GRE Examination

Test Sections of GRE Explained

The GRE is a standardized test that is taken every year by graduate school applicants the world over. It provides a common measure for testing specific skills of candidates who come from different academic backgrounds. It is conducted in two formats - the Paper-based Test and the Computer-based Test. Both formats of the test have similar questions though they vary slightly in their format. The three main areas of knowledge that are tested are Verbal Reasoning, Quantitative Analysis and Analytical Writing.

Format of the Computer-Based Test

The Computer-based Test lasts for 3 hours 45 minutes. It has six sections in all. The first section is the Analytical Writing section which is divided into two parts - the Issue task and the Argument task - both to be completed within 30 minutes each. There are two sections of Verbal Reasoning having 20 questions per section. Each Verbal Reasoning section of the examination is to be completed within 30 minutes. Quantitative Analysis also has two sections which are allotted a completion time of 35 minutes per section, again having 20 questions per section. There is an additional section which is not scored. ETS tests new question types in this section to be used in future tests. The additional section comprises of any of the three sections mentioned above - Analytical Writing, Verbal Reasoning and Quantitative Analysis. It is advised to attempt the additional section equally well as you would not know which questions belong to the additional section. It may also include a research section which always appears at the end of the test and it is mentioned that it will be used for the purpose of research.

Format of the Paper-Based Test

The questions that are asked in the Paper-based version of the exams are only 'paper equivalents' of the questions asked in the Computer-based Test. The Paper-based Test lasts 3 hours and 30 minutes. First is the Analytical Writing section which is exactly the same as its Computer-based version. The two Verbal Reasoning sections are slightly different from those of the Computer-based Test as they have 25 questions per section to be completed in 35 minutes each. Similarly, the two Quantitative Analysis sections also have 25 questions each to be completed in the 40 minutes allotted to each section. There is no additional section in the Paper-based Test.

Analytical Writing

This section has two tasks relating to an issue and an argument. The issue task as well as the argument task is to be completed in 30 minutes each. The question in the issue task will contain a statement/policy/claim/opinion/recommendation in response to which you have to express your opinion. You are to support the position you take with examples, reasons and ample evidence. The argument task will contain an argument and advice/recommendation/prediction/explanation related to it. You will be asked to support this argument with the help of reasons and evidence. You can find more information about this section by visiting

Verbal Reasoning

The questions that are asked in the Verbal Reasoning sections of the tests are broadly divided into three categories - Reading Comprehension, Sentence Equivalence and Text Completion. In Reading Comprehension you will be asked to answer questions related to a given passage which test your understanding of the meaning of the passage and its main points, your ability to infer implicit information and to summarize the passage and give it a conclusion. Text Completion questions contain sentences/paragraphs with blanks to be filled by you by selecting one or more of the words which are given as choices. Sentence Equivalence questions run on similar patterns. For more information, visit

Quantitative Analysis

These are multiple choice questions that pertain to application of basic concepts of Arithmetic, Geometry, Algebra and data analysis. You would have studied these concepts at high school level. Questions relating to Trigonometry, Calculus and other higher-level mathematical concepts are not asked.

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