What is the GRE for International Students?
Before studying abroad in the United States, international students need to go through the admissions process and be admitted into a top US program. Many international students choose to get their MS in the US. However, before doing an MS in the US, international students likely have to take the GRE, or Graduate Record Examinations, in order to complete the application process for MS programs. The GRE is a standardized test that helps US admissions officers determine your academic capabilities and whether the program would be a good fit for you or not. Each program has different GRE requirements, so please check with your prospective school to get an idea of what score to aim for. Below, we will help introduce international students to the GRE.
What is the Test and How is it Structured?
The GRE is made up of three sections. Those sections are:
- This section has two parts and each lasts 30 minutes.
- The difficulty of the sections varies.
- There are a number of different problems, but you will mostly see reading comprehension problems and sentence correction problems. These sections will help test your vocabulary, among other skills.
- This section is also two parts and each last about 35 minutes.
- The difficult of the sections and problems varies.
- There are problem solving questions, data sufficiency questions, and statistics/data interpretation questions.
- Don’t worry, calculators are definitely allowed for this section!
- This section consists of two essays, each of which takes about 30 minutes.
- This section tests your writing skills, and your ability to choose a side and make an argument or arguments to support that side.
Please keep in mind that each section is equally important. Some top US programs require minimum scores on a per section basis, so again, please check with your prospective program to see if they have any of those requirements. An interesting aspect of the GRE is that the difficulty of the last two sections depends on your performance on the first section. In other words, if you perform well on the first section of the GRE, the next two sections of it will be more difficult. Conversely, if you do not perform well on the first section, the final two may prove to be less challenging.
How do I Prepare for the GRE?
In order to perform well on the GRE, an international student must prepare for it in advance. The GRE can be a very complex test, and the more prepared an international student is, the higher the chance of success. Please remember that if you do not perform well on the GRE the first time you take it, you can always take it again.
In order to prepare for the GRE, you should try to make a plan first. Every student is different, and every mind works differently. Recognize what study techniques have worked for you in the past and utilize those techniques for the GRE. For example, if you learn best in a classroom, find GRE prep classes. If you learn better by teaching yourself, there are plenty of GRE workbooks where you can teach yourself at your own pace.
Another great tip is to find when the GRE is being offered at your location. The test is offered a few times each year, so there is flexibility with the dates. Find a date that works for you, and make your plan based on that date. We suggest starting your preparation about forty-five to sixty days prior to test day. This gives you plenty of time to introduce yourself to the material and find your strengths and weaknesses.
Please keep in mind that the GRE is an extremely important aspect to the international student admissions process. Many international students think that the GRE is not important, and as a result, do not have to take the exam. We strongly suggest adequately preparing for the GRE and performing well on the test.
Finally, remember that the GRE is only one part of the international student admission process. If your scores are not as good as you would like them to be, your GPA and other aspects of your application can help make up for a low GRE score.
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