The Graduate Record Examination (GRE) is a standardized test that is an admissions requirement for most Graduate Schools in the United States. Created and administered by the Educational Testing Service (ETS), the exam aims to measure verbal reasoning, quantitative reasoning, analytical writing, and critical thinking skills that have been acquired over a long period of time and that are not entirely based on any specific field of study outside of the GRE itself. The GRE General Test is offered as a computer-based exam administered at Prometric testing centers.
In the graduate school admissions process, the level of emphasis that is placed upon GRE scores varies widely between schools and between departments within schools. The importance of a GRE score can range from being a mere admission formality to an important selection factor.
The GRE was significantly overhauled in August 2011, resulting in an exam that is not adaptive on a question-by-question basis, but rather by section, so that the performance on the first verbal and math sections determine the difficulty of the second sections presented. Overall, the test retained the sections and many of the question types from its predecessor, but the scoring scale was changed to a 130 to 170 scale (from a 200 to 800 scale).
The cost to take the test is US$205, although ETS will reduce the fee under certain circumstances. They also promote financial aid to those GRE applicants who prove economic hardship. ETS does not release scores that are older than 5 years, although graduate program policies on the acceptance of scores older than 5 years varies.