The Graduate Record Examinations (GRE) is used by thousands of graduate and business schools to make admission and fellowship decisions. Many programs require scores from the GRE General Test as part of a complete application, and some also require or recommend scores from one more more GRE Subject Tests.

GRE Quick Facts

Frequency Most weekdays and weekends year-round
Duration 3 hours, 45 minutes
Sections Verbal, Quantitative, and Analytical Writing
GRE Cost $205
Max. Score 170
Avg. Score 150.8

What is the GRE and why is it important?

Created and administered by ETS, the GRE General Test is a graduate-level entrance exam used by many graduate school and business school programs. In theory, the GRE provides grad and b-schools with one common criterion that can be used to compare all applicants, who  could come from all over the world and will certainly have an enormous range in academic and professional experience.

The GRE is a significant part of your graduate school application, but it certainly isn’t the only part. Admissions officers consider many other factors, including your undergraduate GPA, work and research experience, application essays, letters of recommendation, and interviews. Some grad programs also require or consider GRE Subject Test scores.

It’s possible your GRE score could come in handy if you are interested in law school, as some schools are accepting (or are considering accepting) GRE scores in lieu of LSAT scores.

What specifically does the GRE test?

There are three GRE sections: Verbal, Quantitative (math), and Analytical Writing. The GRE tests college-level vocabulary and verbal reasoning; basic math concepts in arithmetic, algebra, and geometry; and your writing and analytical skills. Start to finish, the exam will take you 3 hours and 45 minutes to complete. Learn more about what’s on the GRE.

How is the GRE scored?

GRE test-takers will receive three separate scores, one for each section. Math and Verbal GRE scores fall on a scale of 130–170. Analytical Writing scores range from 0–6. Some test takers will also see an additional experimental math or verbal section, which will not be included in the final score. Learn more about GRE scoring.

Do GRE test scores expire?

Your GRE score remains valid for five years.

How important is your GRE score?

Schools differ in how they use your GRE score. Some programs weight GRE scores very heavily or have a minimum score for applicants, while other programs consider scores more of a formality. We recommend asking your prospective grad and business programs about the unique role the GRE test plays in their admissions and financial aid decisions.  You can also check out the admissions data in our grad school and business school profiles.

How does the computer-adpative GRE work?

The GRE is a computer-adaptive test, or CAT for short. Every test taker will see a least two Math sections and two Verbal sections. The difficulty level of the second section (easy, medium or hard) in each subject is determined by your performance on the first section. If you get lots of questions right on the first section, you will get a harder second section, but access to higher scores. If you don’t get as many questions right on the first section, you will get an easier second section and your scoring potential is capped at a lower range.

The computer-delivered GRE is the standard format for test takers. The paper-based GRE is far more rare and only offered up to three times a year. But if you want to learn more about the paper-and-pencil test, visit ETS.org.

What are GRE Subject Tests?

The GRE Subject Tests are similar to the SAT Subject Tests in that they test your knowledge of a particular subject like chemistry or literature. Not every school requires a GRE Subject Test, but many of the most competitive programs do. ETS offers the Subject Tests three times a year; they are not part of the standard GRE. There are six GRE Subjects: biology, chemistry, English literature, math, physics, and psychology.

How can I prepare for the GRE?

We can help you unlock a higher GRE score. We have efficient GRE prep options for every student and every budget.