What’s on the GRE – Three Sections Quickly Explained

If you are looking at this, you are probably trying to gather some kind of an idea of what’s on the GRE and how to tackle the GRE test day. The GRE (Graduate Record Exam) is mainly a test of general skills. Students who are looking to enter a graduate school have to sit this test. However, many of the concepts in the GRE are taught in high school.

According to ETS (the company that owns, distributes, and scores these tests), this exam covers three sections: quantitative reasoning (math section), verbal reasoning, critical thinking, and analytical writing skills. Further, it is important to know that there is also an experimental portion of the GRE. This portion does not apply to your overall score.

You can expect to have to go to an approved testing center to take this computer-adaptive GRE test. ETS has over 1000 different computer testing locations in over 160 different countries! You can take the GRE throughout the entire year, making it easy to decide the most convenient time to take this, should you choose to. Below you will find a breakdown of what subjects the GRE covers so that you can have a greater understanding of what to expect while taking the GRE general test.

Verbal Reasoning

The verbal reasoning section of this test involves three different question types: reading comprehension, text completion, and sentence equivalence. Within this verbal section, you will have to answer questions in the form of multiple-choice and fill in the blank (or sentence equivalence questions). Some multiple-choice questions may require you to select one answer and others two or more for a single question. These questions Many of your questions will involve reading short passages and selecting the best answer. The verbal section of this test has two sections. Each section has 20 questions and is 30 minutes for each.

Quantitative Reasoning Section

Within the two quantitative reasoning sections (also known as the math section), the GRE requires the test taker to solve the following types of questions: quantitative comparison, multiple-choice, and numeric entry. This portion of the test allows test takers to access an on-screen calculator to help solve problems. The quantitative section question types will include Algebra Geometry and Data Analysis, Data interpretation and problem-solving, Arithmetic Algebra Geometry. Data interpretation questions may appear as one set of questions to test your ability to analyze graphs and charts. The GRE has two verbal reasoning quantitative sections, each comprising 20 questions and lasting 35 minutes each. Problem-solving questions are likely to be in the form of multiple-choice questions that will have one answer.

Analytical Writing Skills

This section of the GRE test focuses on your ability for analytical writing verbal reasoning. This analytical writing section focuses on your ability to articulate and support claims with evidence (reasoning and examples), understand the prompts with reading comprehension skills, and analyze an argument. Separated into two sections are the issue essay and an analyze the argument essay. Of the two essays, the first section will be to analyze an issue within the prompt. Within this section, you will state whether you agree or disagree with the issue and provide relevant reasoning to support your point. The second section of this test requires you to analyze a specific argument. You will get a specific point to cover when analyzing the argument.

This portion of the GRE is one section, but the two essays are split into two separate tasks. You will have 30 minutes for the issue essay and 30 minutes for the argument analysis essay.

GRE Prep Material and Courses

Before beginning the GRE test, make sure you utilize their GRE test prep materials. The ETS website offers practice tests for purchase. But you can also check out the different sections to view the sample question(s) in each. Ideally, purchasing a practice version of the GRE will be the best option. However, ETS not only provides a few sample questions, but there are also detailed outlines and further test samples to help you on your way to success. Magoosh GRE is another popular provider for exam prep courses. The online course comes with a lot of free sources and practice questions. They even offer a 7-day free trial and a money-back guarantee.

The GRE includes a research section (or an experimental section), which usually occurs after the analytical writing section. However, the experimental section can occur at any point, making it paramount to do your very best. This question portion does not apply to your score and typically in the form of a verbal reasoning and quantitative section. The total time for start to finish for the GRE is test day can vary because of the research section (experimental section) of the test. However, you can expect to spend roughly 3 hours and 45 minutes to complete all sections in their entirety.

What Now?

So you have studied for all the different sections of the GRE, you are at the end of the test and gladly hitting whatever submit button is on the screen…now you are wondering how to go about getting your score. First, you need to understand how the GRE score is broken down amongst the various sections. The verbal section score scale ranges from 130-170 in 1 point increments; quantitative reasoning does the same. Analytical writing sections can range in scale from 0-6 in half-point increments. They are scored according to the GRE scoring guide on ETS. Any unscored section on the GRE test (aka the experimental section) is not reported back to you, as it is for ETS use only. You can review the various sections’ scores roughly 10-15 days after taking a computer given GRE.

One big question for anyone taking this test is that of how the GRE score is used. Your score will be available to you through the ETS portal after the designated amount of time has passed for scoring. If you are doing all of this to attend graduate school, you can designate which institutions will automatically receive a copy of your score upon availability.



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