Read an Excerpt
The GRE has three main sections: Verbal, Quantitative, and Analytical Writing (a.k.a., essays).
The Verbal section tests your reading skills and indirectly your vocabulary. It also tests your grasp of sentence structure as well as logic as it applies to sentence structure. This is common-sense logic, not esoteric symbolic logic.
The Quantitative section tests your knowledge of junior-high-school math and a bit of basic data analysis. You once knew this material, which is not difficult compared with, say, calculus or even trigonometry. With that in mind, this section should not be a problem. However, if you’re not a math person, it’s possible you’ve avoided this topic since you took the SAT or ACT. If that’s the case, don’t worry. We’ll help you review.
The Analytical Writing section includes two essays: an analysis of an issue and an analysis of an argument. These essays are more concerned with the structure and organization of an argument than the artfulness of written expression, as you’ll see later in detail. The issue essay prompts you to build an effective argument and the argument essay prompts you to analyze someone else’s less effective argument. They are mirror images of each other and will be covered later in more detail.
STRUCTURE AND TIMING
The computer-based GRE, which most readers will take, has the structure shown in the table on the next page. Don’t worry about which section(s), if any, is the unscored or research section; just treat each section the same. Also, don’t freak out if you have a few more or a few less than 20 questions in a section. There may be some variability.
You get 3 hours and 45 minutes to take the test. It’s a lengthy test. Several breaks should help: a 10-minute break after the third section, and 1-minute breaks between the other sections. You’ll have plenty of opportunities to take full-length practice tests: These will help you prepare for a major requirement of the GRE test: the ability to sit still and concentrate. The Germans call this ability sitzfleisch (ZITS-fl [eye]sh). You might call it “chair glue.”
You will probably take this test on a computer, and we’ll explore the interface, which you’ve already seen. Our hope is you’re reading this after taking your diagnostic full-length test. Thus, you’ll need to use scratch paper, which will be provided at the test center.
Besides the interface, the paper-based test differs from the computer-based test in a few ways. The paper-based testing time is 3 hours and 30 minutes, has approximately 25 questions in each Verbal and Quantitative reasoning sections, and allows 5 more minutes to complete each of those sections.
From this point, do not write anything in this book unless you’re specifically told to do so! You need to get used to practicing on scratch paper from the start.
We’ll also explore the anatomy of each item type in the relevant sections as we encounter them. For now, let’s agree on some terms.
• “Item” is how we’ll refer to what normal people call “questions.” Not every “item” is framed like a question, and this term thus avoids confusion.
• We’ll refer to “normal” multiple-choice items—in which you choose the one correct answer from several options as “multiple-choice items.” These multiple-choice items are indicated by ovals on-screen, as you saw.
• We’ll refer to the less-familiar multiple-choice items—in which you choose more than one (but not always more than one!) answer from several options—as “multiple-response items.” Multiple-response items, by this definition, are indicated by boxes on-screen, as you saw.
• When you have to fill in an answer, we’ll call that a . . . wait for it . . . “fill-in.”
• The word-selection items in the Verbal section, which we will discuss later, will not be distinguished from multiple-choice items because it doesn’t matter from your perspective whether you click on an oval or on the word itself.
• We’ll refer to another type of item from the Verbal section, in which you highlight a sentence or other bit of text in a passage, as “highlighters.”
We’ll refer to items that ask about a highlighted word or sentence as either multiple-choice or multiple-response items. That function is identical to line numbering in the SAT or ACT paper-based testing. Again, this doesn’t change a thing from the test-taker’s perspective.
• Any passage with associated items or a math figure or data set with multiple associated items will be called a “testlet.” The term “testlet” is useful because it describes what these sets are: mini-tests within the big test. Besides, “testlet” is a term from psychometrics and you can use it to impress your friends and prospective employers.
We’ll introduce a few section-specific terms of art later. Since psychologists state seven items is the maximum one can retain at once in short-term memory, that’s enough for now.
This test includes both an online calculator and the ability to go back and forth within a section, using a review screen to reorient yourself. Go to our online practice-test center and ETS’s PowerPrep online practice any time before your actual test to remove any unfamiliarity with how it works.
There’s been much hoopla over the GRE’s “section-level adaptivity.” The bottom line for you, the test-taker, is it’s not relevant. Based on extensive research and discussions with multiple psychometricians, we’ve determined that how you do on Section 1 of either the Verbal or Quantitative section determines your rough, or “fuzzy” score. That performance triggers the construction of Section 2, which tightens the focus on your score. Again, the upshot is that you should do what you’d normally do—the best you can with the time you’re given. That’s that.
TAKING THE GRE REVISED GENERAL TEST FOR BUSINESS SCHOOL
There are hundreds of business schools across North America and overseas that now accept the GRE General Test for admission to MBA programs and there are good reasons for this.
1. If you’re not sure what you want to do after you graduate, take the GRE. Whether you want to go to grad school or business school, the GRE revised General Test may be the only test you need.
2. GRE scores are accepted by more than 300 business schools, including those that are ranked high, like Harvard, MIT Sloan, NYU Stern, and Stanford University (you can find the full list at http://www.ets.org/gre/general/about/mba/programs).
3. According to ETS, the GRE revised General Test measures skills that are valued by business schools, such as verbal reasoning, quantitative reasoning, critical thinking, and analytical writing.
No matter the reason you are taking the GRE revised General Test, we are here to help you get that score you need!