History of GRE Test: When, Why and Who Created the GRE Exam

The GRE General test was created in 1949 by the Educational Testing Service (ETS). The test was developed to measure skills such as Verbal Reasoning, Quantitative Reasoning, Critical Thinking, and Analytical Writing. These tests are prepared by a group of researchers, educational policy specialists, statisticians, and test developers. It is considered to be one of the graduate tests that has a diverse student base. It is used by students to apply to different schools and programs like business and law.

When was the last GRE Revision?

In August 2011, the GRE General Test was revised by the Educational Testing Service (ETS).

What were the changes in the 2011 GRE Revision?

The scoring system was changed from a scale of 200-800 to 130-170. It was also modified to be adaptive by section from being a continuously adaptive test. This means that after the first two sections of the test, Verbal and Quantitative, the computer assesses the test taker’s performance and adjusts the difficulty accordingly to the second part of these sections.

Changes in the test were made to make sure that the GRE continuously adapts to fit the changing needs of students, educational institutions, and educational policies. This also helps the organization’s goal of providing only valid and fair assessments that drive research and innovation.

Changes from the GRE General Test 2002 version to the current 2011 GRE General Test can be seen below [1]:

GRE Test Revision

GRE Exam

Old GRE Exam

GRE General Test


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


Old Structure

Current Structure


Approx. 3 hours

Approx. 3 hours 45 min.


Scores range from 200-800 in 10-point increments

Scores range from 130-170 in 1-point increments


Question Types:

  • Analogies
  • Antonyms
  • 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

These changes in the table above were made by the ETS from the 2002 version to the 2011 version.

Has the GRE replaced the GMAT?

No, the GRE General Test did not replace the GMAT. The main difference between these two standardized admission tests is its purpose. The GRE Test is usually taken by students who are still confused of which master’s degree to take while the GMAT is taken by students who want to pursue an MBA degree in a business school. However, over the years, numerous business schools have started to admit students who have GRE scores than GMAT.

Read More: GRE vs. GMAT

What is the history of the GRE Subject Test?

The GRE Subject Test is a standardized test developed by the Educational Testing Service (ETS) in the United States. It was designed to evaluate a student’s potential for post-graduate studies. Scores in this test are used by admissions in addition to other requirements like undergraduate records, recommendation letters, and other qualifications. It is also often used to demonstrate having a deeper understanding on a specific area of study and to prove evidence of academic background.

Areas offered by the first version of GRE Subject Tests were Computer Science, Biochemistry, Cell and Microbiology, Economic, Sociology, Revised Education, Political Science, Engineering, Geology, Music, and History. But in April of 1998, two subjects were discontinued. These were the Revised Education and Political Science exams. In April 2000, discontinued exams were History and Sociology. Followed by Economics, Engineering, Geology, and Music in April 2001. In April 2013, the ETS decided to discontinue the Computer Science exam as well due to insufficient demand. Left with only two subjects from the first version, Biochemistry and Cell & Microbiology, it was also discontinued in April 2021.

Now, they offer four subjects to test knowledge on areas such as Psychology, Chemistry, Physics, and Mathematics. Each exam can be taken for 170 minutes.

Read More: GRE General Test vs. GRE Subject Test

[1] https://www.thoughtco.com/old-gre-exam-v-gre-general-test-3211977