The GRE

The GRE is a test, much like a glorified ACT, that many graduate schools require for admission. Some schools do not require the GRE, but it’s a good idea to take it even if you’re not sure which schools you’re applying to.

Use the GRE website for information about the test, how to sign up, and what your test scores mean.

Listed below is information about:


The GRE breakdown

You may be wondering what the GRE is and what you’re tested on. The GRE has a general test and subject tests. Since you’re most likely going into a English Master’s program, you will only need to sign up for the general test.

The GRE is comprised of three sections: verbal reasoning, quantitative reasoning, and analytical writing.

Taken directly from the GRE website, 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.

Taken directly from the GRE website, 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.

Taken directly from the GRE website, the quantitative reasoning section measures your ability to:
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  • 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.

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Signing up for the GRE

In order to have your GRE test scores by your application deadline, you should register to take the test at least 6 weeks before your application deadline. Most deadlines for fall admission are in January or February, so plan to take your GRE by November. This will give you enough time to take the test and then decide whether or not you want to take it again if you’re not satisfied with your scores.

The three closest locations to take the test are Sioux Falls, St. Cloud, and the Twin Cities. Visit the GRE website to sign up for the test. Read all of the information about the test day so you make sure to bring the right identification. You will not be allowed to take the test without the proper identification.

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Studying for the GRE

Read as much about the GRE as you can. The more you know, the more comfortable you will feel about the test. Study for the GRE, in whatever way works best for you. Some people buy GRE study books, others use only free online materials. No one can tell you the best way to study; you have to decide what forms of studying will be most beneficial to you.

Studying for a short amount of time (half an hour to an hour) every day for two weeks before the test will help you prepare. If you have trouble with one section, make sure to put a little extra time into that section.

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Test day

Arrive to your GRE test site early. Most sites require you to show up half an hour before your test time in order to check you in and fill out paperwork.

Leave your phone in your car. You will not need it and can get kicked out if you try taking it into the testing area. Be prepared to empty your pockets and get patted down. The GRE is serious and testing centers do check you over to make sure you’re not cheating. Don’t freak out or worry about this; concentrate on taking the test and doing your best.

Bring a small snack to eat during your ten-minute break. The test usually takes four hours so it’s a good idea to pack a small snack in case you get hungry. You won’t be able to eat or drink in the actual testing area, but will be allowed to eat during your short break.

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Sending test scores

While at the testing center, you are allowed to automatically send your GRE scores to four schools for free. Don’t freak out if you’re not sure which schools you want to apply to yet. You can always send your scores to your actual choices later, but you will have to pay a fee (at least $26 per school) to send your scores to multiple graduate schools. Even if you’re not sure which schools you’re applying to, you should still send the scores to four schools; you will save yourself money in the long run if one of the four free schools turn into your actual graduate school choices.

If you need to send your GRE scores to a school after you’ve already taken the test, visit the GRE website for more information.

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Last Modified: 2/20/17 4:07 PM