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An Insider’s Guide to the GRE® General Test

Are you getting ready for the GRE® General Test? The test has several smart features that can help you do your best, but you’ll still have to do your part. The more prepared you are, the more confident you will feel on test day. This overview of the test with tips and strategies is a good place to start.

What’s On the GRE® General Test?

The GRE General Test assesses the skills you need to succeed in master’s, MBA, specialized business master’s and doctoral programs. It includes the following sections:

Analytical Writing

You will start the test with the writing section, which includes two tasks that measure how well you can apply your critical thinking and articulate complex ideas. Learn more about Analytical Writing tasks.

Verbal Reasoning

In random order after the writing tasks, you’ll have two 30-minute sections that measure how well you can understand what you’ve read and apply your reasoning skills. Learn more about Verbal Reasoning tasks.

Quantitative Reasoning

You’ll also have these two 35-minute sections that measure how well you can interpret and analyze quantitative information and solve math problems. Learn more about Quantitative Reasoning tasks.

Unscored Section

Note, you will see an additional unscored section as well. This can appear randomly (so be sure to take all sections seriously), or it will be an identified research section at the end of the test.

What’s the Best Way to Prepare for the Test?

Practice is key to success on the GRE General Test. You’ll want to be ready not only for the types of content you will encounter, but also for the experience of the exam. The best way to become familiar with both is to prepare with materials direct from the maker of the test.

Here are some of the most popular resources to help you get started:

  • POWERPREP® Online

    This free set of online practice tests includes an overview of each section. Most important, the format looks and works just like the real test. You can practice the “mark” and “review” features, the on-screen calculator and get a good idea of timing. The questions have also appeared on actual past tests. It is as close to the real thing as you will get. Order your free practice tests.

  • The Official Guide to the GRE® General Test

    Direct from the maker of the test, this book is packed with information, including what to expect on the test, how the test is scored, questions with answers and explanations and authentic past test questions for practice. Get the guide.

  • Math Review (PDF)

    Algebra, arithmetic, geometry, data analysis — you’ve learned all of these subjects in school, but if it’s been a while, this comprehensive review will help you freshen your skills. Get the Math Review.

Explore a variety of additional official preparation materials.

Where Can Students Find Additional Support?

The GRE social communities are full of advice and strategies. You can also connect with peers who are on the same path, and even ask questions of test experts there. Take a look:

In addition, these Frequently Asked Questions can answer some common concerns.

Things to Keep in Mind Along the Way

A few extra items to note that will also help you feel calm and confident going into test day:

Be sure the name you register with is exactly the same as the name that appears on your photo ID, which you must also have with you when you take the test.

And remember, while there is certainly pressure to succeed and get into the school of your dreams, you chose the GRE General Test because you know it will work harder for you. It gives you the flexibility to apply more of your own test-taking strategies and the option to send only your best scores to schools if you take it more than once. On top of that, it is the only test that’s accepted by thousands of graduate and business schools worldwide. Good luck, and know you are officially on the new path to success.