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After getting a college degree, some people take the GRE test to pursue graduate school. The GRE or Graduate Record Examination was introduced in 1936 and is a prerequisite for those who want to enroll in graduate school in Canada and the US. The GRE is a standardized test used to determine the eligibility and aptitude of an applicant. The exam measures the abstract thinking of a graduate school applicant, especially in vocabulary, mathematics, and analytical writing.

GRE Quick Facts:

  • The first GRE tests only measured quantitative and verbal aptitude but eventually added logic and analytics questions. The analytical writing assessment eventually replaced the logic and analytics section.
  • The University of Wisconsin, in 1938, was the first public university to implement the GRE.
  • The ETS, or Educational Testing Service, was founded in 1948. It is currently responsible for implementing graduate record examinations.
  • Depending on the school, an applicant may be required to take more than one GRE Subject Test.
  • The GRE can be taken either on a computer or paper. The test lasts, on average, at least three hours. Graduate schools use the GRE to assess whether a candidate is eligible to take their programs.

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Taking the GRE: How it Works

It is easy to sign up for the GRE. Applicants must go to the ETS website to create a free account. The examinee should sign up at least two days before a GRE computer test date. GRE test cost $205 in the US, and a little higher in other countries. Payment for the GRE can be made through credit card, debit card, PayPal, e-check, or paper check. An applicant can retake the exam following a 21-day gap, with a maximum of five attempts in a year.

Preparing for the Graduate Record Examination

If you want to take the GRE test, you should prepare for it ahead of time. Fortunately, resources are abundant online (and offline) that can help you pass the exams with flying colors. Here’s how you can find the best GRE prep materials to master the test.

1. Order GRE Prep Book

For some exam takers, going old-school is the way to go. Some people are not comfortable studying online materials and prefer a physical book instead. GRE prep books can be purchased online via Amazon and delivered to your doorstep. Ordering physical books will cost around $20 to $100. However, this method is also pricier compared to getting access to a paid learning resource. If you plan on buying physical prep materials, you have to purchase books that cover the Quantitative, Writing, and Verbal subjects. Aside from the product and shipping costs, you may have to wait longer to receive the prep books, depending on where you are located.

2. Free and Paid GRE Resources Online

If you are comfortable reviewing for the GRE using online resources, you can start preparing almost immediately since you will receive the online prep materials practically instantly. Note that there are differences in paid and free GRE learning materials.

Paid vs. Free GRE guides

GRE guides can be obtained for free or for a fee. But is there any significant difference to free and paid GRE prep guides?

  • Expert guides are usually paid GRE prep materials like Kaplan GRE Course or Manhattan Prep. Paid resources not only provide books and online programs, but it also offers GRE tutoring for potential MBA students.
  • Links are offering free GRE books in PDF; however, the information in these materials is not as comprehensive as paid learning materials. Most free GRE guides discuss what the examinee should expect when taking the test.
  • Paid GRE guides are not as expensive as one might think. An online GRE prep course will cost $299 or more.

3. GRE Forums

GRE forums are excellent sources of information and learning materials. GRE forums and groups are composed of GRE aspirants and those who have taken the test before. You can get tips as well as free learning material to support your GRE review. Some of the most popular GRE forums include:

  • Manhattan Prep
  • GRE Prep Club
  • GRE Study Forum
  • The GradCafe Forum

4. Find a GRE Tutor

A GRE tutor can guide you well in your preparation for the GRE. Even with the best learning materials at hand, an expert tutor will be able to provide you valuable insight into how you can significantly improve your GRE score. However, having a tutor is not a guarantee of success in the GRE test. First, you should choose a tutor with several years of experience as a GRE tutor. He or she is not only well-versed with the GRE scoring process but can adequately explain the correct answers to the student.

Getting a GRE tutor is a good investment since you will have an expert by your side to guide you in preparing yourself mentally. While having an excellent tutor should give you the confidence to do well in the GRE, remember that it is still your knowledge and performance that is under scrutiny on the day of the exam.

5. Take GRE Practice Tests

Reviewing for the GRE will not be complete without taking a practice test to determine which areas you need to improve on. The best GRE prep materials and a realistic mock exam will help improve your scores for the real test. Practice tests help you understand the timing and format of the actual GRE. You can perform better on the real GRE when you measure your performance by answering full-length practice tests. Recommended practice tests are Powerprep II, Manhattan Prep’s GRE practice test, Manhattan Review GRE diagnostic test, McGraw-Hill GRE practice test, and Kaplan GRE practice test.


Preparing for your GRE can be done in several ways. However, to master the test, you should not stop after getting free online study materials. To be fully prepared for the GRE, you should invest in prep courses and tests. You must also take advantage of forums and support groups to gather valuable information about the GRE. It is essential to set a study schedule to avoid procrastination. Getting a commendable GRE score can be achieved with the right amount of preparation and determination.

Featured image source: Brokelyn

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This article was first published on 13th November 2019 and updated on November 14th, 2019 at 11:14 am

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