Complete GRE Exam Guide with Pattern & Tips to Score 320+ In 2021

If you are taking the GRE Exam either GRE General or GRE Subject in 2020, read about the complete latest pattern, syllabus, prep tips of ETS GRE exam to score 320+ in this blog by GT Prep expert educators. GRE Exam is taken by millions of students across the world as a part of their admission requirements for university education. The full form of GRE is Graduate Record Exam & it has long been recognized as the most popular and comprehensive assessment tests for graduate students in many countries across the world. The GRE Exam scores are accepted by an ever growing band of universities and colleges across the United States and many other countries. As such taking the GRE Exam should not be a subject that should be treated lightly. In fact the greatest weightage in your admission’s package would be accorded to your GRE score and therefore it is important to know all the features and aspects of the test, before you sign up for the test

What Is GRE?

The GRE is an acronym for Graduate Record Examination. It is a standardized test that is designed to assess a student’s cognitive and analytical ability in verbal and quantitative sections such as interpretation & data breakdown.

Complete GRE Exam Guide with tips and pattern analysis

GRE Exam Eligibility

The minimum educational qualification for GRE is basically an undergraduate degree from any of the recognized Universities; however there is no prescribed age limit for candidates to appear for GRE. Students who intend to pursue a post-graduate course in any university in USA, or other countries where GRE is accepted should consider taking the GRE Exam.

When to take the GRE Exam?

It is best to plan to give the GRE Exam, while you are in the last year of your undergraduate program and at least three-four weeks before application deadline in order to apply for admissions. Thus, your preparation for the Exam should ideally start much earlier, that is in the summer vacation at the end of your last but one year.

Is GRE Test Still Relevant Today?

The burning question is whether the GRE Exam is losing its relevance in today’s date? The GRE Exam has a lot of relevance even today as every year more and more number of courses is being added to the list of courses that accept the GRE Exam results as a part of their admission requirements. A few universities like Princeton and Brown have announced their intention to make the GRE optional for different departments.

GRE General Exam Syllabus

The GRE Exam Syllabus has 3 sections – Analytical Writing, Verbal Reasoning and Quantitative Reasoning. GRE Exam is designed to assess students on various aspects & is developed by expert academicians at ETS to test your skills that you need to succeed in college/university.

You can find detailed information about the syllabus and scope of each section below

1. Analytical Writing

The analytical writing section is designed to test the ability of the test taker to understand, analyze and articulate complex statements clearly and with maximum effectiveness. As a part of this section you could be asked to,

  • Provide statements that support a particular idea or line of thought
  • Present reasoning and analysis with examples to corroborate a given statement
  • Provide well-focused and clear evidence for given ideas.

2. Verbal Reasoning

The verbal reasoning section is designed to test the student’s proficiency in verbal reasoning it aims to test the student in the following aspects.

  • Ability to analyze, interpret and conclude the outcome from incomplete data and present it in a clear manner
  • Apptitude to understand and identify the perspective and assumptions of the author
  • Ability to select from a passage the main points and distinguish them from the minor points
  • Skills to understand the structure of a passage and summarize the text without changing the meaning
  • Ability to read and interpret passages of varying lengths and answer questions based on them.

The following topics are generally covered under the verbal section of the GRE general test

  1. Verbs and verb tense
  2. Subject-verb agreement
  3. Parts of a sentence – Nouns, adjectives, pronouns
  4. Idioms

5. Pronoun agreement
6. Sentence modifiers
7. Parallel reasoning
8. Clauses and phrases

3. Quantitative Reasoning

This section has been designed with a view to assess the ability of the student to interpret and analyze the given quantitative information, and solve problems using the given data. Students are expected to make use of mathematical models, and apply basic mathematical skills in order to solve the problems. The level of mathematical knowledge that is required is elementary concepts related to geometry, arithmetic, algebra, probability, and statistics. The following topics are covered in quantitative reasoning.

  1. Ratio and proportion
  2. Profit and loss
  3. Simple and compound interest
  4. Speed, distance and time
  5. Permutation & combination
  6. Linear equations and Quadratic equations
  7. Sets Theory
  8. Statistics
  9. Properties of numbers

10. Roots and powers
11. Probability
12. Pipes, work, time, cisterns,
13. Euclidean Geometry – Lines, angles, triangles and polygons
14. Co-ordinate geometry
15. Operational order
16. Surface area and volume
17. Percentage

Syllabus for GRE subject test

The syllabus for the GRE subject test will vary according to the subject. Generally the GRE subject Test is provided for the following subjects

1. Biology

  • Molecular biology and cellular biology
  • Organic biology
  • Evolution and ecology

2. Chemistry

  • Organic and Inorganic chemistry
  • Physical chemistry
  • Analytical chemistry

3. English literature

  • Literary analysis
  • Critique of literature
  • History of literature
  • Cultural and historical aspects of literature
  • identification

4. Mathematics

  • Calculus
  • Algebra
  • Other topics

5. Physics

  • Classical Mechanics
  • Electromagnetism
  • Optics and Wave Phenomena
  • Quantum Mechanics
  • Atomic Physics
  • Thermodynamics and Statistical Mechanics
  • Special Relativity
  • Laboratory Methods
  • Specialized Topics

6. Psychology

  • Biological psychology
  • Cognitive psychology
  • Developmental psychology
  • Social psychology
  • Clinical psychology
  • Measurement and methodology

Types of Questions in GRE Verbal Reasoning (VR) Section

In this section you will be tested on your ability to read, interpret and present words, sentences and paragraphs. You can expect three different types of questions in VR section of GRE.

Sentence Equivalence – In these types of questions you will be required to complete the given sentences. You will be given a choice of  various words, out of which you will have to pick two to fill the blanks and make the sentence the most perfect it can be. It is important to make sure that both the words should complete the sentence in the same way. You will require to improve your skills in reading and interpreting sentences in order to perform well in this section.

Text Completion – This section expects students to complete a given paragraph with the most appropriate words that bring out the meaning of the passage perfectly. You will need to have a good understanding of the flow of words in order to fill in the gaps appropriately and in the correct order.

Reading Comprehension – This section demands you to read and interpret passages that have been selected from a variety of topics and genres. Each passage is designed to test the student’s proficiency in reading and understanding passages on various subjects and varying lengths. You will need to understand what is being asked and be able to extract the answers correctly from the passage. Very often the answers could be interpretative and not straightforward. Therefore you should have enough practice to be able to interpret the answer from the given sentences.

Types of Questions in GRE Quantitative Reasoning (Quant) Section

The GRE quantitative reasoning section expects students to solve various types of problems in which their quantitative skills are showcased to the GRE Exam accepting Universities. The GRE quant questions are generally in the multiple choice format and assess the candidate’s ability to interpret and analyze the given data, make comparisons and solve the problem. You will also be tested on your ability to calculate the correct answer and provide it in the appropriate place. You will be able to access a calculator on the screen if you take the test online or a hand held calculator if you choose to take the paper and pencil version of the test.

Types of Questions in GRE Analytical Writing (AW) Section

The GRE analytical writing section tests a candidates critical thinking and analytical writing skills, & generally includes the following two tasks

Issue task – The Issue task will provide the test taker with two topics of general interest out of which he will have to select a single topic and present his point of view after considering all aspects and facets of the given topic. He will be expected to support his point of view with logic and analysis and provide examples to back up his view point

Argument task – The argument task expects the student to analyze the logic and reasoning behind a given statement and provide suggestions on how it can be strengthened or improved further.

Students will be provided with 30 minutes for completing each task of the analytical writing section.

GRE Exam Pattern

The GRE Exam has total of 100 questions including 2 tasks in Analytical Writing. The question break up for each section is GRE Verbal section has 40 questions divided into 2 tasks of 20 questions each spanning 60 minutes. Similarly the GRE Quant section has 40 questions, also divided into 2 subsections each containing 20 questions, but the time allotted for Quant section is 70 minutes. The experimental GRE section is an un-scored section in GRE exam. It will look just like either a Verbal or a Quant section, and it could occur anywhere after first GRE Analytical Writing (AW) section. The section consists of 20 questions and time allotted is 35 minutes.

GRE Sections Number of Questions Duration
Analytical Writing (AW) 1 section – two tasks 30 mins. for each task 60 minutes
Verbal Reasoning (VR) 2 section – 40 questions 60 minutes
Quantitative Reasoning (Quant) 2 section –  40 questions 70 minutes
Un-scored or Research Section 1 section – 20 questions 35 minutes
TOTAL Duration 6 sections – 100 questions &  2 tasks 3 hrs 45mins

How to Prepare for GRE Exam?

The GRE Exam is a rigorous assessment that will test not only your skills but also your mental stamina with its length. You should therefore be well prepared for the GRE Exam both mentally & physically. We advise that you spend at least six months in training for the test and allocate equal time for each section of the test. Make sure you keep yourself at the peak of your mental & physical strength in order to perform best in the GRE test. Take a healthy diet and get adequate sleep. Remember that this test could be the catalyst for the rest of your career if you obtain good GRE total marks.

Tips to score 320 in GRE Exam

Preparation Tips for GRE verbal section

  • Form a habit to read articles on various topics that belong to different genres irrespective of whether they seem interesting or not. It is important to train your mind to read, interpret and absorb dull and boring material in order to succeed in the GRE verbal.
  • Practice reading passages from GRE Mock Test to quickly understand the gist or key highlights as you read. This will help you avoid the common problem of having to keep coming back for the answers that many students face.
  • Use special study strategies like taking GRE Sample Paper Test and use techniques such as note taking, imaging & mind mapping in order to analyze and memorize the key points of the passage. This will help you to maintain your focus and answer the questions quickly.
  • Be careful, to not get confused between the different points of view that are presented in the given passage of GRE Exam
  • Learn a few new words every day from GRE Books online and try to use them in your conversation.
  • Watch out for hints or any supporting statement that provides additional weightage for the statement that you selected as your answer. This can indicate that your answer is the correct one, if not, it’s best to recheck your answer.

Preparation Tips for GRE Quant section

  • Practice your mental math strategies in order to save time on making calculations.
  • Read each word problem thoroughly before attempting the question, or else you may find yourself losing precious time going back and forth.
  • Collect all the numerical data that has been provided in the passage and find out what needs to be calculated or the missing factor.
  • Take GRE Practice test to know at a glance, the formula that needs to be applied for each type of problem.
  • Go through each map and chart that has been provided with care to make sure you do not miss any data that is crucial & needs to be answered.  You should also be careful to note what is represented on each of the axes and interpret the data correctly. Take a good look at the title of the chart and see what type of chart it is, whether it is a pie chart or a bar diagram. This will help you in interpreting the data easily.
  • GRE Prep requires practice of different types in order to get familiar with the different categories of questions that can be asked in the actual examination
  • Take down notes of each problem so that it becomes easier for you to solve the problem. Though taking the additional step of noting points could seem cumbersome, it will actually help you save time as it will help you solve the problem much faster.

Follow the above tips to achieve a score of 320 plus in GRE Test and thus getting a good score in both verbal and Quantitative sections of GRE gets you one step closer to admission in the University of your Choice.

GRE Scores

 The GRE scores are provided separately for each section and are totaled up to indicate the overall score.

Verbal section – you can score between 130 to 150 points

Quantitative section – you can obtain scores between 130 to 170 points

Analytical writing section – you can score between 0-6 points

GRE Overall score – you can expect to score between 260 to 340 points.

Points to consider before taking GRE Exam

  • Take the GRE test if you belong to the following categories
    • If you are planning to apply for a graduate program in a college.
    • You are planning to apply for an MBA program, where GRE test scores are accepted.
  • The GRE Exam requires at least three to six months of rigorous and steady preparation hence, do not time the test, at a season in your life when you are very busy
  • You need to be at least 18 years old to take the test
  • You should be in the final year of your undergraduate course in order to qualify for taking the GRE Exam.

GRE Registration Tips

  • You can register for the GRE Exam in any of the following ways
    • By phone – Make a call to the regional registered center at least two business days before the date of your test. You can find out the details of your regional center from the official GRE website
    • By mail – you can write a mail to Educational testing service indicating your preferred test dates and enclosing a cheque or demand draft with the test fees.
    • By fax
  • The GRE Exam dates are availableall the time in the year
  • You can take the GRE for a maximum of five times per year and with a minimum gap of  21 days between tests
  • Make sure to go through the GRE Exam details & check whether the format you prefer to take the test in available at the test center that you are selecting
  • Make sure that the information you provide at the time of registration, matches with the information in your passport. The passport is the only acceptable proof of identity for the GRE Exam in India.
  • There are more than 22 exam centers for taking the GRE Exam in India thus, choose the centre convenient to you. Infact, most of the centers offer the option of computer based test, while a few offer paper based test
  • The scores of the GRE Exam are valid for 5 years from the date of taking the test
  • You will be provided individual scores for each section of the test
  • The cost for taking GRE is approximately 205 USD