GRE Sections - Overview

The Graduate Record Examination (GRE) is an admissions test used around the world to screen graduate school applicants in a multitude of disciplines in the arts and sciences. It presumes fluency in English and is intended to measure Verbal Reasoning, Quantitative Reasoning, and Analytical Writing.

The GRE is broken into six sections: a 60-minute writing section consisting of an Argumentative Writing Task and an Issue Writing Task, two 30-minute Verbal Reasoning sections, two 35-minute Quantitative Reasoning sections, and one 30- or 35-minute experimental or research section which can be either quantitative or verbal. The writing section is always first, but the remaining five sections can come in any order. There are optional 1-minute breaks after every section and a 10-minute break after the third section. The computer test lasts about 3 hours and 45 minutes in total, the paper test lasts 3 hours 30 minutes.

The Analytical Writing section has two essays: an Argumentative Writing Task and an Issue Writing Task. The possible topics are listed on the ETS website. The Verbal Reasoning sections have three question types: Reading Comprehension, Text Completion, and Sentence Equivalence. The Quantatative Analysis sections have four question types: Quantitative Comparison Questions, Multiple Choice (select one answer), Multiple Choice (select one or more answers), and Numeric Entry questions.

The computer-based GRE is adaptive by section for the Quantitative Reasoning and Verbal Reasoning sections, so students who perform well on their first section will "level up" to a more difficult second section. The difficulty of your test is taken into account during the computation of your "scaled score" of 130-170. The writing assignment is not adaptive. The experimental or research section is used to evaluate and measure the difficulty level of future test questions, but does not contribute to the adaptation of your test or to your scaled score.