GRE Preparation 

Information provided by Graduate Diversity

California State University, Sacramento

GRE Scores are used by graduate admissions or fellowship panels to supplement undergraduate records and other qualifications for graduate study.The scores provide common measures for comparing the qualifications of applicants and aid in the evaluation of grades and recommendations.

Structure and Content of the GRE

The GRE General Test is composed of three measures:

  • Analytical Writing
  • Verbal Reasoning
  • Quantitative Reasoning

The Analytical Writing section  measures the ability to articulate and support complex ideas, examine claims and accompanying evidence, sustain a focused and coherent discussion, and control the elements of standard written English.  The Analytical Writing section requires you to provide focused responses based on the tasks presented, so you can accurately demonstrate your skill in directly responding to a task.

There are two prompts.  One Analyze an Issue task and one Analyze an Argument task.  Test takers will have 30 minutes per task for responses. 

The Verbal reasoning section measures your ability to analyze and evaluate written material and synthesize information obtained from it; understand the meanings of words, sentences, and entire texts; and understand relationships among words and among concepts.  The Verbal Reasoning section measures your ability to understand what you read and how you apply your reasoning skills.

There are two sections in the Verbal Reasoning measure and there are 20 questions per section.  Test takers will have 30 minutes per section for responses.

The Quantitative Reasoning section measures your basic mathematical skills and your understanding of the elementary mathematical concepts of arithmetic, algebra, geometry and data analysis.  The Quantitative Reasoning section measures your ability to understand, interpret, and analyze quantitative information and to solve problems using mathematical models.

There are two sections in the Quantitative Reasoning measure and there are 20 questions per section.  Test takers will have 35 minutes per section for responses.

The Verbal Reasoning and Quantitative Reasoning measures of the computer-based GRE test are section-level adaptive, meaning that the computer selects the second section of the test based on your performance on the first section. For example, if you answer all of the first 15 questions correctly, the next 15 questions will be more difficult.

You will experience the following features all of which are designed to enhance your test taking experience:

  • Preview and review capabilities within a section
  • A "mark and review" feature to tag questions, so you can skip them and return
  • The ability to change/edit answers within a section
  • An on-screen calculator for the Quantitative Reasoning measure

Scoring the GRE

For both the Verbal and Quantitative Reasoning measures of the GRE, the reported scores are based on the number of correct responses.  Both measures are section-level adaptive, meaning the computer selects the second section of the measure based on your performance on the first section.  Within each section, all questions contribute equally to the final score.  For each of the two measures, a raw score is computed.  The raw score is the number of questions you answered correctly.

The raw score is converted to a scaled score through a process called equating.  The equating process accounts for minor variations in difficulty from test to test as well as the differences introduced by the section-level adaptation.  This way the scaled score will reflect the same level of performance not mater which second section was selected and when the test was taken.

A score between 130-170 will be reported for both the Verbal Reasoning and the Quantitative reasoning measures.  All scores will be identified in 1-point increments.  (See the attached Score Conversion Tables)

  1. Score Conversion Table
  2. Score Conversion Table (cont.)

It is best to answer all of the questions even if you have to guess rather than leaving questions unanswered.

The Analytical Writing measure will be reported on a 0-6 score scale.  One half points will be awarded.  Two readers will review each essay and are trained to assign scores based on the overall quality of the essay in response to the assigned task and those two scores are averaged.  If the two readers' scores differ by more than one point, then a third reader will be brought in.


  • Printed GRE study guides that contain sample questions, practice tests, explanations for many answers and sample writing exercises with responses and reader commentary
  • POWERPREP II software that offers a simulated test-taking experience of the computer-based GRE revised General Test
  • Math Review: reviews the mathematical skills and concepts you may see on the GRE revised General Test
  • Math Conventions: helps you learn more about mathematical assumptions particular to the GRE revised General Test
  • SCOREITNOW Online Writing Practice for the GRE revised General Test): web-based service to help you prepare for the Analytical Writing measure. You receive immediate scores on essays submitted online.
  • Sign up to receive test-taker news and info about the GRE revised General Test at:
  • Visit the GRE website for the most up-to-date information and to access free test prep materials and information at:

Please Be Advised

  • California State University, Sacramento DOES NOT service the GRE.
  • The GRE is serviced at a designated proctored facility.

For more information about the GRE, please visit the GRE website for the most up-to-date information and test taking facilities at:

For More Information call:
Graduate Diversity
(916) 278-3834
For more information regarding the Pathways Fellows and Associates  
Jana Noel, Project Director and Co-Principal Investigator,, 916-278-5514
Tim Fong, Co-Principal Investigator,, 916-278-6342
Su Jin Jez, Co-Principal Investigator,, 916-278-5955
To Lan Phin, Project Coordinator,, 916-278-5172