Patterns and Introduction to GRE sections

What is GRE? Introduction to GRE sections

The Graduate Record Examination is a standardized test that is a prerequisite for gaining admission at majority of graduate schools in the United States.  It is created as well as administered by the Educational Testing Service (ETS). GRE aims to assess verbal reasoning, quantitative reasoning, analytical writing, and critical thinking skills of students. Students who wish to pursue a master’s degree or want to study a specialized master’s course; MBA, MEM, MS or a doctoral degree can give the GRE Test.

Eligibility Criteria: Introduction to GRE sections

There is no specific eligibility criterion for taking the GRE Test. Students can apply for the test irrespective of age and qualification. However, the candidate has to fulfil the admission criteria for individual institutes where he/she is applying.

GRE Structure and Pattern: Introduction to GRE sections

The computer-based GRE revised General Test consists of five sections. The first section is the analytical writing section which consists of Issue and Argument tasks. The other five sections have two verbal reasoning sections, two quantitative reasoning sections, and either an experimental or a research section.  However, these five sections can occur in any order.

The GRE revised General Test is a multistage test. This format allows the student to move back and forth between questions that are a part of the same section, and the testing software allows the student to “mark” questions within each section so that they can be reviewed later, if time permits. It takes 3 hours and 45 minutes to complete the test but one-minute breaks are offered after each section, and a 10-minute break is also given after the third section. The paper-based GRE General Test consists of six sections, but it is only available in areas where computer-based testing is unavailable.

Analytical writing section: Introduction to GRE sections

This section consists of two different essays- “Issue” and “Argument”. Grades are given on a scale of 0–6, in half-point increments. Students are required to write the essays on a computer using a word processing program which is specifically designed by ETS. Using this program, students can perform only certain basic computer functions. It does not contain a spell-checker or any other advanced features. Both the essays are graded by at least two readers on a six-point scale.

  • Issue Essay

The students are given 30 minutes to write an essay based on a debatable topic. In an issue essay, a student is required to pick a side and give their point of view. It tests the student’s ability of convincing the examiner to agree to his/her point of view.  Issue topics are usually selected from a pool of questions, which the GRE Program has published in its entirety.

  • Argument Essay

The students are given an argument (i.e. a series of facts and considerations leading to a conclusion), and they are asked to write an essay that criticizes the given argument. Students are required to carefully understand the argument’s logic and then make suggestions about how the logic of the argument can be improved.  Basically, students are required to focus on the logical flaws of the argument and not give any their viewpoints on the subject. The students must complete this essay in 30 minutes.

Quantitative section: Introduction to GRE sections

It assesses a student’s basic high school level mathematical knowledge and reasoning skills. It is scored on a scale of 130–170, in 1-point increments. Each section consists of 20 questions which need to be completed in 35 minutes. Every section has around nine problem-solving items, eight quantitative comparisons, and three data interpretation questions. It also includes numeric entry items which require the students to fill in the blanks and answer multiple-choice questions.

Verbal Section: Introduction to GRE sections

The verbal sections assess a student’s reading comprehension, critical reasoning and vocabulary usage. The verbal test is scored on a scale of 130-170, in 1-point increments. Each section consists of 20 questions which need to be completed in 30 minutes. Every section consists of around six text completion, four sentence equivalence, and ten critical reading questions. However, text completion has replaced sentence completion and new reading question types with multiple answer choices have been added.

Experimental section: Introduction to GRE sections

The experimental section (verbal or quantitative), consists of new questions that ETS is considering for future use, however, the experimental section does not form a part of the main score. Since students have no definite way of knowing which section is experimental, it is advisable for students to give their best in every section. Sometimes an identified research section at the end of the test is also provided instead of the experimental section.

Test Dates:

The GRE Test (computer based) is offered year-round at Prometric test centres. Students can take the GRE Test once in every 21 days, up to five times within a 12-month period. This applies even if a student has cancelled his scores of a previously taken test. However, to register and take the test on a specific date, students are required to first create a ‘My GRE Account.’


To register for GRE, students have to create a ‘My GRE Account’. There are four ways to register for the GRE general test- Online, Phone, Mail and Fax registration.


In the GRE test, three scores are reported:

  1. Verbal Reasoning wherein the scores are given on a scale of 130–170, in 1-point increments
  2. Quantitative Reasoning also on a 130–170 score scale with 1-point increments and
  3. Analytical Writing which is given on a 0–6 score level, in half-point increments.

The official scores are mailed in 10–15 days after the student’s actual test date.

Validity of GRE scores:

The scores are valid for five years.  However, students can request for a re-score up to 3 months after the actual test date.