What Is GRE and How Hard Is the Exam?

If you are overwhelmed with your GRE preparation schedule, you are not alone! We all know how tough the exam can be and depending on your familiarity with the subjects, it can take you several months to fully master the concepts. However, while GRE may appear difficult at the outset, it can be much easier to prepare for when you understand what the exam is about and how exactly the scoring system works.

What Is GRE

So, in this article, we will clarify all your doubts about these common issues. As you keep reading, you will find a detailed insight into what is GRE, its structure, scoring patterns, and how hard it is. Knowing these stuff will get you proper idea for how to prepare for GRE.


What Is GRE?

The Graduate Record Examination (abbreviated as GRE) is one of your very first steps to secure an advanced degree or a business certification. It can be best defined as a standardized exam with multiple-choice questions that need to be answered through a computer. Almost all leading graduate (including most Ivy Leagues) and business schools require you to have a good GRE score to qualify for their institute.

At this point, you might be wondering who takes or arranges for the GRE exam. Well, the GRE exam is both ideated and managed by ETS. Thanks to ETS, both graduate and business schools get some common parameters for assessing the academic qualifications of the test-takers. Since this test also weighs out a student’s general preparedness, admission committees find it easier to shortlist the right students.

Of course, GRE isn’t the only parameter for qualifying to a graduate school. In addition, students also need to furnish supporting materials like academic records, records of co-curricular activities, and more.

Since GRE is mandated by almost all leading graduate and business schools, a good GRE score will directly and positively impact your business/graduate school application.

Who Should Take the GRE?

Now that you have a basic idea of what GRE is, you are probably trying to figure out the ideal test-takers for this exam. Well, this test is for anyone who is planning to attend graduate school, and this includes both business and law school. You can also try this test if you are casually planning to explore your options in graduate and professional studies. Either way, taking the GRE is one of the best ways to show your potential school what you are capable of achieving.

If you are an aspiring graduate student, you might want to take the GRE General Test. This test helps you assess the scores you would want your graduate schools to see. That means, if at any point you feel that you can do better than how you have performed at the moment, you will always have the option of retaking the test.

After this, you will also have the flexibility to only send those scores that are you are confident about. Thanks to GRE’s Score Select option, you can always underline your strengths and emphasize the same to your potential graduate school.

It is also worth noting that the General Test of GRE is the only academic test for graduate school that allows you to skip specific questions in a certain section and re-do your answers. This way, you have complete control about the way you want to handle questions for a certain section.

While the test may appear complex, especially if you are trying it for the first time, there are many flexible ways to prepare for specific concepts and ace the exam!

What Is the Structure of GRE?

If you are planning to appear for GRE, you first need to have a clear idea about the structure of the test. So, in this section, we will take a closer look at the areas that are primarily assessed in this examination.

Verbal Reasoning
As evident from the title, the verbal reasoning section assesses your abilities of understanding and coming to conclusion about a specific discourse, drawing reasons from incomplete information/data, understanding several degrees of meaning (both literal and figurative), analyzing the author's intent, differentiating between major and minor points, and more.

The verbal reasoning section takes into account your comprehension skills and knowledge about verbal concepts.
Quantitative Reasoning
This section will measure your ability of understanding and assessing complex quantitative details and solving challenging mathematical problems with your understanding of mathematical models.

This is also the section that will test your knowledge of arithmetic, geometry, and data analysis. The quantitative reasoning section is consider as highly important since it carries a significant weightage.
Analytical Writing
The Analytical Writing section will assess your critical thinking abilities. In addition, your analytical composition skills will also analyze which will take into account your articulation abilities, reasoning abilities, and ability to examine claims.

What Are the Scoring Patterns?

The Analytical Writing section has a score range of 0 to 6. You will get 60 minutes to complete this section of the test. The Verbal Reasoning section has a score range of 130 to 170. Here, too you will get 60 minutes to complete the test.

Finally, the Quantitative Reasoning section carries a score range of 130 to 170 and you will get 35 minutes to attend each sub-section here. Note that the Quantitative Reasoning section is further divided into 3 sub-sections.

What is a Good Score?

Any score between 151 to 162 is deemed good for GRE. A good percentile would be any score above 160.

How Hard Is the GRE Exam?

Usually, GRE is deemed to be more difficult when compared to similar exams like the SAT and ACT. However, unlike the latter two exams, the math and arithmetic concepts in GRE are relatively simpler. The main hurdle of GRE lies in the vocabulary, problem-solving, and reading sections. To back it up, there are math problems requiring a greater degree of logical reasoning with complex explanations.

While these math problems are still easier when compared to ACT or SAT, you might experience some hiccups in the critical thinking department. Unlike the former two exams, GRE aims to assess your critical thinking abilities more than your true math or arithmetic solving skills.

With that being said, GRE is also deemed less difficult when compared to specialized tests like MCAT or GMAT. Since these exams focuses on some specific concepts, the math questions appear to be significantly more challenging here.

Overall, GRE is consider as hard since it requires students to think out of the box. It is not just about completing hard problems, but more about explaining complex concepts lucidly.

At the end of the day, several average students will find GRE to be relatively tougher if compare with the SAT or ACT. However, the exam will be much easier to manage once you discover all the right problem-solving tricks.

Ultimately, it all boils down to your vocabulary knowledge and critical thinking abilities. So, if you take the time to improve these two departments, scoring 150+ in GRE will be easier than ever!

Bottom Line

Preparing for GRE might be intimidating, but now that you know how difficult the exam can be and what to expect in the papers, you will probably have an easier time sailing through your study schedule. Remember, you can qualify for every exam with the right resources, proper perseverance, and a tad bit of effort.

Since GRE is no exception, fret no further and work on your study schedule right away! Back it up with the right GRE courses, online resources, guidance from counselors, and you will soon be more prepared than you ever imagined! Until then, prepare hard and follow our site for more guidelines and study hacks for your GRE exam.

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