The GRE; An Overview

The GRE, officially known as The Graduate Record Examination General Test, is supposed to test , mathematical and writing skills learned by students during college. Most graduate programs require GRE scores to consider students for admission.

Key Facts:
  • In the US, the GRE is given as a Computer Adaptive Test, or CAT. In other countries, the GRE may be paper-based.
  • You’ll take the test on a computer at special testing centers located throughout the U.S. and around the world.
  • The computer-based GRE entails about 2 hours of multiple-choice testing combined with 75 minutes of essay writing.
  • You can’t go back to previous questions. Once you give an answer and confirm it the question is GONE. You will never see it again.
  • On the section, you cannot use a calculator. So dust of the old times tables. You’ll need them.


The GRE is scored on a scale of 200-800 for the verbal and quantitative sections. The writing section is scored on a 0 to 6 point scale in half-point increments.  You will also be given a percentile ranking for your score.  If you scored in the 50th percentile, it would mean that half the test takers did better than you in that section, and half did worse.

GRE Structure:

  • Verbal Section: 30 questions/30 minutes
    • Antonym Questions
    • Analogy Questions
    • Sentence Completion Questions
    • Reading Comprehension Questions
    • 470 is an approximate 50th percentile score
  • Quantitative () Section: 28 questions/45 minutes
    • Quantitative Comparison Questions
    • Problem Solving Questions
    • 610 is an approximate 50th percentile score
    • No calculators
  • Writing Assessments: 2 essays in 75 minutes
    • Analysis of an Argument (30 minutes)
    • Analysis of an Issue (45 minutes)
    • 4.5 is an approximate 50th percentile score
  • General Structure
    • Essays always come first, followed by a ten-minute break
    • Verbal and Quantitative come in random order, with a one-minute break between sections
    • You will have either two verbal or two quantitative sections, because one of those will be an experimental section used to test out new questions.  You will not know which section is experimental (don’t waste time trying to identify it), and it won’t count towards your score.
  • Key Contacts
    • For the latest information and news and to sign up for the actual GRE test go to
    • To sign up for a weekend GRE prep class at Texas A&M University in College Station OR to sign up for a live class, taught online anywhere in the world, go here.