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The Graduate Record Examination is an eligibility test as well as an admissions requirement for most graduate and business schools in the United States, Canada and various other institutions around the world. The exam is a general test designed to test the candidate’s skill in verbal and quantitative reasoning, analytical writing and critical thinking. The test can be attempted any number of times in a year although the candidate can only take the test once every 21 days. GRE is a computer based test but a paper based version is offered in areas where computer based testing is not available.
The test is divided into 6 sections and the total test duration is about 3 hours and 45 minutes. The first section is the analytical writing section which requires the test taker to write two essays. The next five sections consist of two quantitative reasoning sections, two verbal reasoning sections and one experimental section. The experimental section does not contribute to the final score but cannot be distinguished from the rest of the sections. So, it is important that the candidate answer all the sections with equal care. Also, the sections can occur in any order. The candidate has the freedom to answer the questions of a section in any order he chooses and is also given the option to “mark” questions which he may answer at a later stage provided there is enough time left in that section.
ANALYTICAL WRITING SECTION
- Duration: 30 minutes per task.
- 2 tasks: One “Analyze an Issue” task and one “Analyze an argument” task.
- Issue Task: The candidate is required to write an essay on a particular topic.
- Argument Task: The test taker is given an argument and is asked to analyze it in the essay. The candidate is asked to improve upon the argument’s logic and also point out the logical flaws in the argument. Personal opinions of the candidate on the subject are unwarranted for and will not be entertained.
- Points are scored on a scale of 0 – 6 based on the command and clarity of the candidate over the English language.
VERBAL REASONING SECTION
- Duration: 30 minutes per section
- Contains 2 sections comprising of 20 questions each.
- The test is scored on a scale of 130 – 170 points.
- The sections test the vocabulary usage, reading comprehension and critical reasoning skills of the candidate.
QUANTITATIVE REASONING SECTION
- Duration: 35 minutes per section
- Contains 2 sections comprising of 20 questions.
- The test is scored on a scale of 130-170 points.
- The sections test the candidate’s basic high school mathematical and reasoning skills.
The GRE is a multistage test where the difficulty of each section changes upon the performance of the candidate in the earlier section. The scaling system allows the candidate to achieve the highest score of 170 even if he misses one or more questions in a section. The minimum possible score in each section is 130 which can be achieved even if none of the questions are answered correctly.
The results of the quantitative and verbal reasoning sections can be accessed immediately after the test while the analytical writing score is sent along with the printed test report.