GradApps: Tips for the GRE

What is GRE ?

The full form of GRE is Graduate Record Examination. It is a standardised test that you will need to give if you want to go for Higher Studies. Many universities across different countries set a threshold GRE score criterian to determine eligibility of a candidate. However, it should be noted that most good universities use GRE only as a threshold. This means that if some university has minimum GRE requirement of 300/340 then you can apply with a score of 320. However, it makes very little difference in the application process i.e. someone with a score of 310 could get admission ahead of someone with 330. We shall discuss more on how the admission processes work in later posts. Overall, you need to give the GRE before you start your applications to graduate schools and let's get into the discussion. We will take US universities as our objective grad schools, similar situation applies to other countries like Canada, Germany, England etc. 

If you are still undecided about whether to apply for grad school or not, read this article on Job or Higher studies. It may help.

When Should I Give GRE ? 

Generally the application deadlines for most good grad schools in the US are in mid-December. So, you should be starting to prepare your applications at least from mid-November. This means, at the latest October is the time to give GRE, and for that matter TOEFL/IELTS too. However, many people find it more convenient to get it done in the preceeding summer or in the preceeding winter if you are interning during the summer.

Exam Structure

GRE tests quntitative (Maths), verbal (English) and analytical writing (English) skills. The analytical writing score is not counted in the 340 and is given as a separate out of 6 score. Any grad school setting GRE criteria also sets the analytical writing score criteria separately our of 6. The verbal and the quantitative section carries 170 marks each. 

The exam starts of with the analytical writing section containing 2 essays to be written. This generally involves a given notice, announcement, conjecture, argument etc. which you have to read and answer some question based on what you understand from the given text. For example, if an argument in favor of some decision is given you may be asked to state what are the reasons that makes the argument compelling or if it flawed, what kind of evidence it is lacking and how do those evidence effect the final decision ?

Then you will have at 4 verbal and quantitative sections in any order and a 5th one of either of the two. So, keep in mind that if you get 3 verbal sections then one of the three sections will not be counted towards your marks and is called experimental section by ets. Please note that they won't tell you which one is the experimental section i.e. you have to answer all the 5 sections seriously.

A verbal section consists of questions testing your knowledge of english vocabulary, grammar and agreements. These questions are generally fill in the blanks type with single or multiple blanks. However, each question carries same weight, SO, you might want to skip the multiple blank ones first and do the single ones as they are in general easier. For this section you will need a vast vocabulary of English containing words like "Docile", "Cacophony", "Burlesque" etc. If you are weak in English vocab this section will hurt you most. So, start increasing your vocabulary. I would suggest start preparing for it at least a month before your exams. You can get a list of these common difficult GRE words from many sources on the internet. Just search for it. But, keep in mind that only knowing the words won't help. You will need to know how they are used in sentences i.e. contextual meaning. Otherwise the verbal questions will trick you. Then there will be questions from reading comprehensions. The passages given in this section will be in general heavy in english syntax with long sentences and complicated constructs. So, you have to read very carefully and answer the questions. The timer for each section is separate and hence you cannot save time from maths section to give time here. So, you will be needing some exam practice.

The quantitative section consists of simple maths questions. A bassic knowledge of upto high school level maths is more than enough. For fresh students it is not at all a problem. However, be careful and read the questions properly so that you know what exactly it is asking. Sine, the english part is generally tougher you would not like to loose marks in the maths sections due to silly mistakes.

Here's an examples of GRE mock test evaluation : 

Registration Process and Prep Materials

Registration process for GRE is pretty simple. You need to go to create your account. Please be careful with your name. Enter it exactly  as it appears on your passport otherwise everything will be in vain. After logging in you can now order new GRE test, book your schedule and venue. The exam fee as far as I remember was $180. Yes, it's pricey, but don't get shocked. It's after all a business of somebody. But, this also tells you that in most cases you really don't have more than one shot at this. S0, trade carefully. After buying the test you will get 2 free mock tests from the portal which conforms really nicely to the actually testing experience. You may also buy the official preparation material by ets from the same portal. 

However, if you are a subscriber of Roky'sSciTech, you can email or message our page on facebook for a google drive link containing preparation materials for free. Please refer the email you subscribed with in the message.

For the exam stick to the guidelines of what you have to bring and what not strictly. Give the exam coolly, our best wishes for you. After the exam is over the software will show you your verbal and analytical section score. It is safe to aim for a total of 320 with no less than 155 in either section. You will get the full report within 15 days containing the analytical writing score also. After that you can start sending your gre score to universities you want to apply to through the ets portal itself for some amount of fees. You will also be given this option for free for 4 grad schools just after the test through the testing software. So, keep in your mind names of 4 such unis you want to apply to. Please note that grad schools only accept GRE score sent via ets.

Next up on our agenda is a similar post on TOEFL. Let us know your thoughts in the comments. If you want to support the good work, subscribe and like the page on facebook.  Bye bye! Until the next post.


  1. Hi,
    I am also a student and want to go for higher studies in foreign. For this I am preparing for my GRE standardised test. Your informative blog prove really helpful for me and my friends who are preparing for this exam. I would really like to share this post with my friends who need to know about exam preparation, structure and exam evaluation.

    1. Hi Rum, I am glad that it helped you. You can use the share link below the post to share it with your friends. Make sure to check out our FB page too :-)

  2. Thanks, for sharing this informative post with us. Now I share this post with group of international medical students. So, they also know more about these test. Again, thanks for this post. If any medical students wants to become a doctor then join All Saints University College of Medicine. They offers Basic science to MD Degree programs at affordable fees rates.

    1. Feel free to like our fb page and share with your friends.

  3. Hi,
    I am an undergraduate student from kolkata. This GRE blog is really helpful for me. Can you suggest some book for GRE verbal section. I am facing many problems in vocabulary. Kindly suggest me how to improve my vocabulary section.


Post a Comment