GRE Prep 2024 For Dummies with Online Practice
Book image
Explore Book Buy On Amazon
The Graduate Record Examinations (GRE) is your gateway to getting into the graduate school of your choice, maybe even with a scholarship, which then opens the doors to your career path.

This Cheat Sheet is a collection of tips and key information that can help you score well on the GRE, get into graduate school, and further your career goals.

What to expect when taking the GRE

The GRE is a computerized test which you take at a local testing center or at home. Other test-takers may also be at the testing center, working on the GRE or a different exam, but you’ll be immersed in your own test. At about four hours, the GRE challenges your stamina as well as your skills.

Below are the sections of the GRE, along with the number of questions and time limits. Essays are always first, but the other sections can be in any order.

Section Number of Questions Time Allotted
Analyze an Issue 1 essay 30 minutes
Analyze an Argument 1 essay 30 minutes
Verbal Reasoning 20 questions 30 minutes
Break 10 minutes
Quantitative Reasoning 20 questions 35 minutes
Verbal Reasoning 20 questions 30 minutes
Quantitative Reasoning 20 questions 35 minutes
Unscored Verbal or Quantitative Reasoning 20 questions 30 or 35 minutes
Possible Unscored Research Section 20 questions 30 or 35 minutes
Total Testing Time About four hours

Taking the GRE at a testing center

If you’ll be taking the GRE at a testing center, make sure you’re prepared by bringing all of these things:

  • ETS authorization voucher: Bring the verification that says you’ve signed up for the exam on this day, at this time, at this location. If the testing center makes a mistake and loses your reservation, you need to show that you’ve actually reserved this time.
  • Comfortable clothes: Testing centers tend to crank the AC, and the last thing you want is to be shivering during the exam. Wear two layers of long-sleeved clothing, and you can always remove one if you’re warm. Note that you’re not allowed to wear a jacket in the testing center.
  • Testing center address: Put the testing center address in your phone, or write it on a note, or print it out so that you can grab it in the morning. You may also want to scope out the area ahead of time and find parking: A map satellite view is great for this.
  • Photo ID: The GRE testing centers sport some tight security. You may not be allowed to take the test unless you can verify who you are.
  • Water and a snack: Your break is 10 minutes, some of which is spent checking back in when you return from the restroom. You don’t have time to go buy a snack, and you may not want the drinking fountain water. Bring your own water and a snack so you can use your precious few minutes getting refreshed. Some testing centers give you access to your locker during your break, and some don’t. But the proctors always tell you where you can leave your personal items.

The GRE proctors are also strict about the items you can’t bring into the testing center. If you have any of these items with you, you’ll be asked to keep them in your locker while taking the exam:

  • Books and study notes: You’re not allowed to use books or notes, so why bring them? Leave them in your car or at home. One student almost had his scores cancelled because he took a text book out of his locker during his break. Fortunately, he didn’t open the book, so he was allowed to keep his scores.
  • Phone, wallet, and purse: These stay in the locker while you’re taking the GRE.
  • Calculator: If you bring a calculator, it too stays in the locker. The GRE provides an on-screen calculator for the quantitative reasoning sections, so you don’t need to bring one.
  • Your own scratch paper: The proctors will take anything you bring and provide their own scratch paper for you to use.

Computer tips for the GRE

You’ve taken a couple computer-based practice exams, right? Just remember these key points:

  • You can go back and forth through the section. Within each section, each question is worth the same. If you’re stuck on a question, take a guess, mark it for review, and come back to it later.
  • Keep an eye on the clock. On the GRE, with 35 minutes per quantitative section and 30 minutes per verbal, it’s easy to get distracted by your work and run out of time. Stick with one minute per question, which allows a little time to slip, and you should be about halfway through each section at about 15 minutes.
  • Practice using the software. Practice GRE software is available for free from ETS, and it perfectly mimics the actual exam, so be sure to explore that and see how it works before the day of the exam.

Answering multiple-choice questions

Most GRE questions are multiple choice, and some may have more than one possible answer. These questions with more than one possible answer are easy to spot, because the answer choices are marked with squares instead of ovals, and the directions say, “Pick two answers” or “Pick all correct answers,” or you may have to complete text that has two or three missing words.

Either way, keep these tips in mind:

  • If you don’t know the answer, rule out as many obviously incorrect choices as possible and guess from the remaining choices.
  • Again, because students forget, Don’t spend more than one minute on any one question. Guess an answer, mark the question for review, and come back to it at the end of the section. As long as you have time left, you can go back to any questions in that section.
  • Guessing an answer is better than leaving the question unanswered. A wrong answer counts the same as no answer, so there’s no harm in guessing. You may as well throw the mental dice and try to get it right — just mark it for review and come back to it later.

About This Article

This article is from the book:

About the book author:

Ron Woldoff is the founder of National Test Prep, where he helps students achieve their goals on the GMAT, GRE, and SAT. He has taught prep courses at Arizona colleges, and is the author of SAT: 1,001 Practice Questions For Dummies, previous editions of GRE For Dummies, and GRE: 1,001 Practice Questions For Dummies.

This article can be found in the category: