A Quick Overview of GRE Syllabus 2021


The Graduate Record Examination (GRE) is a test taken to qualify for pursuing graduation abroad. A student must at least score a 310 total to be able to get admission to good universities. This score can be attained only with a strong GRE preparation plan and a GRE online prep to assist in the process. Before even exploring the plan and GRE course, candidates must be well versed with the GRE Exam Syllabus and GRE test pattern. Let’s take a look at the current GRE Exam Syllabus 2021.

The GRE tests in two major patterns:

a) The GRE General Test – The components under this test format include Verbal Reasoning, Quantitative reasoning, and Analytical Writing Skills.

b) The GRE Subject test – This includes testing the students on specific fields to measure skills required for Specific Courses.


The GRE General Test Syllabus

The three areas of skill-testing for this test are:


1. GRE AWA (Analytical Writing Assessment) Syllabus


The GRE AWA is the very first section of the test. The student’s ability to analyse a prompt, communicate abstruse ideas effectively, arrange thoughts and expressions in an organised manner, provide supporting ideas for stances taken with apposite examples, read and understand arguments, distinguish between claims and evidence, examine the flaws in reasonings, and writing out persuasively adhering to and in command of the standards of the Written English Language.

All the above skills are measured via two essays:

  • Analysing an issue
  • Analysing an argument

The above two Writing tasks are each given 30 minutes to complete. The writing competence and communication skills of a test-taker are put to test through these tasks.


2. The GRE Verbal Reasoning Syllabus


The GRE Verbal Reasoning syllabus comprises questions that aim to test your reading and understanding of sentences and passages, meanings of words in sentences, getting to summarise the primary idea of passages, comprehending the relationships between ideas in sentences and passages, finding assumptions made by arguments, drawing inferences and conclusions, evaluating and identifying reasonings, and getting to know the structures of arguments or passages.

The Verbal Reasoning skills are tested by way of four question types-

a) Text Completion – tests your vocabulary and comprehension of sentences.

b) Sentence Equivalence – tests again on vocabulary and knowing the meaning of sentences to fill two words for the same blank.

c) Argument passages – tests your understanding of claims and evidences and finding assumptions to strengthen or weaken arguments or to draw conclusions or evaluate arguments.

d) Reading Comprehension passages – questions on main ideas, purposes of words, phrases, or paragraphs, and complex relationships in the passage.


3. The GRE Quantitative Reasoning Syllabus


Two sections of the Quantitative Reasoning in the GRE are focused on testing the test taker’s ability to analyse, understand, and interpret quantitative information, implement the mathematical concepts and fundamental basics, and apply essential formulae of algebra, arithmetic, geometry, statistics, and even probability.

The major question types by which the above skills are tested include-

  • Multiple Choice Question – Select one answer choice
  • Quantitative Comparison
  • Numeric entry
  • Multiple Choice Question – Select one or more answer choice(s) or select all that apply the question.

The major topics tested in this section are to do with

  • Algebra
  • Arithmetic
  • Geometry
  • Data Analysis

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The GRE Subject Test


The Subject Tests measure undergraduate achievement in six specific fields of study and are required sometimes for admission into a master’s degree program. The GRE subject test scores are used by admissions or fellowship panels to supplement undergraduate records, letters of recommendation and other qualifications for graduate study.

The scores provide common measures for comparing the qualifications of applicants and aid in the evaluation of grades and recommendations. The Biology and Psychology tests yield subscores that can indicate the strengths and weaknesses of an individual student’s preparation. The subscores can also be used for guidance and placement purposes. The test is a paper-pencil test.

The subjects offered for the GRE Subject test are

  • Biology
  • Chemistry
  • Literature in English
  • Mathematics
  • Physics
  • Psychology

Now that we have had a look at the overall GRE syllabus that the GRE General Test and GRE Subject test cover, understanding the Exam pattern will be of immense help, to begin with, the GRE prep.

The GRE General test lasts for 3 hrs. 45 minutes. It is a Sectional Adaptive test wherein the way you perform in one section defines the difficulty level of the next section. Your score is based on the number of questions you answer correctly and the average level of difficulty you have attained by the end of the test.

This test majorly comprises 3 sections:

1.The AWA is the first section and has two essay topics to write on for 30 minutes each. The Issue essay and the Argument Essay.

2. The Verbal Reasoning section -There will be 2 such sections on the GRE on which you will be scored. Each section has 20 questions to be answered in 30 minutes. The questions are distributed equally between the Vocabulary testing questions and passage-based questions. The score range is 130-170 and is scaled up based on the raw points on the 40 questions answered. Each question is worth just 1 point.

3. The Quantitative Reasoning section– Again, there will be 2 such sections on which you will be scored. Each section comprises 20 questions to be completed in 35 minutes. The questions test on Arithmetic, Algebra, Geometry, and Data Analysis. The score range is 130-170 and is scaled on the basis of raw points won on the 40 questions. Each question is worth only 1 point.

Although the above are the 3 sections on which you are scored, the GRE test includes one more section, either on Verbal Reasoning or Quantitative Reasoning. This section is part of the test-taking process, but it won’t be scored and hence is considered an experimental section.

To gain familiarity with the GRE test-taking experience and understand the questioning methods, it is good to start your preparation with a mock test. Next, depending on the target score you are aiming for, enrol in a GRE Online course and attend GRE classes. Apply the techniques and strategies taught to more and more practice tests. Review and analyse each test to improve on the subsequent practice tests.

Keep working on the GRE study materials and take the GRE test series. Have a study plan in place and adhere to it strictly to give your best in the actual test.


Frequently Asked Questions


Q1. What is tested on the GRE?

The GRE test is divided into 3 sections-Analytical Writing section, the Quantitative Reasoning section, and the Verbal Reasoning section. Questions asked are in multiple-choice format.

Q2. How difficult is the GRE test?

The test is neither too easy nor difficult. Since the sections are adaptive to one another, every student gets a unique test. The test is laid out to measure your reading, vocabulary, and time management skills. The better you perform, the greater your scores become.

Q3. How many times can I appear for the GRE test?

One can appear for the GRE General Test once every 21 days, up to five times within any rolling 12-month period.

Q4. What is a good GRE score?

There is no good score or bad score on the GRE. The score you get determines the university you want to pursue your masters in. Every university keeps a cut-off eligibility score. Once that is attained, you are a success.

Q5. How is GRE scored?

The Analytical Writing section is given an average grade of the two essays on a range of 0-6 in half-point increments. The Quantitative and Verbal Reasoning sections are given a score on a range of 130-170 with 1-point increments.


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