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GRE General Test: The Overall GRE Guide

GRE general test is the most acceptable admission test for both graduate and business schools worldwide. This test assesses your verbal reasoning, quantitative reasoning, critical thinking and analytical writing skills. The ultimate guide to GRE general test is a complete manual that gives you full detail about the revised GRE general test, the experimental section and the difference between GMAT and GRE general test pattern.

Did you know that GRE general test has been revised?

It is necessary to update all the standardised tests from time to time so that they can fit the current goals. On August 1st, 2011, the Educational Testing Service (ETS) did few changes in the GRE test. Here is everything that you need to know about the modification of the old GRE into the newly revised GRE. The GRE test was changed to make the test more accessible for all the test-takers. The changes made to the GRE test include:

GRE general test syllabus

a)GRE verbal reasoning section -Antonyms and analogies in the verbal reasoning section are entirely removed from the test, and new types of questions such as text completion, sentence equivalence and GRE reading comprehensions are being revised to reflect the thinking of the students in graduate or business schools. b)GRE quantitative reasoning section -The new types of questions presented in the quantitative reasoning section include multiple-choice questions, multiple-choice questions with multiple correct answers and numeric entry questions to emphasis data interpretation and real-life scenarios.
  • In the quant section, you are also provided with an on-screen calculator that transfers the calculator display to the answer box.
c)GRE analytical writing section -In the analytical writing section, changes are made to increase the focus of the section. Instead of multiple essay topics, you are given with single topics for each of the two essays. And you are scored based on the ability to address the task more clearly and concisely. Here you need to evaluate a logical argument and express your view on an issue.

GRE general test exam pattern

    • The exam pattern of the old GRE included one section of verbal and quant. The revised GRE consists of two sections of verbal and quants along with an extra ungraded verbal or quant section known as the experimental section.
    • In the old GRE test, the difficulty of each question was based on your answer to the previous question. In the revised GRE test, the difficulty of the next section is based on your performance in the first section.
    • In the old GRE test, you had to answer the question in order, and you did not have an option to leave the question blank and answer it later. But in the revised GRE you can skip the questions in a section or leave it blank. You also have an option to return to the previous question, preview and review the answer throughout the test.

GRE general test scores

  • The total time for the GRE test was 3 hours which is now changed to 3 hours 45 minutes.
  • The scoring scale for GRE quant and verbal is changed to 130 - 170 with 1 point increment from 200 - 800 with 10 point increment to make it easier for the schools to compare different student scores successfully,

GRE subject test

The changes are made in the paper-based (GRE subject test) GRE test as well to make sure that the new question types appear in the paper test. You are also required to write your answers within the test book, instead of a separate sheet. And you will be provided with a calculator for the quantitative reasoning test, instead of bringing your calculators. Which version of the test you take doesn't matter, but make sure that you focus on the appropriate question types and test format.

Know all about the experimental section in GRE general test

When you are answering the GRE general test, you are required to answer one section of analytical writing, two sections of quantitative reasoning and two sections of verbal reasoning alternatively, and then you get an appropriate score based on how well you perform. It seems straightforward and effortless, right? But, unfortunately, the test is a bit more complicated than you think. In addition to all the sections mentioned above, there is an additional section known as the experimental section or unscored section. This section consists of 20 questions for which you won't be getting any score; even if you have answered all the questions correctly. This might seem a bit unfair and make you feel more stressed about the test than you already are. So, it is better you know more about the experimental section before you take the GRE test.

What is experimental section in GRE general test?

The GRE experimental section is a kind of placebo test. During this test, a GRE verbal or a quant section is administered, which will not be counted towards your score. To make it worse, you won t know which of the given sections is experimental. Hence you need to give your best and answer every section without skipping.

Why does GRE general test have an experimental section?

The experimental section was included in the GRE exam because the Educational Testing System (ETS) has specific standards to prepare the question paper for the exam. Since the level of difficulty has to be the same for everyone, they use the experimental section concept on you to decide the difficulty level of a question. Based on the answer responses and the average time taken to solve each question by thousands of students every day, they decide if that particular question is easy, difficult, or somewhere in between. And these questions will be given to candidates in the future examinations.

Why do GRE ETS experiment on you?

This concept might seem more like a punishment than an experiment to you. But to identify the difficulty of a particular question, ETS must find out how many students fail to solve the question and how long it takes on an average to resolve it. Since hundreds of new questions are created every week, it is impossible for ETS to test each question individually and decide it's difficulty level. Hence you are used as a guinea pig to work these questions out.

Can you figure out which section in the GRE general test is experimental?

Well no, you can not figure out which section of the GRE test is experimental. But you surely can understand if the section is quant or verbal. If you get three quant or three verbal sections instead of two during the test, that means one of them was an experimental section. But still, you won't get to know which of three was the experimental section. So it is recommended that you answer every section seriously without skipping any.

Is experimental section easy when compared to other sections in the GRE?

No one can answer this question because all the sections in the GRE test look similar, and any one of the sections can be the experimental section. So it is better that you be well prepared for the GRE test and answer all the sections without any difficulty.

What is the difference between the experimental section and research section in the GRE general test?

Sometimes at the end of the GRE test, you may get a research section instead of an experimental section. The research section is similar to the experimental section, but you will be well informed that it is a research section. In this case, you also get a chance to skip the entire section. If you are lucky, you may even not get any additional sections at all. So, be alert to face the extra section and be prepared for the worst.

GRE vs GMAT : Which test for business schools?

Are you planning to go to business school? Are you confused which graduate test to take? Then you are definitely reading the right article.

GMAT and GRE general test details

The GRE is in demand among a small section of business school entrant, and the trend is increasing every year. According to the ETS, in the year 2017, about 5,59,254 individuals took the GRE general test in over 1,000 test centres in 160 countries. GRE scores are accepted by thousands of graduate programs around the world, for masters and doctoral degrees. More than 1,100 business schools around the world accept the GRE, including top-ranked MBA programs. And currently, about 19 law schools in the US accept GRE scores. Although the universities across the world accept GRE, the GMAT is also considered as an essential exam by business schools as well. According to the GMAC, about 5900 business programs and over 2100 universities and institutions around the world, accept the GMAT. GRE and GMAT are the most popular admission tests for graduate and business schools. Students often get confused as to which of these test is right for them. To clear your confusion, in this article I will be talking about the benefits and the difference between the GRE and GMAT exam.

Comparison between GRE general and GMAT exam pattern

  • Candidates applying for a graduate program take up GRE test. And candidates looking to join a business program take up GMAT. Even though many business schools consider both GMAT and GRE scores, the GRE is still widely identified as a test for graduate and PhD programs.
  • The test pattern and the syllabus of the GRE is a bit different, and the topics are less difficult when compared to the GMAT.
  • In the verbal section, GRE entirely focuses on vocabulary and a bit of logic while the GMAT consists of grammar and sentence structure based questions.
  • When it comes to the quant section, GRE has easier math compared to the GMAT. Since diverse test takers, varying from engineers and doctors to arts and history students, take GRE test to get into different graduate programs the math is made more simpler and more approachable. Contrarily, only one set of students- who want to go to business schools take up GMAT. And business courses request stronger quantitative skills, hence the GMAT math is a little tricky.
  • In Analytical writing section GRE has two essays and GMAT has only one.
  • GMAT has a new section known as integrated reasoning which was introduced in 2012. This section consists of difficult parts of the verbal and data interpretation, along with strong quantitative analysis questions. Many candidates find this section tough. Luckily, GRE does not have an integrated reasoning section.
  • GMAT is a question adaptive test, which means you get difficult or easy questions based on your performance on the previous question. Due to this reason you have to guess the answer to the questions you don't know. While the GRE is a section adaptive test, which means you get difficult or easy section based on your performance on the last section. So you can mark, skip and review questions.
  • When checking for the cost and test centres, GRE is less expensive and has many test centres across the world when compared to GMAT. The GMAT test costs about INR. 17,161 and since few test centres are available, you might have to travel to take the test which is more costlier.
List out your target B-schools, reach out to admissions and also take a practice test if you are still not sure which test to take.


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