Everything You Need to Know About GRE Exam

If you are considering graduate school, the GRE Test is an essential aspect of the application process. Administered by the Educational Testing Service (ETS), the GRE is a globally recognized exam, designed to assess skills that are universally applicable, including:

  • Verbal Reasoning
  • Quantitative Reasoning
  • Critical Thinking, and
  • Analytical Writing

In this article, we will explore the GRE Exam, its pattern, syllabus, eligibility, dates, fees, registration process, scoring system, and the opportunities it provides to candidates.

Table of Contents

What is GRE Exam?

Here are the quick key highlights about the GRE Exam:

  • Standardized exam
  • Computer-based
  • Multiple-choice questions
  • Accepted by graduate, business, and law schools
  • Comprises five sections in total
  • Duration: Around 1 hour and 58 minutes

The GRE exam spans five sections, with a total test time of approximately 1 hour and 58 minutes. It adapts to your performance as you progress through the exam. You have the flexibility to skip questions. You can also choose the order in which you want to address questions within a particular section. Apart from these, you can benefit from the following key features of this format:

  • “Mark” and “Review” features that enable you to tag questions for later review.
  • An on-screen calculator available for the section of Quantitative Reasoning.

The Verbal Reasoning and Quantitative Reasoning sections are section-level adaptive. The first sections of both are of average difficulty. The difficulty level of the second section depends on your overall performance on the first section.

GRE Exam Pattern

The GRE exam pattern underwent a transformative shift on September 22, 2023. Before that, the exam followed a somewhat lengthy format with six sections, lasting approximately 3 hours and 45 minutes.

With the goal of optimizing the testing experience, the GRE exam underwent a significant change. The total testing time of the new exam pattern is just about 1 hour and 58 minutes. This restructured format consists of five sections:


Number of Questions


Analytical Writing

1 ‘Analyze an Issue’ task

30 minutes

Verbal Reasoning – Section 1

12 questions

18 minutes

Verbal Reasoning – Section 2

15 questions

23 minutes

Quantitative Reasoning – Section 1

12 questions

21 minutes

Quantitative Reasoning – Section 2

15 questions

26 minutes

Section-wise GRE Exam Pattern

Section Name

Question Type

Question Format

Analytical Writing

Analyze an Issue

In this section, you will receive an opinion on a specific issue. You have to evaluate it to develop a persuasive argument, and support your argument with reasons and examples.

Verbal Reasoning

Reading Comprehension

  • Multiple choice – single answer
  • Multiple choice –multiple correct answers
  • Sentence Selection from a Passage (Choose a sentence within the passage that matches a specific description.)

Verbal Reasoning

Text Completion

Text Completion questions remove essential words from brief passages. Your task is to make use of the provided context to select the appropriate words or short phrases that fit the blanks and form a coherent and meaningful passage.

Verbal Reasoning

Sentence Equivalence

Sentence Equivalence questions involve a single sentence containing one blank. You have to recognize the two answer choices that result in a complete, coherent sentence.

Quantitative Reasoning

Quantitative Comparison Questions

You are required to compare two quantities, denoted as Quantity A and Quantity B, and then identify which statement best describes the comparison:

  • Quantity A is greater.
  • Quantity B is greater.
  • The two quantities are equal.
  • The relationship cannot be determined based on the provided information.

Quantitative Reasoning

Multiple-choice Questions — Select One Answer Choice

You are required to pick a single answer from a list of five options.

Quantitative Reasoning

Multiple-choice Questions — Select One or More Answer Choices

The multiple-choice questions require you to choose one or more answer options from a provided list. The question may or may not indicate the exact number of choices to select.

Quantitative Reasoning

Numeric Entry Questions

These questions prompt you to provide your answer in one of the following formats:

  • In one single answer box, as an integer or decimal.
  • As a fraction, with one box for the numerator and another for the denominator.

In the Quantitative Reasoning section, questions come in two types:

  • Independent questions, or
  • Data Interpretation sets, where a group of questions relies on the same data, like tables or graphs, presented together.

GRE Exam Syllabus

To excel in the GRE, it is crucial to understand the exam's syllabus, which encompasses a range of skills, including verbal reasoning, quantitative reasoning, critical thinking, and analytical writing. Let us explore the GRE syllabus in detail.

Verbal Reasoning

Here are the abilities measured in the GRE Verbal Reasoning section:

  • Analyzing discourse, drawing conclusions, and identifying perspective.
  • Reasoning from incomplete data and distinguishing major details from minor ones.
  • Summarizing text and comprehending its structure.
  • Grasping the meaning of words, sentences, and entire texts, while recognizing word and concept relationships.

Question Types (VR)

Content Areas

Reading Comprehension

Reading Comprehension assesses skills for understanding graduate-level prose from various fields, including the physical and biological sciences, social sciences, business, arts, humanities, and everyday topics.

Text Completion

Text completion evaluates your skills in interpretation and assessment.

Sentence Equivalence

Sentence Equivalence assesses your capability to get to a conclusion from partial information, with a strong emphasis on the overall meaning.

Quantitative Reasoning

The GRE Quantitative Reasoning section measures the following abilities:

  • Grasp, interpret, and analyse quantitative information
  • Problem-solving by employing mathematical models
  • Application of fundamental skills and elementary concepts of arithmetic, algebra, geometry, and data analysis

Topics (QR)

Content Areas

Arithmetic Topics

  • Properties and integer types, like factorization, divisibility, remainders, prime numbers, and odd and even integers.
  • Arithmetic operations, exponents, and roots.
  • Concepts like estimation, percent, ratio, rate, absolute value, the number line, decimal representation, and sequences of numbers.

Algebra Topics

  • Operations with exponents
  • Factorization and simplification with algebraic expressions.
  • Relations, equations, functions, and inequalities
  • Solving linear and quadratic equations and inequalities.
  • Solving simultaneous equations and inequalities.
  • Setting up equations to solve word problems.
  • Coordinate geometry, including graphs of functions, equations and inequalities, intercepts, and slopes of lines.

Geometry Topics

  • Parallel and perpendicular lines
  • Triangles, including isosceles, equilateral and 30°-60°-90° triangles
  • Quadrilaterals
  • Circles
  • Other polygons
  • 3-dimensional figures
  • Area
  • Congruent and similar figures
  • Perimeter
  • The Pythagorean theorem
  • Angle measurement in degrees
  • Volume

Data Analysis Topics

  • Basic descriptive statistics, like mean, median, mode, range, standard deviation, interquartile range, quartiles, and percentiles.
  • Interpretation of data in tables and graphs, such as line graphs, bar graphs, circle graphs, boxplots, scatterplots, and frequency distributions.
  • Conditional probability
  • Elementary probability, such as probabilities of compound events and independent events.
  • Random variables and probability distributions, including normal distributions.
  • Counting methods, such as combinations, permutations, and Venn diagrams.

The content encompasses mathematics and statistics typically taught in high school and does not cover advanced topics such as trigonometry or calculus. It is important to note that the mathematical symbols, terminology, and conventions used in the Quantitative Reasoning section adhere to high school-level standards, making the exam more calculation-intensive.

GRE Exam Eligibility

The GRE is an inclusive assessment tool that allows individuals from diverse backgrounds and educational levels to showcase their readiness for graduate-level education. Here are the key points to know about eligibility for the GRE:

  • No minimum age restriction.
  • No qualification requirement.
  • Parental consent for candidates under 18.

However, since GRE is designed for graduate programs, candidates are typically expected to have completed their undergraduate studies.

GRE Exam Dates

The GRE offers multiple test dates in India, providing candidates with flexibility and options tailored to their convenience and availability. The GRE exam date you select should ideally be two to three months before your first university application deadline. If, after your initial GRE attempt, you believe you can improve your scores, you can take the GRE exam again. Candidates are allowed to take the GRE exam once every 21 days. This adaptable scheduling, combined with the opportunity for a retake, ensures that you can strategically plan your GRE journey to achieve your academic aspirations.

GRE Exam Fees

Below is the table outlining the Standard Test Administration for the GRE General Test:

GRE Exam Fees

Price (INR)

GRE General Test


GRE Subject Test


Here is the table detailing the charges for special handling requests:

Special Handling Request

Fees (INR)

Rescheduling fee


Changing test center


Changing your Subject Test


Additional score report


Score review


Score reinstatement


Returned payment


GRE Exam Registration

Here is a comprehensive 6-step guide to secure your GRE exam registration:

Step 1: ETS Account

Visit the official ETS website (www.ets.org/mygre) and create your personal ETS account.

Step 2: Personal Details

Following the ETS account creation, you will be prompted to create a GRE test-taker profile. Provide your personal information, like your name, email address, phone number, and relevant particulars.

Step 3: Username and Password

Upon completion of your personal information, proceed by clicking "Next" at the bottom of the page to set up your username and password. Once your account is created, you will receive an email containing a verification link. Click on this link to finalize the verification.

Step 4: GRE Registration

After successfully creating your ETS account, log in at https://www.ets.org/gre.html. Your personal GRE home page will display your ETS account information. To proceed with the GRE registration process, simply click on the "Register" button.

Step 5: GRE Exam Date and Location Selection

You will be directed to a page where you can choose your desired test center, date, and time for the GRE examination. Provide the required information in accordance with your GRE timeline. It is recommended to register a minimum of two days before your preferred test date.

Step 6: GRE Registration Fees

To complete your GRE registration, pay the registration fee, which amounts to INR 22,550. Payment can be conveniently made using an American Express, Discover, JCB, MasterCard, or Visa credit or debit card. Confirm and submit your GRE application.

GRE Exam Scores

GRE scores are represented using percentile ranks and are graded on a scale. The GRE General test employs a scoring range of 130-170 for both the quantitative and verbal sections. The scoring methodology for these measures remains the same, though the analytical writing score is now based on one essay task instead of two. 

Section Name

Scoring Scale

Verbal Reasoning

130–170, in 1-point increments

Quantitative Reasoning

130–170, in 1-point increments

Analytical Writing

0–6, in half-point increments

If a candidate chooses not to answer any questions in a specific section, such as Verbal Reasoning, they will receive a "No Score (NS)" for that particular measure.

GRE Exam Results

Once you have completed your GRE General Test, your official result will become available in your ETS (Educational Testing Service) account within approximately 8 to 10 days after the test date. These GRE scores are not just numbers; they hold significant implications for your graduate or business school applications.

Additionally, it is worth noting that GRE scores remain valid for a duration of five years from the date of your test. This extended validity period offers flexibility for prospective applicants who may not immediately pursue graduate or business school after taking the GRE.

Opportunities After GRE Exam

The GRE exam is a standardized test that enables admissions majorly into Master's programs in fields like sciences, business, and arts. Originally designed for Master's programs in the United States and other English-speaking countries, the GRE's reach has expanded over the years.

The opportunities after taking the GRE are vast and diverse, spanning across countries and fields of study. In addition to the United States, destinations like the United Kingdom, Canada, Singapore, Europe, New Zealand, and many others also accept GRE scores for admissions. Some of the world's most prestigious universities, including MIT, Stanford, Caltech, Harvard, Yale, and Carnegie Mellon, consider GRE scores in their selection process, making it a versatile examination.

With GRE, students can choose to pursue Master’s programs in various subjects. Specializations in MS programs are extensive, covering fields like computer science, management information systems, game design and development, petroleum engineering, life sciences, and much more. The GRE is not limited to one particular path; it also opens doors to Master of Business Administration (MBA), Master of Technology (M.Tech), and even a Doctoral Degree (Ph.D.).

In addition to international destinations, the GRE also has relevance in India. Institutions like the Indian School of Business (ISB) in Hyderabad, along with several other MBA colleges in the country, have recognized the value of GRE scores. This recognition has made the GRE an even more versatile tool for pursuing higher education in India and beyond.


The GRE exam measures your verbal reasoning, quantitative reasoning, critical thinking, and analytical writing skills. It comprises the following sections: Analytical Writing, Verbal Reasoning, and Quantitative Reasoning.

The GRE has two sections in the Quant part. The first section comprises 12 questions, while the second section consists of 15 questions.

The Quant section of the GRE covers mathematical and statistical concepts taught in high school. It does not have advanced topics like trigonometry or calculus.

The GMAT Quant section is harder than the GRE Quant. GMAT tests problem-solving, especially with tricky data sufficiency questions. GRE's Quant section is somewhat easier, and you can use a calculator. GRE has more geometry, while GMAT has more logical reasoning.

You can take the GRE up to 5 times in one year, but you must wait at least 21 days between each attempt.

To prepare effectively for GRE Reading Comprehension (RC) questions, follow these essential steps:

  • Choose Reading Approach: Opt for skimming or reading questions first, but avoid extensive passage reading.
  • Focus on Essentials: Train to pinpoint key passage points.
  • Learn from Mistakes: Analyze wrong answers in practice tests.
  • Identify Key Elements: Recognize main idea, purpose, and tone in passages.
  • Practice with Official Tests: Use GRE practice tests to adapt to the exam format.

When comparing the difficulty levels of GRE and IELTS, the GRE test is widely acknowledged as significantly more challenging than IELTS due to its inclusion of more demanding vocabulary questions and reading passages.

No. The GMAT’s Verbal Reasoning section focuses on critical reasoning and reading comprehension, with an emphasis on argument analysis, reading texts, and comprehending passages. In contrast, the GRE's Verbal Reasoning section assesses skills like drawing conclusions, summarizing text, and understanding word and concept relationships, using question types such as Reading Comprehension, Text Completion, and Sentence Equivalence.

Scoring well on the GRE can be hard, especially if English is not your first language. To score high on the Verbal part, you need to know some tricky words. But these are not words you would use every day. The GRE might have more fancy English words compared to the GMAT, which is more about Math problems.

Yes, the GRE you take at home is just like the one you take at a test center. Universities only get your scores, and it cannot be differentiated whether the test was taken at home or at a center.

It depends on the college. Some colleges need GRE scores, and you cannot apply without them. Others might not need GRE scores, so you can apply without them. Just check with the college admission criteria.

The GRE is a standardized test many American universities ask for admission into a Master's program.

Mostly, the GRE is a computer test. But in some places where computers are no available, one might take it on paper.

Some top universities want to see your GRE scores, but it is not the only parameter they look at. Each university has its own rules.

The GRE is a test you often need to take to get into graduate school. However, not every program or school requires it.

Yes, you need a passport to take the GRE.

People take the GRE for graduate school, and the GMAT for business school. The tests help universities figure out if you are ready for their programs.

No. The GRE is for grad school, and the SAT is for undergrad school. The SAT has reading, writing, and math, while the GRE has reading, math, writing, and thinking questions.

Your choice between the GRE General Test and the Subject Test depends on your academic goals. If you are applying for a general graduate program, the GRE General Test is typically the appropriate choice. However, if you are seeking admission to a specialized program, particularly Mathematics, the GRE Subject Test might be more relevant.

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