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GRE Test Structure

The GRE General Test is currently a computer-based test offered at centers in the US and in most other countries. In China and in some other parts of the Far East a paper-version of the GRE is administered. In both the computer and paper-based tests the questions types are the same.

The GRE General Test has three main divisions: Analytical Writing; Verbal Reasoning; Quantitative Reasoning. A typical computer-based test starts with the Analytical Writing section (1 hour). There are 2 sections of Verbal Reasoning each with approximately 20 questions to be completed in 30 minutes. There are 2 sections of Quantitative Reasoning each with approximately 20 questions to be completed in 35 minutes. There is usually also an unidentified unscored section that can appear at any position in the test.

The computer-based GRE takes 3 hours 45 minutes.

Analytical Writing

The analytical writing section has two essay writing tasks: the Issue and the Argument. The Issue task presents two topics of which the candidate must select one on which to write an essay presenting the writer´┐Żs position on the topic. The candidate is required to support his or her point of view with examples and reasoning. The time allotted for this task is 30 minutes.

The Argument task presents a statement of a position. The candidate is required to analyze the logic of the given position and suggest how and where the reasoning may be faulty or require improvement. The student is given 30 minutes for this essay.

The scoring for the Analytical Writing section is on a scale of 0-6. Each essay is scored by a human reader and then by a computer program called the e-rater. If the human and e-rater scores differ, the score is sent to a second reader. The final score is the average of the two human scores (to the nearest half mark). If the there is no disparity between the first human score and that of the e-rater, that score is taken.

For more information about the analytical writing section and to practice issue and argument tasks refer to our gre essay writing page.

Verbal Reasoning

The verbal reasoning section contains three types of question: sentence equivalence; text completion; reading comprehension.

The verbal reasoning section of the GRE is often said to be a test of vocabulary. However, the comprehension questions require good reading and reasoning skills. You can check out the level of vocabulary on our wordlists which contain words that have been used in actual GRE tests.

Quantitative Reasoning

The quantitative reasoning section has two types of multiple choice questions: quantitative comparisons and problem solving. The test also contains Numeric Entry questions where students have to provide their own answers.

The level of math knowledge should be within the grasp of a 10th Grade student. Some of the questions involve data interpretation. An onscreen calculator is provided to students taking the computer based test. Students taking the paper based test are provided with a calculator at the test center.

Next Steps

We have over 50 GRE practice tests that you can test yourself on. All the tests are free and cover the areas above.

You can find a complete list of topics and more sample questions at the official GRE website.

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