The Graduate Record Examination (GRE®) General Test is designed to provide graduate schools with a common measure for comparing the qualifications of applicants. Schools also use GRE® scores to determine eligibility for merit-based grants and fellowships, as well as teaching and research assistantships.  According to Kaplan’s 2010 survey of 108 graduate school admissions officers at top programs in education, engineering, psychology and public administration, the GRE® is the most important admission factor and 66% say that a high GRE® score can help an applicant win coveted financial aid.

On August 1, 2011, the GRE® changed – virtually every aspect of it experienced some kind of revision.  The type of test, the timing, the scoring scale, how often you can test, the question types.  The 675,000 aspiring graduate and business school students in your audience who take the exam every year likely have a lot of questions, many of which are answered below.  Below, you’ll find several PDFs and JPEGs illustrating the changes to make them as clear as possible for you and your audience.

The Current GRE® vs. The New GRE® (Feel free to drop the below image into any story you do, crediting Kaplan Test Prep.)

The downloadable images below illustrate the new kinds of question types that test takers are seeing on the new GRE®.  Please feel free to feature them in any of your stories, crediting Kaplan Test Prep.

Click here for a PDF with the most FAQ on the new GRE®.

For a 5-minute video featuring a Kaplan Test Prep expert talking through the highlights of the new GRE® and how test takers are reacting to it, visit: httpvh://

Brief history of the GRE®: In 1949, ETS, the GRE’s® administrator, launched the exam for grad schools to have a better yard stick by which to measure applicants’ potential success in graduate school.  In 1993, the exam moved to a computer-based format – one of the first exams to do so.  In 2002, the exam’s Analytical Ability section was replaced with a Analytical Writing portion.  In 2006, the test maker announces further revisions to the exam, including enhanced focus on reasoning skills and critical thinking skills, but a year later, cancels the changes citing concerns about accessibility and test security.   Since 2006, a growing number of business schools, including Harvard Business School, have been accepting the GRE® as a substitute for the GMAT.  In fact, Kaplan research shows that about 40% of business schools now accept the GRE®, though many don’t actively publicize it or encourage students to submit a GRE® score.  In 2009, the test maker announced the most sweeping changes to the exam in its 60 year history, with almost every facet of the exam seeing revisions, including a new scoring scale, content, format, timing and the addition of an online calculator.

  • Year created: 1949
  • Number of tests administered in 2010: 700,000
  • Length of test: 4 hours
  • Test format : multi-stage test (MST) – level of difficulty adapts only after you’ve answered a section made up of 20 questions.  Based on your performance on this section, you will see another section of 20 questions geared to your ability.
  • Sections on test: Verbal, Quantitative and Analytical
  • Score range: 130-170 scale in 1-point increments.  This is supposed to make small differences in scaled scores look less important to admissions departments and highlight larger differences between scores.
  • Cost of test: $160, but expect the test maker to revisit this.
  • How often the test it administered: almost every day of the year
  • Administrator of test: Education Testing Service (ETS)
  • Interesting fact about the test: There are more GREs® taken every year than there are of GMATs, LSATs and MCATs taken combined.