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Updated: February 4, 2013 19:52 IST

Taking the new GRE

Dawn Piacentino
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The new GRE offers more useful results and testing experience. Photo: Mohammed Yousuf
The new GRE offers more useful results and testing experience. Photo: Mohammed Yousuf

One test for graduate and business school. More opportunities for success.

Here are some strategies and tips for the computer-based Graduate Record Examination (GRE), revised general test.

The Analytical Writing section measures your ability to sustain a well-focused, coherent discussion, articulate complex ideas clearly and effectively, support your ideas with relevant examples, and examine claims and accompanying evidence. This section has two 30-minute separately-timed tasks: “Analyse an Issue” and “Analyse an Argument.” The score for this section is reported on a 0–6 score scale, in half-point increments.

The Verbal Reasoning section measures your ability to analyse and draw conclusions from discourse, understand multiple levels of meaning, select important points, and understand the meanings of sentences and entire texts. There are two 30-minute sections in the test, each containing about 20 questions. The score is reported on a 130–170 score scale, in one point increments.

The Quantitative Reasoning section measures your ability to interpret and analyse quantitative information and use mathematical skills such as arithmetic, algebra, geometry, probability and statistics to solve problems. There are two 35-minute sections each containing about 20 questions. The score is reported on a 130–170 score scale, in one point increments.

The new format

The total time allowed for the computer-based GRE revised General Test is three hours and 45 minutes, and has six sections with a 10-minute break after the third section. The directions at the beginning of each section specify the total number of questions in the section and the time allowed for the section. The Analytical Writing section is always the first section, while the Verbal Reasoning and Quantitative Reasoning sections can appear in any order. An unidentified unscored section that does not count toward a score may be included and may appear in any order. An identified research section that is not scored may be included, and it will always be at the end of the test.

The questions in the GRE revised General Test have a variety of formats. Some require you to select a single answer choice, others require you to select one or more answer choices, and still others require you to enter a numeric answer. Before answering a question, make sure you understand what type of response is required.

The GRE revised General Test offers you a friendlier, more technically advanced test that is designed to provide graduate and business schools with even more useful results. The test-taker friendly design features provide a better testing experience. You not only have the freedom to move back and forth, edit or change answers, skip and return to questions, all within a section; you also have the ability to use more of your own test-taking strategies. The on-screen calculator is an additional advantage. New questions emphasise real-world scenarios and there is less reliance on vocabulary out of context, adding to the appeal of the revised test.

Test-taking strategies

On the Analytical Writing measure, it is important to budget your time. Within the 30-minute time limit for each task, you’ll need to allow sufficient time to think about the topic, plan a response and compose your essay. Save a few minutes at the end of each timed task to check for obvious errors. Although an occasional typographical, spelling or grammatical error will not affect your score, severe or persistent errors will detract from the overall effectiveness of your writing and lower your score.

Your Verbal Reasoning and Quantitative Reasoning raw scores are determined by the number of questions you answer correctly. Nothing is subtracted from a score if you answer a question incorrectly. Therefore, to maximise your scores on the Verbal Reasoning and Quantitative Reasoning measures, it is best to answer every question. Work as rapidly as you can without being careless. Since no question carries greater weight than any other, do not waste time pondering individual questions that you find extremely difficult or unfamiliar.

You may want to go through each timed section rapidly first, stopping only to answer questions you can answer with certainty. Then go back and answer the questions that require greater thought, concluding with the difficult questions if you have time.

Plan your preparation

Preparation for the test will depend on the amount of time you have available and your personal preferences on how to prepare. At a minimum, before you take the computer-based GRE revised General Test, you should know what to expect from the test, including the administrative procedures, types of questions and directions, approximate number of questions and amount of time for each section.

The administrative procedures include registration and appointment scheduling, date, time, test center location, cost, score-reporting procedures and availability of special testing arrangements.

Practise taking the test. Make use of the free materials that are available at www.takethegre.com/prep. Download the POWERPREP II Software to experience a simulated test-taking experience, take a practice test, and become familiar with the test directions, question types, on-screen calculator, testing software and test design. Check the ETS website to make sure you have valid and acceptable identification. The name you used to register must exactly match the name on the ID documents that you will present at the test centre. Visit the GRE page on Facebook and interact with other GRE test-takers to exchange ideas. Pack anything that you may need such as water and a snack to have during the break. Pack your bag the night before and set an alarm. On test day, wear comfortable clothes and dress so that you can adapt to any room temperature. Rest adequately. A good night’s sleep will work wonders. And last but not the least … ALL THE VERY BEST!

Copyright © 2012 by Educational Testing Service.

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