About the GRE Test

By Peterson's Staff updated on Thursday, March 14, 2013

Overview of the GRE test

The GRE test (Graduate Record Examination) is a standardized entrance exam used by many graduate schools. Your results indicate how likely you are to succeed in graduate-level studies. The GRE exam is generally administered by computer, but you have the option of taking the test on paper if you live in an area where computer administration is unavailable.

The GRE Analytical Writing section tests your ability to think critically and write analytically. It does not test specific content knowledge from any particular subject.

The GRE Verbal section tests your ability to comprehend and analyze reading passages on a variety of subjects in the humanities, natural sciences, and social sciences. You will also be tasked with showing how well you understand the relationships between words and concepts.

The GRE Quantitative section tests your basic mathematical skills and your ability to solve problems. Material covers arithmetic, geometry, algebra, and data analysis.

Important Note: The GRE Test changed on August 1st, 2011. To read more about those changes, visit the revised test information page.


Test dates for the GRE test

The GRE test is given year-round at computer-based test centers in the U.S., Canada, and other countries. In areas where the computer-based GRE examination is unavailable, you can take the paper-based exam.

Test locations for the GRE test

Times and locations vary. For more information, visit www.gre.org.

GRE test structure


Analytical Writing
Question Type Number of Questions
Issue Task 1
Argument Task 1
Time Allotted: Issue 45 minutes, Argument 30 minutes. Total: 75 minutes.
Question Type Number of Questions
Reading comprehension, sentence analysis 30
Time Allotted: 30 minutes
Question Type Number of Questions
Quantitative reasoning, problem solving 28
Time Allotted: 45 minutes


Scoring of the GRE exam

Each of the two essays in the Analytical Writing section is scored on a scale of 1 to 6. The two scores are then averaged together. The Verbal and Quantitative sections are scored on a scale of 200-800. You'll be able to achieve much higher scores through GRE preparation, learning tips and strategies to excel on the test. In addition, it's a good idea to take GRE practice tests.

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