What is GRE

GRE- Graduate Record Examinations is a standardized test required for many graduate student admissions in the United States, Canada and other countries. GRE was established in 1936, by The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. Across a wide range of topic areas, GRE is used to evaluate an applicant’s suitability for graduate-level study. The GRE, according to ETS, attempts to evaluate students’ long-acquired abilities in verbal reasoning, numeric reasoning, analytical writing, and critical thinking.

Aspiring graduate students who tend to put off studying for tests should not attempt to cram for the Graduate Record Exam, or GRE, because achieving an impressive score on this graduate school entrance exam is difficult without significant preparation, experts warn.

Why GRE test ?

The GRE General Exam and GRE Subject Exam were created with a specific goal in mind that provide value to the selection of applicants. The GRE Subject Tests are used to assess performance in a specific field of study and assist departments to evaluate applicants ‘readiness for graduate school. Some GRE Subject Test results also provide sub-scores that reveal extra details about one’s strengths and weaknesses which can be helpful for placement and guidance purposes. The GRE General Test assesses verbal reasoning, quantitative reasoning, critical thinking, and analytical writing—skills that graduate and professional schools, including business and law, have identified as an essential part of academic achievement. GRE scores offer an unbiased way for universities to compare applicants from various backgrounds. A high GRE score can provide you access to the world’s best universities.

Closeup of hand holding pen and filling out questionary form on table

All prestigious universities in the US, UK, Australia and Europe accept the GRE for admission applications. More than 1300 business schools accept the GRE for MBA and other professional programs in 94 countries.

GRE subject tests are content-based exams that assess a person’s mastery of a particular field of study, such as biology or psychology. Each is designed for students who have majored in or extensively studied the particular exam subject. A grad school hopeful might take a math subject test in order to demonstrate quantitative skills to grad schools in fields where numerical competence is vital, such as computer science or economics.

The “GRE Subject Tests” section of the ETS website says subject tests can help grad school hopefuls “stand out from other applicants” by demonstrating their “knowledge and skill level” within a particular academic discipline. These are the six fields where a subject test is available:

  • Biology.
  • Chemistry.
  • Literature in English.
  • Mathematics.
  • Physics.
  • Psychology.

ETS provides free digital practice books for each subject test. Below is a summary of the material a person should understand and study prior to taking a GRE subject test.

Biology. It focuses on three aspects of biology, each of which provides the basis for roughly a third of the questions on the exam: cellular and molecular biology; evolution and ecology; and organismal biology.

Chemistry. This exam requires knowledge of all four major categories of chemistry and the ways various types of chemistry are related. The four focus areas are analytical chemistry, inorganic chemistry, organic chemistry and physical chemistry, with greater weight on the latter two.

Literature in English. Demonstrating literary analysis skills is an integral component of the exam. Three other competencies are also necessary to ace this test: recognizing and accurately identifying literary works; contextualizing a piece of literature based on its historical or cultural backdrop; and understanding the history and theory of literary criticism.

Mathematics. About half of this exam focuses on calculus while roughly a quarter concentrates on algebra and number theory. The remaining questions cover miscellaneous topics typically included in an undergraduate math curriculum.

Physics. This exam typically includes questions on optics and wave phenomena; thermodynamics and statistical mechanics; classical mechanics; electromagnetism; quantum mechanics; atomic physics; special relativity and laboratory methods. It also includes questions on specialized physics topics such as nuclear and particle physics, but the specific topics covered depend on the individual exam.

Psychology. This exam includes questions on six aspects of psychology, including biological, cognitive, social, developmental, clinical and topics such as measurement and methodology.


Number of Questions

Allotted Time

Analytical Writing
(One section with two separately timed tasks)

One “Analyse an Issue” task and one “Analyse an Argument” task

30 minutes per task

Verbal Reasoning
(Two sections)

20 questions per section

30 minutes per section

Quantitative Reasoning
(Two sections)

20 questions per section

35 minutes per section







GRE preparation mainly focuses on two modules. Each module has additional resources and every student should choose a module accordingly:

1) Module A – This module gives test-takers a comprehensive overview of the GRE general test and services. Topics covered are: 

  • Test features and structures
  • Registration tips and test strategies
  • Tools that help you prepare
  • Additional services and resources. 

2) Module B – This contains five different topics that provide more extensive preparation instruction. This session includes: 

  • Information about GRE Program and General Tests
  • Detailed information about the questions on each general test measures
  • Tips and strategies for approaching the test questions


Score Scale

Verbal Reasoning

130–170, in 1-point increments

Quantitative Reasoning

130–170, in 1-point increments

Analytical Writing

0–6, in half-point increments

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