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What is on the GRE? All about the GRE test structure

The GRE General Test is currently offered as a computer-based exam which is conducted in centers across the world except for China and some parts of the Far East where a paper-based exam is administered. After a change in the exam pattern in 2011, the exam has the following three main divisions.

Sections In GRE Exam

1. Analytical Writing

The Analytical Writing section of the GRE examination comprises two essay tasks: Issue Task and Argument Task. The Issue task requires the candidate to select one out of the two given topics and present their views or their position on the topic and support it with examples. The Argument task presents a statement of position which requires the candidate to analyze the logic of the given position and suggest how and where the reasoning may be faulty or require improvement. For each of these tasks, the candidate is given 30 minutes.

The Analytical Writing section helps to assess the candidate’s following abilities:

  1. Articulating complex ideas clearly and effectively
  2. Examining claims and accompanying evidence with examples
  3. Sustaining a well-focused, coherent discussion
  4. Using a wide variety of vocabulary and maintaining standard grammatically correct English

The Analytical Writing section is scored on a scale of 0-6, first by a human reader and then by a computer reader called the e-rater. If the score given by the human reader and the e-rater score is widely different, then the score is sent to a second reader. In such a case, the final score is calculated as an average of both the human scores (to the nearest half mark). In case there is no disparity between the human and the e-rater, then that score is taken.

2. Verbal Reasoning

The Verbal Reasoning section of the GRE exam, inter alia, is a test of the candidate’s vocabulary. The Verbal Reasoning section has three types of questions:

  1. Sentence equivalence (6 questions)
  2. Text completion (4 questions)
  3. Reading comprehension (10 questions)

For the above 20 questions asked in the Verbal Reasoning section of the GRE examination, the candidate is given 30 minutes. This section helps to measure the candidate’s ability to analyse and draw a conclusion from the discourse, reason from incomplete data, identify the author’s assumptions and/or perspective and understand the multiple levels of meaning such as literal and figurative and the author’s intent.

3. Quantitative Reasoning

The Quantitative Reasoning section of the GRE examination tests the candidate on the basic high school mathematics and reasoning skills and their application to real-life scenarios. The Quantitative Reasoning section has three types of questions:

  1. Quantitative Comparison (8-9 questions)
  2. Problem-solving (8-9 questions)
  3. Data interpretation (3-4 questions)

A candidate is given 35 minutes to solve the 20 questions asked in this section of the GRE examination. With this section, the candidates’ ability to understand, interpret and analyse quantitative information is measured along with how they apply the basic and elementary concepts of geometry, arithmetic, and algebra to solve problems.

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