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?
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?
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.
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
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.
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?
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.