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GRE General Test: what it is and how to prepare for it

What is the GRE General Test, how much is it and what’s a good score? Check out this guide for everything you need to know about the GRE

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Joy Hunter

Student content curator
July 15 2021
A student taking the GRE


The Graduate Record Exam or GRE is a well-known standardised test required by some graduate schools and master’s programmes as part of your application.

Applicants come from all over the world, with a diverse range of professional experiences and academic qualifications at graduate level, so the GRE provides a helpful benchmark of comparison for university admissions offices.

Below is a guide on everything you need to know about the GRE, including costs, eligibility, what the test consists of and what’s a good score.

Who accepts the GRE?

The GRE General Test is the most widely accepted graduate admissions test, making it a popular choice for applicants.

Many institutions around the world will accept GRE scores and you can use this search tool to check if your chosen institution accepts the GRE.

How do I take the GRE?

You must register online to take the GRE test and you can opt to do it either at a test centre or at home on your computer.

If you choose to take the GRE in a test centre, you’ll need to book an appointment in advance and availability will depend on the local centre. Use this search tool to find your nearest centre.

If you want to take the test online, you can do so from 24 hours after you register. There are appointments available to take the test at any time and any day, making it a much more flexible option. However, If you do choose to take the test at home on your computer, you’ll need make sure you meet the equipment and environment requirements first.

How much is the GRE test?

The GRE costs USD$205 in all locations apart from China where it costs $231 and India where it costs $213. There may be some additional charges should you need to reschedule, change your test centre, or require detailed feedback.

What does the GRE test consist of?

The GRE test takes three hours and 45 minutes to complete and consists of three sections:

Verbal reasoning – this section evaluates your ability to comprehend written text, draw conclusions and select the most important points. There will be multiple-choice reading comprehension questions, as well as text completion and sentence equivalence tasks.

Quantitative reasoning – this section asks you to interpret and analyse quantitative information and some basic algebra, arithmetic, geometry and data analysis. This is assessed in the form of multiple choice, quantitative comparison and numeric entry questions. An on-screen calculator is provided. 

Analytical writing – this section is designed to measure your ability to articulate complex ideas clearly and support your ideas with relevant reasoning and evidence. There are two 30-minute tasks within this section, one where you’ll be asked to express your thoughts about a given topic and another where you’ll be asked to analyse and respond to a written argument.

Check out the GRE website for more information on what the GRE test consists of, including sample questions.

What is a good score on the GRE test?

After completing your GRE test you will receive a separate score for each of the three sections. For the verbal reasoning and quantitative reasoning sections, scores come on a scale of 130-170, while scores for the analytical writing section range from zero to six.

An average score for the GRE is about 155 in quantitative reasoning, 150 in verbal reasoning and a 3.6 in analytical writing. A good score might be above 160 in quantitative and verbal, and above a 4 in analytical writing.

Please note that these are just estimates, and different institutions and courses will have different minimum score requirements. It’s best to get in touch with your university or graduate programme to see what you are expected to aim towards, or check their website.

Occasionally, test takers are asked to complete an additional experiential section on the GRE test, but this won’t be included in the final score.

One advantage of the GRE test over some other tests is that you can retake the test once every 21 days and up to five times within any rolling period of 12 months, meaning you’ll get a few chances to perfect your score.

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