GRE General Test

The GRE ® General Test measures verbal reasoning, quantitative reasoning, critical thinking, and analytical writing skills that are not related to any specific field of study.

Verbal Reasoning

The skills measured include the test taker's ability to analyze and evaluate written material and synthesize information obtained from it, analyze relationships among parts of sentences and recognize relationships between words. The verbal section can be a challenge for anybody - native speakers of English, or people educated in English as the main language. GRE words are not used in daily life, not at all used in everyday conversation even at a top US University! There is no substitute for lifelong good reading habits. One needs to study for a few months to do well. 600 out of 800 can be an excellent score and good enough for a top US University, if other aspects of the application are good. 700 is an exceptionally high score and few native speakers score that high. If English language is not your strength, you should target and should be able to score around 550 out of 800.

Quantitative Reasoning

Basic concepts of arithmetic, algebra, geometry, trigonometry and data analysis are tested. The Mathematical knowledge of grade 10 is sufficient. High school level material like calculus is not included. No single question on Quantitative test is very difficult. However to be able to answer 37 to 40 questions under time limitations can be a challenge for some. For Engineering and Scince majors this test should be very very easy. But that has its own downsides. Many applicants end up scoring 800 or 790 out of 800. So the margin of error is very low. If you are not careful and make 4 or 5 mistakes you will end up scoring less than 750 and shall be out of contention for top 10 programs. How much to target for Engineering programs? 790 would be nice.

Analytical Writing

The skills measured include the test taker's ability to articulate complex ideas clearly and effectively examine claims and accompanying evidence support ideas with relevant reasons and examples sustain a well-focused, coherent discussion control the elements of standard written English. Those in the habit of using SMS English need to be more careful. As long as you do write essays and score in the top half you are all set. This is the least important section of the GRE.

GRE General Test is a Computer Adaptive Test

The Computer presents you with a question of a particular difficulty level depending on your previous response. If you get the first question right, second question will be little more difficult. If you get a question wrong, the next question will be little easier. There is no way to skip a question. First few questions carry a whole lot more weight. The last few questions carry very less weight.

Most important advice you can get

Answer all questions. The test penalizes you very badly for not answering all questions. There is a small penalty for answering incorrectly, especially for the last few questions. Whatever you do during the GRE you MUST answer all questions. If time is running out, in the last 5 minutes blindly mark all the questions. Now hopefully you are on the last questions with 2 or 3 minutes remaining. Blindly mark any answer for this question and remain on that screen. Now you can invest the last 2 minutes trying to correctly answer this question. If you solve it, change your choice. If you run out of time, the computer will ask you whether you want to record your (randomly marked) answer. Say yes and finish the section.

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