers for GRE?

The Graduate Record Examinations General Test and Subject Test gets conducted at different undergraduate institutions, and the computer-based GRE General Test over 1000 locations with the appropriate technological accommodations.
In India, the following test centers conduct the GRE:
  • Ahmedabad
  • Allahabad
  • Bangalore
  • Chennai
  • Kolkata
  • Gurgaon
  • Hyderabad
  • Mumbai
  • New Delhi
  • Trivandrum

How to Send your GRE Scores to the Universities?

On the day of your exam, you will be given an option to choose a maximum of four universities to send your scores for free. When your official scorecard is published in your ETS account, it will be automatically sent to those universities. If you want to send your scores to additional universities, you will need to pay extra charges.

What is the Purpose of Score Select?

Score Select is a feature that allows you to send your GRE scores from a particular date of exam. If you have taken the exam multiple times, you can pick your best score to be sent.


So, this was our take on the Graduate Record Examinations for all the aspiring candidates. Do go through every stage from registering, preparing, taking the test and sending out the scores to the universities carefully. A methodical approach to preparing for the exam can make all the difference. We wish all the GRE aspirants the BEST OF LUCK!
To know about the essential entrance exams required to study Master’s in the USA, read: