what is gre exam



What is GRE?


Time and again, whenever a senior or a cousin applied to study abroad, we got to hear them discussing the GRE exam or some English language tests. Now that we are all grown up and ready to take the plunge into the world of higher studies, it’s high time for us too to understand what were our seniors and siblings discussing about. 

Are you a recent graduate or a working professional aiming at studying in some top B-schools abroad? Heard about the GRE exam but don’t know what it is all about? Don’t worry we have got the answers to all your queries!  

The Graduate Record Examination (GRE) is an evaluation system required by most universities in USA, UK, Canada, etc for admission into their Bachelors, Masters (or above) level courses, the score for which is valid for a period of five years. It is an international level exam conducted by Education Testing Services (ETS).

One can either opt for a computer-based test or paper-based test, given each of the formats are available only in some selected centers. Most centers offer computer-based exams and the duration of the exam is three hours and forty-five minutes.

Top universities like Stanford, Harvard, Princeton, Yale, UCLA, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, etc. accept candidates with GRE exam scores to their reputed courses in Economics, English, Computer Science, Physics, etc.

In the recent past, the demand for GRE exam has increased significantly by both B-schools and the applicants, due to the flexibility of the exam. GRE allows students to apply across various fields while GMAT only limits them to a specific business-related domain. GRE scores can be used to apply to universities for business courses too.

In India too, the number of students taking GRE over GMAT has increased over a couple of years.



GRE eligibility

GRE doesn’t require any specific criteria to be eligible to write the exam. Graduates coming from or undergraduates aiming at degree or courses in science, arts, commerce, engineering, medical, law can take the GRE exam. There is no age limit, minimum qualifications or work experience required for appearing GRE.

For registration, a candidate must possess some legal document for identity verification, which is perhaps the only screening process for appearing for GRE exam. For Indian candidates, only the original copy of a valid passport is required and no other documents like birth certificate, college identity card, driving license, PAN card or Voter ID card will be accepted.

However, candidates must check with their target schools to see if they are eligible to pursue the course of their interest or not and also if the schools have any minimum GRE score for admissions into respective courses so that they can prepare accordingly.

Most universities have an average or minimum GRE score for entry or admission into the various courses offered by them. They may also have age limit, work experience or minimum CGPA as eligibility criteria for entry into their schools.


GRE exam dates

There is no specific time period for the GRE exam. GRE is conducted all around the year barring Saturdays, Sundays and public holidays. A candidate can take the exam five times in a year, but not more than twice in a span of twenty-one days.

You can cancel your previous scores if they were unsatisfactory and register afresh for another GRE attempt. Do keep in mind to create an account and register every time you want to take the exam on a specific date.


Best time to take the GRE 

Although GRE scores are valid for a period of five years, it is always advisable to plan the exam according to the intake dates of your target universities.

Most universities across the world have two intakes: Spring and Fall. It is ideal to appear for GRE exam in the month of June or earlier if the candidate is targeting a fall intake and for spring intake one he/she should appear for GRE by December (or earlier) so that there is enough time to work on building a strong application.

Most prospective candidates plan to take the GRE exam 3-4 months before their target universities’ application process starts. This is the reason why most of the dates in the months of June and December are filled up quickly. So it is advisable to build a time frame accordingly and register 2-3 months in advance so that you can avail your desired dates and test centers. You don’t want to compromise on the comfort of your suitable day and place, do you?

Needless to mention, the five year validity period should not be taken for granted, rather one should focus on getting a satisfactory score in minimum attempts and at the right time.


GRE exam centers in India 

Do you belong to a small town? Scared about not having any GRE exam centers nearby? Oh c’mon, just take a chill pill!

GRE is conducted in all major cities across India such as New Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore, Hyderabad, Kolkata, Chennai, Pune, Ahmedabad, Allahabad, Cochin, Coimbatore, Dehradun, Gandhinagar, Gurgaon, Gwalior, Indore, Nasik, Vijayawada, Vadodara, Trivandrum, Mysore, etc.

A candidate can check the dates available for the preferred city by simply entering the name or pin code of the city. Also, it is important to note that some centers have the option of a computer-based test while others offer a paper-based test.


what is gre exam


GRE registration

The registration for GRE exam is a simple process!

The first step in the registration process is to create an online account on the GRE registration homepage. For the GRE General Test, registration can be done via phone, mail, fax or online process. For the GRE Subjective test, registration can be done online or through mail.

You can register for GRE by simply clicking on this link.


GRE Score   

The GRE scores are declared officially 10-15 days after the scheduled exam date.

A candidate is scored as follows:

For verbal reasoning: on a scale of 130-170 (with one-point increments)

For quantitative reasoning: on a scale of 130-170 (with one-point increments)

For analytical writing: on a scale of 0-6 (with half-point increments)

Generally, the GRE score ranges somewhere between 260-340. An idea GRE score would be around 320 or above, to enable a candidate to apply to the topmost schools in the world.



Given below are the GRE scores of some top B-schools of the world:


1Harvard Business SchoolUSA163-168
2University of Pennsylvania, WhartonUSA162-167
3Stanford Graduate School of BusinessUSA163-168
4Columbia Business SchoolUSA161-166
5MIT: SloanUSA161-166
6Yale School of ManagementUSA162-166
7University of Chicago: BoothUSA162-166
8University of California at Berkeley: HaasUSA162-167
9University of TorontoCanada160-165
10University of British ColumbiaCanada150
11Queen’s UniversityCanada158-162
12University of AlbertaCanada153-160
13INSEADSingapore/ France163-164
14HEC ParisFrance160-165
15University of CambridgeUK160-164



GRE Exam Fees

A candidate has to make a one-time payment of $205 (approximately 13,500 INR) in order to register for GRE exam.

The Education Testing Services (ETS) has also started to grant special discounts or reductions on the exam fees for students who are economically weak.

In case a candidate wants to change the center or date, an additional amount of $50 will be charged.


GRE Test Syllabus


what is gre exam


The syllabus for GRE exam is available in two variants: General test and Subjective test.

The GRE General Test examines the verbal reasoning, quantitative reasoning, critical and analytical thinking, and writing skills of a candidate. On the other hand, the GRE Subjective Test examines the candidate’s knowledge in eight specific fields. This is opted by candidates looking for Ph.D. or MS degrees.


GRE Pattern

The GRE question pattern is divided into three sections:

  • Verbal reasoning
  • Quantitative reasoning
  • Analytical writing


Verbal reasoning: The verbal reasoning section tests the candidate’s vocabulary and grammar knowledge. This is divided into two sections consisting of 20 questions in each segment and each section is allotted a maximum time limit of thirty minutes. Basically, three types of questions such as reading comprehension, sentence equivalence, and text completion are asked in the paper.

This section can be a little difficult for non-English speakers as it requires them to analyze and understand the texts from the author’s point of view.


Quantitative reasoning: This section tests the candidate’s knowledge with date and numbers. This is divided into two sections with a time limit of thirty-five minutes allotted per section. The candidate has to analyze the problems and solve them by employing various mathematical formulas and models. 

Candidates are allowed to have access to calculators though! Computer-based tests have on-screen calculators that enable the candidates to solve the complex numerical problems quickly and with ease.


Analytical writing: This section examines the candidate’s ability to write essays; analyze various texts, arguments, discussions and; provide judgments or analysis on the same.

One question is to identify a task and the other is to identify an issue and ideally, each question is allotted thirty minutes.


what is gre exam




GMAT is specifically designed for candidates who wish to pursue business programs in top international B-schools.  Most B-schools do accept the scores for both GMAT and GRE. But some schools do not and if your target schools fall under this, then you should appear for GRE exam instead of GMAT. On the other hand, for candidates who wish to pursue MS programs, GRE is the only score they need.

While GMAT is only created for business school aspirants, GRE is meant for aspirants across varied fields.

GRE has an edge over GMAT for its flexibility by enabling candidates to apply for both MBA and MS programs.

Check out our blog on GRE vs GMAT for a more detailed study. 



GRE is an international level exam targeted towards gaining entry into top B-Schools of the world.

CAT is a national level exam targeted towards candidates who are aiming for entry into top B-Schools of India like IIM, ISB, Xaviers, etc.

Only a few schools of India accept GRE score. So for a candidate who is aiming for international exposure, CAT is of no use; s/he should opt for GRE.



As mentioned previously, GRE is an international level exam.

GATE is created for candidates focusing on doing their masters from a reputed Indian University.

So for someone aiming at an international university, a GATE score will be of no help. Similarly, for someone targeting an Indian university, a GRE score will be unnecessary.



what is gre exam


Preparing for GRE exam needs a systematic, planned and stress-free approach. Lots of online sample papers, study materials, and courses are available for candidates who are interested in putting in lots of practice before taking up the exam.

We hope this blog was useful in helping you solve all your doubts regarding GRE and made your preparation journey an easy ride. We would be happy to read your feedback and suggestions in the comments section.

Do let us know how you fared in your GRE test! Good luck!