All about GRE

Guide to the GRE


If you are one among those millions of students applying for a graduate program abroad then you need to learn all about GRE (Graduate Record Exam). Taking a GRE test is the most important step in the application process. Here, we have explained all the things pertaining to GRE that help you in executing this important step successfully.

What is GRE?

GRE stands for Graduate Record Examination. It is a universal test designed and administered by ETS (Educational Testing Service), an independent non-profit organization. Universities /colleges abroad use this test result along with other factors like academic details, GPA, Recommendation Letters (LoRs) and Statement of Purpose (SOP) to evaluate a candidate’s profile while giving admission to a particular graduate program.

Who takes the GRE and Why?

Students aspiring to do their masters and doctoral programs abroad take this test. Graduate, Law and Business schools all over the world consider this exam result as part of their evaluation criteria for the admission process. However, there are few colleges which don’t require you to take the GRE test. It is advisable to check on your preferred university website to understand their application requirements. One important point to consider here is that even though your desired University doesn’t mandatorily require you to take GRE Test; your GRE test score can be of good help while applying for scholarships and fellowships!

Types of GRE

There are two types of GRE

·     Revised General test

·     Subject test

GRE: General Test

This GRE General Test is taken by the students who want to pursue their masters in the US as well as other countries across the world. This test evaluates candidate’s analytical, quantitative, verbal and reasoning skills. You can take this test throughout the year. If you are not satisfied with the result and have enough time before applying, you can retake it. You can re-take it for a maximum of 5 times in a rolling 12-month period time with a gap of 21 days between the tests. This test can be given either online or in a traditional paper delivery manner.

GRE Subject Test

GRE Subject Test is to evaluate the candidate’s ability in that particular subject. This test is conducted for subjects like Mathematics, Physics, Biology, Psychology, Literature in English and Chemistry. This test will help you in getting admission to those specialized courses. And this test can be taken only in April, September and October. This test can be given only in a paper delivery manner.

GRE Exam fee

GRE General Test fee: $205 (approximately Rs.14,150/-)

GRE Subject Test fee: $150 (approximately Rs.10,350/-)

Test Duration

GRE General Test Duration

The duration of the GRE General Test is of 3 hours 45 minutes. There are a total of six sections and after the third section you will have a break for about 10 minutes.

GRE Subject Test Duration

The duration of GRE Subject Test is of 2 hours 50 minutes.  There are no timed sections and you can take the complete test sitting at your own provided place.

Exam Pattern

GRE General Test Exam pattern

MeasureNumber of QuestionsAllotted Time
Analytical Writing( two tasks in one section)Task 1: Analyze an IssueTask2 : Analyze an Argument30 minutes each taskTotal 60 minutes
Verbal Reasoning( Two sections)20 questions each section30 Minutes each sectionTotal 60 minutes
Quantitative Reasoning(Two sections)20 questions each section35 Minutes each sectionTotal 70 minutes
Unscored SectionVariesVaries
Research SectionVariesVaries

For both ‘Unscored’ and ‘Research’ sections, score doesn’t count. But you will not have the option to skip these sections as you will not be able to identify them.

‘Unscored’ and ‘Research’ sections can come anywhere after the ‘Analytical Writing’ section. So, you need to consider and answer them as if they count to your score.

GRE Subject Test Exam pattern

SubjectNumber of Questions
Chemistry130 Multiple Choice Questions
Biology190 Multiple Choice Questions
Literature in English230 Questions
Mathematics66 Multiple Choice Questions
Physics100 multiple choice questions
Psychology205 multiple choice questions

Good and Cut-off GRE Scores

ETS does not define any predefined good score or cut off for the GRE Test. Based on the expectations set by the Universities, your score is considered to be good if it places you in an excellent university or college with your intended graduate program.

The GRE General Test score that is above 317 is considered to be a good score as it gets you placed in the top 25% Universities. However, getting a seat in one of the top colleges requires you to have a consistent profile.

A test score of 260 can be considered as cut-off as you can still get admission with this score in some colleges but those colleges might not be on the top universities list.

The GRE Subject Test score ranges between 200 – 990 and a score that is above 790 is considered to be a good score that can get you admission in one of the top universities.

GRE Validity

GRE Test Scores are valid for five years from the day of your test administration. For example, if you have taken the test on 15th July 2019, then your test score is valid till 14th July 2024. This is applicable only for those who have taken the test after 01st July 2016. 

We understand that it is hard to digest this massive amount of information and most of it might have gone above your head. We suggest you to contact Ubergrad’s Student Support Team for assistance in every step of your journey to study abroad including GRE, all this at no extra cost to you.

Eligibility Criteria for GRE (both General Test and Subject Test)

There is no particular eligibility criterion for writing this test. Anyone with any qualification and of any age can apply for this test, provided one must submit original passport as a proof of identity at the time of exam at the exam center.  So, you need to ensure that you have a valid passport before registering for the exam.

Test Dates and GRE Slot Booking:

GRE General Test: ETS conducted GRE General Test is open all year round. You have the freedom to choose the dates as per your needs and requirements. However, you need to make the decision early as GRE test centers considers aspirants in FCFS (First Come First Serve) manner. While booking a slot, ensure that you have enough time to apply for the universities as the test scores takes at least 15 days to arrive.

GRE Subject Test: Unlike GRE General Test, GRE Subject test is conducted only three times in a year.

·     April

·         September

·     October


GRE Subject Test scores take at least six weeks to arrive. So, while booking your slot and test dates, make sure that you have enough time for getting the scores and reaching the universities before the deadline.

Rescheduling the GRE Test Registration

Life doesn’t always go the way you planned and GRE Test is no exception. You might need to reschedule GRE Test for some reason.

Rescheduling policies remains same for both the GRE General Test and Subject Tests. The rescheduling policies of test registration are as follows:

·     If you are planning to reschedule your GRE Test, make sure you do that at least four full days prior to your test date.  For example, if you have scheduled your test date on Friday then the deadline to reschedule your registration is Monday. You won’t get your refund if you fail to do so.

·     Fee for rescheduling your Test Date is US$50 (approx. INR Rs. 3,500/-)

·     You are not eligible to reschedule your test date beyond one year from the original date of appointment

·     The Test fees cannot be swapped between General and Subject Tests

·     Rescheduling the test can be done online (through ETS account) or through Phone, Fax or Postal Mail

When sending your reschedule request through postal mail or fax, make sure you enclose all your details like name, date of birth, registration number, preferred test center, old test date and new test date along with the rescheduling charges. Make sure your mail reaches four days prior to your test date.

Changing your GRE Subject Test

·     You have the option to change your GRE Subject Test from one subject to another provided you pay a fee of US $50 (approx. INR Rs. 3,500/-).

·     Changing of subject can be done within the regular registration deadline

·     However, change of subjects are not guaranteed and depends on the availability of the spaces

Change of subject request can be raised online or through phone. Be prepared to provide all your details along with your request.

Change of Test Center

Change of Test Center option is available only in case of GRE Subject Test and can be done only if space permits. However, you need to pay US $50 (approx. INR Rs. 3,500/-) in order to change your Test Center. You can also walk-in to the test center on the day of test with the confirmation email and if the center can accommodate and the test is available, then you can take the test at no additional cost.  But, there are risks like unavailability of Test and Seats at your preferred Test Centre and you might end up not taking the test.

Cancelling the Test Registration

Cancelling the Test Registration either for General Test or Subject Test requires you to raise the request at least four full days prior to the test date. Otherwise, you will not get a refund. If you cancel your request four days prior as per the policy, then you will get a refund which is equivalent to half of your original Test fee.

Refund Policy

You will get a refund only if you follow proper registration procedures and provide all the documents as per the requirement.

·     You will get the refund in US dollars

·     No Cash Refunds

·     If you have done payment via debit/credit card, once you cancel, the refund will be credited to your original Debit/Credit card or Bank account

·     If you did the payment via PayPal or E-check, the refund is processed and credited to original PayPal account or Bank account

·     If you have done the payment via check, then you need to wait for 8 weeks after cancelling to get the refund processed

GRE Centers in India

Usually, GRE General Test can be given in two formats –

1.    Computer-Based and 2. Paper-Based.

In India, GRE General Test can be given online only. GRE Subject Test is given in paper based manner only.

There are about 22 centers for GRE General Test (online) and 7 centers for GRE Subject Test (paper delivered) in India.

How to Register for the GRE Test?

You can register for GRE General Test in four different ways. But, GRE Subject Test registration can be done either Online or by Mail Registration. However, the process remains the same.

1.         Online Registration

You can register for your GRE exam online. You need to create an ETS account for the same.  You need to fill in basic requirements like name, age, address etc. This account is used to view your score report and send them to your preferred universities and colleges. Online registration allows you to pay through your credit and debit cards only.

2.         Mail Registration

Download the application form and complete it. Mail that form to the address mentioned in the form along with the payment. You can make the payment via credit/debit card, money order or certified bank check. When you are applying through mail, make sure that you send the form at least three weeks prior to processing. You will receive a confirmation number, test date and center via postal mail, email or fax. If you are applying from India, then the mailing address is

Prometric Testing Private Limited

2nd Floor, DLF Infinity Tower A, Sector-25, Phase-II, DLF City, Gurgaon 122002, Haryana, India

3.         Phone Registration

To register via phone, you need to call Regional Registration Center (RRC) (Phone Number: 91-124-4147700) at least two working days prior to your preferred test date. You need to provide them with your details and preferred test date. They will provide you with confirmation number, test date and exam center on the same call. You can make the payment via Debit/Credit cards

4.         Fax Registration

If you opt to register via fax, then you need to download the form and complete the same and fax it to 91-124-4147773 along with the payment. Ensure that you send it at least 7 days prior to the preferred test date.

GRE Exam Syllabus

General Test Exam Syllabus

There are three main segments

Analytical Writing

In the analytical writing section, you will be tested on your ability to effectively communicate complex ideas, support your ideas with proper reasons, observe the claims and collect evidence, sustain a well-focused, coherent discussion and control the elements of standard written English.

In this section, you will be given two tasks and you should provide focused responses for the given tasks. Remember that the tasks given are not to understand how well you know about that particular topic but to understand your power of expression.

Verbal Reasoning

It has two sections and these sections will have questions that will test your ability to read and understand the type of text and language used in the academia. The questions under this section are divided into three different types;

1. Reading comprehension

2. Text completion

3. Sentence equivalence

In order to answer the questions in these sections, you should be able to understand the meaning of the words, relationship between the words and sentences and the concepts.

Topics that are covered under this segment are

·     Nouns, pronouns, adjectives, basic sentence structure

·     Verbs and tenses

·     Idioms and its expressions

·     Pronoun and subject verb agreements

·     Modifiers

·     Parallelism

Quantitative Reasoning

This segment will have questions on the basic math concepts of high-school level like Algebra, Geometry, and Arithmetic. This is to assess your ability of grasping, data analyzing and problem solving skills.

In these two sections, there are four types of questions:

·     Quantitative Comparison

·     Multiple-Choice with One Correct Answer

·     Multiple-Choice with One or More Correct Answers

·     Numeric Entry Questions

In the ’Quantitative Comparison’ section, you are required to write a short explanation.  You will be asked to compare two quantities and choose one statement from the list of four answers that best fits and describes the comparison.

Topics that are covered under this segment

·     Maths Formulas List

·     Number properties

·     Order of operations

·     Percentage

·     Ratio and proportion

·     Profit and loss

·     Simple and compound interest

·     Speed, distance and time

·     Permutation & combination

·     Linear equations

·     Quadratic equations

·     Sets Theory

·     Statistics: Average, Median, Mode, Range, Standard deviation

·     Powers and roots

·     Probability

·     Pipes, cisterns, work, time

·     Lines and angles

·     Triangles

·     Polygon

·     Quadrilateral

·     Circles

·     Coordinate geometry

·     Volume and surface area

GRE Subject Test syllabus

GRE Subject Test is to assess your ability in specific field of study. Below are the subjects and their syllabus for that particular Subject GRE Test –


Approximately 190 Multiple-choice questions are asked related to Biology in this test.

The topics covered are:

·     Cellular and Molecular Biology

·     Organismal Biology

·     Ecology and Evolution


Approximately 130 multiple-choice questions are asked related to chemistry in this test.

The topics covered are:

·     Analytical Chemistry

·     Inorganic Chemistry

·     Organic Chemistry

·     Physical Chemistry

Literature in English

Here approximately 230 questions are asked and these questions will be on various segments like poetry, drama, literary theory, criticism, short story and the history of the language.

Topics covered under this segment are:

·     Literary Analysis

·     Identification

·     Cultural and Historical Contexts

·     History and Theory of Literary Criticism


66 multiple-choice questions are asked from the courses commonly offered and topics covered at the High-School level.

Topics covered under this segment are:

·     Algebra      

·     Calculus

·     Additional Topics


100 Multiple-choice questions are asked in this subject test.

Topics covered under this segment are:

·     Classical Mechanics

·     Electromagnetism

·     Optics and Wave Phenomena

·     Thermodynamics and Statistical Mechanics

·     Quantum Mechanics

·     Atomic Physics

·     Special Relativity

·     Laboratory Methods

·     Specialized Topics  


About 205 multiple-choice questions are asked here. Each question has five options and you need to select that one option you think is correct or best fit for the question.

Topics covered under this segment are:

·     Biological

·     Cognitive

·     Developmental

·     Social

·     Clinical

·     Measurement/Methodology/Other

Test Scores

GRE General Test Score

On the test day, at the end of the test, you are given an option to either Report or Cancel the scores. If you choose to Report, then you will be able to view your unofficial Verbal and Quantitative Reasoning Scores at the Test Center itself soon after your test. But, you will not be able to view your analytical writing scores as it involves essay writing which needs time for evaluation.

However, you will receive your official test scores in about 10-15 days after the Test.  You can view your scores from your official ETS account. If you have designated test recipients (Universities where you want your score reported directly by ETS) on the test day, then your scores will be automatically sent to them.

GRE General Test Score Scale

The scores of three segments in your GRE General test are reported on the following scale –

·     Verbal Score is reported on a scale of 130-170, with 1 point increment for every correct answer

·     Quantitative Reasoning is also reported on a scale of 130-170, with 1 point increment for every correct answer

·     Analytical Writing is reported on a scale of 0-6, with half point increments

If you do not answer at least one question from any of the sections, then it is noted as NS (no score).

GRE Subject Test Score

You will receive your Subject Test score within five weeks from your test date. You can view your scores directly in your ETS account. You can designate the recipients of your scores the day before your test.

GRE Subject Test Score Scale

Every subject score is reported on a scale of 200 -990, in 10 point increments for every correct answer. But, Biology and Psychology are reported on a scale of 22-99, in 1 point increment for every correct answer.

Score Report

GRE General and Subject Test Score Report

The official score report displayed in your ETS account will include

·     Name

·     Date of Birth

·     Gender

·     Intended Graduate Major

·     Test dates

·     Test Scores

·     Authorized Score recipients

·     Cumulative Test  scores  recorded from the past 5 years

On the test day, after completion of the test and viewing your unofficial scores you are given an option to designate the scores to any of the four universities of your choice for free.

After the test date, if you want to order any additional score cards, you need to pay a fee of

US$27 (approx. Rs. 1,865/-) per recipient.

Official Score Report that you want to send to Universities contains –

·     Contact Details (Name, Contact Number, Email Id, Address)_

·     Intended Graduate Major

·     Test Scores

You will have the option to either send the most recent scores or all the scores of the past five years to the designated Institutions/Universities. The score report doesn’t include any information about the university you chose to send the report to and there won’t be any indication on the number of tests taken till date.

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