GRE, the Graduate Record Examination, is a standardized exam generally given in the United States. Given year-round, the GRE is computer-based and adaptive, meaning that depending on how well a tester does on the first few questions of a section determines the difficulty level of questions thereafter. While the GRE has subject tests in some sciences and math, the GRE General Test is the most used by colleges and universities as an entrance examination for prospective graduate students.

The three sections are: Verbal, Mathematical, and Analytical. The Verbal section has sentence completions, analogies, reading comprehension, and antonyms. Math has quantitative comparisons, problem solving, and graphs. The Analytical section contains analytical reasoning and logical reasoning. The exam lasts about 2 1/2 hours maximum after a 30 minute familiarization with the computer and its functions.

What is described above is one manifestation of the GRE, the General GRE. The three sections, Verbal, Analytical, and Quantitative, are scored out of 800, and the score is determined by the computer using some complex algorithm based on the difficulty level of the questions, which themselves were determined using an algorithm based on how the test taker answered the first couple of questions. It all seems a bit convoluted to me.

In any case, the real purpose of these sections are as follows:
Analytical: Thinly veiled IQ test
Verbal: Thinly veiled test of socioeconomic class
Quantitative: Thinly veiled test of how many times you skipped class in high school.

The other manifestation is the so called Advanced GREs which are the subject tests. They are supposed to assess undergraduate performance and preparedness for graduate school in the field in question. There were formerly subject tests in most of the sciences, many of the social sciences, and most of the humanities, but over the past few years most, especially in the humanities, have been discontinued, presumably due to lack of interest on the part of both graduate admissions committees and applicants. Advanced GRE exams remain for most of the sciences, including Physics, Chemistry, Biology, Biochemistry, Computer Science, and Mathematics, as well as Economics and possibly a few other subjects, and in most of these subjects they are mandatory or at least highly suggested for graduate admission.

The Advanced GREs are notoriously hard, but I found, at least in dealing with the Physics one, that the key was achieving familiarity with the test and the types of questions on the test. Once this familiarity was cultivated, many questions could be answered by process of elimination of the answer choices and without actually solving them explicitly, which of course would be impossible anyway given the time constraints.

There is yet another incarnation of the GRE that most people do not have to take, but is still important. That is the GRE Writing assessment. If a departmental requirement, a prospective graduate student will take this test to see if they can: propose arguements, write a coherent discussion, and be in command of the English language. This test is not a requirement of all grad schools, (I never took it) but its use is becoming more widespread.

A special note concerning the Analytical portion of the GRE general test. Even though someone may thing they are analytical in nature and do not need to prepare for that portion of the test, THEY DO! The type of questions in that section of the test are never seen in a "normal" education. They involve cruise ships leaving on different days for different length trips on Mondays and Fridays only and other problems that require extensive diagrams to complete. If I had not purchased a study guide for that section of the test, I surely would have got a poor score, but by being prepared for the type of questions to come, I ended up with a 790 Analytical and a 98+ percentile. Highly recommended.

Gre (?), n.

See Gree, a step.



© Webster 1913.

Gre, n.

See Gree, good will

. [Obs.]


© Webster 1913.

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