Why Graduate Schools Require the GRE


The GRE provides graduate and post-secondary programs a standardized measure to evaluate prospective students during the application process. The examination is utilized at the majority of colleges and universities as a critical component of a completed application that may also include personal information, educational history and transcripts, current resume, professional and academic references, a personal statement and interview. While testing is optional for admission to some master’s level programs, applicants to schools that require the GRE must properly prepare for the examination.

There are multiple methods of preparation for taking the GRE and test-takers are likely to notice significant improvement when time is dedicated to reviewing and practicing with sample tests. The GRE tests two areas of reasoning, verbal and quantitative, and also includes an analytical writing section. Both the verbal and quantitative reasoning sections are scored on a scale of 130-170 and the writing portion ranges from a score of 0-6. The questions are intended to assess the level of competency in regards to critical thinking and analytical skills which are essential to succeeding in the current, intensive graduate school environment.

Questions on the reasoning sections vary in their level of difficulty as they depend upon the individual’s performance on the first section to determine the content of questions for the second section. The content of questions for the verbal reasoning includes testing the ability to arrive at a conclusion based on information contained within a reading passage, deciphering multiple levels of content within one question and possessing comprehensive use of vocabulary and context to understand meaning and intent while reading. Quantitative reasoning assumes a solid understanding of high school level mathematics as solving the problems requires the test taker to be comfortable with geometry, statistics and algebra in addition to being capable of solving arithmetic word problems. Individuals taking the test now have access to an online calculator to perform basic computational functions and focus instead on more complex quantitative reasoning abilities.

The analytical writing portion is composed of two 30-minute tasks involving composing a response related to an issue and a task. The issue analysis involves presenting a well-thought out position or argument on a general topic by utilizing examples to support the conclusion made. Responses to the task argument should not include whether or not the test-taker agrees with the position, but evaluate the strength of the stated position based on the logic and thought process.