Friday, February 26, 2016

Exam Structure and Scoring System: What is a Good GRE Score?

By Naimeesha Murthy
World Education Services

If you're planning on going to graduate school, you may be required to take the Graduate Record Exam, or GRE.  

The GRE test is an assessment that evaluates your ability to succeed at graduate school. Your GRE score is one of the main factors graduate schools use to determine whether or not to accept you into their programs. As such, it is important to prepare for the GRE and score as highly as you can.

1. Exam Structure: The exam is broken down into three main and one experimental sections:

- Analytical Writing (2 tasks for a total of 60 minutes)

- Verbal Reasoning (2 sections for a total of 60 minutes)

- Quantitative Analysis (2 sections for a total of 70 minutes)

- Experimental (varies) 

> Time: The total time provided for the GRE General Test is 3 hours and 45 minutes. 
Time per section:

- The Analytical Writing Test contains a single section that is divided into 2 separate tasks. Each task must be completed in 30 minutes. The first task is to examine a problem, and the other is to analyze an argument.

- The Verbal Reasoning Test has 2 sections with 20 questions each. The time allotted per section is 30 minutes.

- The Quantitative Reasoning Test has 2 sections with 20 questions each and a 35-minute time limit per section.

- There will be an unscored section, which can appear at any time after the Analytical Writing section.

> Order of the tests: The Analytical Writing Test is always the first, while the others may appear in any order. This is why even the unscored section must be treated as scored sections, in order to complete the test on time.

Questions within a section can be skipped and returned to later if you have time.  You are provided with ‘Mark’ and ‘Review’ features for each question. Answers can also be edited and corrected, if needed.

2. The Scoring System: The scores of the GRE General Test are valid for up to 5 years from the date of testing, after which you may need to take the test again. These are the following scoring patterns for the GRE General Test

- Verbal Reasoning: 130-170 with an increment of 1 point.

- Quantitative Reasoning: 130-170 with an increment of 1 point.

- Analytical Writing: 0 to 6 points with an increment of half a point. *Sections that go unanswered will be marked as ‘NS’ or ‘No Score’. See sample score report.
So, what is a good GRE score?

As per ETS, listed below are the average GRE scores according to the intended graduate major field.

To have a clear strategy and plan of action, create a list of your target programs and schools when you begin your GRE preparation. Next, you can begin researching  GRE score requirements through available ETS data, school websites, articles and other resources. Once you have done that, you will have a clearer GRE score goal in front of you.

While this table serves as a broad guide, the GRE score requirements or average scores will be higher for top graduate programs and universities. So applicants should keep a watch on their own target programs.

Don’t get too fixed on one GRE score – while it’s important to get a good score, it’s not the only factor that is considered for admissions. Make sure that you follow the best preparation strategies and the scores will take care of themselves!

Good luck!

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