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GRE Scoring and Registration

The General Test of the GRE is required for graduate schools and for several of the health professions, including some schools of veterinary medicine, some physician assistant programs, some physical therapy schools, some colleges of pharmacy, and others. Check with individual schools.

The General Test measures verbal, quantitative, and analytical skills that have been acquired over a long period of time and that are not related to any specific field of study. The verbal measure tests the ability to analyze and evaluate written material and synthesize information obtained from it, analyze relationships among component parts of sentences, and recognize relationships between words and concepts. Questions come from diverse areas of experience, from the activities of daily life to broad categories of science, social studies, and the humanities.

The quantitative measure tests basic mathematical skills and understanding of elementary mathematical concepts, as well as the ability to reason quantitatively. The content areas included in the quantitative sections of the test are arithmetic, algebra, geometry, and data analysis.

The analytical measure tests the ability to understand structured sets of relationships, deduce new information from sets of relationships, analyze and evaluate arguments, identify central issues and hypotheses, draw sound inferences, and identify plausible causal explanations. Questions in this section measure reasoning skills developed in virtually all fields of study. No formal training in logic or methods of analysis is needed to do well in these sections.

The GRE is now taken on a computer.

At the start of the test, the questions are of middle difficulty. As each question is answered, the computer scores that question and uses that information, as well as responses to previous questions, to determine which question is presented next. As long as each question is answered correctly, the next question will be more difficult. If a question is answered incorrectly, the computer will present an easier question. As a result, each question must be answered order, and the test-taker cannot go back and change an answer.

 

Scoring

At the start of a section, the computer assumes you have an average score, then gives you a medium difficulty question, and finally tries to narrow in on your final score. If you answer a question correctly, your score goes up. If you answer a question incorrectly, your score goes down. After a short time, you reach a level where most questions seem difficult to you. At this point, you will answer 50% correctly.

In the beginning, the computer makes large jumps to find your approximate scoring level. Then it makes much smaller jumps to fine-tune your score. So, each succeeding question you answer correctly is worth less to your score than the previous question in the section. Notice how the graph rises—or falls—more quickly in the beginning of the section.

For each of the three measures (verbal, quantitative, and analytical) you receive a "scaled score" within a range of 200-800. In addition t o scaled scores, you also get a percentile rank based on the performance of a large GRE test taking sample population. Your percentile score tells graduate schools, in effect, the worth of your scaled scores. If everyone always receives high-scaled scores, then universities would still differentiate among candidates by their percentile score. The Educational Testing Service compares your performance to those of a random three-year population of recent GRE test takers. In this way, other people taking the te st that day with you will not affect your score. Therefore, your compete against yourself.

Some schools, such as large university programs, use cut-off scores. Investigate individual schools for GRE CAT averages. The score influences not only your admissions to schools but also your acceptance into certain areas of study. For instance, a 600 quantitative score might be fine for a history graduate student, but too low for highly selective programs in science or engineering.

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