How to Ace the GRE: The Ultimate Guide for International Students

by | Nov 18, 2022 | Admissions

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The GRE (Graduate Record Examination) is a standardized test that is required for many graduate programs in the United States, Germany, and Canada.

If you’re looking to apply to a graduate program abroad, chances are you’ll need to take the GRE.

Taking the GRE can be intimidating, but don’t worry—we’re here to help. In this guide, we’ll go over everything you need to know about the GRE, including what it is, what’s on the test, and how to prepare for it.

By the end of this guide, you’ll have a better understanding of the GRE and what it takes to succeed on the test. 

What is the Structure of the GRE?

The GRE is divided into three main sections:

  • Verbal Reasoning: Measures your ability to analyze and draw conclusions from discourse, understand the meanings of words, sentences and entire texts; and the ability to understand the structure of a text.
  • Quantitative Reasoning: Measures your ability to interpret and analyze quantitative information and to solve problems using mathematical models
  • Analytical Writing: Measures your ability to think critically and to communicate your ideas. You will be asked to write two essays—Issue essay and an Argument essay.

The Verbal and Quantitative Reasoning sections are each divided into two subsections. You will have three hours to complete the entire test, and you will be given a score on each section, as well as an overall score.

The GRE is a computer-adaptive test, meaning that the difficulty of the questions asked will be based on your responses to previous questions. The test will adjust to your ability level, getting more difficult as you answer more questions correctly.

The GRE is a demanding test, but with proper preparation, it’s definitely possible to ace it.

How Is the GRE Scored?

You get a point for each question you answer correctly in the GRE test. No points are deducted for incorrect answers.

However, scoring the GRE is more complicated than merely adding up the number of questions you got right. The raw score is converted to a scaled score—which is the official score that you’ll receive.

Here’s a breakdown of how the GRE is scored:

  • Verbal Reasoning—130–170 points
  • Quantitative Reasoning—130 –170 points
  • Analytical Writing—0–6 points

The raw score is then scaled to control for slight variations in difficulty between exams and specific exam questions. This ensures that your GRE score isn’t unfairly impacted by a more challenging exam.

GRE essays are graded using both AI and human graders. Only human graders score the essays.

The process of scoring the GRE might seem quite complicated—but there’s no need to worry about it. To get a high score, concentrate on correctly answering as many questions as possible.

Who Is the GRE Designed For?

The GRE is designed to evaluate the overall academic readiness of students for graduate school. In the U.S, the GRE is a prerequisite for technical master’s degrees such as MS, MCA, MSC, MTech, and MBA.

International students make up a large portion of those taking the GRE. In fact, nearly 30% of all test-takers are from outside the US. The GRE levels the playing field for all applicants, regardless of their country of origin.

Do All Graduate Schools Abroad Require the GRE?

The GRE can act as a roadblock for many international students. Many students from non-technical backgrounds find the GRE to be a difficult test. There are cases where candidates with impressive grades fail to gain admission to competitive graduate programs due to low GRE scores.

You’ll be glad to learn that not all graduate schools abroad require applicants to submit GRE scores. Almost 70-80% of U.S universities and colleges have programs that don’t need GRE scores. Some universities keep the GRE as an optional requirement for graduate aspirants.

Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, many universities in the U.S have waived the GRE requirement for graduate school applicants. 

Here’s a summary of GRE requirements you’ll come across when applying for masters programs abroad:

  • GRE Mandatory – Means that all applicants must submit GRE scores.
  • GRE not Considered – Means that the admissions officials  won’t even look at your GRE even if you submit it. 
  • GRE Optional – Means that you can opt whether to submit GRE scores or not. This might apply to some programs and not others at the university.

Tips for Acing the GRE

Now that you know what the GRE is and why you need to take it, you’re probably wondering how you can prepare to ace it.

There are a number of resources available to help you prepare for the GRE test, including prep books, online courses, and practice tests. Talk to your friends, mentors, and professors and see if anyone knows someone who has recently taken the GRE test and can give you some tips.

The most important thing is to start preparing early so that you have plenty of time to practice. The better prepared you are, the more confident you’ll feel on test day.

Here are some tips to set you up for success:

  • Become familiar with the test format and question types: Familiarize yourself with the three main sections on the GRE: Verbal Reasoning, Quantitative Reasoning, and Analytical Writing. You can find practice questions and specific information about each section on the ETS website.
  • Set realistic goals for yourself: Look up the required GRE scores for your desired graduate programs. Set goals that will keep you motivated and challenged.
  • Create a study schedule: You’ll have a limited amount of time to study for the GRE. To make sure you review each topic adequately, create a study plan. Ensure that your schedule allocates more time to strengthen your weak points.
  • Take practice tests: In addition to becoming familiar with the content and structure, it’s important to get used to the timing of the GRE. Practice tests will help you pace yourself and manage your time wisely on test day.
  • Relax and stay positive: Remember that the GRE is just one factor in your graduate school application. Don’t put undue pressure on yourself to achieve a perfect score. Just do your best and try to relax on test day.

Final Thoughts

The GRE is a challenging standardized test that can help you achieve your academic goals. This guide has given you all the information you need to know about the test—from what’s on it to how to prepare for it.

With the right preparation, you can ace the GRE and get a step closer to achieving your goal of gaining admission to a graduate program abroad.


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