A Comparison Between the Old GRE Exam and the GRE General Test

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From time to time, standardized tests go through serious revisions. Test makers hope to make the test more relevant, more inclusive, and more in line with what colleges and graduate schools are looking for in their incoming students.

A History of GRE Revisions


The GRE, first created in 1949 via the Educational Testing Service (ETS) and administered at Prometric Testing centers, is no exception as it has gone through a number of changes.


The earliest versions of the GRE only tested Verbal and Quantitative reasoning, but after October of 2002, the Analytical Writing Assessment was added.  


In 2011, ETS decided that the GRE needed a major overhaul, and decided to create the Revised GRE exam, complete with a new scoring system, new types of questions, and a completely different testing system that not only changed the difficulty of the test as students progress, but allowed students to mark answers to go back to questions previously skipped or change answers. It also allowed for students to select more than one answer as correct if the test question indicated to do so. 


In July 2012, ETS announced an option for users to customize their scores called ScoreSelect. After testing, on test day, testers can choose to send just their most recent scores or all of their test scores to colleges and universities to which they would like to apply. Schools who receive the scores will not know whether or not the test-takers have sat for the GRE once or more than once, if they choose to send just one set of scores. 


In 2015, ETS changed the name yet again from the Revised GRE back to the GRE General Test, and reassured testers not to be worried if they encountered test prep materials with one or the other names used.

Old GRE vs. Current GRE General Test

So, in case you are researching the GRE or happened to have taken the GRE prior to August of 2011, here is a comparison between the old (between October 2002 and August 1, 2011) and the current (post August 1, 2011) GRE exams.

GRE Exam Old GRE Exam GRE General Test
Design Test questions change based on answers (Computer-Based Test)

Test sections change based on answers.

Ability to change answers

Ability to mark answers and come back (Multi-Stage Test)
Ability to use a calculator

Structure Old Structure Current Structure
Time Approx. 3 hours Approx. 3 hours 45 min.
Scoring Scores range from 200-800 in 10-point increments Scores range from 130-170 in 1-point increments
Question Types:
Sentence Completions
Reading Comprehension

Question Types:
Reading Comprehension
Text Completion
Sentence Equivalence
Question Types:
Multiple Choice Quantitative Comparison
Multiple Choice Problem Solving

Question Types:
Multiple-choice Questions - One Answer
Multiple-choice Questions - One or More Answers
Numeric Entry Questions
Quantitative Comparison Questions



Old Analytical Writing Details
One Issue Essay
One Argument Essay
Revised Analytical Writing Details
One Issue Essay
One Argument Essay
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Your Citation
Roell, Kelly. "A Comparison Between the Old GRE Exam and the GRE General Test." ThoughtCo, Feb. 16, 2021, thoughtco.com/old-gre-exam-v-gre-general-test-3211977. Roell, Kelly. (2021, February 16). A Comparison Between the Old GRE Exam and the GRE General Test. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/old-gre-exam-v-gre-general-test-3211977 Roell, Kelly. "A Comparison Between the Old GRE Exam and the GRE General Test." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/old-gre-exam-v-gre-general-test-3211977 (accessed March 24, 2023).