A person who is preparing to apply to graduate school may wonder why the GRE is necessary for some degrees. The GRE is a standardized test with multiple components as well as optional subject tests. It is the most widely-required standardized test that universities require applicants to provide as a part of the admissions process.

Standardized Exam

At its most basic level, the GRE general test is a standardized exam. It tests the person’s knowledge of mathematics concepts at the college level, including statistics and calculus. It also tests reading, language comprehension and writing abilities. The questions are designed around the skills that a student will need to do well in graduate school. There is a fee associated with the test. This fee includes sending the results to a few universities. If the student is applying to more than a few graduate programs, they will pay an additional fee for each university that receives their results.

Categories of Questions on the GRE

The GRE general exam has three categories of questions. Each of these categories generates a sub-score, and all of the scores are weighted to realize the final score. The categories include verbal reasoning, quantitative reasoning and analytical writing. The verbal reasoning questions relate to the ability to analyze and draw conclusions from written information. The quantitative reasoning questions are about the ability to analyze, interpret and understand quantitative information. In the analytical writing section, students express complex ideas with examples.

GRE Subject Tests

The GRE also has optional subject tests. A person may need to take one of these subject tests if they plan to earn a master’s or doctoral degree in a specific area of expertise, including biology, psychology, literature, chemistry, physics or mathematics. These subject tests are designed for a person who already has an undergraduate degree or extensive knowledge in one of these subjects. For example, a person who earned a bachelor’s degree in biology and wants to earn a Master’s of Public Health degree may be required to take the GRE biology subject test to apply for admission into a university’s public health program.

Who Takes the GRE and Where They Take It

According to the Educational Testing Service, which administers the GRE, prospective graduate and business school applicants are the primary population of people who take this test. A person who wants to earn a master’s degree, Doctorate of Philosophy, Master’s of Business Administration, Juris Doctor or Master’s of Public Health would take this examination. The tests are conducted at specialized testing centers across the United States and in international locations. The questions are on a computer. The student can go back and answer the questions they skipped. They can also edit their essays before submitting them.

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Earning a graduate degree tends to increase a person’s annual salary and open up more opportunities for employment and advancement. Although the steps required to apply to graduate school may seem onerous, they are designed to ensure that the student is likely to be a success at earning their master’s, doctoral or professional degree. Being able to answer, “why is the GRE necessary?” could help a person decide if they want to apply to a graduate school or some other type of professional education, certificate or program.