Thursday, December 4, 2008

GRE Confusion??

If you see graduate school as part of your future, you will probably need to take the GRE (Graduate Record Exam). As with any standardized test, mastering the GRE means you first have to understand it. So, here are some answers to frequently asked questions about the exam.

Is there more than one type of GRE?
  • Yes, there is. The General Test (which is the one most schools require) is offered in two forms. You can either take it on paper, or using a computer testing facility. There are also GRE subject tests, which are like the SAT IIs you may have taken for college. There are 8 subject tests: "Biochemistry, Cell and Molecular Biology, Biology, Chemistry, Computer Science, Literature in English, Mathematics, Physics, and Psychology.

When should you take the GRE?
  • This decision is entirely up to you. There are no degree requirements for taking the test. Keep in mind, though, that scores are usually only good for five years. So, if you are not going straight to graduate school from college, you may want to wait before you take the exam. As for the time of year, the General Test is offered year-round. However, you can only take the subject tests in October, November, and April.

What's on the General Test?
  • There are three parts of the General Test: Verbal Reasoning, Quatitative Reasoning, and Analytical Writing. Put simply, the verbal part tests reading and vocabulary, the quatitative part focuses on math, and the writing part requires you to compose two essays. For the writing section, you will be asked to do one "issue" task, where you discuss your perspective on a presented topic. You will also be given one "arguement" task where you critique a written opinion.

How is the GRE scored?
  • For the General Test, the verbal and quantitative sections are scored on a 200 to 800 point scale. Meanwhile, the writing section is scored on a scale from 0 to 6. If you take the computer-based test, you will get an "unofficial" score of your first two sections as soon as you finish. Official score reports are usually mailed two weeks after the testing date.

How do you register for the GRE?
  • The GRE is one of the tests offered by the ETS organization. So, you will need to register through them. You can do this online, over the phone, or by regular mail. When you register, you will need to know where you want to take the test as well as pay the testing fee.

How much does the GRE Cost?
  • In the United States, the general test will run you $140. If you are taking the test in another country, the price jumps to $170 (or $195 in China, Korea, and Taiwan).

How should you prepare for the GRE?
  • Everyone prepares differently, but it is best to use a program or study materials specifically developed for the test. You can choose from an array of books, software, or live courses to get you ready.

Can you take the GRE more than once?
  • Although you can take the GRE as many times as you want, your top score is not what matters. Instead, schools will likely take an average of all your test scores. So, a single good score may be better than one awful score and one high score. For a list of good prep courses, visit this site.

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