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GRE Test Content and Structure

The GRE revised General Test features question types that closely reflect the kind of thinking you’ll do – and the skills you need to succeed – in today’s demanding graduate and business school programs. The test-taker friendly design lets you skip questions within a section, go back and change answers and have the flexibility to choose which questions within a section you want to answer first. Get a look at the structure of the computer-delivered or paper-delivered GRE revised General Test.

The GRE revised General Test measures your verbal reasoning, quantitative reasoning, critical thinking and analytical writing skills – skills that have been developed over a long period of time and are not related to a specific field of study but are important for all. Here’s a look at content covered in the three test sections – Verbal Reasoning, Quantitative Reasoning and Analytical Writing.

Verbal Reasoning

The Verbal Reasoning section measures your ability to:

  • Analyze and draw conclusions from discourse; reason from incomplete data; identify author’s assumptions and/or perspective; understand multiple levels of meaning, such as literal, figurative and author’s intent.
  • Select important points; distinguish major from minor or relevant points; summarize text; understand the structure of a text
  • Understand the meanings of words, sentences and entire texts; understand relationships among words and among concepts.

Get a quick view of the Verbal Reasoning Question types.

Take a closer look at the Verbal Reasoning section, including sample questions with rationales, tips and more.

Quantitative Reasoning

The Quantitative Reasoning section measures your ability to:

  • understand, interpret and analyze quantitative information
  • solve problems using mathematical models
  • apply basic skills and elementary concepts of arithmetic, algebra, geometry and data interpretation

The Quantitative Reasoning section includes an on-screen calculator. If you are taking the paper-delivered test, a calculator will be provided at the test center.

Get a quick view of the Quantitative Reasoning Question types.

Take a closer look at the Quantitative Reasoning section, including sample questions with rationales, tips and more.

Analytical Writing

The Analytical Writing section measures your ability to:

  • articulate complex ideas clearly and effectively
  • support ideas with relevant reasons and examples
  • examine claims and accompanying evidence
  • sustain a well-focused, coherent discussion
  • control the elements of standard written English

The Analytical Writing section requires you to provide focused responses based on the tasks presented, so you can accurately demonstrate your skill in directly responding to a task.

Get a quick view of the Analytical Writing Question types.

Take a closer look at the Analytical Writing section, including sample questions with rationales, tips and more.

Modified Versions of Verbal Reasoning and Quantitative Reasoning Questions

The test you take may include questions that are modified versions of published questions or of questions you have already seen on the test. Some modifications are substantial; others are less apparent.

Even if a question appears to be similar to a question you have already seen, it may in fact be different and have a different answer. Pay careful attention to the wording of each question.

Computer Based Test

The overall testing time for the computer-delivered GRE revised General Test is about three hours and 45 minutes. There are six sections with a 10-minute break following the third section.

Structure of the Computer-based Test

Measure Number of Questions Allotted Time
Analytical Writing
(One section with two separately timed tasks)
One “Analyze an Issue” task and one “Analyze an Argument” task 30 minutes per task
Verbal Reasoning
(Two sections)
20 questions per section 30 minutes per section
Quantitative Reasoning
(Two sections)
20 questions per section 35 minutes per section
Unscored¹ Varies Varies
Research² Varies Varies

¹An unidentified unscored section that does not count toward your score may be included and may appear in any order after the Analytical Writing section. Questions in the unscored section are being tried out either for possible use in future tests or to ensure that scores on new editions of the test are comparable to scores from earlier editions.

²An identified research section that does not count toward your score may be included in place of the unscored section. The research section will always appear at the end of the test. Questions in this section are included for ETS research purposes.

The Analytical Writing section will always be first. The Verbal Reasoning, Quantitative Reasoning and unidentified/unscored sections may appear in any order; therefore, you should treat each section as if it counts toward your score.

Test Design Features

The advanced adaptive design of the GRE revised General Test allows you to freely move forward and backward throughout an entire section. Specific features include:

  • Preview and review capabilities within a section.
  • “Mark” and “Review” features to tag questions, so you can skip them and return later if you have time remaining in the section.
  • The ability to change/edit answers within a section.
  • An on-screen calculator for the Quantitative Reasoning section.

Paper Based Test

The overall testing time for the paper-delivered GRE revised General Test is about three hours and 30 minutes. There are six sections with a 10-minute break following the second section.

Structure of the Paper-based Test

Measure Number of Questions Allotted Time
Analytical Writing
(Two sections)
Section 1: “Analyze an Issue” task
Section 2: “Analyze an Argument” task
30 minutes per section
Verbal Reasoning
(Two sections)
25 questions per section 35 minutes per section
Quantitative Reasoning
(Two sections)
25 questions per section 40 minutes per section

The Analytical Writing sections will always be first, while the other four sections may appear in any order.

Test Design Features

  • When taking a Verbal Reasoning or Quantitative Reasoning section, you are free, within that section, to skip questions and come back to them later or change the answer to a question.
  • There are paper-delivered equivalents for most of the question types, including text completions and numeric entry.
  • Answers are entered into the test book, rather than a separate answer sheet.
  • You will be provided an ETS calculator to use during the Quantitative Reasoning section; you may not use your own calculator.

GRE Complete Information

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