The GRE, the Graduate Record Examination, is a test that the Educational Testing Service (ETS) administers. Passing the GRE test is required by most graduate and business schools and it is used to screen students prior to admission. The actual importance of the test to the admission process, however, varies from school to school. In November of 2011, there were significant changes made to the GRE. ETS now refers to the GRE exam as the GRE Revised General Test.

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The ETS GRE is a computer based test that is given continuously year round. It is given around the world, however, in mainland China, Taiwan, Korea and Hong Kong the test is only available one to three times a month. People taking the GRE, regardless of location, must make an appointment prior to taking the test. If the person taking the GRE exam fails, he or she may retake the test once every 30 days. This can be done no more than five times in any 12 month period. For people living in areas that are not equipped for computer testing, a paper based version of the exam is given.

It takes 3.9 hours to complete the GRE. ETS has broken down the GRE test into three sections. These sections include Verbal Reasoning, Quantitative Reasoning, and Analytical writing. The Verbal Reasoning portion of the GRE exam is designed to test the student’s ability to read, understand and analyze complex written information and relationships. This portion of the exam consists of multiple choice questions. The Quantitative Reasoning portion of the GRE test includes algebra, arithmetic, data analysis, and geometry. For the Revised Version of the GRE, ETS has included a calculator for student use. The final section, Analytical Writing, tests the students’ analytical writing abilities and critical thinking.

The GRE ETS is scored in two separate ways. The Verbal and Quantitative Reasoning portions of the exam are scored on a scale that ranges from 130 to 170. This differs from the previous version of the test. The Analytical Writing portion of the exam is scored on a scale that ranges in half point increments from zero to 6.

Students taking the GRE also have an option called ScoreSelect. This option allows them to choose which test scores to send to the schools. When using ScoreSelect on test day, students may select “Most Recent” or “All.” The “Most Recent” option allows them to send their current score, while the “All” option allows them to send all tests from the past five years. After the test day, an “Any” option is available to students. With this option, a student can send any of his or her past scores.

Scores that are available on test day are considered unofficial. Only students who take the computer based GRE have access to this unofficial score. The official score is mailed within 10 to 15 days. People taking the paper based exam must wait six weeks for their scores. Test scores are valid for five years.

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On the day of the GRE exam students must undergo identification verification. This may be photo ID, thumb printing, or some form of electronic identification such as videotaping. In addition, students must also bring two forms of identification to the center, such as a driver’s license or passport. Identification must be current, include a photo and signature and they must be original documentation. Students who fail to bring identification or participate in identification verification when taking the GRE ETS will not be allowed to take the exam. In addition, their registration and test fees will not be reimbursed.