1. What is GRE?

The Graduate Record Examinations (GRE) is a standardized test that is an admissions requirement for many graduate schools in the United States and Canada. The GRE is owned and administered by Educational Testing Service. The test was established in 1936 by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching.

According to ETS, the GRE aims to measure verbal reasoning, quantitative reasoning, analytical writing, and critical thinking skills that have been acquired over a long period of learning. The content of the GRE consists of certain specific algebra, geometry, arithmetic, and vocabulary sections. The GRE General Test is offered as a computer-based exam administered at testing centers and institutions owned or authorized by Prometric. In the graduate school admissions process, the level of emphasis that is placed upon GRE scores varies widely between schools and departments within schools. The importance of a GRE score can range from being a mere admission formality to an important selection factor.

The GRE exam measures your command of basic arithmetic, algebra, geometry, and data analysis as well as college-level vocabulary. More importantly, it measures your ability to analyze and evaluate written material, think critically, and solve problems.


2. Why GRE?

  • Any of your programs require GRE scores- Unfortunately, even if just one of your programs requires GRE scores, you’re going to have to take the GRE. If you don’t take the GRE, you won’t be able to finish your application. And as we all know, an incomplete application = automatic disqualification.
  • Any of your programs strongly recommend GRE scores- If none of your programs require GRE scores but one or a few of them strongly recommend them, it’s a good idea to just go ahead and take the test. This way, you’ll have an extra component to your application that can boost your chance of getting accepted.
  • You want to be considered for merit-based funding-Many grad schools use GRE scores — in addition to undergrad GPAs, faculty recommendations, and other application factors — to determine applicants’ eligibility for merit-based fellowships. Generally, applicants seek out these types of fellowships if the program they’re applying to does guarantee funding for admitted applicants (or does, but only in the form of loans). If your programs aren’t fully funded but do offer merit-based fellowships, I highly recommend taking the GRE.
  • You will for sure apply to grad school within the next five years- If you know for certain you’ll be applying to grad school within the next five years in order to obtain a master’s degree or Ph.D., consider taking the GRE early. GRE scores are valid for five years, so as long as you apply to a program within that time frame, take advantage of the time you have and get the GRE over and done with. Taking it early also gives you plenty of time to decide whether you want to retake the test, should you score lower than what you need for your programs.
  • You want to make up for a weak spot in your application-If GRE scores are optional but you have a glaring weakness in your application, such as a low undergrad GPA or mediocre letters of recommendation, consider taking the GRE to try to make up for the weak spot.

3. How to prepare?

1. Find your baseline

Your baseline score is the score you would receive if you took the GRE today. Before you make a study plan, take a full-length GRE practice test under the same testing environment as the real thing. The results will guide your prep by showing you which content areas you need to focus on the most.

2. Determine your target GRE score

You’ve probably started making a list of the graduate programs that interest you. Compare your practice test score against the average GRE scores of the most recent incoming class to each program (find this information on the school website or in our grad school profiles). Your target score is one that would put you at or above the average for the schools on your wish list.

3. Make a plan to close the gap

Whether you choose a prep course, online program, or a test prep book, you need a smart prep plan that will hold you accountable and give you the results you need. With a little research you’ll find the right environment for you.

4. Practice for technique

Focus on how you approach each question while taking practice tests and drills. If you focus on just the results, you do nothing more than reinforce the way you are taking the test right now. The techniques you use and the way you solve a problem are what help you get better at taking the GRE.

5. Mimic real GRE conditions

Paper-and-pencil tests can help you practice concepts and test-taking strategies, but they do not adapt to your performance like the real GRE. Make sure you budget online practice into your study schedule to help prepare you for the computer-based test experience.

6. Review your results

Always review your performance after taking GRE practice exams. What kinds of questions do you consistently miss? What question types do you tend to ace, and which ones slow you down?

This is where access to a GRE tutor can really give you a leg up. Test prep is only partly about mastering content—it’s also about your pacing and test-taking skills. To be completely prepared, sit down with a coach to review your performance on practice exams and make a smart plan to meet your GRE score goal.

7. Build up your GRE vocabulary

Vocab is still an important part of the GRE Verbal sections. You can absorb many of the words that will show up on the GRE by reading respected publications such as academic journals or some of the more highbrow newspapers and magazines. When you come across new words on practice tests or practice problems, add them to your list. They have been used before on the GRE and they may very well be used again

8. Practice with and without a calculator

A calculator is provided for you on the GRE as part of the on-screen display, and can be a huge advantage if used correctly! But the calculator can also be a liability. Figure out when using a calculator makes you more accurate, and when you’re better off learning the rules of a key math concept.

4. Important materials:


Two test formats

The GRE exam has two test formats – GRE General Test and GRE Subject Test. The GRE syllabus is different for each.

  • GRE General Test: General Test is the standard exam that tests students’ verbal reasoning, quantitative reasoning, and analytical writing skills.
  • GRE Subject Test: For more specific courses a Subject Test might be required by the college, as Subject Test focuses on judging the candidate’s expertise in specific fields.

GRE Syllabus for General Test

Here is the GRE exam syllabus covering writing syllabus, verbal reasoning syllabus, and Math syllabus:

Analytical Writing

The analytical writing section aims to measure the test taker’s ability to articulate complex ideas clearly and effectively, support ideas with relevant reasons and examples, examine claims and accompanying evidence, sustain a well-focused, coherent discussion and control the elements of standard written English.

Verbal Reasoning

The verbal reasoning section aims to measure the test taker’s ability to analyze and draw conclusions from the discourse, reason from incomplete data, identify author’s assumptions and/or perspective, select important points, distinguish major from minor or relevant points, summarize text, understand the structure of a text, understand the meanings of words, sentences and entire texts and understand relationships among words and concepts.

List of topics covered under the verbal section

  • Basic Sentence structure: Nouns, Pronouns, Adjectives
  • Verb Tense
  • Idioms & Idiomatic Expressions
  • Pronoun Agreement
  • Subject-Verb Agreement
  • Modifiers
  • Parallelism

Quantitative Reasoning

The quantitative reasoning section aims to measure the test taker’s ability to understand quantitative information, interpret and analyze quantitative information, solve problems using mathematical models, and apply basic mathematical skills and elementary mathematical concepts of arithmetic, algebra, geometry, probability, and statistics.

List of topics covered in Quantitative Reasoning

Ratio and proportion Profit and loss
Simple and compound interest Speed, distance and time
Permutation & combination Linear equations
Quadratic equations Sets Theory
Statistics Powers and roots
Probability Pipes, cisterns, work, time
Lines and angles Triangles
Polygon Quadrilateral
Circles Coordinate geometry
Order of operations Volume and surface area
Percentage Number properties

GRE Subject Test Syllabus

GRE syllabus for Subject Test consists of the following subjects:


The test consists of approximately 190 five-choice questions related to Biology. The topics include:

  • Cellular and Molecular Biology
  • Organismal Biology
  • Ecology and Evolution 


The test consists of approximately 130 multiple-choice questions related to the four fields into which chemistry has been traditionally divided

  • Analytical Chemistry
  • Inorganic Chemistry
  • Organic Chemistry
  • Physical Chemistry 

Literature in English

Each edition of the test consists of approximately 230 questions on poetry, drama, biography, the essay, the short story, the novel, criticism, literary theory and the history of the language.

  • Literary Analysis
  • Identification
  • Cultural and Historical Contexts
  • History and Theory of Literary Criticism


The test consists of approximately 66 multiple-choice questions drawn from courses commonly offered at the undergraduate level.

  • Algebra
  • Calculus
  • Additional Topics 


The test consists of approximately 100 five-choice questions, some of which are grouped in sets and based on such materials as diagrams, graphs, experimental data and descriptions of physical situations.

  • Classical Mechanics
  • Electromagnetism
  • Optics and Wave Phenomena
  • Thermodynamics and Statistical Mechanics
  • Quantum Mechanics
  • Atomic Physics
  • Special Relativity
  • Laboratory Methods
  • Specialized Topics


The test consists of approximately 205 multiple-choice questions. Each question in the test has five options from which the examinee is to select the one option that is the correct or best answer to the question.

  • Biological
  • Cognitive
  • Developmental
  • Social
  • Clinical
  • Measurement/Methodology/Other 

a. E-books:

  • GRE the Official Guide to the Revised General Test (Third Edition)
  • Book of GRE Practice Problems (Manhattan Prep GRE Strategy Guides)
  • GRE Prep 2017 with 8 Practice Tests
  • GRE by ArgoPrep
  • Barron’s GRE: 21st Edition
  • Kaplan’s GRE Premier 2017
  • POWERPREP II Software
  • Khan Academy
  • Official GRE Guide Mobile App
  • Quizlet
  • Manhattan GRE Practice Test
  • ETS Topic Pools, Argument and  Issue

b. Videos:

How to score 320+ in GRE:

GRE test preparation:

GRE preparation guide:

How to score a perfect 170 in quants:

GRE preparation for beginners:

When to start GRE exam preparation:

All about GRE:

What is GRE:

5. Test papers with answers:

GRE aptitude question paper:

GRE reasoning test paper1:

GRE model question paper:

GRE sample paper1:

GRE sample paper3:

GRE sample paper4:

GRE sample paper6:

6. Important tips:

Tackling Multiple Blanks

GRE Text Completion questions can require you to fill in one, two, or three blanks with the correct word and there’s no partial credit! However, multiple-blank questions aren’t necessarily more difficult than one-blank questions. These sentences often contain more context clues to help you predict the type of words needed 

Sentence Equivalence– Eliminating Answer Choices

Sentence Equivalence questions present you with one blank and ask you to choose two words from a list of six to fill in that blank. The words need to meet two criteria: (1) they must make sense in the sentence. (2) They must give the sentence the same meaning. This means that process of elimination is a powerful tool. Even if two answer choices are synonyms, if they would not make sense in the sentence, eliminate those choices. Also, if a word would make sense but no other choice would give the sentence the same meaning, eliminate that word from consideration.

Reading Comprehension – Mapping the Passage

By the time you take the GRE, you’ve spent a lot of your life reading to learn things so you can take tests and write papers. However, success with GRE reading Comp questions requires you to read differently.

Quantitative Comparison – Compare, Don’t Calculate

Quantitative Comparison questions present you with two quantities and ask whether Quantity A is greater, Quantity B is greater, the two quantities are the same, or the relationship cannot be determined. These four answer choices are always the same, so have them memorized by Test Day.

Problem Solving – Picking Numbers

Problem Solving questions probably look a lot like math questions you solved in school. You are given some information and asked to use it to find a value or values.

Memorize Directions

You can save time and cut down on test-day surprises by learning the format and directions of the test inside and out

Do Easy Questions First

Within a subsection, all GRE questions are worth the same amount of points. This means it makes sense to collect the easy points first.

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