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GRE Prep Frequently Asked Questions

A. The GRE is a standardized test that is used by many graduate schools as a method of comparing candidates' academic capabilities and a prerequisite to applying for admissions. The exam has three sections: GRE verbal reasoning, GRE quantitative reasoning, and analytical writing. For more information, please visit About the GRE Test.


Q. What is the GRE?

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Q. What is a good GRE score?

A. The GRE verbal reasoning and quantitative sections are each scored on a scale of 130 to 170. A total GRE score of 330 or above is considered a very high score by graduate school programs, and may open the door to scholarship money. A GRE verbal score of 163 or above will put you in the very top percentiles, and a GRE quantitative score of 164 or above in the top GRE math percentiles.  


That said, graduate admissions committee will mainly consider the section of the exam most related to its field of study – a GRE verbal score of 163 will not compensate for a low GRE math score in the eyes of the admissions committees for the computer science, engineering, math, or physics departments, nor will the classics, creative writing, English, government, history, or philosophy department committees be impressed by your high math score if it's not paired with a high GRE verbal score. And some departments, such as education or pharmaceutical sciences, require competitive scores in both sections.


To figure out what is a good GRE score for your grad school, start by visiting the school's website. Typically, a school or department will publish its minimum GRE scores for verbal and math sections. The university will usually publish average GRE scores for all departments.

Q. What is the best way to prepare for the GRE exam?

A. Don't look for a magic formula for GRE prep. Consistent, well-planned preparation is the key to a better GRE score. Make a realistic study schedule to go over GRE practice questions, and stick to it. Your social life may suffer, but a little suffering now is much better than the fear you'll feel if you head into the exam unprepared, the pain of having to retake the GRE exam, or the worry that you won't be admitted to grad school.


Motivate yourself by taking a diagnostic test from ETS when you first begin GRE prep, and take more tests to see how well you are progressing. When you take GRE practice tests, try to create test center conditions, with no breaks, food, or music.


Use only official books, questions, and tests from the maker of the GRE exam, ETS, which offers authentic, high-quality practice questions.


If your GRE preparation goes astray (you are struggling with new knowledge, for example, or you are having difficulty improving your score, even after practice), seek expert help. An excellent GRE course or tutoring now can help you cover more ground and save you many worries in the long run.

Q. How long does it take to prepare for the GRE?

A. People typically prepare for the test for one month to three months, according to ETS. Give yourself enough time to adequately prepare and, if you need to, retake the exam before your application deadlines.


We strongly recommend that you plan to take the GRE test at least five months before the admissions deadlines for your target graduate programs. Focus on the GRE test first, and then tackle the other components of the application. You will be more effective if you do not attempt to write admissions essays and study for the exam at the same time.

Q. Which is the best book to prepare for the GRE exam?

A. We recommend The Official Guide to the GRE® revised General Test. The GRE exam offers you hundreds of real GRE test questions, as well as GRE practice tests. Our GRE course provides additional materials showing the most efficient approaches to answering the test's problems.

Q. Is there any calculus on the GRE exam?

A. No. The GRE exam will test you on basic concepts of arithmetic, algebra, geometry, and data analysis, as well as your ability to reason quantitatively and to solve quant problems.

Q. Can I use a calculator on the GRE?

A. Yes. You will not be able to bring your own calculator to the test center. You will be provided a calculator either on the computer screen or by the test center.

Q. What is the best GRE test prep course?

A. The best GRE prep course is the one that helps you grasp the subject matter, taking the stress out of preparation and allowing you to perform at your best on test day. Our GRE course focuses on the content and skills that the GRE actually tests, with rigorous instruction and practice. Our students value our excellent instruction, effective study materials and test-taking strategies, and just as importantly, the coaching that helps them overcome any weaknesses. At Austin Elite Prep, we believe that the best GRE prep course values quality of learning above all else.

Please remember that achieving a good GRE score is just one part of your application. The admissions committee will also consider your GPA, statement of purpose, recommendation letters, and work in your field. Achieve the highest GRE score that you can, but then move on to prepare the rest of your application just as rigorously.

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