The Graduate Records Examinations General Test, or GRE, is one of the most common assessments required for graduate admissions. If you’re interested in attending graduate school, therefore, you may be facing many questions, including how long is the GRE? How difficult will the test be? What is considered a good score?
These questions are quite common for first-time test-takers. There are several things you can and should do to prepare for the GRE, one of which is learning all the test basics.
- You Will Not be Penalized for Guessing
Most competitive exams are based on a positive-correct, negative-incorrect system, which penalizes examinees more harshly for getting a question wrong than for leaving it unanswered. The GRE, however, does not dock your score for wrong answers, so incorrect questions count the same as questions left blank.
For this reason, guessing wrong on a question you are unsure about will not hurt your score at all and can only help you. When taking the GRE, you should attempt to answer as many questions as possible.
- Practice Will Make an Enormous Difference
To avoid being caught off-guard by the format or material, you’ll need to practice for the GRE. The more you practice, the more familiar you’ll be with the exam on test day.
One of the best ways to prepare for the exam day is by taking advantage of the plethora of practice exams available online. When it comes to studying for the essay portions, you can find online samples and rewrite them in your language and style.
- You Will Receive a Preliminary, Percentage-Based Score
The GRE is an extremely competitive examination with hundreds of thousands of test-takers every year from around the world. When you complete your test, the GRE will rank your performance with an estimated percentile based on statistics from past exam cycles. However, you should note that the number of candidates increases every year, and this estimation can have a fair degree of inaccuracy.
- You Can Return to Previous Questions in the Same Section
While the previous versions of GRE did not allow for this, those taking the test today have the option to revisit questions within the same section. For this reason, it may be a good idea to sift through the questions upon receiving the exam quickly. Make a mental note of the more challenging ones that will require extra attention or complete the easier questions first.
- You Actually Need to Study
Many graduate programs use GRE scores as an evaluation tool because it is designed to eliminate non-serious candidates. Even if you are brilliant, you will still need to brush up and revise your weaker points if you want to score well.
Once you figure out what study methods work best for you, stick to those to help you prepare efficiently and effectively. Create a plan of attack for the test as well, such as completing easier questions first like mentioned previously.
- The GRE Measures your Ability to Perform Under Pressure
Apart from testing your quantitative, verbal aptitude, and reasoning skills, the GRE will also test your ability to perform under pressure. Not only does the exam cover a breadth of topics, but it also asks some difficult questions and is long. The actual exam is just shy of four hours, not including breaks.
If you find yourself struggling, make sure that you set a time limit and adhere to it during practice. This will familiarize you with how much time you should put in for each question and help develop mental stamina, making sure you’re not tired during the actual exam.
- You Can Do GRE Prep Online
Since the exam is now administered virtually, test-takers should practice accordingly. As mentioned before, there are many online exams you can take. Ensure that you prepare and attempt each of them with the same diligence and discipline you would on the actual exam day.
- The GRE is Not Program-Specific
The GRE is accepted by hundreds of graduate programs worldwide, from journalism schools to public policy programs to business administration degrees. The number of universities that accept the GRE is also continually increasing. Also worth noting is the fact that your score on the GRE remains valid for five years.
- You Cannot Bring Anything Into the Testing Room
Although the GRE is currently being administered mainly online, some in-person facilities have re-opened, and more will continue to do so when deemed safe by the proper authorities. If you do take the GRE in-person, it’s important to know that you will not be allowed to bring anything with you into the testing room.
This includes wristwatches, jewelry, and any personal belongings that you might have. You will be allowed to bring a tidy snack and water to access outside the testing room during the break. You’ll be required to empty your pockets and potentially even register your fingerprint before entering the testing facility.
- The GRE is Different From the SAT
While both are highly competitive exams, SAT scores are used to evaluate applicants for entry into undergraduate programs, while graduate programs use the GRE General Test. Candidates take these tests at different points in their lives, with different education levels and different perspectives on academic goals. Objectively, the GRE sets a higher standard of questions as compared to the SAT.
A Gateway to Your Dreams
If you have ambitions to be accepted into a highly selective graduate program, it’s likely candidates are evaluated partially on some type of graduate assessment, like the GRE. In this case, you should learn everything you can about the GRE before you dive into your preparations. This will ensure that you know what the exam demands of you and what you should do to prepare for it the best way you can.