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Study Abroad: Top GRE FAQs answered!
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April 16, 2008

The GRE is one of the oldest international standardised tests in the world, but students still face a lot of difficulties in preparing and planning for admission to a US university based on the GRE.

To help students gain a clearer idea about the exam and what to expect. Atul Prashar, examination expert from TCYonline, answers some of the most frequently asked questions relating to the GRE.

What is the GRE?
The GRE stands for Graduate Record Examination -- an international examination administered by Education Testing Service (ETS) around the globe.

It is a computer-based adaptive test that is available all around the year at test centres throughout the world. It measures quantitative reasoning, verbal reasoning, critical thinking and analytical writing skills of the test takers. The test is of two types -- (A) GRE General Test (B) GRE Subject Test.

The GRE General Test is intended to help the graduate school assess the potential of applicants for advanced study. On the other hand, the Subject tests are used to evaluate the test-taker's expertise in the subjects of his/her targeted specialisation.

The test is divided in to three distinct sections viz the Verbal section, Quantitative Reasoning section and Analytical Writing section.

The table below explains the marks distribution, number questions and time allowed in each section.






However, the actual examination has total of five sections ie there are two more sections -- one experimental (any one out of a Verbal section, a Quant section, an issue or an Argument) and one un-scored section.

The experimental section (be it another Verbal or another Quant) is as important for a test-taker as the previously attempted one as both of them bear equal chances to contribute towards the final score.

Why should one take the GRE?
The GRE is required for admission into a Masters programme (MS/ MA or PhD) for non-business graduate schools, for subjects such as engineering, psychology, sociology, political science, foreign languages and literature, music, religion, philosophy, geography, economics, history, basic sciences, etc in US and Canadian universities.

The test measures specific reasoning skills that one develops over a long period of time.

Standardised test scores and prior grades are the best ways to measure overlapping but different aspects of educational qualification. Unlike the past academic record, your score in GRE reflects performance on tasks and that are common to all applicants.

What is the best time of the year to take GRE for admission to US universities?
The best time for taking the GRE depends largely upon the session that you are targeting for admission to US universities.

The process of admission to American universities is highly systematic. On the whole, there are four intakes of new students viz Fall, Spring, Summer and Winter intakes.

However, the most preferred intakes are Fall (August-September) and Spring (February-March) intakes. Their popularity is mainly because of the low number and credibility of the universities offering Summer and Winter intakes. Moreover, the Fall intake suits the Indian academic calendar and the chances to get financial aid and assistantships are higher in these two sessions.

International students thoroughly plan their application process. Here is how one can systematically plan backward the process of his / her admission to a USA university, say, for the Fall 2009 (Aug-Sept 2009) session:

  • September 2009: Course begins
  • June-July 2009: Apply for visa
  • November-January 2007: Apply for admission and financial aid.
  • November 2008: All documents (statement of purpose, academic transcripts, resume, essays, recommendations and bank statements) and scores (for the standardised tests viz. SAT, ACT, GRE or GMAT) are ready to be sent to the universities for applying
  • October 2008: Take the GRE (and TOEFL).
  • June-July 2008: Prepare for the standardised tests (GRE/ TOEFL).
  • Prior to June 2008: Gather information about the standardised tests and admission procedure to the universities.

Similarly for Spring 2010, the deadline for sending the application is September 2009 making it important to take the GRE somewhere in the May 2009.

Is the GRE the sole necessity and sufficient criterion for securing admission in international universities?
No. GRE is not the sole criterion for admission. The complete profile of the student including his prior grades, experience, publications and participations together with TOEFL or IELTS is taken into consideration by the University admission councils for deciding.

given below are a list of documents that must accompany a student's GRE scores while the application is being sent to the selected universities:

  • Statement of Purpose
  • Letters of Recommendations
  • Extra-curricular record
  • Resume
  • Publications and paper presentations
  • Bank statement

One can find hundreds of sample SOPs, LORs and other documents on that are required for the application.

How can I register for GRE? How much does it cost?
There are four ways to register for the GRE:

1. Online registration using a credit card
2. Telephonic registration using a credit card 
3. Telephonic registration using a dollar demand draft 
4. Postal registration using a dollar demand draft

In the Online registration, one has to log on to either or and follow the simple steps to register.

Telephonic registration requires you to call this number: 0124-4147700 and follow the simple steps to speak to the executive who will take down the registration information and credit card details in order to complete and confirm the registration.

For postal registration, one has to download the registration form from Send the completed registration form along with the demand draft to the ETS-Gurgaon office. In the postal registration, one gets an available date at least 20 days after the receipt of the demand draft.

Part 2: GRE FAQs on sections and scoring

Further queries related to the GRE can be addressed to Atul Prashar at Visit for FREE online and downloadable tests related to GRE, GMAT, SAT and CAT.

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