How Hard is the GRE Test (Plus Other Tips)

GRE Test

Are you thinking about taking the GRE test? Do you want to know more about the test before deciding the next step? We can help with the below information on everything you need to know about the GRE test.

The Graduate Record Examination (GRE) is crucial in a business or graduate school application. This is a computer-based, multiple-choice, and standardized exam.

With a high GRE score, you can get admission to top graduate schools and business schools. These institutions will consider your GRE score along with your academic performance to access your ability for the graduate programs.

If you need to know more about the GRE test and how it works, you can go through the following article. We try to answer all your questions related to the GRE test.

What is the GRE?

As stated above, GRE is a standardized general test that showcases the ability of a student to graduate schools.

Many universities including those in Canada and the USA consider the GRE scores as a measuring factor to offer admissions to students.

You can take the entrance test as many times as you want.

GRE tests include three broad skills.

  • Verbal reasoning
  • Quantitative reasoning
  • Analytical writing

The three skills listed are important since a graduate student will need these skills daily.

How Long is the Exam?

GRE is a computer or paper-based exam and can be taken year-round at any Prometric test centers.

The computer-based test takes about 3 hours and 45 minutes.

It consists of three individually timed sections.

  • Verbal reasoning has two 30 sections, and each will contain 20 questions.
  • Quantitative reasoning, there are going to be two 35 sections, and each will contain 20 questions.
  • Analytical writing part has just one section but tow tasks that are separately timed. One is “Analyze an Issue” and the second is “Analyze an Argument”.

You may be asked to complete an unidentified, unscored and/or research section of the test. You do not receive a score for this.

The paper-based GRE test will take 3 hours and 30 minutes.

This also consists three individually timed sections.

  • Verbal reasoning has two 35 sections, and each will contain 25 questions.
  • Quantitative reasoning, there are going to be two 40 sections, and each will contain 25 questions.
  • Analytical writing you have two 30 sections. One is “Analyze an Issue” and the second is “Analyze an Argument”.

What is a Good Score on the Test?

The Quantitative and verbal portions of the test are scored between 130 and 170. When it comes to the average score, it will be around 150 to 152.

The analytical writing section is scored between 0 and 6 in half-point increments. The average score is somewhere around 3.5.

You have to base what is considered good on if the scores you get will get you into the school you want to go to.

GRE Scores for Top Colleges

Here is an example but for more scores go to Magoosh Blog.

USC GRE Scores from

What is the Highest Score on the GRE?

As you know the quantitative and verbal sections are scored between 130 and 170 in one-point increment. The 170 is the highest possible score in the overall verbal and quantitative sections.

To come in the top 10 scorer list, you will have to score between 163 and 170 in the verbal, 165 and 170 in the quantitative, and 5.0-6.0 in the writing analysis.

How Hard is the GRE?

GRE is one of the most competitive programs in the world. So, the questions can be challenging to your critical thinking skills and intelligence level.

Compared to the SAT and ACT, GRE is known to be much more difficult.

The math tests on the GRE are lower in difficulty than the SAT and ACT. However, the GRE will have more challenging reading passages and vocabulary.

The difficulty level will depend on several different factors. When you are unfamiliar with the exam structure, you will have to work hard. Therefore, it is important to take as many practice tests online as you can and do a test prep course like Magoosh or Prepscholar.

It is good to know what you are weak at and then try to improve on those areas so that you can go into the test ready.

Types of Questions on the GRE

Understanding the question pattern is important to take the exam. Once you know the question pattern, you can prepare accordingly.

As stated earlier, GRE tests will have three types of questions, verbal, quantitative, and analytical.

  • In the quantitative reasoning, there will be quantitative comparison questions, multiple-choice (one answer) questions, multiple choice (one or more answers) questions, and numeric entry questions.
  • The verbal reasoning section, there are three categories of questions. This will include reading comprehension, sentence equivalence, and text completion. In the verbal sections, you should have the ability to read and comprehend longer passages and sentences.
  • Then you have the analytical writing section. In this section, you need to write organized essays including an issue essay and an argument essay.

Where do you Take the GRE?

GRE has both the computer-based test and paper-based test. So, the general computer-delivered GRE test is offered throughout the year at the Prometric test centers.

You can also take this test on specific dates at other testing locations outside of the Prometric test center.

To find a test you can simply research available options outside the Prometric test centers or just use the centers.

What is the GRE Test Like?

The GRE general exam is divided into six different sections. These is one analytical writing section, two verbal reasoning sections, two quantitative reasoning sections, and one unscored section.

Among all these sections, the analytical section will appear first in the test and then the other sections will appear in the order given.

The difficulty of your second verbal section will depend on your performance in the first verbal section.

This will be the same for the quantitative section. The difficulty level in the section will be decided depending on your performance in the first quantitative section.

In analytical writing, there will be an essay format as stated earlier. In the verbal and quantitative sections, there will be multiple-choice questions. These questions vary significantly.

Within verbal and quantitative sections, you will be allowed to skip and return to the questions. However, you will not be able to skip between sections.

It is worth mentioning that there is also a paper-based version. But this is only applicable to those areas where the computer-based version is not available. The paper-based version is slightly different than the computer version as we mentioned earlier.

What is the Best GRE Test Prep Course?

If you are planning for a GRE test, then first, you will have to choose the preparation course. This is important to get higher scores on the GRE and a higher score can really help you get into graduate school.

A good prep course will help you study the right material so you can be ready for the test.  

If you are looking for the best prep courses, you should look at:  

How is the Test Score Used?

When it comes to the GRE score, there is no total score. There are separate quantitative, verbal, and analytical writing scores.

The quantitative and verbal scores the highest you can get is 170 points each. The lowest score is 130 points in both these sections.

The scores of all these sections will appear in the same report. The report will be sent to the schools that you would have chosen.

The schools will use the scores to access your ability for that school. For example, an engineering school will focus more on the quantitative scores and literary schools will be focusing on verbal and writing skills.

Some other programs will consider the overall GRE score.

How Can the Score Help You?

The GRE test is designed to enable students to get admission to top graduate schools. With higher scores, you can get into your dream university.

Also, the GRE scores can be helpful to pursue your study abroad. A higher score can be a great help to get a scholarship.

The higher the score, the more opportunities you will have to get into any college you have selected.

GRE Subject Tests

GRE Subject Tests are used to measure achievement in specific subjects which include biology, chemistry, literature in English, psychology, physics and mathematics. This can help you rise above everyone else if you are very knowledgeable in one or more of the listed subjects.

The test is usually multiple choice.

You can take the test three times a year at paper-delivered test centers and they are offered April, September, and October.

Which One Is Easier GMAT or GRE?

Both tests have quantitative and verbal sections. However, if your verbal skill is stronger than your math skills, the GRE would be easier for you.

The GMAT math is much harder than GRE math.

Taking the GMAT, you will need good math skills.

In brief, you can say that if your math and grammar are strong and vocabulary is weak, then GMAT might be the best fit for you.

The GRE test, you will need strong vocabulary and grammar in addition to math skills. Which test is right for you depends on your goals and strengths?

You may also be interested in: What is the GMAT Exam?

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