The GRE: Part 3-Taking it

three computers in empty classroom

Taking the GRE

In taking the GRE, it is important to know that in 2011 the GRE was revised from paper and pencil to online. In addition, the the online version is called “adaptive by section”. This means that for both the math and verbal sections, trst takers receive at least two sections. Your performance on the first section determines the level of difficulty of the second section. Moreover, you can score higher with a more difficult second section. However, an easier second section caps your potential scoring level at a lower range.

The test takes almost 4 hours to complete.

There are two interesting things to note about taking the GRE. First, when the exam is completely finished, you are given the opportunity to report or cancel your scores. If you choose the formers, you will be receive the unofficial scores for the math and verbal sections since these are computer scored. Your analytical score will be sent to you later. Choosing to cancel your scores will mean that neither you nor any school will see them. Second, the exam has a ScoreSelect® option which allows you to send GRE test scores from only those test date(s) you want graduate schools to see. Your decision about your scores can be made the day of a test or at a later date.

As far as what your scores mean, for the math and verbal sections the scores will range between 130 and 170. However, the analytic section is scored in a very different way. Each of your essays will be receive a score from at least one trained reader. The essay score is based on overall quality, with critical thinking and analytical writing being weighted more than grammar and mechanics. Each os your essays is also scored by a computer program developed by ETS "that is capable of identifying essay features related to writing proficiency.” When a human rater and computer score are similar, the two scores are averaged to obtain a final score. However, a large difference between a human scorer and the computer will lead to your essay being scored by a second human scorer is used, and your final score is the average of the two human scores. In the end, your final scores on the two essays are then averaged and rounded to the nearest half-point interval on a 0–6 score scale. Note that your GRE scores are good for 5 years.

Your GRE scores are important because the GRE is a standardized test. This standardization allows your score to be compared against all other scores in an equal fashion. In addition, keep in mind that some schools use GRE scores to make decisions about scholarships and fellowships. It is important to understand that each graduate schools thinks about GRE schools in different ways. If you can, find out how much schools you are applying value the GRE. In addition, you can typically find out the average scores of previously admitted students. This information is usually available on ongraduate program websites, and in the APA book Graduate Study in Psychology.

seats in an empty clasroom

Good luck if you plan on taking the GRE!

Please note that the comments of Dr. Golding, Dr. Lippert and the others who post on this blog express their own opinion and not that of the University of Kentucky.

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