About GRE - Graduate Record Examinations
The Graduate Record Examinations (GRE) is a required entrance test for all MS programs, except Business, Law and Medicines, at all American graduate schools.
Almost all schools offering the MS program consider GRE scores as a very important basis of admission as well as financial aid. It is a multiple choice test administered by the Educational Testing Service (ETS) on behalf of the GRE Board.

The GRE is administered only in English across the world.
GRE Test Pattern
The GRE consists of 3 multiple-choice sections - Analytical Writing, Quantitative and Verbal. Apart from the traditional sections, the GRE includes an essay section (mandatory only for certain universities) called the Writing Assessment.
Total Sections Scaled Scores Question Type Total Questions Time Duration
Analytical Writing 0-6 Analysis of Issue 2 45 mins
Analysis of Argument 30 mins
Quantitative 800 Quantitative Comparison 28 45 minutes
Discrete Math
Data Interpretation
Verbal 800 Antonyms 30 30 minutes
Sentence Completion
Reading Comprehension
Total 1600   60 150 mins

Writing assessment in GRE:

The analytical writing section is a new section of the GRE General Test introduced beginning in October 2002 that tests your critical thinking and analytical writing skills. It assesses your ability to articulate and support complex ideas, analyze an argument, and sustain a focused and coherent discussion. It does not assess specific content knowledge.

Writing assessment comprises two tasks in analytical writing :
1) Present Your Perspective on an Issue (45 mins)
2) Analyze an Argument (30 mins)

You will be given a choice between two Issue topics. Each states an opinion on an issue of broad interest and asks you to discuss the issue from any perspective(s) you wish, so long as you provide relevant reasons and examples to explain and support your views.

You will not have a choice of Argument topics. The Argument task presents a different challenge from that of the Issue task: it requires you to critique a given argument by discussing how well reasoned you find it. The Analytical writing section would be an independent section and would be separately scored on a scale of 0-6.

Unlike the Verbal and Quantitative sections wherein you get the scores on the test day itself, the essay scores take 10-15 days for processing and finally reaching the student. Each student response is scored by two readers and the average of the two scores is usually considered. If the two scores vary by a big margin then a third reader adjudicates. The essay is scored on the basis of the ideas organization, sentence structure and language.

GRE CAT (Computer Adaptive Test)

The Computer Adaptive Tests (CATs) are conducted on computer in a special test centre. Unlike the conventional paper-pencil tests, the CATs 'adapt' to your performance. Each aspirant is given a different mix of questions depending on how well he or she is doing in the test. Thus, the questions get easier or tougher depending on whether you answer them correctly or not.

The score in this kind of a test is determined by the difficulty level of the questions and not by how many questions you get right.

The method of determining the score in GRE CAT

When you start the test, the computer assumes that you are of everage ability.
The computer gives you a medium difficulty question.

If you answer the question correctly, your score goes up and you are given a slightly tougher question.

if you answer the question incorrectly , your score goes down and you are given a slightly easier question.

A similar approach continues for the rest of the computer adaptive test. Everytime you get the question right, the computer raises your score and gives you a slightly harder question compared to the question you answered correct.

Every time you answer the question wrong, your score goes down and you are given an easier question compared to the question you answered wrong.

Reporting of the Scores

Unofficial scores appear on screen following the test for verbal and quantitative section. The essay score are mailed along with the official score reports.

Official score reports are mailed within 10- 15 days to test takers and up to 4 institutions designated on the test day.

If you do not select institutions on the test day, you must pay $13 per institution to have score sent at a later date.

Your own copy of your score report is intended only for your information and personal records. Official reports are sent by ETS directly to all authorized score recipients you designate.

The GRE score is valid for five years. However, most universities insist on scores from a recently taken GRE and do not accept scores older than 2/3 years.