How Hard Is The GRE

How Hard Is The GRE?

Are you looking to set yourself apart in the working world? You’re not alone. Almost 13% of American adults have a master’s degree or higher. You’ll need this kind of education for many career paths, including a postsecondary teacher, speech-language pathologist, and physician assistant.

Unfortunately, you can’t just walk right into grad school. You’ll need to submit supporting documents and take the GRE.

No matter if grad school is in the distant or near future for you, you may be wondering, How hard is the GRE? The answer has the power to change your approach to the exam and even convince you that you should or shouldn’t move forward with your grad school plans.

Check out our post on Best GRE Prep Course to know what prep course is the right for you.

In this guide, we’ll address questions you may have regarding the GRE’s difficulty.

Is the GRE Hard?

Is the GRE Hard?

Answering the inquiry How hard is the GRE? is challenging. Its difficulty is subjective — one person may breeze through the exam, while another could leave the room crying out of frustration.

Many test-takers compare the GRE to standardized tests in high school, like the ACT or SAT exams. However, they tend to agree that the GRE is more difficult because it incorporates challenging reading passages and math problems. Plus, the GRE includes vocab words that only students with higher-level reasoning can fully grasp.

After reading the above answer, you might be ready to pull out your box of tissues (or throw in the towel altogether). Not so fast. While the GRE isn’t as easy as a high school standardized test, most test-takers agree it’s not as difficult as more specific graduate admission exams, such as the MCAT or LSAT.

Wondering if you can bring a calculator on the GRE? See our post here Can You Use A Calculator On The GRE.

Related Topic: How Many Times Can You Take The GRE

What Are Some Difficult Aspects of the GRE?

What Are Some Difficult Aspects of the GRE?

Some students find specific GRE sections more difficult than others. Math whizzes may wince at the Analytical Writing section, while logophiles (word lovers) may cower during the Quantitative Reasoning portion.

Other students dislike specific aspects of the GRE, like the wording of the questions or how it’s an adaptive test.

Read on to learn some reasons why you may not get every question right on the GRE:

The Writing Section

Do you want to teach math at the college level? If so, you’ll still have to sit through the writing portion of the GRE. The writing section asks you to write two essays. These essays will let you demonstrate your writing style and ability to argue and analyze.

You’ll have to:

  • Argue a position and provide supporting evidence
  • Critique an argument and draw out its weaknesses

For more information check out our How Long Should GRE Essays Be here.

The Math Section

You’ll have to have a solid understanding of multiple math concepts to score well on the math section. Basic statistics, algebra, and geometry are some topics you’ll come across. You’ll also have to know how to interpret data tables and graphs.

The Vocabulary

Really want to get an idea of “How hard is the GRE? Don’t forget the test’s vocabulary. The vocabulary present in the reading comprehension section may be intimidating at first. However, you can prepare by studying more complex words that you’re unfamiliar with.

You can also see our How Long Is The GRE here so you can have more information.

The Wording of the Questions

Wording of the Questions

The wording of GRE questions throws many test-takers off. The test writers often steer clear of straightforward problems. For example, you may have to apply logic (instead of analysis) when answering a question in the quantitative reasoning section.

The Timing

Don’t you hate when the cashier’s staring at you while you try to count out the right change? Completing a task you’re confident with can become difficult when you’re under a time crunch.

Timed questions aren’t foreign to standardized tests, but the GRE takes them to new levels.

When you take the GRE, you’ll only have:

  • 30 minutes to write each essay
  • 45 seconds to answer each math question
  • 90 seconds to answer each question in the verbal portion

You can prepare for the limited time you’ll have by timing all of your practice exams. Get an idea of how long you’re taking and learn to improve your speed without giving up correctness.

The Adaptive Nature

The GRE is unique in that it’s an adaptive exam. If you get most of the questions correct in the first section, you’ll receive increasingly harder questions. The opposite is also true — get most of the answers wrong in the beginning, and you’ll see easier questions.

This design can take some getting used to, so prepare yourself for it beforehand.

The Computer Format

Test administrators most commonly offer the GRE on the computer. It’s only available to take on paper a couple of times a year.

Tech-savvy individuals may not have any issues with the GRE’s computer format. Others may dread it, as staring at a screen may not be their preferred test-taking method. Do all of your test prep on a computer to become more familiar with how it’ll work. If necessary, schedule a paper exam well in advance.

You can see our GRE vs LSAT here so you can compare the GRE.

Conclusion — How Hard Is The GRE?

How Hard Is The GRE?

With adequate preparation, the GRE really isn’t all that difficult. As long as you study your weak subjects and prepare yourself to face the exam’s unique aspects, you’ll be on your way to grad school in no time.

How Long Does it Take to Get & Send GRE Scores

How Long Does it Take to Get & Send GRE Scores?

For some people, waiting for exam results can feel as grueling as sitting the exam. This is especially true if you’re waiting for the results of an exam as important as your GRE (Graduate Record Examination).

The Graduate Record Examination (GRE) is a multiple-choice exam that forms a vital part of your graduate school application process. Designed to assess your readiness for graduate study, the GRE is a standardized test that makes it simple for grad schools to pick the best candidates.

According to the Educational Testing Service (ETS), more than 500,000 students take the GRE every year. These students come from 160 countries and visit over 1,000 testing centers to take the exam.

But what happens once you’ve finished your answers, submitted your paper, and left the center?

If you’re wondering, ‘how long does it take to get & send GRE scores?’, you’re in the right place. In this blog post, we’ll explain the entire process of taking your GRE. From taking the test to sending your scores to your chosen grad or business school, find out everything you need to know below.

You can also visit our Best GRE Prep Course if you want to know what’s the best course for you.

How is the GRE Scored?

How is the GRE Scored

When you receive your GRE results, you’ll receive a scaled score. This will be your ‘raw score’ — which equates to the number of questions you answered correctly — after your examiners have converted it to comply with the GRE scoring system.

The GRE has three main question types. These are designed to test the following:

  • Your complex verbal reasoning skills. This includes your reading comprehension and ability to analyze discourse, as well as whether you can understand implicit layers of meaning.
  • Your quantitative reasoning skills. This refers to your numerical skills and ability to understand data. You may be asked to solve basic mathematical problems or draw conclusions from data sets.
  • Your analytical writing skills. This includes your ability to express your ideas and back up your arguments.

Each of these sections will be scored separately. Verbal and quantitative reasoning are scored between 130 and 170, while analytical writing is scored between 0 and 6.

Once the results have been converted, the students in the top-performing 50% should expect to get a score in the high 150s for the first two sections.

How Long Does it Take to Get GRE Scores?

How Long Does it Take to Get GRE Scores

Because the GRE is made up of different sections, all of which are scored separately, you don’t need to view all of your scores at once.

If you chose to take the computer-delivered GRE, you could actually get your scores for verbal and quantitative reasoning as soon as you’ve finished the assessment. Once you’ve completed the exam, simply choose to ‘report your scores,’ and you’ll be able to see your results immediately.

As the analytical writing section can’t be scored automatically, you’ll need to wait a little longer for your results. It usually takes between 10 and 15 days for these scores to come through on your full report card.

If you took the paper-delivered GRE, you might need to wait up to five weeks for your official test scores.

See also our post on How Many Times Can You Take The GRE here.

How Long Does it Take to Send GRE Scores?

After you’ve received your GRE scores, the next step is to decide whether you want to send your scores to your chosen grad or business school. Unlike many exams, you can resit the GRE if you’re unhappy with your results. That means you never need to send your scores if you didn’t perform as well as you were hoping to on the day, giving you complete control over your application.

To submit your scores, you’ll need to log into the online ETS account you created to register for the GRE. Each grad or business school that accepts the GRE is designated by a school code. Simply search through the ETS database to find the institutions you want to apply to, and submit your scores digitally.

Your initial test fee ($160) covers the cost of sending your scores to four different institutions. More than 90% of US business schools accept the GRE, so you’ll have plenty to choose from. If you’re unsure which schools you want to apply to, you can store your exam results for up to five years on your ETS account.

Once you’ve chosen to send your scores, you’ll receive an email notification that confirms your scores have been sent to your schools. Like your official test report, this usually takes between 10 and 15 days to come through.

See also our post on How Long Is The GRE here for more idea of the GRE.



So, how long does it take to get & send GRE scores? The answer can range from 10 days to around five weeks, depending on whether you choose to take the computer or paper test.

Whichever you decide, we hope this blog post has given you the information you need to prepare for this life-changing exam.

How Long Should GRE Essays Be

How Long Should GRE Essays Be?

It’s strange how you can answer the same question in 20 words or 20,000. The GRE essays are proof of this. The writing portions ask you to demonstrate subject knowledge and analytical ability.

For students anxious about test-taking or writing specifically, the essay length can be one of the most frustrating and unclear aspects. How long should GRE essays be? How much material is sufficient to offer a fully developed argument?

Understandably, there’s a degree of ambiguity in terms of the length the exam scorers will expect. Here, we explain tips for writing GRE essays so that you can submit material with sufficient depth and length to achieve a solid score.

Check out our Best GRE Prep Course here to know which is the best GRE prep course for you.

How to Write a GRE Essay with the Best Length

How to Write a GRE Essay with the Best Length

Data suggests that the highest-scoring GRE essays tend to be around 600 words.

However, when you’re in the middle of taking an exam, you won’t have time to count how many words you’ve written.

Even though the ETS is reticent about how it grades GRE essays, you can still prepare effectively. The GRE essay requires candidates to offer a concise but complete solution to a problem. There is no minimum or maximum word or page count.

So how long should GRE essays be to fulfill the criteria?

The answer is to make a few vital points relevant to the question, backed up with evidence. Below, we’ll cover how long an argument should be, what it should include, and writing tips for creating a well-supported argument.

You can also see our post on GRE vs LSAT for comparison and conversion guide.

1. Practice for Length and Time

Practice for Length and Time

The GRE has two essay components, each timed for 30 minutes: an “issue analysis” and an “argument analysis” essay.

The best way to plan for these without knowing the prompts is to practice before test day. Time yourself for 30 minutes writing in response to the various topic pools. The ETS has published sample prompts from previous topic pools that you can use to practice the issue essay and the argument essay.

After you reach the 30-minute mark, re-read your writing. Consider if each point is relevant and how much you were able to write in that time.

2. Choose Your Best Angles

Before test day, you’ll also want to develop solid exam-writing habits. The first is brainstorming.

Note down the points you intend to make. Which arguments best address the question? Prioritize the most important sections.

The 5 minutes you spend planning a good essay are valuable to your score. The 15 minutes you spend grinding out 200 words of filler are not.

That said, you don’t want to prioritize expertise over relevance. Address the question in front of you, not the question that would allow you to show off your knowledge.

Try for three to five supporting ideas to create a fully fleshed-out argument.

3. Structure for Coherent Organization

Structure for Coherent Organization

The point you consider most relevant to the question should be the point you lead with, and each paragraph should build on the previous one. You’ll want to plan for this with a solid organizational structure.

Before you start writing, structure your arguments so that one leads logically to the next.

Your essay should be more than the sum of its parts, and organization is an essential element of a clear and convincing essay. Disjointed arguments make it difficult for the reader to understand what you’re trying to tell them.

4. Write Fully Developed Paragraphs

A supporting body paragraph should contain one, fully developed idea. Before you start writing, try to visualize how much you have to say about each point you’re making. Each paragraph should include:

  • Your argument (expressed in the topic sentence)
  • Supporting evidence
  • Analysis of the evidence
  • Explanation tying the argument & evidence back to the essay problem

There’s no hard-and-fast rule for how long an argumentative paragraph should be, and sometimes you need multiple sentences to explain an idea. Still, 3-5 sentences is a good benchmark.

You can also check out our post on How Many Times Can You Take The GRE here.

5. Use Relevant Examples & Evidence

Use Relevant Examples & Evidence

For every point, brainstormevidence to support your case. The more you have prepared for each argument, the better. The phrasing of the question may make some evidence more relevant than others.

Briefly summarize the evidence and explain how it addresses the question. Data is nothing without context, so only use it if you can explain why it’s relevant!

6. Finish Strong with the Conclusion

Nobody likes a half-baked ending — make sure you write a conclusion! Your conclusion should summarize and connect the main points of your essay and address the fundamental question of the essay.

It’s also an opportunity to show why your writing is not only relevant to the task at hand but a potential contribution to a larger debate. Don’t introduce new ideas, but do suggest possible directions that your essay could lead.

For you to have more idea, see our post on How Long Is The GRE and also our post on How Hard Is The GRE here.

Conclusion—How Long Should GRE Essays Be?

conclusion How Long Should GRE Essays Be

Hopefully, this has answered your concerns about how long should GRE essays be. There isn’t a definitive answer, but the tips here should allow you to write a thoughtful, well-supported essay, and that is what the ETS scorers want to see.

How Many Times Can You Take the GRE

How Many Times Can You Take the GRE?

Many prospective graduate students find themselves taking the GRE multiple times to improve their scores. That said, the ETS does place some restrictions that limit how often they may attempt higher scores.

So how many times can you take the GRE?

The answer to that question is a bit more complicated than a single, quantifiable figure. The ETS only administers the test on specific dates, and there are limitations to how often you can take the GRE in a calendar year. Not to mention, graduate school application deadlines may also affect the time you have.

If you want to find out what’s the best GRE Prep Course for you, then check out our Best GRE Prep Course here.

Here, we discuss all the factors related to how often students can take the GRE and whether it is worth taking the exam multiple times.

Can You Take the GRE Multiple Times?

Can You Take the GRE Multiple Times?

Luckily, test-takers who didn’t perform as well as they would’ve liked on their first attempt can re-take the GRE again in the hopes of improving their score.

There is no limit to the total number of times an individual can attempt the GRE in their lifetime. Instead, the ETS limits the number of times a person may take the exam five times in one year.

Theoretically, an applicant can take the exam as many times as they need in their life until they get a satisfactory score. However, that doesn’t mean retaking it multiple times is always advisable or even feasible.

Besides the five-time cap in a calendar year, you’ll also need to factor in the stipulated waiting period between re-takes and the ETS schedule for GRE dates.

How Long Do You Have to Wait Between Exams?

Besides the cap on retakes within 365 days, there is a required waiting period of 21 days between each exam attempt.

This waiting period gives the applicant ample time to study the areas they need to improve, while still being soon enough to meet most graduate school deadlines.

Suppose a prospective graduate student has graduate school applications due in early December to early January. This person can take the test in September and re-take it in October to have their scores reported early enough for the applications.

For you to have more idea, see our post on How Long Is The GRE here.

Can You Take the GRE Any Time?

Can You Take the GRE Any Time?

If you wish to re-take the GRE, you’ll also need to consider the registration deadlines, test dates, and score reporting dates.

The GRE is not available year-round, so you’ll need to plan early enough to take the exams and have enough leeway to retake them.

Also, when scheduling your retakes, keep in mind the deadlines of the graduate programs. If you are hoping to start graduate school in the coming semester, you need to make sure your exam retake is scheduled in advance of the date that the program needs your scores.

Otherwise, you could have to wait another year to apply for your desired program, or you may even have to consider other options with later deadlines.

Want to know if you are allowed to bring a calculator on the GRE? See our post on Can You Use A Calculator On The GRE here.

Related Topic: How Long Does it Take to Get & Send GRE Scores

Should You Take the GRE More Than Once?

Taking the GRE multiple times is not at all uncommon. Universities will look at your best score when they review your applications. While they can see if you’ve taken the exam more than once, this does not necessarily reflect poorly on your chances of getting accepted.

Taking the test the first time is usually enough for students to improve their scores on the second attempt since they’ll know what to expect and where they need to improve. Having the highest score you can get is the most critical thing for graduate school applications.

The negative consequences of retaking the GRE are the heavy financial costs associated with it. There is a required fee for the GRE general test that you’ll have to pay every time you take the exam, with the fee contingent on where the student takes the test. It’s certainly in your best interest to do well in as few attempts as possible to avoid high test-taking fees.

You may also visit our post on How Hard Is The GRE for more information about the GRE

What’s the Best Way to Prepare for Re-Taking the GRE?

What’s the Best Way to Prepare for Re-Taking the GRE?

If you find yourself needing to take the GRE a second time, be deliberate with your planning. Make sure you schedule your retake exam far enough in the future that you have adequate time to prepare.

Test prep specialists usually recommend studying for two to four months before taking the general GRE. Between test dates, put some more time into your study routine and increase your focus on the exam sections where you underperformed on your first attempt.

You can see our comparison and conversion guide of the GRE vs LSAT here.


Hopefully, this guide has answered your question of how many times can you take the GRE? Retaking the exam is permissible and even advisable if you didn’t get the score you wanted on the first take. Just note the various factors affecting the timing to give yourself enough time to study and meet the graduate school deadlines.

Ultimately, it is in your best interest to get your desired score with relatively few retakes to improve your chances of getting into the graduate school of your choice.

Can You Use A Calculator On The GRE

Can You Use A Calculator On The GRE?

The GRE might not be as hard as the MCAT or the LSAT, but it’s still an intimidating test. It requires many hours of studying and carries a lot of weight in your admission to graduate schools.

Seeing how important the GRE is, you might be wondering if you can use a calculator for the test. After all, you want all the help you can get.

The good news is, yes, you can use a calculator. But there’s more to the story.

Read this guide for a comprehensive answer to the question “Can you use a calculator on the GRE?”

Can You Bring Your Own Calculator to the GRE?

Can You Bring Your Own Calculator to the GRE

It’s a relief to hear that you can use a calculator on the GRE. But you should know that you can’t bring your own.

Test-takers must use the GRE’s on-screen device. While it’s better than nothing, you might feel frustrated that you can’t put your fancy TI-83 Plus to work.

In fact, you should leave all of your personal calculators at home. The GRE forbids you from bringing any electronic devices into the testing center. If a test administrator happened to discover one in your possession, they would dismiss you from the room and cancel your score. You might also want to check out our How Long Does it Take to Get & Send GRE Scores for more information.

This scenario is not only embarrassing, but it also forces you to waste money on rescheduling. So, make sure you are calculator-free on test day.

What Does the GRE Calculator Look Like?

When you realize that the GRE calculator is all you can use, you probably want to know what it looks like.

Test-takers can get an idea by opening up the Calculator app on a Windows computer. You might get excited by the versatility it offers. But, before you get your hopes up, realize that the GRE version is pretty much the equivalent of the Standard mode. You won’t get access to the features in the Scientific, Graphing, and Programmer modes. Basically, all the GRE calculator can do is simple arithmetic.

It is bare-bones because the test is trying to test your quantitative reasoning and critical thinking. If you had access to graphing features or trig functions, you wouldn’t be able to demonstrate these skills.

Wondering why you get a calculator at all, especially when it’s so basic? It’s because the GRE doesn’t care about how well you can add and subtract. It helps you with arithmetic that is too tedious to do by hand, allowing you to dedicate brain power to what really matters.

Should You Use the GRE Calculator?

Should You Use the GRE Calculator?

We’ve answered the question, “Can you use a calculator on the GRE?” Now, you might be wondering if you SHOULD.

To some, this inquiry might seem absurd. Why wouldn’t you use a tool that can help you get the right answers?

Unfortunately, the GRE calculator might end up being your ball and chain. The interface is somewhat antiquated and clunky. Additionally, some test-takers find that the tool’s on-screen placement gets in the way.

Due to the its less-than-ideal design, it can drastically slow you down. Messing with it takes time away from you completing problems. And, due to the not-so user-friendly nature, you may even punch in typos that can lead to critical mistakes.

So, with these limitations in mind, we recommend using the GRE calculator sparingly. See the sections below for more details.

When to Use the GRE Calculator

The GRE calculator will prove useful for complex arithmetic. The tool comes in handy for problems involving the following:

  • Ratios
  • Odd decimals
  • Square roots

For instance, say you need to figure out the square root of 12 to the nearest hundredth. Seeing as there’s little chance you can quickly do the math by hand, you’ll want to use your handy tool.

See also our How Hard Is The GRE here for you to have an idea.

When Not to Use the GRE Calculator

When Not to Use the GRE Calculator

We all know what 2 x 2 is, but the temptation to double-check is real. To save time, you should resist the urge to use your calculator for simple arithmetic. Relying on memory and mental math will be a huge advantage.

Find the difference between the GRE vs LSAT here.

Can You Use a Calculator on the GRE — The Bottom Line Become Familiar With the GRE Calculator

Yes, you can use a calculator, but you can only use the one that the GRE provides.

Become familiar with the tool by taking prep courses and practice tests. These resources have versions with slightly different designs, but the functions are the same across the board.

The more you practice, the better you’ll become at navigating the clunky interface. You’ll also improve at understanding when you should and shouldn’t rely on this tool. Remember that while it can be helpful, it can also slow you down. Start your repetitions and use this guide to develop the best GRE calculator strategies!