Is GRE Difficult? Find Out How Hard it is to Pass

Meridean Overseas
Meridean Overseas

Updated On 11 December 2023 & Read Time 9 minutes



The question of whether the GRE is hard or how hard is the GRE  looms large for aspiring graduate students. As a standardised test with a reputation for shaping admissions decisions, understanding its level of difficulty is crucial for students planning to enrol in top-notch universities abroad.


Many students who are aspiring to study business-related courses abroad plan to think of appearing for the GRE (Graduate Record Examination). But the question, Is GRE hard? Puts them in confusion about whether to appear for it or not. Therefore, in this blog, we will explore and discuss the numerous factors that contribute to the perceived difficulty of the GRE. So, let's unravel the complexities of the GRE to equip you for success.


How Hard is the GRE Overall?

The Graduate Record Examination (GRE) is a standardised test widely used for graduate school admissions in the United States and other countries like the UK, Canada, and Australia. Its difficulty level is subjective and varies from individual to individual based on their academic background, preparation, and test-taking skills.


For many test-takers, the GRE is perceived as a challenging examination due to the broad range of content and the analytical skills it assesses. The GRE consists of three main sections: Verbal Reasoning, Quantitative Reasoning, and Analytical Writing. Each section measures different aspects of a candidate's academic abilities. Therefore, some students may find a particular section of the graduate record examination difficult and not the whole exam.


However, the GRE exam is commonly considered less difficult or tough than other graduate examinations, such as the MCAT, LSAT, or GMAT, because it needs less specialised knowledge, has an easier curve, and generally features less challenging arithmetic questions.


You may also read: GRE Preparation Tips for 2024


Factors that Make the GRE Hard

Now you must be wondering what makes the GRE difficult. So, let’s explore some of the factors that make the GRE difficult for students.


Broad Content Range

The GRE covers a wide spectrum of topics, from advanced vocabulary in Verbal Reasoning to complex mathematical concepts in Quantitative Reasoning. This breadth can be challenging for students who may not be equally proficient in all areas. Furthermore, there are no specific course guidelines. Students had to cover a large number of topics for all three sections as a contingency.


Proficiency in English and Wide Vocabulary Skills

The Verbal Reasoning section evaluates a test-taker's ability to analyse and evaluate written material, synthesise information, and comprehend the underlying meanings of words and sentences. Also, You will be prompted to choose words or groups of words to fill in the blanks in sentences throughout this section. This can be challenging for those who are not accustomed to complex textual analysis or have a weaker vocabulary.


Mathematical Calculations

The Quantitative Reasoning section assesses mathematical skills, including algebra, geometry, and data analysis. While the questions are designed to test fundamental math concepts, the time constraints can add to the difficulty. Students from the non-maths background in their 12th and undergraduate levels face huge difficulty in recollecting its concepts. Furthermore, time management is crucial, and test-takers often find themselves pressed for time in this section.


Strong Analytical Skills

The Analytical Writing section requires candidates to articulate complex ideas clearly and effectively. It involves analysing an issue and writing an argumentative essay. This section demands strong writing skills, critical thinking, and the ability to express ideas coherently within a limited timeframe.


Time Constraints

All sections of the GRE are timed, and the pressure to answer questions within the allocated time can be stressful. Effective time management is crucial, and some students may struggle with pacing themselves to complete each section.


Adaptive Nature of the Test

The computer-adaptive nature of the GRE adjusts question difficulty based on a test-taker's previous responses. This adaptability can be disconcerting for some students, as the test constantly challenges them to perform at their highest level. Moreover, some people may get confused since they aren't used to seeing questions and answers on a screen and want to be able to hold and write directly on the test sheet. This may necessitate a modification in your test-taking techniques, such as scribbling notes in the margins or crossing out answers you've eliminated.


Critical Thinking Requirement

The GRE places a strong emphasis on critical thinking skills, requiring test-takers to analyse information, draw connections, and make logical deductions. Therefore, students who haven't honed these skills may find it difficult to excel in both the Verbal and Quantitative sections.


Stress and Anxiety

The significance of the GRE in graduate school admissions can contribute to test anxiety. Also, the fear of underperforming or the high stakes associated with the exam can affect concentration and hinder optimal performance. Moreover, developing effective stress management strategies is crucial for success.


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Tips to Prepare Well for the GRE

The dream of studying business-related courses in top-notch abroad universities would remain incomplete without scoring well on the GRE exam. So, let’s know some tips to prepare well in the GRE test below.


  • Understand the GRE Format

Familiarise yourself with the structure of the GRE, including the sections, i.e., Verbal Reasoning, Quantitative Reasoning, and Analytical Writing, question types, and time constraints. This foundational knowledge will guide your preparation strategy.


  • Create a Study Plan

Develop a realistic and structured study plan that allocates time for each section. Focus on your weaker areas while ensuring a balanced approach to cover all aspects of the test.


  • Vocabulary Building

Enhance your vocabulary by learning and practising high-frequency GRE words. Flashcards, word lists, and incorporating new words into your daily usage can be effective strategies.


  • Math Practice 

Review fundamental math concepts tested in the Quantitative Reasoning section. Strengthen your problem-solving skills and practice interpreting and analysing quantitative data.


  • Improve Reading Comprehension

Develop effective reading strategies for the Verbal Reasoning section. Practice summarising passages, identifying main ideas, and making inferences to enhance your comprehension skills.


  • Practice Writing Essays

Hone your writing skills for the Analytical Writing section by practising essay prompts. Focus on constructing clear and well-organized arguments within the given time constraints.


  • Take Practice Tests

Regularly take full-length practice tests under timed conditions to simulate the actual test environment. Analyse your performance, identify weaknesses, and adjust your study plan accordingly.


  • Time Management

Practice time management during your study sessions and practice tests. Develop strategies for pacing yourself in each section to ensure you can complete all questions within the allocated time.


  • Seek Professional Guidance

Consider using prep courses or seeking guidance from tutors if you need additional support. They can provide targeted assistance based on your strengths and weaknesses. 


  • Manage Stress

It is quite important to incorporate stress-management techniques, such as mindfulness, meditation, or exercise, into your routine. A calm and focused mindset on test day can positively impact your performance.



In conclusion, preparation plays a significant role in determining the perceived difficulty of the GRE. Many test-takers find success through thorough study plans, utilising prep materials, and taking practice exams. Familiarity with the test format, question types, and time management strategies can significantly impact performance.


While some individuals may find specific sections more challenging than others based on their strengths and weaknesses, a balanced approach to preparation is essential. Understanding the format, practising regularly, and honing the required skills are key components of achieving success in the GRE. It's important for test-takers to approach the exam with confidence, knowing that diligent preparation can mitigate the perceived difficulty and contribute to a positive outcome.


We hope now you are clear about how hard is the GRE exam is. However, if you need more information regarding the GRE exam, GRE coaching and GRE preparation if you are still unsure, we recommend you to connect to our expert counsellors at any branch of Meridean Overseas Education Consultants (MOEC). You can also take free online counselling through our website. Our expert counsellors give you the best guidance and support in securing admissions to universities abroad and obtaining visas. For more details, you can contact us at our toll-free no. 1800-1230-00011 or mail us at



Q: How long do you need to study for the GRE?

A: It depends on your starting point and target score, but typically 4-12 weeks, focusing on efficient study and practice tests.


Q: Is 300 a hard score in GRE?

A: A 300 GRE score is achievable with dedicated preparation. While some find the math and verbal concepts manageable, it's a significant challenge for most test-takers. Hard work and effective strategies can make a big difference in reaching your target score.


Q: Is 299 a bad score for GRE?

A: A 299 GRE opens doors to many universities, but pushing yourself for a higher score can broaden your options and impress competitive programs. Remember, a strong application goes beyond just the GRE.


Q: How much GRE score is required for Harvard?

A: Over 50% of programs at Harvard tend to favour scores in the upper 80th percentile, which means aiming for around:

  • 162 in Quantitative Reasoning

  • 158 in Verbal Reasoning

  • 4.5 in Analytical Writing


Q: Which universities accept 290 GRE score?

A: Here is a list of universities accepting GRE scores of 280-290:

  • Alfred University

  • Missouri State University

  • Columbus State University

  • California State University - Fresno Campus

  • University of Houston, Clear Lake

  • University of South Alabama

  • Clark Atlanta University

  • University of St. Thomas

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