|GRE Sections||Question Count||Time|
|Analyze an Issue Essay||1||30 minutes|
|Analyze an Argument Essay||1||30 minutes|
|Verbal Reasoning (x2 sections)||20||30 minutes|
|Quantitative Reasoning (x2 sections)||20||35 minutes|
|Unscored Section||20||30-35 minutes|
Intro to the GRE Sections
Here’s what to expect when you sit down at the testing center’s computer to take the GRE.
Analyze an Issue Essay
This section asks you to write a response to a broad, philosophical question. We think of essays as low priority GRE sections.
Analyze an Argument Essay
This section asks you to write a critique of the quality of the reasoning in a short passage. Again, we want to be aware that the Verbal and Quantitative GRE sections are a higher priority for many programs than are the essays.
2 sections, 30 minutes each
This section tests reading, vocabulary, and critical thinking skills with the following question types:
- Sentence Completion
Fill in the blank vocabulary questions have one, two, or three spaces.
- Sentence Equivalence
These vocabulary questions test synonyms.
- Reading Comprehension Passages
Most questions are multiple choice. Others are answered by highlighting a specific sentence on the screen.
- Logical Reasoning Passages
Multiple choice questions have 1 or more correct answers.
2 sections, 35 minutes each
This section tests your math and data interpretation skills with the following question types:
- Quantitative Comparisons
- Multiple Choice Questions that may have 1 correct answer or several.
- Problem Solving: Non-Multiple Choice questions answered by typing in your own answer.
This extra, unscored section may be either a Verbal or Quantitative Reasoning GRE section. It may appear at any time after the essays and will not be identified as an unscored section.
This is an extra, unscored section that the test writers administer to gather demographic data on testers. Not all testers get a research section. If you do, it will always appear at the end. Total testing time: about 4 hours.
If taking a test on the computer is new for you, don’t worry: you’re in the same boat as most other testers. The good news is that with a little practice, computer-based testing isn’t necessarily any more difficult than testing with paper and pencil. It’s just different. It’s important to understand that the GRE is section-adaptive. That means that the difficulty level of future sections is adjusted according to your performance on earlier ones. For example, if you do very well on your first math section, the second math section will be harder (and thus earn you the opportunity for a higher score). The difficulty does not adjust from one question to the next within a section. You’re free to move around the section as much as you like and to answer questions in whatever order you see fit. Early in the process of your test prep, it is helpful to take one of the two official ETS practice tests.
Computer Layout for GRE Sections
Essays (Analytic Writing)
Here, the screen will be divided into two parts. You’ll see the prompt on the left side and a word processing window on the right where you’ll type your response. The word processing software is adequate but limited: you’ll be able to cut, copy, and paste, but there’s no spell check.
For the multiple choice questions, you’ll simply click your answer choice(s); for others, you’ll type in your answer. There is a very simple on-screen calculator that can add, subtract, multiply, divide, and take a square root. There is no exponent button, much less any advanced capabilities like graphing.
These questions are answered by clicking on answer choices or, occasionally, clicking a specific sentence in a passage. The software does not provide a way for you to underline or highlight a passage as you read it, but you’ll be able to use scrap paper for all sections, so you can take notes as you read.
Scoring for GRE Sections
Verbal Section and Quantitative Section Scoring
Your scores on the multiple-choice sections are converted into two “scaled scores,” one for verbal and one for quantitative. The scale is 130 to 170 for each. Keep in mind that the percentiles are of those fairly competitive students contemplating graduate school.
|GRE Scaled Score||Verbal Reasoning Percentile||Quantitative Reasoning Percentile|
In case you’re curious, here are the percentages for the GRE Essays (Analytic Writing)