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Graduate record exam (GRE) information

GRE basics + registration, results and score reporting

GRE overview

The GRE, or Graduate Record Examination, is a standardized test commonly used for admissions into graduate and business school programs worldwide. It is administered by the Educational Testing Service (ETS). The GRE assesses a test taker's verbal reasoning, quantitative reasoning, critical thinking, and analytical writing skills. The test is typically taken on a computer, although a paper-based version is available in areas where computer testing is not feasible. The GRE consists of three main sections:


Verbal Reasoning: This section assesses a test taker's ability to analyze and evaluate written material and to synthesize information from it. It includes questions on reading comprehension, text completion, and sentence equivalence.


Quantitative Reasoning: This section evaluates a test taker's ability to understand and interpret quantitative information, solve mathematical problems, and apply mathematical concepts to real-world scenarios. It covers topics such as arithmetic, algebra, geometry, and data analysis.


Analytical Writing: This section measures a test taker's ability to articulate complex ideas clearly and effectively in written form. Test takers are required to analyze an issue and construct an argument in response to it.

What programs require the GRE?

Many graduate programs, particularly in the United States, require GRE scores as part of the admissions process. Law schools are also increasingly accepting the GRE in place of the LSAT, for students who prefer to take the GRE. However, the importance of GRE scores in admissions decisions can vary depending on the specific program and institution.

What is the format of the new GRE exam?

ETS recently updated the GRE to decrease the time required to take the exam. The test used to take 3 hours and 45 minutes, and, as of 2023, it now takes just under 2 hours (or, 1 hour and 58 minutes, specifically). Nothing has changed about the types of questions asked, but there are fewer questions overall, and only one, instead of two, writing tasks. They also removed the optional 10 minute break, and now there is no break. Lastly, they removed the “experimental” section that was previously included on the exam but did not count towards scoring.

The test now consists of the following sections.

Layout of the new GRE and time per section

Although the Analytical Writing component always comes first, it may be followed by either the first Verbal Reasoning or the first Quantitative Reasoning section. Accordingly, your exam sections could appear in either of the following orders:

Analytical Writing -> Verbal Reasoning Section 1 -> Quantitative Reasoning Section 1 -> Verbal Reasoning Section 2 -> Quantitative Reasoning Section 2

Analytical Writing -> Quantitative Reasoning Section 1 -> Verbal Reasoning Section 1 -> Quantitative Reasoning Section 2 -> Verbal Reasoning Section 2

How is the GRE scored?

After you take the GRE, you’ll receive three scores, one for each of the main GRE sections.

Scoring on each section of the GRE

As shown, both the Verbal Reasoning and Quantitative Reasoning sections are scored between 130 and 170, in one-point increments. Remember that you only get credit for complete questions answered correctly. So, for questions with multiple blanks or multiple parts to answer, it’s all or nothing. And, very important: You don’t lose any points for incorrect answers on the GRE. So, it’s better to guess than to leave a question blank.

On the Analytical Writing section, you’ll receive a score between 0 and 6, in half-point increments. First, a human reader scores your essay then it is scored by an e-reader (a computer program) to grade writing skills, according to specific criteria. The average of these two scores on each essay (along with the average score of both essays) determines your ultimate score in the AW section. 

Is the GRE adaptive?

Yes. The GRE uses something called Computer-adaptive testing (CAT) on both the Verbal Reasoning and Quantitative Reasoning sections. This means that your performance on the first section will determine the difficulty of the questions on the second section, in both the verbal and quantitative portions of the exam. For instance, if you perform better on your first set of 12 Verbal Reasoning questions, you will get harder questions on your second set (of 15 questions).

Your final score (130-170) will depend on both your raw score (from 0-40) and the difficulty of the questions you were given on your second section.


What should you do with this information? Nothing. There’s no need to stress about the adaptivity of the GRE - it should not affect your test preparation at all. And, you should NOT try to analyze the difficulty of your second section on test day. Just do your best answering the questions given, to try to maximize your score. 

Registration & test day

You can take the GRE year-round at more than 1,000 test centers across the US and in more than 160 countries. You should schedule your exam well in advance of your graduate school application deadlines. It’s smart to take the GRE about a year before you intend to start graduate school. That way, you can retake it if necessary. You can take the GRE every 21 days (up to 5 times total in a year) and your test results are valid for five years. 

Where do you register?

First, create or log into your GRE user account here. Once you are logged into your account, it will take you to My GRE Home. From there, you can search for test centers and dates and register for your exam. Learn more about testing accommodations for disabilities or health-related needs here.

Cost: Each time you take the GRE, it costs $220.00. However, if you require special accommodations, you likely have to pay additional fees. Learn more about additional services and the need-based fee reduction program here.

Rescheduling or canceling exam: You can reschedule your test for $50 up to four days before your test date. You can also cancel your test for a 50% refund up to four days before your test date. Otherwise, you will forfeit the test fee. You can reschedule or cancel online through your online account.

Can you take the test at home?

Yes, they now offer at-home testing for students who prefer not to visit a test center to take their exam. The exam is administered the same way in the at-home version, which is available around the clock 7 days a week. At-home tests must be monitored by a human proctor, who will monitor the test taker through via camera. The at-home test require the following:

  • A laptop or desktop computer with a working camera
  • Prior installation of the ETS secure testing browser
  • A mirror or mobile phone to show your proctor your computer screen
  • Valid identification (passport, driver’s license, or other government-issues photo ID)
  • Note-taking material, which can include: a white board with an erasable marker, or one piece of paper inside a transparent sheet protector with an erasable marker

For more information on at-home testing, visiting this ETS page.

What are the testing center procedures?

Show up to your testing center a little early so you can find parking and don’t feel rushed. The moderators of the exam will lead you through all the procedures, but here are a few things you should know about your testing experience:

You will need your valid, government-issued photo ID when you check in at the testing center. See a list of acceptable IDs here. You will not be permitted to take your exam without this.

During check-in, you will most likely get your picture taken and may even be asked for a voice sample. You may also have to undergo additional check in/out procedures, in case you have to leave and return during testing. These can include biometric voice and photo identification, fingerprint identification, videotaping, or signature comparison.

You will be asked to put your personal items, like your cell phone, into a locker at the test center. You will not be permitted to bring personal items or food into the testing room and you will not be permitted to access them during break.

Jewelry other than wedding and engagement rings is also prohibited. ETS recommends against wearing ornate hair clips, combs or headbands, and other accessories on test day, as these may be confiscated by the proctor. So, you may want to avoid clips and accessories altogether!

The testing center will give you a marker board or erasable scratch paper and a dry erase marker, for taking notes during your exam.

What is the test interface like?

Below is an example of the computer interface, showing a quantitative reasoning question. Notice how the interface shows you what section and question you’re on.

Example GRE interface showing how the computer based GRE looks

The test interface also provides a simple pop-up calculator, which performs basic arithmetic operations in addition to square root determination.

Mockup of the GRE calculator available during the test

During the test, you’ll also have the opportunity to mark questions you’re unsure of. On the review screen, you can get a snapshot of marked and incomplete questions, and you can navigate to any question from there.

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For more details on registration and test day, visit this page.

Results & score reporting

As mentioned above, you will receive a score of 130-160 on the Verbal Reasoning and Quantitative Reasoning portions of the exam and a score of 0-6 on the Analytical Writing portion. After your test, you’ll see unofficial Verbal Reasoning and Quantitative Reasoning scores reported on your screen. Official scores, including your Analytical Writing score, will be sent to you about 8-10 days after your exam (which is shorter than the 10-15 days for the old exam). You will receive an email notification that your scores are ready for review on your ETS account.

After your exam, you’ll be able to send scores to institutions that you designate. You can either send your test scores after completing your exam or wait to send them later.

Here is a sample score report from a given exam:

Example GRE score report
Sending your scores on test day

After you finish your exam and review your unofficial scores, you’ll have three options: (1) an option NOT to send your scores at this time; (2) an option to send most recent scores (i.e. the current test scores); (3) an option to send all previous scores including that day’s scores.

Sending your scores later

After your test day, you still have the option of sending additional score reports, for a fee of $35 per recipient. You can order these online through your ETS account. Here, you’ll have the option to send all your past test scores, your most recent scores, or scores from any test date that you think reflect your best performance.

Your scores are valid for up to 5 years after your test date.

What additional information can I get regarding my score?

The GRE diagnostic services report is a free report will be available on your ETS account from about 15 days after your exam to about 6 month after your exam. This report shows you which types of questions you got correct and incorrect on your exam, as well as the difficultly of each question and the time spent on each question.

The report breaks your results up by exam section and categories. Here are the categories:

Verbal Reasoning categories = reading comprehension - longer passage, reading comprehension - shorter passage, sentence equivalence, text completion

Quantitative Reasoning categories = arithmetic, algebra, geometry, data analysis

The report gives you your result and time spent on each question within each section and category; for each question, it also shows the question type. Here are the question type breakdowns:

Verbal Reasoning question types = select 1 multiple choice, select 1 or more multiple choice, and 1 blank, 2 blanks, and 3 blanks for text completion questions

Quantitative Reasoning question types = select 1 multiple choice, select 1 or more multiple choice, numerical entry, quantitative comparison

Here are sample score reports for the first Verbal Reasoning and Quantitative Reasoning questions:

Example GRE score report and results on verbal reasoningExample GRE score report and results on quantitative reasoning

Make sure you use this information if you need to retake the exam! These results will help you to hone in the problem types you need more practice on.

Can I dispute my scores?

You can only request a rescore for the Analytical Writing portion of the exam. If you request a rescore, then your scores will be placed on hold until that rescore is performed. Note that requesting a rescore may result in a higher or lower score, and the new score will be used after this.

For more details on sending scores, visit this page.