The GRE Test Structure

Are you planning to take the GRE test in the near future? Then you must be well prepared before you take up the exam. And before starting your preparation for the exam you should be well versed about the exam, its structure, syllabus and all.

The GRE general Test is basically a online computer based exam which is conducted in the US and many other countries as well. An offline mode of the exam i.e. pen and paper based exam is also conducted in China and some parts of the Far East. But the question types are same in both the offline as well as online mode of the GRE General exam.

Broadly, the GRE General Exam is divided into three main categories

  • Analytical Writing
  • Verbal Reasoning
  • Quantitative Reasoning.

The online mode that is computer based exam starts with the Analytical Writing section for which they have allotted 1 hour. There are two sections in the Verbal Reasoning each consisting of 20 questions which needs to be completed in 30 minutes.

Then there are 2 more sections in the Quantitative Reasoning each having 20 questions approx. for which 35 minutes are allotted. Also there is an unidentified unscored section which may appear at any time during the test.

On an all, the online mode of GRE exam has duration of 3 hours and 45 minutes.

Let us see the three sections in detail and what kind of questions do they contain.


Hereby in the analytical writing section there are two essay writing questions: the Issue and the other one is the Argument. The Issue task consists of two topics where the candidate is asked to select any one to write the essay on writing the writer’s position regarding the topic. The candidate has to support his point using appropriate examples and reasoning. This section is of 30 minutes.

The other one, Argument task gives a statement of a position. The candidate needs to analyse the logic behind the given position and suggest for any improvements if required. For this also the candidate is given 30 minutes.

The analytical writing section is scored on a scale of 0-6. Firstly a human reader judges the essay and then a program called the e-rater. If there is difference between the two scores, then the essay is sent to another reader. Final score will be the average of the human scores. And if there is no difference between first human reader and e-rater, then that score is considered.


2.      Verbal Reasoning

The verbal reasoning sections will comprise of three kinds of questions. They are sentence equivalence, text completion and the reading comprehension.

The duration will be around 1 hour for this section. This section is often called as the vocabulary test of the GRE General exam.  

The reading comprehension requires a good reading and reasoning skill. Before taking up the test you should go through the level of vocabulary and go through some of the words which have been in use in the GRE tests.

3.       Quantitative Reasoning

The last section is the Quantitative Reasoning having two types of multiple choice questions. They are Quantitative comparisons and the other is problem solving.

In addition, the test also has numeric entry questions whereby the students give their own answers.

The level of mathematical questions is not too high and is within the grasp of a 10 class student. Some of the questions are based on data interpretation. To help the students, an on screen calculator is provided while taking the computer based exam. And the students who are giving the pen and paper based exam, you will be provided a calculator at your test centre.

These are the three sections of the GRE General exam. Every exam taker must take all of them seriously and should have ample of practice before taking up the final exam.