A girl graduating and holding her degree

All about GRE | Exam pattern, GRE sample test, & more!

Thousands of universities around the world accept the GRE as a standard measure for admission into graduate and MBA programs. The test measures your math, verbal, and time management skills, and is an important part of your graduate application process. Read this blog to know more about the GRE exam pattern, syllabus, scoring, and take a GRE sample test.

The GRE (Graduate Record Examination) is a multiple-choice, standardized test conducted by ETS. Universities use the GRE scores of applicants to gauge their preparedness for graduate programs. Although these scores only form one part of your application profile, you should consider taking the exam seriously. This is because colleges use GRE scores as a benchmark to filter through their list of applicants. Think there’s a lot more you don’t know yet? This blog covers everything you need to know – from registration and test experience to exam tips and taking the GRE sample test. Read on!

What is GRE?

It’s common for students to scratch their heads and wonder what GRE is. For starters, it’s a broad-based assessment of a student’s aptitude. The exam measures a student’s skills in essay evaluation, critical thinking, analytical writing, and problem-solving. More importantly, the test assesses how you manage time and the way you work under stress. This is why it’s globally accepted as a good measure of a student’s aptitude and readiness for a graduate-level program. Consequently, more than half a million students take the test every year before applying.

What is the GRE exam pattern?

The GRE exam, also known as the General Test, lasts for the average duration of 3 hours 40 minutes. It is divided into 3 main sections: Analytical Writing, Verbal Section, and Quantitative Reasoning.  Apart from these, there is also one Unscored and Research section, which ETS does not count in the actual GRE score. This section is variable in nature, ie, it can either be quantitative or verbal.
Here’s a breakdown of the entire GRE exam pattern 2020:

GRE exam pattern 2020

How do I register for GRE?

The registration process for GRE is pretty straightforward. First, create an account on the ETS website. To register online, go to “My GRE Home” page, select “Register”, and then “Find Test Centers.” Note that ETS administers the GRE at Prometric test centers. Pay the registration fee for the exam, which is $205, and there you are! You’ll receive a confirmation email from ETS regarding your test date and time.
At a later stage, if you want to change the test center, or reschedule your test, it can cost you an extra $50. ETS offers fee reductions to students who prove their financial hardship.
For cancellation, ETS asks that you cancel your exam at least 4 days in advance so you can get a partial refund.

How is the GRE test conducted?

ETS administers the GRE in 2 ways. There is a Paper-delivered test with a total test of 3 hours and 30 minutes and a Computer-delivered test with a total time of 3 hours and 45 minutes. Paper-delivered tests are rare and are conducted only thrice a year. But you can register for the computer-delivered tests at any time of the year. The computer-delivered test is section-adaptive. This means that the computer selects the next section of your exam based on your performance in the previous section.

GRE Exam dates 2020

As is the case with other entrance exams (like the IELTS), there are no fixed GRE exam dates. You can decide to apply for the GRE test at any time of the year. All you have to do is to choose which mode of examination you want to attempt and choose the test centers for the Computer-delivered test or Paper-delivered test.

It is important to promptly book an appointment at the GRE test center of your choice. There is a possibility that you might not get the date or center you want due to a lack of free slots. In this case, you might have to travel farther to give the exam. So make sure you take a look at the GRE test centers in advance and book your GRE test dates according to the seat availability.

How is the GRE exam scored?

As we mentioned earlier, the exam comprises of three main sections: Analytical Writing, Verbal Section, and Quantitative Reasoning. The Quantitative and Verbal sections are graded on a scale of 130-170 each, whereas analytical writing scores range between 0-6. Some colleges require additional test sections to be taken with the GRE test, but they’re not graded in the final score of the test. So, your GRE test score will be out of 340 marks, and it’ll stay valid for 5 years.

GRE exam syllabus

Each section of the GRE will challenge your reasoning and problem-solving skills differently. Let’s look at them one by one.

Analytical Writing

This section examines your ability to interpret and express your thoughts on complex issues and arguments.
The first task is “Analyze an Issue”, where you will be given an opinion on a topic of general interest. Once you’ve understood the pros and cons of the opinion, things become easy. All you have to do is support your argument well.
The second task is to “Analyze an Argument”. Here, you’ll have to look at the two sides of an argument. Then, you’ll have to a side and strengthen your argument accordingly.

Verbal Section

In these sections, you are asked to understand the written-content and answer queries accordingly.
You’ll encounter 10 Reading Comprehension questions which will assess your ability to read and understand a passage.
There will be 6 Text Completion and 4 Sentence Equivalent questions. These questions test your vocabulary and your ability to understand the context of a sentence. 

Quantitative Reasoning

This section analyzes your problem-solving skills and basic mathematical concepts such as Algebra, Geometry, Data analysis, etc.
In this section, you’ll encounter 7-8 Quantitative Comparison questions, which will test your problem-solving speed.
The second kind of questions you’ll encounter are Problem Solving questions. Here, you have to correctly understand the context and gather the needed data. It assesses your ability to think laterally.

How much should your GRE Score be?

The importance of your GRE score varies depending on the institution and degree program. Some programs may consider your test score to be a critical determinant for your admission while others may only consider it a formality. But most institutions have their own formula for incorporating your GRE test scores in their selection process.

The average GRE scores are:

Verbal and Quantitative sections – 150-155 (Range 130-170)  

Analytical section – 3.5 (Range 0-6) 

GRE sample test papers

Attempting a mock test is the best way to see where you stand with your GRE scores. This will give you a clear idea of what sections and question types you need to improve on.
It’s difficult to find a GRE sample test online, but you can always take a look at the one we’ve included below.

GRE is certainly one of the important steps for your graduate studies. We hope this article has helped you in clearing all the doubts about the GRE test. We can’t help you shortlist universities based on your GRE score. Check out our other blogs on the most preferred universities by Indian studentsmyths students have about studying abroadNew York University, and many more. Connect with us over a call or drop a mail to know more.

iSchoolConnect: The doorway to education abroad

iSchoolConnect logo.


Many students have problems identifying their strengths and finding a program that suits their aptitude, interest, and skills. iSchoolConnect is a study abroad consultant that helps international students find an educational program that is tailored to their ability and preferences.

Our company uses cutting edge AI technology and human expertise to present the best application packages for their students. iSchoolConnect also provides personalized university and program recommendations based on the student’s profile. Reach out to us for any queries.


Akanksha Vora

Bright, bold, and bubbly, Akanksha Vora is a writer at iSchoolConnect. She writes creative and curious blogs that help students with their life and studies abroad.

You May Also Like

Girl telling us how to calculate GPA

The 4.0 GPA for universities abroad | How to calculate GPA?

GMAT Online test at Home

Student experiences: GMAT Online Test at Home Experience

IELTS Online test at Home

Student Experiences | IELTS Online Indicator Test Experience

TOEFL Online test at Home

Student Experiences | TOEFL Online Test at Home Experience

1 thought on “All about GRE | Exam pattern, GRE sample test, & more!”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *