Going to grad school? Here’s everything you need to know about the GRE

What is the GRE
Many graduate schools in the US and elsewhere accept the GRE as part of their admission criteria. Source: Daniel Slim/AFP

Entrance exams are often part and parcel of university admissions, including graduate schools in the US. Among the popular tests for postgraduate applicants is the Graduate Record Examination (GRE). But what is the GRE and which schools accept them as part of their admission criteria?

If you’re an international student who is planning on getting into your dream graduate school in the US or elsewhere, here is a definitive guide on what is the GRE and what it entails.


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by GRE® General Test (@gregeneraltest)

What is the GRE?

The GRE is used by graduate and business schools as part of their selection criteria for admission. It is a standardised test that is suitable for comparing applicants’ qualifications and preparedness for graduate-level academic work.

The GRE tests are available in two styles: the GRE General Test and the GRE Subject Test.

The general test evaluates your analytical writing, quantitative ability and verbal reasoning.

The subject test, on the other hand, evaluates your strength in a particular subject or field of study. The GRE Subject Test is only available for chemistry, mathematics, physics and psychology.


The GRE can be taken in three formats:

  • GRE Computer Based Test
  • GRE Paper Based Test (check available locations here)
  • GRE at Home Test


There are three sections:

  • Analytical writing: This comprises two different writing sections. You will have 30 minutes to complete each section, and marks ranges from 0 to 6, in half-point increments.
  • Verbal reasoning: This component has two 30-minute verbal reasoning sections, each with 20 questions. Verbal reasoning is scored in one-point increments between 130 and 170.
  • Quantitative writing: Like the analytical and verbal reasoning section, there are two different sections to this part of the test. You are required to answer 20 questions for each section, and have 35 minutes for each section (one hour 10 minutes overall). One-point increments are awarded between 130-170.


According to Educational Testing Service (ETS) — the developers of the GRE — the entire GRE General Test lasts for three hours 45 minutes. You can take a 10-minute break after the third section.

what is the GRE

What is the GRE and how much does it cost? Source: Damien Meyer/AFP

When can you take it?

You can take the GRE test once every 21 days, and up to five times a year. This can be applied even if you cancel your scores on a test taken previously.

If you decide to do the GRE General Test, it is available around the clock, seven days a week. Appointments are available as early as 24 hours after you register.

You must, however, ensure that you meet the Equipment and Environment Requirements if you plan on taking the test at home.

Conversely, the GRE Subject Tests can be taken in April, September and October.

How much does it cost? 

The GRE General Test would cost the average candidate 205 US dollars, but applicants in China and India would have to pay US$231.30 and US$213 respectively.

Which schools accept the GRE?

Many. Whether you are planning to take your MBA or go to law school in the US, or do your master’s in Australia, many graduate schools accept them. Click here for the list.

When would I get my results?

According to ETS, GRE scores are typically available to you within 10 to 15 days of completing the test.

Test validity

You may use the GRE test to apply to graduate schools within five years of receiving your GRE test scores.