GRE Syllabus

7 minute read
GRE Syllabus

The Graduate Record Exam (GRE) is a standard test that is required for getting admission into master’s programmes at reputed international universities. The comprehensive nature of the exam makes it a befitting measure for evaluating problem-solving, critical thinking and comprehension abilities. It tests a candidate’s skills across three sections, namely, Verbal Reasoning, Quantitative Reasoning, and Analytical Writing. As a result, it is used by various Law colleges, schools/universities of Business, Law, Economics, Engineering, Natural Sciences, Arts and Humanities, Public Policy, International Relations, to name a few. Let’s take a look at all the important elements of GRE syllabus as well as useful tips to help you crack the exam.

Exam Name GRE
Exam Format GRE General Test and GRE Subject Test
Conducted By ETS – Educational Test Service
GRE Fees General Test – USD 250
Australia – USD 230
China – USD 230 
India – USD 213
Nigeria – USD 226
Turkey – USD 255
Subject Test – USD 150
Mode of Exam Computer and Paper-Based
GRE General Tests Analytical Writing, Quantitative Reasoning, & Verbal Reasoning
GRE Subject Tests Six Disciplines – Chemistry, Biology, English Literature,
Mathematics, Physics & Psychology

What Does the GRE Exam Entail?

Before exploring the GRE exam syllabus, it is important to understand the structure of the test. The GRE exam is conducted through both, online [computer-based] and offline modes. The computer-based exam is adaptive in nature, this implies that the computer will judge your performance and adjust the level of difficulty according to your answers. Furthermore, there are 2 types of tests in GRE, Subject-Based and General Test, the syllabus of which have been given a rundown in the following paragraphs.

GRE Exam Pattern

GRE Updates amidst COVID-19 by ETS

Amid the pandemic, ETS has decided to conduct GRE exams online. Here are the key features that you must know:

At-Home Testing Available Worldwide

The GRE General Test is now available at home everywhere and the computer-delivered GRE General Test is normally available except in China and Iran. Monitoring of the test would be conducted using live remote proctors and artificial intelligence by Proctor U – the leading proctor solution for online testing. GRE General Test PDF

Download At Home Graphics For Your Website

You can now download graphic images of the GRE General Test at home so that you can post your admissions web pages, including web pages. View and download the Graphics. 

GRE Syllabus: Computer-Based Test Pattern

Following is the GRE General Test Pattern for computer-delivered tests: 

GRE Sections Duration No. of Sections
Verbal Reasoning 60 minutes 2 sections – 40 questions
Quantitative Reasoning 70 minutes 2 sections – 40 questions
Analytical Writing 60 minutes 1 section – 2 Tasks
Unscored Varies Varies
Research Varies Varies

GRE Syllabus: Paper-Based Test Pattern

Following is the GRE General Test Pattern for paper-delivered tests: 

GRE Sections Duration No. of Sections
Verbal Reasoning 70 minutes 2 sections – 50 questions
Quantitative Reasoning 80 minutes 2 sections – 50 questions
Analytical Writing 60 minutes 2 section – 2 Tasks
Unscored NA NA
Research NA NA

GRE Subject Test Syllabus 2022

GRE Biology Syllabus (Discontinued since May 2021)

The test consists of approximately 190 five-choice questions related to Biology. The topics include:

  • Cellular and Molecular Biology
  • Organismal Biology
  • Ecology and Evolution

GRE Chemistry Syllabus

The test consists of approximately 130 multiple-choice questions related to the four fields into which chemistry has been traditionally divided

  • Analytical Chemistry
  • Inorganic Chemistry
  • Organic Chemistry
  • Physical Chemistry

GRE Literature in English Syllabus (Discontinued since May 2021)

Each edition of the test consists of approximately 230 questions on poetry, drama, biography, the essay, the short story, the novel, criticism, literary theory, and the history of the language.

  • Literary Analysis
  • Identification
  • Cultural and Historical Contexts
  • History and Theory of Literary Criticism 

GRE Math Syllabus

The test consists of approximately 66 multiple-choice questions drawn from courses commonly offered at the undergraduate level.

  • Algebra          
  • Calculus
  • Additional Topics

GRE Physics Syllabus

The test consists of approximately 100 five-choice questions, some of which are grouped in sets and based on such materials as diagrams, graphs, experimental data, and descriptions of physical situations.

  • Classical Mechanics
  • Electromagnetism
  • Optics and Wave Phenomena
  • Thermodynamics and Statistical Mechanics
  • Quantum Mechanics
  • Atomic Physics
  • Special Relativity
  • Laboratory Methods
  • Specialized Topics

GRE Psychology Syllabus

The test consists of approximately 205 multiple-choice questions. Each question in the test has five options from which the examinee is to select the one option that is the correct or best answer to the question.

  • Biological
  • Cognitive
  • Developmental
  • Social
  • Clinical
  • Measurement/Methodology/Other

GRE General Test Syllabus

Now that you are familiar with what this exam entails, let us understand the GRE syllabus of the General Test comprehensively.

Verbal Reasoning

This section assesses the test-taker’s ability to comprehend passages, make sense of complex sentence structures, and how well a candidate can make well-grounded judgements and conclusions. They evaluate the ability to understand different meanings i.e., figurative and literal, along with sentence tones and the author’s inclinations. Furthermore having a stronghold over English vocabulary words will also help you score well in the exam. Within the verbal reasoning section, questions fall under three sub-categories.

  • Sentence Equivalence
  • Text Completion
  • Comprehension

Quantitative Reasoning

Questions related to the analysis of quantitative data and basic mathematics fall under the section of quantitative reasoning. In this, questions are asked in the form of MCQs [One/Multiple correct answers] and Comparison based. The GRE syllabus for Quantitative Reasoning can be narrowed down to the following topics.

Topics GRE Syllabus
Algebra Functions
Quadratic Equations
Word Problems
Graphs of Functions
Coordinate Geometry
Geometry Lines, Angles, triangles
Quadrilaterals, Polygons
Pythagoras Theorem
Three-dimensional Geometry
Area and Perimeter
Arithmetic Numbers and integers
Percentages and Ratios
Number Line
Exponents and Roots
Decimal System
Probability and Statistics Mean, Median, Mode
Standard Deviation
Frequency Distributions
Compound Events
Random Variables
Probability Distributions
Permutation Combinations
Data Interpretation Tables
Analysis of data in form of bar diagrams, pie charts, scatter diagrams, etc.

 Analytical Writing Section

As per the GRE syllabus of this section, the candidates are asked to write two essays, one each on an “issue” and an “argument”. Through the essays, examiners aim to evaluate skills of writing, explanation techniques, sentence design and formation, articulation and development of complex ideas and arguments.

  • Analyze an “Issue” Essay

In this task, candidates present their views on a prescribed issue of common interest. The topic is generally a loose claim that can be explored from many perspectives. The candidates need to analyse and write about this issue from their own perspectives. The essay must have strong points that support a given perspective in a clear and crisp manner. There is no correct answer so candidates are free to explore and put forward their case.

  • Analyze an “Argument” Essay

This section contains a short passage mentioning a particular argument, its reasons, causes or effects. The test-takers are required to critically examine the arguments made in the passage, and deconstruct and read between the lines. Furthermore, the proof’s validity with respect to the argument made, the evidence presented and the writer’s inclination should also be explored.

How to Prepare for GRE?

Understanding the GRE syllabus and pattern is important to ace the test. However, one must also implement some tips and tricks to improve performance and increase accuracy. Here are some tips and tricks on how to score well on the GRE exam.

Important Tips for Verbal Section!

  • Distinguish the main argument from the auxiliary ones.
  • Do not get flustered by any unfamiliar data. 
  • Understand the writer’s orientation.
  • Solve GRE sample papers to increase accuracy and speed

Analytical Writing

  • Read from start to end thoroughly.
  • Try to know the central issue of the “issue” or “argument” given.
  • Look for assumptions taken by the writer and analyse them.

Quantitative Reasoning

  • Avoid unnecessary calculations. 
  • Try to simplify the equation.
  • Memorise the mensuration formulas in order to increase the speed.
  • Break down word problems into small units.

Best Books for GRE Preparation 

Apart from taking coaching classes to preparing for the GRE exam, you will also need a good GRE guidebook along with practice tests. Here are some of the best online resources which you can use to boost your preparation for the GRE exam.

  • The Official Guide To The GRE Revised General Test, Second Edition – This second edition of the Official Guide to the GRE Revised General Test contains a copy of the POWER PREP II, four complete practise tests along with a software CD, solved questions and answers and sample essay responses.
  • GRE POWER PREP II Software – Preparation for Computer Based GRE revised General Test – This software is inclusive of two full-length practice tests. The tests are timed which helps in stimulating the candidate giving the test and giving a complete test-taking experience to the candidate. 

GRE Sample Papers

Click here to download GRE Sample Papers


1. Is the syllabus for GRE similar to SAT?

The SAT exam is conducted by the College Board and is solely meant for undergraduate studies. Whereas, the GRE exam is conducted by the ETS GRE and is for graduate studies.

2. What is the syllabus for maths in GRE?

The maths syllabus for GRE is Algebra, Calculus and Additional Topics.

3. In how much time can I finish the GRE syllabus?

The time taken to finish the GRE syllabus depends entirely on the capacity of the candidate. A fast learner might do it in less time whereas some people can do it at their own pace.

4. What is a good GRE score?

A good GRE score ranges between 310 – 320. However, a good GRE score entirely depends on the institute you want admission to. 

The GRE exam syllabus is vast, complicated and demanding. The questions asked are tricky and more often try to lead you to wrong answers. It takes a well-developed plan along with consistent effort to get a score above par. Let our Leverage Edu experts mentor you in all the sections of the GRE to help you ace the exam with flying colours.

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