A Comprehensive Guide to GRE for International Students: Procedures and Tips

Are you an international student planning to pursue a master's degree in the USA? Understanding the GRE exam is crucial for your success. This blog provides a detailed overview of the GRE procedures for international students. From the exam structure and required documents to registration tips and test day strategies, we cover it all. Get valuable insights, useful tips, and recommended resources to help you prepare effectively and increase your chances of achieving a competitive GRE score. Don't miss this opportunity to excel on the GRE and open doors to your dream graduate program in the USA.

A Comprehensive Guide to GRE for International Students: Procedures and Tips
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Apr 29, 2023 07:22 AM


Welcome to MS in USA's comprehensive guide to GRE for international students! If you're dreaming of pursuing a master's degree in the United States, you've likely come across the term "GRE" in your research. In this blog post, we will provide you with a detailed overview of all the procedures involved in taking the GRE as an international student.

What is GRE?

The Graduate Record Examination, commonly known as the GRE, is a standardized test designed to assess the readiness of students for graduate and business school programs. It is administered by the Educational Testing Service (ETS) and is widely accepted by universities in the United States as part of their admissions criteria.
The GRE plays a crucial role in the admissions process as it provides universities with a standardized measure of an applicant's verbal reasoning, quantitative reasoning, analytical writing, and critical thinking skills. Your GRE scores, along with other application materials, such as your academic record, recommendation letters, and statement of purpose, help universities evaluate your potential for success in their graduate programs.

About the Exam

The GRE consists of three main sections: Verbal Reasoning, Quantitative Reasoning, and Analytical Writing. Each section assesses different aspects of your abilities and is designed to challenge your critical thinking and problem-solving skills.
  1. Verbal Reasoning: This section evaluates your ability to analyze and understand written material, draw conclusions, and infer meanings from passages. It includes reading comprehension, text completion, and sentence equivalence questions.
  1. Quantitative Reasoning: The quantitative reasoning section measures your mathematical skills and ability to interpret and analyze quantitative data. It covers topics such as arithmetic, algebra, geometry, and data analysis. You'll encounter multiple-choice and numeric entry questions in this section.
  1. Analytical Writing: The analytical writing section assesses your ability to articulate complex ideas effectively. It consists of two tasks: Analyze an Issue and Analyze an Argument. In the first task, you'll present your perspective on a given issue, while in the second task, you'll critically evaluate and analyze an argument.

Types of Graduate Record Examinations (GRE)

The GRE offers two types of exams: the GRE General Test and the GRE Subject Tests. It's essential to understand the difference between these two options before deciding which one to take.
  1. GRE General Test: The GRE General Test is the most commonly taken exam and is required for admission to most graduate programs. It assesses your overall aptitude and readiness for advanced study. The General Test includes the verbal reasoning, quantitative reasoning, and analytical writing sections mentioned earlier.
  1. GRE Subject Tests: Unlike the General Test, GRE Subject Tests focus on specific subject areas. These tests are designed for applicants who want to demonstrate their knowledge and expertise in a particular field. Subject Tests are available in various disciplines, including biology, chemistry, literature, mathematics, and physics. It's essential to check if your desired graduate program requires or recommends a subject test.
Keep in mind that while the GRE General Test is more commonly required, individual universities may have specific requirements regarding which exam they accept. Research the admission requirements of your target universities to determine which test is appropriate for your application.

Required Documents

Before you begin the GRE registration process, it's important to gather the necessary documents to ensure a smooth and efficient application process. Here are the typical documents you'll need:
  1. Valid Passport: As an international student, a valid passport is essential for identification purposes. Make sure your passport is up-to-date and will remain valid throughout the entire application and enrollment process.
  1. Identification Documents: In addition to your passport, you may be required to provide additional identification documents, such as a national ID card or driver's license. Check the requirements of the testing center and ensure you have the necessary identification documents.
  1. Photographs: You'll need recent passport-sized photographs to attach to your GRE application form. These photographs should meet specific requirements, such as size, background color, and pose. Follow the guidelines provided by ETS to ensure your photographs are acceptable.
  1. Additional Requirements: Depending on your specific circumstances or the testing center's policies, you may need to provide additional documents. For example, if you require special accommodations due to a disability or medical condition, you may need to submit supporting documentation. Review the guidelines provided by ETS and contact the testing center if you have any specific concerns or requirements.
It's crucial to prepare these documents well in advance to avoid any last-minute complications or delays in the registration process.

GRE Registration

Once you have gathered all the necessary documents, you can proceed with the GRE registration process. Here's a step-by-step guide to help you navigate through the registration:
  1. Create an ETS Account: Start by creating an account on the official ETS website (www.ets.org/gre). Provide accurate personal information and ensure the email address you provide is active and accessible. This account will serve as your portal for all GRE-related activities.
  1. Selecting Test Dates and Centers: After creating your ETS account, you can search for available test dates and centers. Choose a test date that gives you ample time for preparation and aligns with your application deadlines. Select a test center convenient for you, considering factors such as proximity, transportation, and availability.
  1. Registration Fees and Payment Methods: The GRE registration comes with a fee, which is subject to change. Visit the ETS website for the most up-to-date information on registration fees. Payment methods typically include credit or debit cards, but some countries may offer alternative payment options. Ensure you have a valid payment method and sufficient funds to cover the registration fee.
  1. Special Accommodations: If you require special accommodations due to a disability or medical condition, you can request them during the registration process. Provide the necessary documentation and follow the guidelines provided by ETS to ensure a smooth accommodation process.
Carefully review all the information you provide during registration to avoid errors or discrepancies. Double-check the accuracy of your personal details, test date, and preferred test center before finalizing the registration

GRE Exam Pattern

To prepare effectively for the GRE, it's crucial to understand the exam pattern and structure. Here's a breakdown of the GRE exam sections and their respective formats:
  1. Verbal Reasoning Section:
      • Time Allotted: Approximately 60 minutes
      • Number of Questions: Varies (20 questions per section)
      • Question Types: Reading comprehension, text completion, and sentence equivalence
      • Skills Assessed: Vocabulary, reading comprehension, and critical reasoning
  1. Quantitative Reasoning Section:
      • Time Allotted: Approximately 70 minutes
      • Number of Questions: Varies (20 questions per section)
      • Question Types: Multiple-choice, numeric entry, and quantitative comparison
      • Skills Assessed: Basic arithmetic, algebra, geometry, and data interpretation
  1. Analytical Writing Section:
      • Time Allotted: 60 minutes (30 minutes per task)
      • Number of Tasks: Two tasks - "Analyze an Issue" and "Analyze an Argument"
      • Task Types: You'll be presented with an issue or argument and required to provide a well-structured and reasoned response.
      • Skills Assessed: Critical thinking, analytical writing, and coherent expression of ideas
It's important to note that the GRE may also include an unscored Experimental or Research section, which is not identified and is used for research purposes by ETS. This section is not counted towards your final score and can appear in any order after the Analytical Writing section.
Understanding the exam structure allows you to allocate time effectively during the test and develop a strategic approach for each section.
Exam Section
Time Allotted
Verbal Reasoning
Approximately 60 minutes
Quantitative Reasoning
Approximately 70 minutes
Analytical Writing
60 minutes (30 minutes per task)

After You Register

Once you have successfully registered for the GRE, it's time to focus on preparing for the exam. Here are some essential steps to take after registration:
  1. Preparing for the Exam: Create a study plan that covers all the relevant topics and gives you enough time to review and practice. Identify your strengths and weaknesses to allocate more time to challenging areas. Utilize official GRE study materials, prep books, online resources, and practice tests to enhance your knowledge and skills.
  1. Study Resources and Materials: ETS provides official study materials, including the Official GRE Guide, which contains practice questions and test-taking strategies. Additionally, various online platforms offer GRE preparation courses, video tutorials, and interactive practice sessions. Explore these resources to find the ones that suit your learning style and needs.
  1. Creating a Study Plan: Develop a study schedule that allows you to dedicate consistent time to GRE preparation. Break down the topics into manageable chunks and set specific goals for each study session. Practice both timed and untimed exercises to build speed and accuracy. Regularly review and revise the content to reinforce your understanding.
  1. Mock Tests and Practice Questions: Take full-length GRE practice tests under simulated test conditions to familiarize yourself with the exam format and time constraints. Analyze your performance and identify areas for improvement. Solve practice questions to enhance your problem-solving skills and become comfortable with the question types.
By following these steps, you'll be well on your way to confident and effective GRE preparation.

On Test Day

Test day can be both exciting and nerve-wracking. To ensure a smooth and successful test experience, here are some important tips to keep in mind:
  1. Get a Good Night's Sleep: Prioritize a restful night's sleep before the exam day. A well-rested mind will help you stay focused and perform at your best during the test.
  1. Arrive Early: Plan to arrive at the test center well before the scheduled time. This will give you sufficient time to check-in, complete any required procedures, and settle into the testing environment without feeling rushed.
  1. Bring Required Documents: Double-check that you have all the necessary documents, including your valid passport, identification documents, and GRE admission ticket. Without these documents, you may not be allowed to take the test.
  1. Dress Comfortably: Opt for comfortable clothing on test day, keeping in mind that the test center may have specific guidelines. Dressing in layers can help you adjust to the room temperature as needed.
  1. Stay Calm and Focused: Throughout the test, maintain a calm and focused mindset. Manage your time wisely and avoid getting stuck on challenging questions. If you encounter a difficult question, make an educated guess and move on to prevent wasting too much time.
  1. Use the Breaks Wisely: The GRE provides one optional 10-minute break after the third section. Use this time to relax, stretch, and recharge. Avoid discussing the test with other test-takers, as it may affect your concentration and confidence.
  1. Pace Yourself: Remember that the GRE is a timed exam. Develop a strategy to pace yourself through each section, ensuring that you allocate sufficient time to answer all the questions. Be mindful of the time remaining and adjust your speed accordingly.
  1. Stay Positive and Confident: A positive mindset can make a significant difference in your performance. Believe in your abilities and approach each question with confidence. Don't let a challenging question or section discourage you—maintain a positive attitude throughout the test.

Test Results

After completing the GRE, you'll receive your unofficial scores for the Verbal Reasoning and Quantitative Reasoning sections immediately after the test. However, the official scores, including the Analytical Writing section, will be available within 10-15 days after the test date. ETS will send your official scores to the universities you have designated during the registration process.
It's important to remember that the GRE is just one aspect of your graduate school application. Universities consider multiple factors when evaluating your application, including your academic record, recommendation letters, statement of purpose, and extracurricular activities. Your GRE scores should be seen as a part of the holistic evaluation process rather than the sole determining factor.

Useful Tips to Clear the Exam

Here are some valuable tips to help you prepare effectively and increase your chances of success on the GRE:
  1. Start Early: Begin your GRE preparation well in advance to allow ample time for studying, practice, and familiarizing yourself with the test format.
  1. Understand the Question Types: Familiarize yourself with the different question types in each section of the GRE. This understanding will help you develop appropriate strategies and save time during the exam.
  1. Practice Time Management: Practice answering questions under timed conditions to improve your pacing and ensure you complete each section within the allocated time.
  1. Enhance Vocabulary Skills: Build your vocabulary by reading extensively and using vocabulary-building resources. A strong vocabulary will help you tackle the Verbal Reasoning section with confidence.
  1. Strengthen Math Fundamentals: Review essential mathematical concepts and formulas, and practice solving quantitative reasoning problems regularly to enhance your math skills.
  1. Develop Analytical Writing Skills: Practice writing essays on various topics, focusing on clarity, structure, and coherence. Seek feedback from mentors or writing tutors to improve your analytical writing abilities.
  1. Take Mock Tests: Simulate the test experience by taking full-length mock tests. Analyze your performance, identify areas for improvement, and adjust your study plan accordingly.
  1. Utilize Official Study Materials: Make use of official GRE study materials provided by ETS. These resources are designed specifically to help you understand the test content and question formats.

Do's and Don'ts

To maximize your chances of success on the GRE, here are some important do's and don'ts to keep in mind:
  • Do familiarize yourself with the test format and question types.
  • Do create a study plan and allocate sufficient time for preparation.
  • Do practice with official GRE study materials and mock tests.
  • Do seek help from mentors, tutors, or study groups if needed.
  • Do manage your time effectively during the exam.
  • Do stay calm and focused throughout the test.
  • Don't procrastinate your preparation. Start early and maintain a consistent study schedule.
  • Don't rely solely on memorization. Focus on understanding concepts and developing problem-solving skills.
  • Don't panic if you encounter difficult questions. Make educated guesses and move on.
  • Don't underestimate the importance of rest and self-care before the test day.
  • Don't compare your performance with others. Focus on your own progress and improvement.

Resources to Study

To enhance your preparation for the GRE, here are some valuable resources you can explore:
  1. Official GRE Website (www.ets.org/gre): The official GRE website offers a wide range of resources, including practice tests, study guides, and test-taking strategies.
  1. Official GRE Guide: The Official Guide to the GRE General Test, published by ETS, provides practice questions, explanations, and tips for all sections of the exam.
  1. Online Prep Courses: Several online platforms offer comprehensive GRE preparation courses that provide video lessons, practice questions, and personalized study plans.
  1. Prep Books: Various publishers offer GRE prep books that cover different aspects of the exam. Look for reputable publishers with up-to-date editions.
  1. Practice Tests and Question Banks: Utilize online platforms and books that provide practice tests and question banks to assess your progress and identify areas for improvement.
  1. Study Groups and Forums: Join online study groups or forums where you can interact with fellow GRE aspirants, share study materials, and discuss strategies.
Remember to utilize these resources wisely and adapt your study plan based on your individual needs and learning preferences.


Preparing for the GRE as an international student can be a challenging yet exciting journey. By understanding the exam, gathering the required documents, registering on time, and following a strategic study plan, you can increase your chances of achieving a competitive GRE score. Remember to stay positive, manage your time effectively, and make use of the available resources to enhance your preparation. With dedication, perseverance, and a well-rounded approach, you'll be on your way to pursuing your dream of studying in the United States.
Good luck on your GRE journey and may your aspirations for higher education in the USA be fulfilled!


Q: What is the GRE? The GRE (Graduate Record Examination) is a standardized test that is commonly required for admission to graduate programs in the United States. It assesses the readiness of students for graduate-level coursework and measures skills in verbal reasoning, quantitative reasoning, and analytical writing.
Q: What are the different types of GRE exams? The GRE General Test is the most common type and is required for admission to a wide range of graduate programs. Additionally, some specialized fields may require subject-specific GRE tests, such as the GRE Subject Tests in areas like Biology, Chemistry, Mathematics, and more.
Q: What documents are required for GRE registration? To register for the GRE, you will need a valid passport as an acceptable form of identification. Make sure to have your passport ready before starting the registration process.
Q: How do I register for the GRE as an international student? To register for the GRE, you can create an account on the official ETS (Educational Testing Service) website. Follow the registration process, choose a convenient test center, select the date, and pay the required fees. Make sure to register well in advance to secure your preferred test date and location.
Q: What is the exam pattern for the GRE? The GRE consists of three main sections: Verbal Reasoning, Quantitative Reasoning, and Analytical Writing. The Verbal Reasoning and Quantitative Reasoning sections are scored on a scale of 130-170, while the Analytical Writing section is scored on a scale of 0-6. There may also be an unscored Experimental or Research section that is used for research purposes.
Q: When will I receive my GRE test results? For the Verbal Reasoning and Quantitative Reasoning sections, you will receive unofficial scores immediately after completing the exam. Official scores, including the Analytical Writing section, are typically available within 10-15 days after the test date. ETS will send your official scores directly to the universities you have designated during the registration process.
Q: How can I prepare for the GRE effectively? Preparing for the GRE requires careful planning and dedication. Create a study plan, use official GRE study materials, practice with sample questions and mock tests, and consider joining study groups or online courses to enhance your preparation. Utilize resources such as prep books, online platforms, and practice tests to strengthen your knowledge and skills in each exam section.
Q: Are there any tips to perform well on the GRE? Yes! Some valuable tips include starting your preparation early, understanding the question types and exam format, managing your time effectively during the test, practicing with timed exercises, and focusing on improving your vocabulary and math skills. Additionally, staying calm, maintaining a positive mindset, and utilizing available resources can contribute to your success on the GRE.
Q: How important are GRE scores for graduate school admissions? While GRE scores are an essential component of your graduate school application, it's important to remember that they are just one aspect of the holistic evaluation process. Universities consider multiple factors, including your academic record, recommendation letters, statement of purpose, and extracurricular activities. However, achieving a competitive GRE score can significantly strengthen your application and increase your chances of admission to desired programs.
Q: Where can I find additional resources for GRE preparation? There are several resources available to aid your GRE preparation. The official GRE website (www.ets.org/gre) provides official study materials, practice tests, and test-taking strategies. Additionally, consider exploring online prep courses, prep books from reputable publishers, and study groups or forums where you can interact with fellow GRE aspirants and gain valuable insights.