GRE Exam Pattern: Computer vs Paper Based Format

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Rahul Singha

MOEC

Updated on Feb 24, 2029 15:24

GRE, or the Graduate Record Examination, is administered by ETS every year. The exam is conducted for non-native English speakers. It helps them determine your English speaking skills. The GRE is introduced for students willing to study in countries like the USA, UK, Canada, Australia, etc, where the first language is English. If you plan to take the GRE test this year, you must know the GRE exam pattern to prepare well.

 

Before beginning to prepare for the exam, knowing the GRE paper pattern is vital. So, let us now discuss the GRE exam pattern to familiarise you with the GRE exam format.

 

GRE-EXAM-PATTERN

 

Table Of Content
  1. GRE Exam Pattern

  2. GRE Pattern: Computer vs Paper Based

  3. GRE Structure: Old vs GRE New Pattern

  4. At Home: GRE Exam Format

  5. GRE Exam Format: Subject Test

  6. FAQs

 

GRE Exam Pattern

The GREs are of two types: the GRE General test and the GRE Subject test. Moreover, the GRE General test is offered in two formats, namely, a computer-based and a paper-based test. However, the GRE subject test is only offered in paper form. So, if you plan to appear for the GRE test, you must know the GRE exam pattern.

 

Let's start with the GRE exam format first, which is divided into three main categories, and there are two sections in each category:

 

GRE Quantitative Reasoning

The GRE quantitative reasoning examines your mathematical aptitude and problem-solving skills and also evaluates your interpretation skills. You will have approximately 1.5 to 2 minutes to solve a question. Moreover, it covers the topics like

  • Basic Arithmetic

  • Geometry

  • Data-analysis

  • Algebra

 

The questions are not distributed in equal parts, and you will be given 47 minutes to complete 27 questions in 2 sections.

 

GRE Verbal Reasoning

The verbal reasoning section is the most competitive one. It tests your English skills, vocabulary and reading comprehension. It analyses the sentence construction and relationship between words and concepts. It is broken down into three parts:

  • Sentence Equivalence

  • Reading Comprehension

  • Text Completion

 

The verbal section begins with text completion and finishes with reading comprehension. You have 41 minutes to finish 27 questions in 2 sections.

 

GRE Analytical Writing Assessment

The GRE analytical writing assessment is an essay-based section where you must write a logical essay, not a creative one. It is the first section of the GRE exam pattern. It examines your written and verbal communication skills.

 

There are 2 more sections which are variable and are not scored.

 

Research and Unscored Sections: It is an experimental section where you should attempt all the questions, but you will not be scored for that section. This section is optional, but because you have no idea whether a section is experimental or not, you cannot skip any of them.

 

GRE Pattern: Computer vs Paper Based

There is little difference between computer-based and paper-based tests. Take a look below to learn the difference between the two.

 

GRE-Computer Based Exam

Sections 

Duration 

No. of Sections 

No. of Questions 

Verbal Reasoning 

30 minutes 

2

20

Analytical Writing 

60 minutes 

1

2

Quantitative Reasoning 

35 minutes 

2

20

Research 

Variable 

1

Variable 

Unscored 

Variable 

1

Variable 

Total 

3 hours 45 minutes 

7

82 

GRE-Paper Based Exam

Sections

Duration

No. of Sections

No. of Questions

Verbal Reasoning 

35 minutes 

2

25

Analytical Writing 

40 minutes 

2

2

Quantitative Reasoning 

30 minutes 

2

25

Total 

3 hours 30 minutes 

6

102 

Now you are familiar with the basic GRE exam pattern of both paper and computer-based exams, here is an overview of how both are different from each other.

  • Section-Adaptive in Nature: The first and significant difference is that, in a computer-based test, your performance in the first section determines the difficulty of the second section.

  • Flexibility: Both GRE tests offer the flexibility of choosing the questions you want to answer first and answering the skipped questions later.

  • Type of Questions: The difference is that the paper-based questions do not have a reading section.

 

GRE Structure: Old vs GRE New Pattern

Almost every university accepts the GRE for graduates and professional courses. The duration of the exam was 3 hours and 45 minutes. However, it’s been shortened to 1 hour and 58 minutes. The GRE exam pattern came into effect on September 22, 2023. Given below is the GRE structure of both patterns

Sections

GRE Exam Pattern (Old Pattern)

GRE Exam Pattern (New Pattern)

GRE Analytical Writing

1 section, 2 essay tasks

60 minutes

1 section, 1 essay task

30 minutes

GRE Quantitative Reasoning

2 sections, 40 questions total 70 minutes

2 sections, 27 questions total 47 minutes

GRE Verbal Reasoning

2 sections, 40 questions total 60 minutes

2 sections, 27 questions total 41 minutes

Unscored Section

Varies

n/a

Research

Varies

n/a

Total GRE Duration

3 hours 45 minutes

1 hour 58 minutes

However, some basic rules of the GRE exam pattern are not going to change, like

  • The question type will be the same and will measure the same skills.

  • The exam syllabus remains unchanged, and the test is still section-adaptive. Further, the fee is also the same. 

  • The validity and acceptability of the GRE test did not change. 

  • Despite the reduced number of questions, you still have approximately the same time to answer each question.

 

At Home: GRE Exam Format

GRE at home was introduced in the pandemic era to enable students to take the exam from the comfort of their homes. The GRE exam format for this is the same as the GRE general test format. It is becoming a popular format, so you need to be aware of the information shared below:

 

Things Required to Take the GRE at Home

Now that you are planning to take the GRE at home, some home requirements should be fulfilled. Failing to arrange them will become a hurdle while writing the exam. There are two GRE home rules which students must be aware of:

 

Equipment Requirements

 

Computer

  • Must have a desktop or laptop

  • Mobile or tablet is not allowed

  • Use only Chrome or Firefox browser

  • More than one screen cannot be used

 

Speaker

  • No earphones, headphones or AirPods are allowed

  • You are only allowed to use the device’s speakers to listen to the proctor.

 

Microphone

  • You can only use your device's internal or external system to communicate.

 

Camera

  • Built-in or webcams are allowed

  • A complete view of your room must be visible, i.e., table, room, etc.

 

Environmental and Testing Requirements

 

Privacy

  • All the doors must be closed

  • No one can enter your room during the test

 

Clothing and Appearance

  • Ears must be visible

  • Dress well because they click a picture of you, and it is shared with the educational institutes.

  • Jewellery, face masks, etc., must be avoided.

 

Note- Paper and pen are not allowed. However, you can use the whiteboard and erasable marker.

 

Read, More: Top 10 Tips To Improve Your GRE Score

 

GRE Exam Format: Subject Test

The students willing to study a specific subject abroad will likely take the GRE Subject test. Rather than testing the overall ability, the subject test will help analyse your capabilities against the subject you wish to study.

 

The GRE subject exam is a paper-based exam divided into four broad categories.

  • GRE Chemistry 

  • GRE Mathematics

  • GRE Physics 

  • GRE Psychology

 

The table given below discusses the GRE exam pattern and syllabus of a specific subject. Let us delve into the details:

Discipline 

No. of Questions 

Top Content Picks 

Mathematics 

86

Algebra Calculus, Number Theory, Probability and Statistics, Discrete Mathematics, Real Analysis 

Chemistry 

130

Physical Chemistry, Organic Chemistry, Inorganic Chemistry 

Physics 

100

Classical and Quantum Mechanics, Electromagnetism Thermodynamics and Statistical Mechanics, Special Relativity, Atomic Physics 

GRE Psychology 

205

Biological Cognitive, Social Clinical Developmental Methodologies

FAQs

1. What is the GRE Exam Pattern?

The GRE exam pattern consists of 3 major sections:

  • Analytical Writing- 1 section of 2 tasks

  • Verbal Reasoning- 20 questions in 2 sections

  • Quantitative Reasoning-  20 questions in 2 sections.

 

Each section has a time duration of approximately 60 minutes. Also, there are two optional sections, research and unscored, but it is the experimental section.

 

2. Is the GRE a challenging exam to crack?

The GRE is more challenging than the SAT or ACT exams. The reason is vocabulary, and the reading section is complex. A high level of reasoning is required to solve the questions asked in the test.

 

3. How many times can I retake the GRE general test?

You can retake the exam every 30 days and up to 5 times in 12 months.

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