What is the GRE and do I need to take the GRE for PA school?

About the GRE

The GRE, or Graduate Record Examination, is a standardized test that tests on three key skills for graduate schools, namely analytical writing, verbal reasoning, and quantitative reasoning. The test is put out by the ETS and you register for the test on the ETS website. There are many locations and dates available to take the exam, and there is an option to take it at online. As of right now, the test is $205.00 to register and $50.00 to reschedule or change test site.

There are six sections, with a total of 3 hours and 45 minutes of testing time including a ten-minute break after section three. There are 2 quantitative reasoning sections at 35 minutes per section, two verbal reasoning sections at 30 minutes per section, and a one-hour analytical writing section split into a 30-minute analyze an issue prompt and a 30-minute analyze an argument section. The sixth section of the test is unscored and used for research. There is no way of knowing for sure which section is experimental.

Quantitative Reasoning

This section is not much more difficult than the SAT. It tests basic functions of math including geometry, algebra, arithmetic, and analysis of data. There are four types of questions in the quantitative reasoning section including quantitative comparison, multiple choice with a single answer, multiple choice with multiple answers, and numeric entry.

Verbal Reasoning

This section looks at understanding the written language. These questions get at various points such as the writer’s intent and perspective, the arguments the text makes, the structure of what is written, biases the writer may have, hidden meaning, and more. There are numerous question types and formats for this section. The three major types of questions include reading comprehension questions, text completion questions, and sentence equivalence questions.

Reading comprehension questions: There are three question types based on these passages including, multiple choice- select one, multiple choice- select multiple, and select-in-passage. The select-in-passage questions are questions that ask the student to find the correct sentence to answer the prompt within the text itself.

Text Completion questions: These questions have students select the correct word with the right context and meaning to fill in a blank in a passage. These passages vary in length from one to five sentences with one to three blanks. Typically, there are three answer choices per blank in the text. However, for passages with just one question, there are five answer choices. The tricky part about these questions is that to receive credit, the student must fill in all blanks correctly.

Sentence Equivalence questions: These questions are based off a single sentence with a blank to represent a word. There are six answer choices. The student must select the two words that make the sentence have the correct meaning based of clues found in the sentence itself. Like, the text completion questions, partially correct answers do not get awarded any points.

Analytical Writing

This is the section that involves answering essay questions. The prompts are written in two thirty-minute sections that are graded separately by professional graders. There is an analyze an issue prompt and an analyze an argument prompt. These questions determine whether a student can effectively get their thoughts across in writing clearly as well as evaluate and understand an argument. Students do not need any prior knowledge on the topics they are asked to evaluate.


The quantitative and verbal reasoning sections are scored from 130 to 170 points with one-point increments. Each numeric score is assigned a percentile from 0 to 100th percentile. The percentiles change over time to reflect trends in preparedness on the GRE. The analytical writing section is scored from 0 to 6 in half-point increments.

Preparation and Tips

Disability Accomodations

Disability accommodations are available but can take significant time to get approved.

To find more information about disability accommodations and to apply, visit this website:

Do I need to take the GRE to apply to PA school?

As of June 2022, about 113 of the 284 PA schools in our database require the GRE. About 11 others require either the GRE or the MCAT, and 3 require either the GRE or the PA-CAT. A few recommend (but don’t require) the GRE or one of the other tests.

Be sure to use our PA school database search to determine if you need to take the GRE for PA school! You can filter by schools that do and do not require the GRE!

Search PA Schools by GRE Requirement

And many other criteria including other test requirements, tuition, and GPA.

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Instructions and Tips

Use this page to search for programs based on prerequisites.

Here’s some tips:

  • After searching, make sure you also review the detailed notes, recommendations and requirements on the school detail page and/or the compare prerequisite page.
  • Check one or more boxes within each group of fields to narrow the search results down.
  • Select every checkbox up to and including your target requirement. For example, if you have one semester of chemistry, check “None” also to make sure you don’t exclude those programs with no requirement.
  • The search criteria are only applied to programs that have that specific requirement. For example, if a program has a requirement for “1 semester of chemistry required and a lab is recommended”, this school will satisfy the “1 semester required” option.
  • Some programs have requirements for any combination of courses of one type, for example “2 total courses of any chemistry subject”. For the purposes of this search, that would not be treated as a requirement, but you’ll need to be aware that you need to closely look at each program’s detailed requirements.
  • Use the Add/Remove buttons to fine-tune your list of programs.

Instructions and Tips

Use this page to search for programs based on general criteria.

Here’s some tips:

  • Check one or more boxes within each group of fields to narrow the search results down.
  • For certain numerical searches (such as Minimum GPA), if the program does not have a minimum, it is considered a zero. Make sure you include zero in your range of values so that they show up in your search.
  • The tuition search uses our estimate of total cost of attendance for non-residents including tuition, fees and living expenses.
  • You’ll probably want to start with more boxes checked and start with a short list of results. Uncheck boxes to expand the list.
  • Use the Add/Remove buttons to fine-tune your list of programs.


An example of how to maximize the effectiveness of your search: let’s say you don’t want to take any standardized tests:

  • Check every box under Test(s) Required that does not have “required” in it. for example “None”, “GRE Recommended”, “PA-CAT Recommended”, etc.
  • Leave blank any box that has a “required” test, such as “GRE Required”, “PA-CAT Required”, “GRE Required and PA-CAT Recommended”, etc.

This will make sure you only filter for programs that have no requirement for a standardized test.