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What is the GRE Revised General Test?

If you're wondering what the GRE Revised General Test is, and whether you should take the exam, this brief FAQ is the place to start.

What is the GRE Revised General Test?

The GRE Revised General Test is a half-day standardized exam designed to provide admissions committee members, career counselors, and prospective applicants with predictors of academic performance in graduate-level academic study (Masters and Ph.D. programs). The acronym GRE stands for Graduate Record Exam.

The exam is developed and administered by Educational Testing Service (ETS), a non-profit organization based in Princeton, New Jersey. ETS also conducts ongoing research projects aimed at improving the test.

What skills or abilities does the exam measure?

The GRE Revised General Test is designed to measure three broad cognitive abilities using three different "measures":

  • Analytical Writing (two writing tasks)
  • Quantitative Reasoning (two scored exam sections)
  • Verbal Reasoning (two scored exam sections)

A separate score is awarded for each of the three measures listed above. The GRE is not a pass/fail test.

How does the GRE Revised General Test differ from the exam's previous version?

On August 1, 2011, the GRE Revised General Test permanently replaced the previous version of the exam: the GRE General Test. The two versions measure the same basic skills and cognitive abilities, the overall testing format is basically the same, and the total testing time is about the same. But there are significant differences as well. The revised exam is designed to be more user-friendly, and it incorporates some new question formats while eliminating certain others.

Is the GRE required for admission to graduate-level academic programs?

Admission requirements vary widely among graduate institutions, and requirements can vary from one program to another within the same institution. Most graduate programs require scores for the GRE General Test (either the revised or previous version) or a GRE Subject exam, or both. However, some graduate programs accept scores for the Miller Analogy Test (MAT) in lieu of GRE General Test scores.

A minority of graduate programs use but don't require GRE and/or MAT scores to access applicants' qualifications. Schools that do not require either GRE or MAT scores generally have relatively lenient admission standards.

Where GRE scores are required, they are only one of several factors considered in the admission decision. Other factors include undergraduate GPA, faculty recommendation letters, application essays (personal statements), and work and other experience.

Is the GRE Revised General Test administered only by computer?

Except for some remote locations outside North America, the GRE Revised General Test is available only as a computer-based test (although the GRE Subject exams are still offered as paper-based tests).

Both the paper-based and computer-based versions include the same types of questions, and scores for the paper-based and computer-based GRE are comparable to each other. In other words, examinees who take the paper-based test are neither at an advantage nor disadvantage vis-a-vis those who take the computer-based version.

NOTE: Test takers in China (including Hong Kong), Taiwan, and South Korea must take the computerized version of all sections of the GRE Revised General Test. (Prior to August 1, 2011, examinees in these countries took the paper-based version of the GRE Quantitative and Verbal measures but the computerized version of the Analytical Writing measure. This system was referred to as "split administration.")