Version 1.0 Copyright © 2012, 2013, 2014 Amandeep Singh
Everything a GRE aspirant should know about the revised general test
This document describes about the revised GRE general test, its pattern and other relevant information related to the test.
Table of contents
GRE Graduate Record Examination is a compulsory test required to get admitted in any of the US universities to pursue higher studies like MS. GRE is an adaptive kind of test, and a score of above 315 /340 is considered excellent. With this much score, a candidate can easily get admission into a top US university. But mind it not only the GRE score contributes to the admission success, but the other things too like academic performance GPA, work experience, projects and research work done.
Also the letters of recommendation and the statement of purpose play a major role in getting an admit from a US top university.
USA Education System
The first level of higher education in USA is referred to as the ‘undergraduate’ level; it awards a Bachelor of Arts (BA) or Bachelor of Science (BS) degree. Most USA study programs for undergraduates require four years of study, and a completed secondary school education is sufficient to enroll as an undergraduate student. First-, second- and third-year college students can transfer into U.S. undergraduate degree programs and finish the remainder of their program over there. Graduate education in the USA refers to Master of Arts (MA), Master of Science (MS), or Doctorate of Philosophy (PhD) degrees. Students who have completed their undergraduate education are eligible to apply to graduate programs. Master’s degrees in the USA are usually awarded after two years of study. The Ph.D. is the highest academic degree amongst American study programs. This degree follows a Master’s (or Graduate) degree, and typically requires at anywhere between three to six years.
Overview of revised GRE test pattern
The overall testing time for the computer-based GRE® revised General Test is about " three hours and 45 minutes." There are six sections with a 10-minute break following the third section.
Verbal Reasoning — Measures your ability to analyze and evaluate written material and synthesize information obtained from it, analyze relationships among component parts of sentences and recognize relationships among words and concepts.
Quantitative Reasoning — Measures problem-solving ability, focusing on basic concepts of arithmetic, algebra, geometry and data analysis.
Analytical Writing — Measures critical thinking and analytical writing skills, specifically your ability to articulate and support complex ideas clearly and effectively.
Structure of the Computer-based Test
NUMBER OF QUESTIONS
Analytical Writing(One section with two separately timed tasks)
One "Analyze an Issue" task and one "Analyze an Argument" task
30 minutes per task
Verbal Reasoning(Two sections)
20 questions per section
30 minutes per section
Quantitative Reasoning(Two sections)
20 questions per section
35 minutes per section
The Analytical Writing section will always be first. The Verbal Reasoning, Quantitative Reasoning and unidentified/unscored sections may appear in any order.
Analytical Writing (Always comes first inthe exam)
Verbal Reasoning (Total 2 sections in exam)
Quantitative Reasoning (Total 2 sections inexam)
Unscored Section (not disclosed)
Research Section (disclosed..Always comesat the end)
Breaks in revised GRE:
Only one big break of 10 minutes after section 3 Small breaks of 1 minute between sections.
Sample revised GRE pattern Examples
Depending on the various permutations, you can get one of the following three sample examples for revised GRE. Depending on unscored or research section, we can list out still more combinations, but for understanding purpose, I have enlisted three major revised GRE pattern examples for your reference.
Section 1: AnalyticalWriting – 2 tasks (1 hour)
Section 2: Verbal Reasoning (30 minutes)
Section 3:Quantitative Reasoning (35 minutes)
Section 4:Verbal Reasoning (30 minutes)
Section 5:Quantitative Reasoning (35 minutes)
Section 6: Research Section (35 minutes)
Section 1: Analytical Writing – 2 tasks(1 hour)
Section 2: VerbalReasoning (30 minutes)
Section 3: Quantitative Reasoning (35 minutes)
Break: 10 minutes
Section 4: Verbal Reasoning (30 minutes)..Unscored
Section 5: Quantitative Reasoning (35 minutes)
Section 6: Verbal Reasoning (30 minutes)
Section 1: Analytical Writing – 2 tasks(1 hour)
Section 2: Quantitative Reasoning (35 minutes)..Unscored
Section 3: VerbalReasoning (30 minutes)
Break: 10 minutes
Section 4: Quantitative Reasoning (35 minutes)
Section 5: Verbal Reasoning (30 minutes)
Section 6: Quantitative Reasoning (35 minutes)
The revised GRE scoring system
GRE is no longer an exam with 1600 maximum marks. It is now scored on 340 score scale.
Maximum marks in revised GRE: 340
Verbal Reasoning Score scale: 130-170 (1 pt increment)
Quantitative Reasoning Score scale: 130-170 (1 pt increment)
Analytical Writing Score: 0-6 (0.5 pt increment)
Important facts about revised GRE scoring
Revised GRE is section level adaptive for Verbal and Quantitative sections. Thus the difficulty level of the second section of Verbal or Quant is based on your performance in the first section.
Revised GRE raw score is the number of correct answers (e.g. 25 out of 40). This score is scaled into a final score in the above scoring range based on the difficulty level of the sections.
In one section, all the 20 questions are fixed. In old GRE, difficulty level of next question was based on performance of previous question. No such adaptive questioning in revised GRE.
Analytical writing section is evaluated manually by trained readers. Average of scores given by two readers becomes your final score.
Aim to achieve score in excess of 155 in Verbal and 160 in Quant, a total score>315. This will ensure your admit in a good University with a chance of financial aid.
Revised GRE scores are valid for 5 years from the date of examination.
Revised GRE score reporting
Revised GRE scores for Verbal and Quantitative sections are calculated immediately after the completion of the test and you will get a final score out of 340 for these sections
Final revised GRE test scores along with Analytical Writing section and percentiles are updated 10-15 days after the exam date.
Final revised GRE test scores hard copy will be mailed to your address and you will receive it after 4-6 weeks after the exam depending on your locality.
Detailed analysis of each section
The Verbal Reasoning section measures your ability to:
analyze and draw conclusions from discourse; reason from incomplete data; identify author's assumptions and/or perspective; understand multiple levels of meaning, such as literal, figurative and author's intent
select important points; distinguish major from minor or relevant points; summarize text; understand the structure of a text
understand the meanings of words, sentences and entire texts; understand relationships among words and among concepts Featuring new types of questions, the Verbal Reasoning section measures your ability to understand what you read and how you apply your reasoning skills.
The Quantitative Reasoning section measures your ability to:
understand quantitative information
interpret and analyze quantitative information
solve problems using mathematical models
apply basic mathematical skills and elementary mathematical concepts of arithmetic, algebra, geometry, probability and statistics With increased emphasis on data interpretation and real-life scenarios, this section has new types of questions that require you to show your quantitative reasoning ability. To reduce the emphasis on computation,
the computer-based test includes an on-screen calculator. And, if you are taking the paper-based test, a calculator will be provided at the test center.
The Analytical Writing section measures your ability to:
articulate complex ideas clearly and effectively
support ideas with relevant reasons and examples
examine claims and accompanying evidence
sustain a well-focused, coherent discussion
control the elements of standard written English
The Analytical Writing section requires you to provide focused responses based on the tasks presented, so you can accurately demonstrate your skill in directly responding to a task.
Must know facts about GRE
The GRE® revised General Test is administered throughout the world in the following formats:
computer-based test and paper-based test.
Effective July 1, 2012, the GRE revised General Test has one global price for all test takers worldwide, regardless of where they test. The new test administration fee for the GRE revised General Test is US$175 worldwide. This new price reflects a decrease in the test fee in many regions. If you test in Mainland China, Hong Kong, Taiwan or Korea, the test is
now taken in one session, all on the same day. There are 1–3 fixed test dates per month giving you more test dates from which to choose. In areas of the world where the computer-based test is not available, a paper-based test is administered. The paper-based GRE revised General Test is administered up to 3 times a year in October, November and February.
Scores are sent approximately 6 weeks after your test date.
performance on the first verbal and math sections determine the difficulty of the second sections shown.
The computer-based GRE General Test consists of seven sections. The
first section is always the analytical writing section involving separately timed issue and argument tasks. The next five sections consist of two verbal reasoning sections, two quantitative reasoning sections, and either an experimental or research section. These five sections may occur in any order.
The experimental section does not count towards the final score but is not distinguished from the scored sections.
the examinee is free to skip back and forth within sections. The entire testing procedure lasts about 3 hours 45 minutes. One minute breaks are offered after each section and a 10 minute break after the third section.
In a typical examination, each verbal section consists of 20 questions to be completed in 30 minutes. Each verbal section consists of about 6 text completion, 4 sentence equivalence, and 10 critical reading questions.
The verbal test and quantitative test are scored on a scale of 130-170, in 1-point increments.
In a typical examination, each quantitative section consists of 20 questions to be completed in 35 minutes.Each quantitative section consists of about 8 quantitative comparisons,
9 problem solving items, and 3 data interpretation questions.
The analytical writing section consists of two different essays, an "issue task" and an "argument task". The writing section is graded on a scale of 0-6, in half-point increments. The essays are written on a computer using a word processing program specifically designed by ETS.
The program allows only basic computer functions and does not contain a spell-checker or other advanced features. Each essay is scored by at least two readers on a six-point holistic
scale. If the two scores are within one point, the average of the scores is taken. If the two scores differ by more than a point, a third reader examines the response.
The experimental section, which can be either a verbal, quantitative, or analytical writing task, contains new questions ETS is considering for future use. Although the experimental section does not count towards the test-taker's score, it is unidentified and appears identical to the scored sections.
Because test takers have no definite way of knowing which section is experimental, it is typically advised that test takers try their best on every section. Sometimes an identified research section at the end of the test is given instead of the experimental section.
There is no experimental section on the paper-based GRE.
An examinee can miss one or more questions on a multiple-choice section and still receive a perfect score of 170. Likewise, even if no question is answered correctly, 130 is the lowest possible score.
How to score good in Analytical Writing Section
The Analytical Writing measure tests your critical thinking and analytical writing skills. It assesses your ability to articulate and support complex ideas, construct and evaluate arguments, and sustain a focused and coherent discussion. It does not assess specific content knowledge.
The Analytical Writing measure consists of two separately timed analytical writing tasks:
The Issue task presents an opinion on an issue of general interest followed by specific instructions on how to respond to that issue. You are required to evaluate the issue, consider its complexities and develop an argument with reasons and examples to support your views.
The Argument task requires you to evaluate a given argument according to specific instructions. You will need to consider the logical soundness of the argument rather than agree or disagree with the position it presents.
The two tasks are complementary in that one requires you to construct your own argument by taking a position and providing evidence supporting your views on an issue, and the other requires you to evaluate someone else's argument by assessing its claims and evaluating the evidence it provides.
Individuals taking the computer-based test will use a basic word processor developed by ETS. The basic word processor contains the following functionalities: insert text, delete text, cut-and-paste and undo the previous action. Tools such as a spell checker and grammar
checker are not available in the ETS software, largely to maintain fairness with those examinees who must handwrite their essays at paper-based administrations.
Preparing for the Analytical Writing Measure
Everyone — even the most practiced and confident of writers — should spend some time preparing for the Analytical Writing measure before arriving at the test center. It is important to understand the skills measured and how the tasks are scored. It is also useful to review the scoring guides, sample topics, scored sample essay responses and reader commentary for each task.
The tasks in the Analytical Writing measure relate to a broad range of subjects — from the fine arts and humanities to the social and physical sciences — but no task requires knowledge of specific content. In fact, each task has been tested by actual GRE® test takers to ensure that it possesses several important characteristics, including the following:
GRE test takers, regardless of their field of study or special interests, understood the task and could easily respond to it.
The task elicited the kinds of complex thinking and persuasive writing that university faculty consider important for success in graduate school.
The responses were varied in content and in the way the writers developed their ideas.
Published Topic Pools for the Analytical Writing Measure
To help you prepare for the Analytical Writing measure, the GRE
Program has published the entire pool of tasks from which your test
tasks will be selected. You might find it helpful to review the Issue
and Argument pools:
Test-taking Strategies for the Analytical Writing Measure
Before taking the GRE® revised General Test, review the strategies, sample topics, essay responses and reader commentary for each task contained in this section. Also review the scoring guides for each task. This will give you a deeper understanding of how readers
evaluate essays and the elements they're looking for in an essay.
It is important to budget your time. Within the 30-minute time limit for the Issue task, you will need to allow sufficient time to consider the issue and the specific instructions, plan a response and compose your essay.
Within the 30-minute time limit for the Argument task, you will need to allow sufficient time to consider the argument and the specific instructions, plan a response and compose your essay. Although the GRE readers who score your essays understand the time constraints under which you write and will consider your response a first draft, you still want it to be the best possible example of your writing that you can produce under the testing conditions.
Save a few minutes at the end of each timed task to check for obvious errors. Although an occasional spelling or grammatical error will not affect your score, severe and persistent errors will detract from the overall effectiveness of your writing and lower your score accordingly.
When to apply for MS in US univ and when to take GRE TOEFL tests
The academic year in the United States generally lasts nine months, from late August or early September until the middle or end of May, and it may be divided into two (Fall and Spring) or three,(Fall,Spring,Summer) academic terms depending on the institution.
Most of the application deadlines start in late November and early December and can extend to March and even April for some universities. It is advisable to take exams before the end of October so that you have time to get your other documents ready and shortlist your universities too.
The GRE score is valid only for five years. If you want to pursue Master's Degree in the US, immediately after completing your B.Tech, you can appear for GRE test either in the third year (sixth semester) or at the beginning of the fourth year (seventh semester) of B.Tech. Along with GRE, you should also prepare and take TOEFL, conducted by the ETS. TOEFL ensures your English language skills. To fare well in these examinations, your learning should be beyond the prescribed syllabus.
If you are looking for fall admission then you should appear for GRE not late by October 1st week or earlier.
best time to write GRE is during August-October and apply for fall (August/September) session next year.
Most top schools of US have deadline in mid of December.
So this means... write gre in august to october ... apply in the months of september to december. Some univ may extend their deadlines to january or february also. Then start your session in August(fall) next year. Aspirants can also take their tests a bit earlier in june-july if prepared, so that can get a retake chance. therefore students from India should take GRE in between semester 6 or 7.
sample plan for fall semester:
// gather information in march-april
// take TOEFL in may or june
// take gre in july to august
// wait for results
// shortlist your universities in august to september
// send applications in september-october or till december
// apply for visa in june to august- next year
// course starts in september (fall)
So in a nutshell you should start preparing a year ahead to get enrolled in a good US univ.
Visa application process for US
Types of US Student Visas
There are three categories of visas available for education in the USA:
(1) F-1 (Student Visa): The F-1 visa is for full-time students who want to study in the USA and are enrolled in an academic or language program. Students holding an F-1 visa can stay in the USA for the full length of their academic program plus 60 days. Students must
maintain a full-time course load and complete their studies by the expiration date listed on their I-20 form. Apply for a multiple entry F-1 student visa, as you will be able travel between US and India any number of times while pursuing a program.
M Visa (Non-Academic or Vocational Studies): This visa is appropriate for people who want to study or train at a non-academic institution in the USA, such as an apprenticeship or a finishing school.
(3) J-1 (Exchange Visitor Visa): The J-1 visa is issued o students who need practical training that is not available in their home country in order to complete their academic program. The training must be directly related to their academic program. In the J-1 visa, the student is obliged to return to their home country for a minimum of two years after the end of their studies in the USA before becoming eligible to apply for an immigrant (permanent residence) visa.
Permission to work in USA
Students applying for a student working visa in the USA should know that students are generally not eligible for employment during their first year of study. A student work permit can, however, be obtained on the approval of the school’s administration.
Conditions for applying for a US Student Visa
1. Acceptance by University: This is the most basic condition for applying for a student visa to the USA. After getting admitted to a university, you will be sent the Certification of
Eligibility Form (Also called the I-20 Form); that needs to be filled and submitted at the time of the interview.
2. Knowledge of the English Language is a must for getting student visa to the US. To establish their knowledge of English, applicants are encouraged to take the “Test of English as a Foreign Language” (TOEFL). This is available in many Indian cities.
3. Financial Resources: Since a student visa for US is a non-immigrant type of a visa, one has to provide proof of sufficient funds to cover the total education and living costs while pursuing any USA study programs. A student must show evidence of readily
available funds to meet all expenses for the first year and of the availability of funds for the following years from reliable financial resources. To satisfy this requirement, applicants may show that funds are available from the university, from their own personal resources, or
from sponsors (normally a very close relative) who have agreed to pay for their education. If the support is from the university, in the form of a scholarship or assistantship, it is usually mentioned on the I-20 form.
4. Non-Immigrant Intent: It is difficult to prove that one intends to return to India after completing their education in USA because by law, all non-immigrants are viewed as “intending immigrants.” This means that the visa officer is under the assumption
that applicants will be going to the US and will try to remain in the US permanently. Hence one should carry documents that demonstrate strong financial and other ties to India and convince the consul of one’s intent to return. Such documents may include:
a. Proof of land ownership.
b. Letters demonstrating future roles in a family business, academic
institution, government agency, or professional organization from
c. Mention if other family members have studied in the U.S. and returned.
Acquiring a US visa is a not easy. If, however, while making the application one keeps all the required documents at hand and follows the rules diligently, it can hasten the process. It is advisable to file one’s application for student visa immediately after receiving form
I-20. For a student visa the interview can be arranged up to 120 days before the course at the university begins and the student can enter the US 30 days prior before his/her classes begin.
How to get a Student Visa?
1. Pay the fee: The first step in filing one’s application for a student visa is the payment of the application fee (currently US $100 or INR 4,600), and the VFS service charge at a
designated branch of HDFC Bank.
2. I-20 and SEVIS charges: Before the visa interview, the applicant must have received an I-20 document from the university granting them admission. The applicant must make a payment to the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) registration
3. Schedule an interview: The interview can be scheduled online at http://www.vfs-usa.co.in/. One will need to use the barcode number from the HDFC Bank fee receipt in order to schedule an appointment. The applicant will be required to fill the DS-156, DS-157, and DS-158 forms and wait 48 hours after paying the fee before booking
4. Report for the interview: The next step is to report to the US Embassy or Consulate where the appointment for a visa interview is scheduled.
In the personal visa interview, it is important to convince the visa officer of the availability of the necessary funds to cover the cost of education in USA, and prove the presence of strong ties to India to show the applicant does not intend to immigrate. While answering questions in the visa interview; be brief and to the point. Remember, during the consular officials want to hear from the applicant, and it is advisable not to take any family member along for the interview.
When appearing for the student visa interview, carry the following documents:
1. Passport having validity of at least six months.
2. Original HDFC Bank Fee Receipt with its two barcode stickers.
3. Interview appointment letter.
4. I-20 form, and the admission letter from the University mentioning the total cost of education in the USA (If you have received admission letters/rejection letters from more than one university, carry all of them).
5. Evidence of scholarship / aid / grant, if any.
6. Sponsorship letter.
7. Educational certificates, degrees, diplomas, and mark sheets.
8. Score reports of TOEFL and GRE / GMAT / SAT.
9. Work experience certificate/reference letter from employer.
10. Bank statements / pass books of the sponsors for the last three years.
11. Summary statement of assets and total income of family members.
12. Income tax papers of the sponsor and his family for the last 3 years.
13. Proof of all movable and immovable assets.
Types of work permits in US & US citizenship
CPT/OPT/H1B Work permits
CPT is the work permit that you get during your education in USA. After your Education you will get OPT work permit to work for any employer in USA. OPT period will be for 12 or 29 months depending upon your major /branch of study. During the OPT your employer should 09 sponsor for H1B (work permit) visa for you. You can stay in USA at max for 6 years on H1B visa.
Green card & US Citizenship:
During your stay in USA on H1B, you can ask your employer to sponsor green card for you to become permanent resident of US. After that you can also apply for US Citizenship.
So start preparing early and good luck !!