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The New GRE
Andrea Graves, DMA

An Introduction to the GRE® Revised General Test

Many of you had to take the GRE to be admitted to your graduate program. Others who did not may need to take the GRE in future to pursue an additional graduate degree, while some may want to try again in the quest for higher scores. NAU Student Learning Centers now offer GRE and GMAT Test Prep Courses to help you do your very best. And if you took the GRE before August 2011, you will find that things have changed—a lot! See information and success strategies below.

GRE logo
The GRE® General Test is the most widely accepted and proven standardized assessment tool for graduate and professional school applicants. More than 700,000 people take the GRE tests annually at nearly 700 centers in more than 160 countries. American students took 10 percent more GRE tests in 2011 than in 2010, which GRE officials attribute to the excitement caused by the revised general test and a rise in the number of institutions, including MBA programs, now accepting the GRE.

Dawn Piacentino, program director for the GRE, says the revised general test “now measures skills that are more likely to be used by graduate students. Grad students are not likely to be doing analogies, but are more likely to be reading and interpreting reading passages.” Analogies—discredited as testing out of context and too easy to memorize—are out. Calculators are in. Students are accustomed to using them, Ms. Piacentino says. “It allows them to focus more on comprehensive reasoning than calculation.” Also, the computer adaptability has been improved. Questions will get harder or simpler based on how the test taker does in a section, rather than how s/he does on individual questions (New York Times, April 2011).

Registration and Fees

The GRE revised General Test is only offered in the computer-based format in the United States, with continuous enrollment through for a fee of $160. GRE Subject Tests are offered in paper-based format worldwide in October, November, and April only for a fee of $140. The official GRE testing site in Flagstaff is Prometric Testing Flagstaff at 2615 N 4th Street, # 8. You can call them at (928) 774-9519.

For test takers demonstrating financial need, unemployment, or those affiliated with programs such as McNair Scholars, Gates Millennium, Project 1000, GEM, and PREP, there is a GRE Fee Reduction Program.

Test Format

The GRE revised General Test is designed to offer a more flexible test-taking experience and freedom to use more personal test-taking strategies. Test takers can now:

  • Edit and change answers within a timed section.
  • Mark questions, skip, and return to them later within a timed section.
  • Navigate freely within a timed section.
  • Use an on-screen simple calculator in the Quantitative Reasoning measure.

Test takers are allotted 3 hours 45 minutes for the test. The directions at the beginning of each Verbal and Quantitative Reasoning section specify the total number of questions in the section and the time allowed for the section. In the Analytical Writing section, test takers should allow sufficient time to think about the topic, plan a response, and compose the essay within the 30-minute time limit for each task.

Scoring and Reporting

The scoring scale has changed for the Verbal and Quantitative Reasoning measures, although the Analytical Writing scoring remains the same:

Former Scoring

Revised Scoring

Verbal and Quantitative Reasoning
200-800 in 10-point increments

Verbal and Quantitative Reasoning
130-170 in 1 point increments

Analytical Writing
0-6 in half-point increments

Analytical Writing
0-6 in half-point increments

All score reports now include background information on the test taker including:

  • E-mail address, phone number, and intended graduate major.
  • Concordance information to help score-users compare candidates who took the GRE General Test prior to August 2011 with candidates who took the revised General Test.
  • Percentile ranks for each of the measures based on a recent three-year period.

The new ScoreSelectSM option allows test takers to choose which test scores from the last five years they wish to report to institutions.

Strategies for Success

Understand the test experience. Start your preparation process well in advance of your test date. Know what to expect with regard to registration and payment, computer-based test navigation and format, types of questions, number of questions, amount of time given per section, general rules of the test, score reporting, etc.

Practice method over results. Develop a method for recognizing patterns and “tricks” in the question-and-answer formatting rather than memorizing correct answers. Practice reading questions, then quickly assessing what response the question is really asking for. Understand the benefits and caveats of the new “mark and review” feature. You can see what you’ve answered or marked for review and change answers within the time allotted for each section, but you’ve got to budget your time and not get distracted by second-guessing your answers. Also, remember that your score is determined by the number of correct answers; nothing is subtracted from your score for wrong answers. So, it’s best to answer every question.

See the big picture. Test takers are usually taking the test for a major life goal such as entrance into graduate school and professional advancement. The test can seem daunting, especially for test takers who have been out of school for a while or are out of practice with analytical writing, algebra, and geometry. If you don’t achieve the score you need the first time, you can take the test again once every 30 days for a total of five tests within any continuous, rolling 12-month period. And remember, with ScoreSelect you have the option to send the scores that reflect your personal best.

Use your resources. There are plentiful resources in different formats including books, online tutorials, blogs, one-on-one tutoring, and test prep courses. Find full-length computer-based practice tests that simulate the actual test environment so you build stamina and feel comfortable navigating the test software. Your first resource should be the test makers themselves at , followed by and The Official Guide to the GRE® revised General Test with CD-ROM (second edition,McGraw-Hill, 2012). Finally, choose the resources that work best for your lifestyle and learning preferences. You will succeed!

For more information, visit NAU GRE & GMAT Test Prep Courses.


Educational Testing Service (ETS). The Official Guide to the GRE revised General Test. McGraw Hill, 2010.

Educational Testing Service (ETS). " About the GRE® revised General Test." Last modified Copyright © 2012. Accessed July 3, 2012.

Educational Testing Service (ETS). “GRE Test Preparation Workshop for Campus Educators.” Workshop, Philadelphia, PA, 2012.

New York Times - Education Life, "The New G.R.E." Last modified April 12, 2011. Accessed July 20, 2012.

Stratford, Michael. "GRE Test Taking Increased in 2011, With Large Gains Abroad." The Chronicle of Higher Education, February 8, 2012. (Accessed July 3, 2012). .

—Andrea Graves, Program Coordinator Senior, NAU Student Learning Centers