Resources for Taking the GRE Exam

At USC Price, we support aspiring public service leaders at all stages of their journey. We know that for some, the GRE seems like an obstacle on the path to beginning your graduate education. With this in mind, we’ve compiled helpful information about the exam and study strategies that can help you prepare for success.

What to Expect

The Graduate Records Examination, or GRE, reflects the kind of thinking that will be required of you as a graduate student, and it tests the skills you have been refining throughout your education and career. The test is divided into three parts:

Analytical Writing: This section tests your critical thinking skills and asks you to support complex ideas with relevant reasons and examples.

You will complete two writing prompts in 60 minutes.

Verbal Reasoning: During this portion of the exam, you will be asked to understand multiple levels of meaning, summarize texts, and draw relationships among words and concepts.

There are two verbal sections, each consisting of 20 questions, which must be completed in 30 minutes.

Quantitative Reasoning: This section measures your ability to understand, interpret, and analyze quantitative information through mathematical models. You must apply basic algebra, geometry, and data analysis tools to problems.

There are two quantitative sections, each consisting of 20 questions, which must be completed in 35 minutes.

The GRE takes approximately three hours and 45 minutes to complete, and you will receive one 10-minute break halfway through the exam.

How to Register for the Exam

  • Create an ETS account. You can do so on the ETS sign-in page.
  • Decide when you would like to take the test. When you are scheduling your exam, be sure to allow sufficient time for score reporting so you can meet the admissions deadlines for the schools to which you plan to apply. View the USC Price online admissions deadlines.
  • Determine where you want to send your scores. Four score recipients are included in your test fee. You can send more score reports at an additional cost. The USC institution code is 4852.
  • Understand test policies and procedures. The ETS has strict regulations surrounding ID requirements, test fees, and reschedule and cancellation policies. Review all of them on the ETS website.
  • Request testing accommodations as soon as possible. All test-takers requesting accommodations must submit their requests and receive approval by ETS Disability Services before their test can be scheduled. Learn more about requesting accommodations.

Explore the complete guide to GRE registration on the ETS website.

Test Prep Strategies

Once you have registered for the GRE, it’s time to start preparing for the exam. Here are some test prep suggestions you may find useful:

Prepare a Study Plan

Identify how you study most effectively, and create a clear plan based on that. A strong study plan will help you use your time efficiently and target any weaknesses in your understanding of the GRE concepts or question types. As you create a plan, take the amount of time remaining before your scheduled exam into account.

Explore Study Tools

There are a range of study tools and strategies you can employ to prepare for the GRE, including self-study, practice tests, test preparation courses, group study sessions and flashcards. Based on your learning style, some of these strategies may be more effective than others. ETS offers a variety of free GRE General Test preparation materials here.

Simulate the Testing Environment

Take several practice tests under the same time constraints as the actual exam. Practice pacing yourself through each section so you will be able complete each section within the time limit during the real test.

Research Section-Specific Strategies

If you have difficulty working through a specific section, research strategies that pertain to that section’s content. You may be able to find useful tips for mastering critical reading, using your calculator effectively, approaching the writing section and more.

Learn More

Discover the Master of Public Administration program delivered online by USC’s Sol Price School of Public Policy. When you request information, an admissions counselor will reach out about next steps.