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The GRE® Tests

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Test Content and Structure

Test content

The GRE General Test measures verbal reasoning, quantitative reasoning, critical thinking and analytical writing skills that have been developed over a long period of time and are required for success in today's demanding programs.

Learn more about the GRE General Test content.
 

Verbal Reasoning measure

The GRE Verbal Reasoning measure assesses the ability to:

  • 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
     
Understanding verbal reasoning image

See Verbal Reasoning Sample Questions (PDF) and watch the video that provides an overview of this section of the test.

View Transcript


Quantitative Reasoning measure

The GRE Quantitative Reasoning measure assesses the ability to:

  • 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

The Quantitative Reasoning section includes an on-screen calculator.
 

Understanding Quantitative Reasoning image

See Quantitative Reasoning Sample Questions (PDF) and watch the video that provides an overview of this section of the test.

View Transcript


Analytical Writing measure

The GRE Analytical Writing measure assesses critical thinking and analytical writing skills, including the ability to:

  • articulate and support complex ideas with relevant reasons and examples
  • examine claims and accompanying evidence

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

Understanding analytical writing image

See Analytical Writing Sample Questions (PDF) and watch the video that provides an overview of this section of the test.

View Transcript

Because the Analytical Writing measure is a performance test, test takers must articulate and support their own ideas as they:

  • discuss a complex issue
  • construct and evaluate arguments
  • 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
  • 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 among concepts, the Analytical Writing section measures the ability to articulate and support ideas and to analyze arguments.

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
  • 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 Using Scores.

Test structure

Section      Number of Questions Time
Analytical Writing (One section with two separately timed tasks) One "Analyze an Issue" task
One "Analyze an Argument" task
30 minutes per task
Verbal Reasoning (Two sections) 20 questions per section 30 minutes per section
Quantitative Reasoning (Two sections) 20 questions per section 35 minutes per section
Unscored or Research Section Varies Varies

 

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