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The Graduate Record Examination (GRE) is an exam that is produced and administered by the Educational Testing Service (ETS). This is an exam that is used by applicants to graduate school, and it serves as a common measure for the applicants. There are two types of Graduate Record Examinations, the general exam and the subject tests. The general GRE test is often required for admission to graduate school, and the subject tests, which are only given in a few select subjects, can be either optional or required depending on the graduate program. This description will focus on the general GRE test only. There are three ways to register for the Graduate Record Examination. Registration can be completed online on the website for the Educational Testing Service, on the phone by calling 1-800-GRE-CALL, or by mail using the application found in the GRE test bulletin (the bulletin can be found online at the ETS website). If registration is completed by phone or online, a registration confirmation number will be given. If registering by mail, an Authorization Voucher Request Form, found in the GRE test bulletin, will need to be downloaded and printed and mailed in to the address found in the bulleting. A voucher will be sent back to the registrant within four weeks, and at this point, the registrant is to call ETS to schedule a testing appointment. Specific details concerning registration and the information needed, as well as the requirements for taking the test, can be found in the GRE test bulletin. When registering, by phone, online, or by mail, all necessary fees must be paid. Detailed fee schedules can also be found in the GRE test bulletin.
In the United States, the GRE test is given year round at selected testing centers. The test is administered on computer only. Locations at which the GRE test may be taken can be found on the ETS website. The computerized GRE test is composed of three different content areas, verbal, quantitative, and analytical writing. The verbal section tests the ability to evaluate and analyze written material, the ability to synthesize information from said material, the ability to understand relationships between words and concepts, and the ability to analyze the relationships between parts of sentences. The quantitative section tests the ability reason in a quantitative manner, the ability to solve quantitative problems, and ones' understanding of arithmetic, algebra, geometry, and data analysis. The analytical writing section tests the ability to articulate complex ideas, the ability to understand and examine claims and evidence, the ability to support ideas and thoughts with necessary and applicable examples and reasons, the ability to write a focused and coherent essay, and the ability to understand and use standard written English.
The computerized GRE test is made up of three sections, verbal reasoning, quantitative reasoning, and analytical writing. The analytical writing section is always first on the exam and is composed of two different tasks. The first task is an issue task, in which the test-taker has a choice of two topics. The second task is an argument task, in which the test-taker must complete the one task given. Test-takers are given up to 45 minutes to complete the issue task and up to 30 minutes to complete the argument task. The verbal and quantitative sections are composed of multiple choice questions (30 in the verbal section and 28 in the quantitative section) and may appear in any order in the exam. Thirty minutes are given to complete the verbal section, and 45 minutes are given to complete the quantitative section. The computerized GRE test may also contain a pretest section. This section will be unidentified as such, and it may appear in any position during the test (after the analytical writing section). This section is not counted as part of the GRE test score. Also, a research section may appear. This section will be identified as the research section, and if it appears, it will be the final section of the test. This section also is not counted as part of the GRE test score. The amount of questions and the time to complete the pretest and the research sections will vary.
The GRE test is scored in two ways. First, the verbal and quantitative sections are part of a computer adaptive test. This means that the questions that are given to the test-taker are dependent partially on the answers the test-taker has provided to previous questions. The number of questions answered correctly in each of these sections is what is called the raw score. The raw score is then converted to a scaled score. This scaled score takes into account the differing levels of difficulty among different versions of the test. The scaled scores for the verbal and quantitative sections range from 200 to 800, in 10 point increments. The analytical writing section is hand scored by two trained readers. The readers will give the essay responses scores on a holistic scale from 0-6. If the scores given in this section by the two readers vary by more than one point, a third reader scores this section. If the scores do not vary by more than one point among the two initial readers, the scores are averaged and rounded up to the nearest half point. A single score for the entire section is reported, and the score will be from 0-6, in half point increments.
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by Enoch Morrison
Last Updated: 06/07/2013
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