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Taking the GRE

Studying for the GRE

The GRE (Graduate Record Examination) is a standardized test that is required by most institutions for admission into graduate and business schools. It is designed to test your reasoning and writing skills to pre-determine how well you might do in grad school. The GRE is given 3 times a year in a paper-based format at various testing centers, however you can also take the GRE via computer at a designated center continuously throughout the year.

GRE Test Dates

The most common way to take the GRE is incredibly convenient: just schedule your own test taking appointment at a computer-based testing center.

However, if you want to take the paper-based test, you’ll need to register for one of the dates in the chart below. The test is also offered the Monday after each date listed for those students who have religious observances on Saturdays.

Test Date Registration Deadline Late Registration Deadline
October 20, 2012 September 14, 2012 September 21, 2012
November 17, 2012 October 12, 2012 October 19, 2012
February 9, 2013 January 4, 2013 January 11, 2013


GRE Test Locations

Click here to find a computer-based testing center near you:

Click here to find a paper-based testing center near you:


Basic GRE Registration Fee: Late Registration Fee
(for online registration of the paper-based test only):
$160 $25


GRE Registration

You can register online here for the GRE:

GRE Test Format

Computer-Based GRE
Total Test Duration: 3 hours and 45 minutes
Analytical Writing (One "Analyze an Issue" task and one "Analyze an Argument" task: 30 minutes for each task
Verbal Reasoning (2 sections with about 20 questions in each section): 30 minutes for each section
Quantitative Reasoning (2 sections with about 20 questions in each section): 35 minutes for each section
Unscored/Research Sections: Time and length vary
Breaks: One 10 minute break after the third section

Paper-Based GRE
Total Test Duration: 3 hours and 30 minutes
Analytical Writing (One "Analyze an Issue" task and one "Analyze and Argument" task): 30 minutes for each task
Verbal Reasoning (2 sections with about 25 questions in each section): 35 minutes for each section
Quantitative Reasoning (2 sections with about 25 questions in each section): 40 minutes for each section
Breaks: One 10 minute break after the second section

An Overview of the GRE Sections

1.) Analytical Writing - This will always be the first section on the GRE, while the others can be organized in any order. This section of the test is divided into two different tasks, an "Analyze an Issue" task and an "Analyze an Argument" task. Both tasks are designed to evaluate your ability to think critically and write analytically. You don't need any specific outside content knowledge for this section, but you will need to be able to express and back up complex ideas.

  1. "Analyze an Issue" Task - In this task you will be asked to construct an argument about a given opinion on a general interest issue and support that position with valid reasons and examples
  2. "Analyze an Argument" Task - In this task you will be asked to evaluate an argument based on given instructions. In this case you won't be taking a side in the argument, but instead evaluating how reasonable and logical the argument is.

2.) Verbal Reasoning - This section is designed to test your ability to analyze and understand written material. There are 3 different types of questions in this section:

  1. Reading Comprehension - These questions are based on short written passages from one paragraph to several paragraphs in length. They are come in several different formats: standard multiple choice, multiple choice in which you need to choose several correct answers, and questions where you will need to choose a sentence from the accompanying passage as the answer. They are structured to evaluate your ability to analyze and comprehend written material in a variety of ways and will ask you to do any and all of the following:
    1. Understand words, sentences, and paragraphs.
    2. Make the distinction between significant and more minor points.
    3. Summarize.
    4. Draw conclusions.
    5. Use reasoning to infer conclusions from incomplete data.
    6. Understand how different parts of a passage relate to each other.
    7. Pick out the author's assumptions, perspective, and bias.
    8. Point out the strengths and weaknesses of an argument.
    9. Develop alternative positions and explanations.


  1. Text Completion - These questions consist of short passages with important words or short phrases left out. You must use the rest of the information in the passage to determine what these words are. The purpose of the text completion questions are to evaluate your ability to actively interpret what you've read.
  2. Sentence Equivalence - These questions are a single sentence with one blank, in which you will be asked to supply 2 answers that complete the sentence. Also, the sentence must have the same meaning when read with the two different correct choices. Like text completion questions, sentence equivalence questions test your ability to interpret and draw conclusions.

3.) Quantitative Reasoning - This section is designed to test your math skills and ability to reason quantitatively. There are four different areas that you will be evaluated in:

  1. Arithmetic
  2. Algebra
  3. Geometry
  4. Data Analysis

Questions are based on high school level mathematics and algebra, generally no more advanced than a second year algebra course. There are no questions on trigonometry, calculus, or other higher math subjects. These questions will be presented in four different basic types:

  1. Quantitative Comparison - These questions ask you to compare two different quantities and select the statement that correctly describes the relationship between the two quantities. The answer will be one of the following:
    1. Quantity A is greater.
    2. Quantity B is greater.
    3. The two quantities are equal.
    4. The relationship cannot be determined from the information given.
  2. Multiple Choice (Select one answer) - These are basic multiple choice questions where one answer is correct.
  3. Multiple Choice (Select one or more answers) - These are multiple choice questions where one or more answer may be correct.
  4. Numeric Entry - For these questions, you will answer by entering a numerical value into a single box, or by entering a fraction into two boxes (one for the numerator and one for the denominator).
GRE Study Tips

1.) Get comfortable with the exam and its format - Familiarize yourself with the exam and the instructions for each section and question type so that you'll know what to expect when you arrive on your test day.

2.) Get started studying early - You want to be as prepared as possible, and not left procrastinating as test day nears, so get started with your studying early, at least a month ahead of time.

3.) Practice - Along with studying, make sure you also take practice GRE exams so that you become well acquainted with the format, pace, and length of the test itself.

4.) Find your weakness and focus on it - Taking a practice test before you even crack your test prep books will help you identify your particular weaknesses on the exam so that you can plan your studying accordingly.

6.) Brush up on your vocabulary - Vocabulary knowledge is a big part of the GRE, especially for the Verbal Reasoning section. Make sure your vocab is in top shape by playing word games, reading literature and looking up any unfamiliar words, and using your GRE study materials.

6.) Take care of your body as well as your mind - Don't neglect your physical well being because you're pushing yourself hard to study and practice; it's just as important as being familiar with the test materials. You'll perform much better on the GRE itself and get in more productive studying if you're getting 8 regular hours of sleep a night, eating healthy, and exercising.

GRE Test Taking Tips

1.) Fuel your body - While studying and practice are essential, so are a good night's sleep before exam day and a hearty, healthy breakfast before you head out the door. Don't stay up late cramming; either you're already prepared or you're not, and make sure to fill up your stomach with something high in carbs and fiber to power you through the test.

2.) Don't guess randomly - The GRE does penalize you for incorrect answers on the Verbal and Quantitative Reasoning sections; one quarter of the number of questions answered wrong is subtracted from the number of questions answer correctly. So if you can make an educated guess, go for it, but don't answer questions blindly and don't be afraid to leave some blank if you need to. You won't be marked down for unanswered questions.

3.) Feel free to skip around and use the Mark and Review feature. - Don't get stuck on any one question for too long. On the Verbal and Quantitative Reasoning sections, each question is worth exactly the same number of points, so be sure that you answer the questions that you're sure of first, mark those that you're not as confident on, and come back to them later.

4.) Beware of "runner up" answers on the Verbal Reasoning section - When a question asks you to find the best possible answer beware of misleading answer options that may be correct, but may not be the best answer.

5.) Write an outline before you begin your essays. - You've heard this since grade school, but it's just as applicable on the GRE. Write an outline before you dive into your essays to get organized and ensure that you won't leave anything out.

6.) Pace yourself - This is a timed test, so get familiar with the pace ahead of time and know how to pace yourself on test day so you're not rushing or moving too slowly.

GRE Scoring

How the GRE is Scored
Verbal Reasoning Section Scored on a scale of 130 to 170 (in 1 point increments)
Quantitative Reasoning Section Scored on a scale of 130 to 170 (in half point increments)
Analytical Writing Section Scored on a scale of 0 to 6


Scoring of the Verbal and Quantitative Reasoning Sections, Computer-Based Test
Your score is based on the number of correct answers you have, and the difficulty level of each section also factors in.

Scoring of the Verbal and Quantitative Reasoning Sections, Paper-Based Test
Your score is solely based on the number of correct answers you have.

Scoring of the Analytical Writing Section, Computer and Paper-Based Tests
Two trained evaluators read each essay and give it a grade. If these scores have a difference of more than one point, a third evaluator grades the essay. Your score on the Analytical Writing section is the average of the evaluators' scores.