The GRE Test is a standardized exam that is used by many graduate schools in their admissions process.  The GRE Test serves a similar function to the SAT and ACT Tests in that both are used by colleges and universities as a factor in admissions.  Different institutions place varying degrees of importance on standardized tests, such as the GRE, and use them along with other factors such as GPA, class rank, community service, recommendations and extracurricular activities.

If you are preparing for the GRE Exam, check out these resources:

The GRE Test is meant to measure a student’s readiness for graduate or business school.  The GRE Test focuses on testing abstract thinking skills in the areas of: vocabulary (verbal reasoning), mathematics (quantitative reasoning), and analytical writing.  There are also GRE Subject Tests that attempt to gauge a student’s knowledge in seven different subject areas.

GRE Test scores range from 130 to 170 for the verbal and quantitative sections.  The GRE analytical writing section is scored on a 0 to 6 scale.  To improve your scores, read our reviews of GRE prep courses.

GRE Test FormatGRE Test Format

The GRE Test consists of two written essays and a total of 58 questions.  You are given a total of 150 minutes to complete the test.  The table below lists the sections of the test in more detail.

GRE Test SectionsGRE Test Sections

Time Limit
Number of Questions
GRE Analytical Writing

45 minutes (issue task)
30 minutes (argument task)

1 Issue Task
1 Argument Task
Evaluates your ability to articulate and support complex ideas, examine claims and accompanying evidence, and appropriately utilize the elements of standard written English.
GRE Verbal 30 minutes per section

Two Sections

20 questions per section

Evaluates your verbal reasoning and comprehension. You will be asked to analyze and evaluate written material, including synthesizing information, analyzing relationships among sentence components, and recognizing relationships between words and concepts.
GRE Quantitative 35 minutes per section

Two Sections

20 questions per section

Covers basic mathematical concepts that are typical for a college graduate.  You will be tested on:arithmetic, algebra, geometry and data analysis.  You will be assessed on quantitative reasoning.

GRE Subject Tests

The GRE Subject Tests are designed for graduate school applicants that have a thorough background or undergrad major in a covered area.  There are currently seven GRE subject tests:

  • Biochemistry
  • Biology
  • Chemistry
  • Literature in English
  • Mathematics
  • Physics
  • Psychology

GRE General Test Sections

The GRE General Test contains three separate test areas: Analytical Writing, Verbal Reasoning and Quantitative Reasoning.  The details of these sections are listed below.

Analytical Writing

The Analytical Writing section requires a student to write two separate analyses - "Analyze an Issue" and "Analyze an Argument".  Students are given 30 minutes for each task.  The purpose of the Analytical Writing section is to assess how a student can provide a focused response to a given writing prompt.  Writing will be assessed on:

  • Clear and effective presentation of complex ideas
  • Use of relevant examples and reasons that support central argument
  • Demonstration of appropriate English grammar
  • Presentation of a focused and well-reasoned discussion
  • Analysis of claims and accompanying evidence

Verbal Reasoning

The Verbal Reasoning test contains two separate sections.  Each section contains 20 questions with a 30 minute time limit per section.  The intent of the Verbal Reasoning section is to assess a student's ability to comprehend written passages and apply reasoning skills.  The main skills evaluated include:

  • Understanding of words, phrases and passages.  Understanding of relationships among concepts.
  • Determining important points and distinguishing important concepts from minor or irrelevant points
  • Drawing conclusions and reasoning from incomplete information.
  • Identifying an author's perspective and assumptions.

Quantitative Reasoning

The Quantitative Reasoning test contains two separate sections. Each section contains 20 questions with a 35 minute time limit per section. The Quantitative Reasoning section measures a student's ability to:

  • Understand, interpret, and analyze quantitative information
  • Solve complex problems using various mathematical models
  • Utilize basic mathematical skills related to arithmetic, algebra, geometry and data interpretation

To improve your scores, please try our Free GRE Practice Tests.

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