GRE Exam Pattern

GRE Exam Pattern

The Graduate Record Examination (GRE) is one such entrance exam that thoroughly evaluates the indispensable skills needed for anyone aiming to pursue postgraduate study in any field or discipline from the reputed schools and universities across the globe. While preparing for this imperative exam, you must familiarize yourself with the GRE eligibility criteria, the content of the test, and the structure it incorporates. Read on to know about the GRE Exam Pattern through this detailed blog.

What is GRE?

Considered amongst the toughest exams in the world, the conducting authority of the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) is the Educational Testing Service (ETS) which organizes this exam in both online and offline modes, i.e. Computer-based and paper-based format that marginally varies in the structure in terms of the GRE exam pattern. However, the GRE syllabus remains totally unchanged. Moreover, there are two types of GRE tests, i.e. GRE General Test and GRE Subject Test, in which the former is used for all academic programs while the latter for specific subjects.

GRE Exam Pattern

Now that you know about what the exam entails, let’s explore the GRE exam pattern in further detail. The GRE test assesses candidates on three major sections, i.e.

  • Analytical Writing
  • Verbal Reasoning
  • Quantitative Reasoning

In addition to these three sections, there are two variable sections that are also included and are referred to as:

  • Unscored
  • Research

GRE Exam Pattern and Total Marks

Take a look at the following table elucidating the GRE exam pattern comprising of the bifurcations of sub-sections for each section as well as the number of questions and other features as per the two different modes. 

SectionPaper-Based GREComputer-Based GREScore ScaleIncrements
Analytical Writing2 Sections, 2 tasks
[60 minutes]
1 Section, 2 tasks
[60 minutes]
0-6In Half-Points
Verbal Reasoning2 Sections, 50 questions
[70 minutes]
2 Sections, 40 questions
[60 minutes]
130-170In 1-Point
Quantitative Reasoning2 Sections, 50 questions
[80 minutes]
2 Sections 40 questions
[70 minutes]
130-170In 1-Point
UnscoredUncertain & UnmarkedUncertain & Unmarked
ResearchUncertain & UnmarkedUncertain & Unmarked

Analytical Writing

Aimed at evaluating the critical thinking and analytical writing skills of the test-takers, this section of the GRE exam pattern comprises of 2 essays popularly termed as “Analyze an Issue” and “Analyse an Argument”. You have 30 minutes for each of these essays in which analysis an issue commonly includes a statement on an issue of general interest while analysis of an argument requires you to assess a paragraph-length argument of an author and provide a logically sound evaluation of it.

TypeSectionsTotal TasksTime
Computer-Based1230 Minutes (per task)
Paper-Based21 Task in Each30 Minutes (per section)

Verbal Reasoning

The Verbal Reasoning Questions are framed based on reading comprehension, text completion, and sentence equivalence which aim to analyze your vocabulary and verbal skills. Furthermore, the GRE exam pattern of this section also focuses on how good the candidate is in determining the right sentence structure as well as their familiarity with words and concepts.

TypeSectionsTotal QuestionsTime
Computer-Based220 in each section30 Minutes (per section)
Paper-Based225 in each section35 Minutes (per section)

Quantitative Reasoning

Regarded as the trickiest section of the GRE exam pattern, Quantitative Reasoning contains intensive mathematical problems ranging from Algebra to Data Analysis. It evaluates the basic mathematical aptitude of the candidate as well as their familiarization of elementary mathematical concepts and how effectively one can solve problems using quantitative methods.

TypeSectionsTotal QuestionsTime
Computer-Based225 in each section35 Minutes (per section)
Paper-Based225 in each section40 Minutes (per section)

Unscored & Research Section

The Unscored and Research sections are often called as the GRE experimental sections. As the two variable sections in the GRE exam pattern, both of these comprise an extra section of the Verbal or Quantitative Reasoning (3 instead of 2 of which 1 would be experimental).

  • The unscored section is commonly assumed to appear randomly at any part of the test, either at the beginning or middle. It is uncertain to understand whether it is not marked or indicated and hence it cannot be avoided.
  • The main purpose of the unscored aspect is to help the ETS assess the level of difficulty of the exam for future tests.
  • On the other hand, the Research section is always marked and appears at the concluding part of the test. The attempt of the section completely depends on the test taker and is completely optional.

GRE Subject Test Pattern

GRE Subject Test Pattern


How many marks is GRE for?

The scoring range for GRE is quite a complicated one. There are three sections in the GRE exam pattern in which the score range of both the Verbal Reasoning and Quantitative Reasoning is 130-170 each while the Analytical Writing is scored at 0-6 in half-point increments, thus making the total score of GRE at 340+6 [scored on half-point increments].

Is the GRE difficult?

GRE is usually considered as a difficult exam as compared to ACT and SAT as the questions are based on higher-level vocabulary, reading comprehension and stronger mathematical ability from the candidates.

Is GRE tougher than CAT?

Both GRE and CAT are quite different exams but when compared in terms of difficulty level and sections, GRE can be considered as tougher in comparison to CAT. While there is no analytical writing section in CAT as it is there in GRE, the latter comprises of a difficult verbal reasoning as well as quantitative aptitude section

Is there negative marking for GRE?

No. There is no negative marking for GRE and test-takers can easily skip those questions which they find difficult and time-consuming.

Thus, we hope that through this blog you have got an explicit view of the GRE Exam Pattern. Needless to say, a meticulous preparation strategy, as well as expert guidance, can effectively help you in acing the GRE exam with flying colours. Book a free online demo session with our Leverage Edu experts and we will guide you in devising the right preparation strategy as well as equipping you with quality study materials and exam tips to help you gear up for the final exam day and successfully crack the test with a higher score!

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