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Skills Measured

The GRE® General Test is an assessment of graduate readiness. It measures skills that graduate and professional programs have identified as prerequisite for success at the graduate level. One such essential skill is critical thinking, and the GRE General Test measures aspects of critical thinking in each of the test's three sections.

Verbal Reasoning

  • Analyze and draw conclusions from discourse; reason from incomplete data; identify author's assumptions and/or perspective; understand multiple levels of meaning such as literal, figurative and author's intent.
  • Select important points; distinguish major from minor or relevant points; summarize text; understand the structure of a text.
  • Understand the meanings of words, sentences and entire texts; understand relationships among words and among concepts.

See Verbal Reasoning Sample Questions.

Quantitative Reasoning

  • Understand quantitative information.
  • Interpret and analyze quantitative information.
  • Solve problems using mathematical models.
  • Apply basic mathematical skills and elementary mathematical concepts of arithmetic, algebra, geometry and data analysis.

At computer-delivered test administrations, the Quantitative Reasoning section includes an on-screen calculator. At paper-delivered test administrations, calculators are provided at the test center.

See Quantitative Reasoning Sample Questions.

Analytical Writing

  • Articulate complex ideas clearly and effectively.
  • Examine claims and accompanying evidence.
  • Support ideas with relevant reasons and examples.
  • Sustain a well-focused, coherent discussion.
  • Control the elements of standard written English.

The Analytical Writing measure includes two separately timed writing tasks: a 30-minute "Analyze an Issue" task and a 30-minute "Analyze an Argument" task.

The "Issue" task presents an opinion on an issue of general interest followed by specific instructions on how to respond to that issue. Test takers are required to evaluate the issue, consider its complexities and develop an argument with supporting reasons and examples. See the "Analyze an Issue" Topic Pool.

The "Argument" task requires test takers to evaluate a given argument according to specific instructions. They will need to consider the logical soundness of the argument rather than agree or disagree with the position it presents. See the "Analyze an Argument" Topic Pool.

The two tasks are complementary in that one requires the test taker to construct an argument by taking a position and providing supporting evidence of their views on an issue, and the other requires the test taker to evaluate someone else's argument by assessing its claims and evaluating the evidence it provides.

Note: In addition to the skills measured above, the GRE Analytical Writing measure also provides authentic samples of an applicant's writing.

See Analytical Writing Sample Questions.

For more information see If You're Not Using GRE® Analytical Writing Scores, You Might Be Missing Out.

Have Questions?

How does the Analytical Writing measure differ from the Verbal Reasoning measure of the GRE® General Test?

Because the Analytical Writing measure is a performance test, test takers must articulate and support their own ideas as they discuss a complex issue as well as construct and evaluate arguments and sustain a focused and coherent discussion.

The Verbal Reasoning measure of the GRE General Test assesses the ability to analyze and evaluate written material and synthesize information obtained from it, analyze relationships among component parts of sentences and recognize relationships among words and concepts.

Whereas the Verbal section measures a test taker's ability to understand complex ideas expressed in written passages and to recognize relationships among words and concepts, the Analytical Writing section measures the ability to articulate and support ideas and to analyze arguments.

How does the GRE® Analytical Writing measure differ from the Writing section of the TOEFL iBT® test?

The Writing section of the TOEFL iBT test and the GRE Analytical Writing measure are intended to measure different sets of skills. The TOEFL® Writing section contains two writing tasks: an independent task that asks test takers to support an opinion in writing, and an integrated task that asks test takers to write responses that integrate and organize information from a reading passage and a lecture. These writing tasks are not designed to measure higher levels of critical thinking and analytical writing, but center instead on candidates' composition skills and command of English vocabulary, grammar, spelling and syntax, with some analysis and synthesis of material. Therefore, scores on the two tests are not comparable.

Because the TOEFL test emphasizes fundamental writing and comprehension skills, the TOEFL score can supplement an Analytical Writing score by helping faculty determine whether a low score on the GRE Analytical Writing measure is due to lack of familiarity with English or lack of ability to produce and analyze logical arguments. See Test Takers Who Are Nonnative English Speakers.

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