All about GRE: The admissions test for graduate and business schools

All about GRE: The admissions test for graduate and business schools


The Graduate Record Examinations (GRE) is a standardised test that is an admissions requirement for many graduate school programmes and business schools. 

Taking the GRE General Test is a great way to show your abilities to schools

The GRE® General Test is the world’s most widely accepted admissions test for graduate and business school, so if you’re thinking of applying for a postgraduate, business or law programme, taking the GRE test is a great way of showing your abilities to schools. 

What is the GRE General Test? 

The GRE® General Test is designed to closely reflect the kind of thinking you’ll do in a graduate school programme. It measures your verbal reasoning, quantitative reasoning, critical thinking and analytical writing skills - skills that are acquired over a long period of learning, are universally-important, and aren’t related to a specific field of study. 

The test consists of six different sections and is a multistage test, where the examinee’s performance on earlier sections determines the difficulty of subsequent sections. The test can be done on paper or via a computer and takes around three hours and 45 minutes to complete. It can only be done at an official testing centre. 

Why do I need to take the GRE?

The GRE® General Test is required to study at Master and PhD level at thousands of institutions. No matter what advanced degree you are considering - MBA, Specialised Business Master, STEM or a PhD programme - you will have more opportunities for success with the GRE. As an example, more than 1.300 business schools worldwide accept GRE scores for admission to their MBA and specialised Masters programmes. 

gre scores universities

Remember, a GRE score is just one part of a well-rounded graduate school application. Admissions departments will look at your GRE results along with your CV, academic transcripts, essay, interview and other admissions documents. 

It’s also worth noting that the use and weight of GRE scores vary a lot from school to school. While some schools only consider the GRE a formal admission requirement, others look at the score itself as an important selection factor. 


Both the GRE General Test and the GMAT tests measure similar skills but in different ways. While the GMAT is used to apply to business schools only, the GRE General Test is accepted by both graduate and business school programmes worldwide. 

GRE gives you more choices and opportunities for success. The GRE test features a flexible, test-taker-friendly design that gives you the freedom to use more of your own personal test-taking styles and strategies. You can preview questions, skip questions and go back to them, change your answers and more, all within a section. 

Another difference is the GRE’s quantitative reasoning section, which is more of a traditional maths test. You are also permitted to use a calculator in this section, which is not true for the GMAT.

The GRE General Test also features the ScoreSelect® option which lets you decide which scores to send with your school application. If you sit the test more than once, you can send only those scores you want schools to see.

How long does it take until I receive my GRE scores? 

If you take a computer-delivered GRE, you’ll be able to see the unofficial scores for both verbal and quantitative sections right on the test day. The analytical writing section is scored and graded by humans and will take longer. Official GRE results are usually available 10-15 days after your test day.

ets gre test results

How long before applying should I take the GRE and how long does it take to prepare for it?

Admissions requirements and deadlines vary by institution, so you are strongly recommended to check directly with the schools offering the programmes you are interested in. 

A good way to gauge the amount of preparation needed is to take one of the POWERPREP® practice tests in timed mode. This will allow you to see the unofficial scores for the Verbal Reasoning and Quantitative Reasoning sections and will help you get an idea of the areas to focus on. 

There are a tonne of free practice tests and support materials that can help you prepare for the GRE General Test online.



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