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GRE: All you need to know

Posted by The Lisbon MBA on 27-Sep-2017 16:00:00

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The Graduate Record Examination (GRE) is the most widely accepted test of its kind worldwide, mostly because it is a common requirement for graduate schools in all fields of knowledge and because of its popularity in the USA and in China. It’s administered by the Educational Testing Service, also responsible for the TOEFL.

If you’re applying for a top MBA, you must take either the GRE or the GMAT and submit it along with all the other application documents. Here’s all you need to know about the GRE General Test.

The GRE General Test measures transversal skills required in top graduate and business school programs. It features questions based on faculty surveys and on guidelines established by the Mathematical Association of America. It’s divided into three sections: Verbal Reasoning, Quantitative Reasoning, and Analytical Writing. There are field-specific GREs (for Physics, for example).

The GRE General Test is a computer adaptive test and features a user-friendly design. Unlike the GMAT, it allows test-takers to skip questions within a section, change answers, and decide which questions within a section he or she wishes to answer first. The structure of the GRE General Test is presented below.

1. Verbal Reasoning - Skills assessed:

Text comprehension:

  • Establishing relationships between words and concepts;
  • Knowing the meanings of words and sentences;
  • Mastering sentences’ structures;
  • Making summaries;
  • Pinpointing a passage’s main ideas;

Discourse interpretation

  • Drawing conclusions;
  • Making inferences;
  • Identifying assumptions;


2. Quantitative Reasoning - Skills assessed:

  • Reading and understanding quantitative information;
  • Interpreting and analyzing quantitative information;
  • Drawing inferences from data;
  • Problem-solving using basic concepts of arithmetic, algebra, geometry and data analysis;

Note that the Quantitative Reasoning section includes an on-screen calculator. In the case of paper-delivered tests, the test center provides a calculator.


3. Analytical Writing - Skills assessed:

  • Critical thinking;
  • Exposing complex ideas clearly and effectively;
  • Supporting ideas with facts and examples;
  • Discussing affirmations and related evidence;
  • Mastering the key elements of standard written English;


The GRE General Test is accepted by thousands of graduate and business school programs, including top-ranked MBAs. It’s available in more than 160 countries worldwide on a continuous basis year-round. Preparation materials are free at test centers. Where computer-delivered testing is not available, the paper-delivered test is available up to three times a year.

The GRE General Test allows test-takers to decide which scores to send to which schools on the day of the test (annulled scores aren’t reported to schools). Obviously, students can always retake the test. Test centers also function as worldwide databases of students and their respective scores, if test-takers sign up for it.

Perhaps the most important advantage of the GRE General Test when compared with similar tests is the fact that it allows access to graduate and postgraduate programs in several fields of knowledge. This means that students hesitating between quite different options to pursue their education can take the test and postpone their ultimate decision. In fact, for tests taken on or after July 1, 2016, scores are valid for a period of 5 years.

If you have any doubts or queries about the GRE General Test or about the right test for your particular situation, contact us!

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Topics: GRE

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