What is the GRE?

Watch a video overview of the GRE.

The GRE® revised General Test is an exam required for admission to many graduate school programs around the world. Most graduate school applicants take a computer-based version of the GRE but a paper-based version is administered in countries where computer-based testing is not available.

The computer-based test consists of six scored sections:

  • Analytical Writing (2 essays)
  • Verbal Reasoning (2 sections)
  • Quantitative Reasoning (math) (2 sections)

The essays always appear first, but the other sections may appear in any order. In addition, test-takers may see a third verbal reasoning or quantitative reasoning section at any point during the test. This experimental section is used by ETS, the test creators, to try out possible future GRE questions or to ensure validity of test results. Test-takers will not be able to identify which is the experimental section, so it is important to work on all sections with equal attention. In place of this experimental section, some test-takers may see a research section. This section always appears at the end of the test and is clearly identified as a research section. Like the experimental section, the research section does not count towards your score.

The paper-based test consists of the same number of sections, but each section has more questions and test-takers are given more time. The paper-based test does not have an experimental or research section.


Analytical Writing Measure (2 essays, 30 minutes each)

In the AWA section, you must write two essays called Analyze an Issue and Analyze an Argument. In the first, you must evaluate and discuss an issue of general interest and back up your point of view with specific reasons and examples. In the second, you must analyze the logical soundness of an argument.

For more information about the Analytical Writing Measure, visit the official GRE website.           


Verbal Reasoning (2 sections, 20 questions, 30 minutes each)

The Verbal section features three question types:

  • Sentence Equivalence questions present a single sentence from which one key word has been omitted. You are given six multiple choice options from which you must select the two words that will create coherent sentences that are similar in meaning. 
  • Text Completion questions present one to five sentences from which one, two, or three key words have been omitted. You are required to select the words from the multiple choice options that will complete the sentence or sentences in a meaningful and coherent way.
  • Reading Comprehension questions present a reading passage with one or several paragraphs.  The questions may ask you to summarize the author's main point or perspective, draw conclusions or infer missing information based on the facts presented, explain the structure of the text, or define words as they are used in context. Some questions are multiple choice and require you to select one or more correct answers, and some questions require you to select a sentence from the passage by clicking on it.

For more information about the Verbal Section, visit the official GRE website.   


Quantitative Reasoning (2 sections, 20 questions, 35 minutes each)

The Quantitative (math) section tests arithmetic, algebra, geometry, and data analysis. It features four question types:

  • Multiple Choice – Select One questions present a mathematical problem and five answer choices.
  • Multiple Choice – Select One or More questions present a mathematical problem and anywhere between two and ten answer choices. Any number of the choices, including just one, may be correct.
  • Numeric Entry questions present a mathematical problem and you must type your answer into a text box. If the answer is a fraction, a separate box for the numerator and denominator will be available.
  • Quantitative Comparison questions ask you to compare Quantity A and Quantity B to decide which is bigger. Sometimes additional information is given to help you make a decision. Sometimes it is not possible to make a decision.

For more information about the Quantitative Section, visit the official GRE website.     


GRE Scores

Once you complete the test, you will receive three scores on the following scales:

  • Analytical Writing: 0 to 6
  • Verbal Reasoning: 130-170
  • Quantitative Reasoning: 130-170

For more information about the scores, visit the official GRE website.


Useful links on the official GRE website (www.ets.org/gre)

You may find the official GRE website difficult to navigate.  Here are some direct links to important pages: