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The Graduate Record Exam (GRE)

If you are thinking about applying to a graduate program, you may be considering attending an online school in order to complete your degree. Distance learning and online schools are becoming more and more popular these days, as they allow students to learn on a flexible schedule and by using up-to-date technology and software. If you decide to apply to an online graduate degree or program, you may be required to take the Graduate Record Exam, or GRE, in order to be considered for admission. Like traditional schools, online schools expect to you to be able to perform well on the GRE before they will offer you one admission.

What is the Graduate Record Exam?
The Graduate Record Exam, or GRE, is a standardized test that is required for admission to most U.S. graduate schools. Students intending to apply to a graduate program at a college or university may be required to take the GRE in order to be considered for acceptance. Similarly, most online schools now require students to complete the GRE before applying to any graduate program. The GRE is approximately two-and-a-half hours in length and is currently a computer adaptive test. This means that everyone taking the GRE receives different questions, depending upon the answers they log in on their computer.

What Does the Graduate Record Exam Test?
The GRE is a general test that examines your ability to think, read, and comprehend, as well as to analyze and draw conclusions. Completed by computer, the GRE includes both written and multiple choice questions. This means that the test will be helpful in analyzing a variety of different problem-solving and analytical skills. There are special GRE tests known as GRE subject tests which function to evaluate your knowledge in specific fields of study. GRE subject tests are offered in the areas of:

  • psychology
  • English literature
  • physics
  • mathematics
  • computer science
  • biology
  • chemistry
  • biochemistry
  • cellular and molecular biology

GRE subject tests are only required for specific programs. Speak directly with your online school to find out if you need to complete a GRE subject test as well as the GRE test.

What does the GRE Include?
The GRE consists of three main sections:

    Analytical Writing Section
    The analytical writing section tests your ability to evaluate and support ideas and to write concisely. You will be required to write two essays. The first essay asks you to present a perspective on an issue. This means that you have to identify your feelings and beliefs about an issue and defend it, using a well-composed thesis and solid evidence. The second essay will ask you to analyze an argument. You will be required to summarize and critique all aspects of that argument, including its logic and composition. This section allows you 30 minutes for the first essay and 45 minutes for the second essay.

    Quantitative Section
    The quantitative section tests your knowledge in high school-level mathematics, including:

    • geometry
    • algebra
    • arithmetic
    • data analysis

    You will be given 45 minutes to complete 28 multiple choice questions.

    Verbal Section
    The verbal section tests your ability to draw conclusions and recognize relationships based on written material. This 30-minute section requires you to complete 30 multiple choice questions, including sentence completion, analogies, and reading comprehension questions.

How is the GRE Scored?
Currently, the GRE exam is scored by section. The verbal and quantitative sections are both scored on a scale of 200 to 800 points. The analytical writing section is scored on a scale of 0 to 6 points. In order to be accepted into a good online degree program, you will probably need to achieve at least a 600 on your GRE. However, in order to be accepted into a top school or a highly-technical program (such as engineering) you will probably need to achieve a score of 700 or higher.

How do You Take the GRE?
Currently, the GRE can be taken on most weekends throughout the calendar year. The GRE is offered in different locations all around the world. All you need to do is sign up in advance, over the internet, telephone, or by fax or mail. When you sign up, you will need to pay for the examination. Typically, it costs between $115 and $175 to take the GRE, depending upon where you live.

Changes to the Graduate Record Exam
The GRE is slated for some changes in the near future. As of October 2006 the content, format, and scoring of the GRE will change, making it a more effective and useful test for the admissions process.

Starting in October 2006, the GRE will no longer be a computer adaptive test, but instead will be a computerized linear exam. This means that everyone completing the GRE on the same day will receive the exact same exam. Changes to the GRE will also affect the length and content of the examination: the new GRE will be increased to four hours in length, and will contain two more sections (both the quantitative and verbal sections will contain two forty minute sections, instead of just one section). Additionally, the scoring of the GRE will also change. The verbal and quantitative sections will both be scored on scales of 120 to 170 points, while the analytical writing section will still be scored on a scale of 0 to 6 points.

The GRE test will also be administered differently. Instead of being offered weekly throughout the year, the GRE will now only be offered on specific dates. It is important to find out about these dates early in order to ensure that you will be able to register successfully.

Learning Online
Because it is such an important test for students looking to get into graduate school, many will study for weeks or even months before the test to ensure that they get the best grade possible. While students currently enrolled in university will be able to form study groups with peers to help them learn, individuals looking to enter graduate school after being absent from the school system for some time may not have the opportunity to study with others. While there are study guides and manuals that are helpful, they do not offer the same level of interaction many students prefer when they are studying.

Thanks to the advancements in online learning, studying for the GRE can now be done online. Some sites offer free evaluations while others allow you to enroll online for preparation classes. These e-learning programs can help make it easier for you to study while connecting you with other students. Online learning and studying is also ideal for students who do not live in the United States and therefore would not normally have access to traditional classroom study tutorials or study manuals for the GRE. Enrolling in an online study course is a great way to help make sure you get the high score you want!

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