GRE Exam 2023: What Candidates Need To Know

GRE Exam 2023: What Candidates Need To Know

You’ve often heard, “If you underestimate the mark, you’ll miss the mark.” Students who have taken the GRE exam know it’s not easy. There’s too much pressure everywhere. Everyone around you may start recounting how many retakes they took. “If you’re good enough, you’ll not go so far above the cutoff,” they may say. Then, the fear of failure and anxiety kick in.

There’s another side to it. You might be surrounded by great students who encourage you that the test is easy to pass. So you keep running your errands without budgeting some reading time. But you may be different from them, so you need a clear picture of what this test brings and gauge your abilities.

We got you if you plan to sit the GRE test this year. This article will cover everything you must know about the test and how to prepare effectively.

Read to the end!

The GRE General Test

The GRE is a standardized test administered by the ETS (Educational Testing Service). It is used as an admission requirement by many business schools to measure the candidate’s readiness for their graduate programs. While the GRE General Test is popular, some schools will require applicants to take the GRE Subject Test. The latter is more technical, assessing a candidate’s knowledge in subjects such as Physics, Math, and Psychology.

Structure of the GRE General Test

The test format includes three scored sections and a bonus “unscored” section. The scored sections include Analytical Writing, Verbal Reasoning, and Quantitative Reasoning. The “unscored” section may either cover quantitative or verbal reasoning questions. The bonus section is called “unscored” because your score will not directly affect the total score.

Technically, the exam is meant to take 3 hours and 45 minutes. However, it tends to take longer because of built-in breaks. 

Analytical writing, coming with two questions, takes 60 minutes. The 40-question verbal section lasts 60 minutes, whereas the quantitative (quant) section (40 questions too) takes 70 minutes. This totals 4 hours in the exam room, adding the built-in breaks.

However, there are changes to the length and format of the exam. Starting September 2023, you will have a shorter test that’s barely two hours. The Verbal and Quant sections will only have 27 questions with 41 and 47 minutes, respectively. The Analytical Writing section will only have one “Analyze an Issue” question lasting 30 minutes.

The GRE Exam Subject Tests

GRE Subject Tests are designed to assess a graduate’s mastery of different fields of study. With the main subjects being Math, Physics, and Psychology, the tests are designed for candidates who’ve extensively studied a particular subject. For instance, a math subject test can demonstrate a candidate’s quantitative skills in related fields like Computer Science, Statistics, or Economics.

While the subject tests can be waivered for students who performed well in their undergrad exams, they are used to demonstrate proficiency for students who struggled with undergrad exams.

The ETS provides free digital practice books as subject tests are considered generally rigorous. 

Topics covered in Subject Tests

  • Math: Almost half of the test features Calculus questions. The remaining part has elementary, linear, and abstract algebra questions. You’ll also find a few more questions from random math topics that you covered in high school.
  • Physics: Topics include thermodynamics, atomic physics, quantum mechanics, electromagnetism, classical mechanics, statistical mechanics, special relativity, and laboratory methods. The test may also include condensed matter, nuclear, and particle physics questions.
  • Psychology: This assesses your proficiency with such topics as biological, social, cognitive, developmental, clinical, methodology, and measurement.

Differences between the GRE General and GRE Subject Tests

  1. Test focus

The first point to note is the test focus of these two exams. The General Test assesses a candidate’s critical thinking abilities and how they can use them in multiple disciplines. On the other hand, the Subject test evaluates a candidate’s knowledge of a specific subject.

  1. Which is straightforward?

The Subject Test is easy to pass if the candidate is well-versed in the topics. However, the General Test requires more thinking, reasoning, and sometimes second-guessing if one cannot unlock the context of the question. 

  1. Time Limitations

The Subject Tests give a candidate the leeway to choose how much time they can spend on a specific question. However, the General Test sections are timed. This means the test taker must be fast enough to handle each section in the given time.

  1. Test duration

Historically, Subject Tests have been shorter than the General Tests. However, the changes effective September will make their durations almost the same.

What Types of Graduate Programs will use Your GRE Exam score?

Your GRE score doesn’t become useless once you finish your master’s program application. They may still be necessary for Ph.D. and professional degree programs. The GRE is slowly becoming a mandatory business school entrance exam in many schools. Besides, many disciplines use graduate programs for their application process, from technical fields to liberal arts. 

More than 100 law schools in the US now accept the GRE test for typical admission.

How Far Should You Go with GRE Exam Prep?

The length of preparation equals the level of readiness. Since GRE tests require immense knowledge of different fields, you must set aside 3 to 4 months of intensive studies. Waiting for the last month will only make you panic and rob you of the peace required in revision.

In the last month, look out for mock GRE exams. Do several papers without referring to your notes and see how much you can score. Look for rusty areas of your study and polish them.

How to Improve Your GRE Score

If your school allows for multiple GRE tests, then you have the option of raising your score. So, sign up for a GRE test retake and prep yourself in light of your previous mistakes. Take a moment to revisit your mistakes in the previous paper and devise strategies to prevent them.

The GRE exams mean so much more than a mere admission requirement. Your performance may determine your viability for future opportunities like scholarships. So, approach the test with the right attitude to brace yourself for it. Bash the assumption that you’re good at a particular subject and fail to study it. 

For the General Test, read more and try to criticize the content. Expose yourself to a lot of vocabulary as well. 

Finally, note that while everyone hates failure, it is a part of the process. So, do your best and just breathe!

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