GRE Structure

The GRE General Test is a computer-based test that helps to show your readiness for graduate-level work.  It measures the verbal and quantitative reasoning, critical thinking and analytical writing skills you’ll need for success in graduate and business school.

The sections of the revised GRE as well as the time allotted are shown in the table below:

Sections Number of Questions Time Allotment
Analytical Writing 1 Issue Essay,
1 Argument Essay
30 min.
30 min.
Verbal Reasoning
(Two sections)
Approx. 20 per section 30 min. per section
Quantitative Reasoning
(Two sections)
Approx. 20 per section 35 min. per section
Unscored Approx. 20 30 or 35 minutes
Total 3 hrs 45 min

The PSAT/NMSQT is a shorter version of the SAT. The Reading Test includes 47 questions in 60 minutes; the Writing and Language Test includes 44 questions in 35 minutes; and the Math Test (including a calculator and a no-calculator portion) includes 48 questions in 70 minutes. The total time to complete the PSAT/NMSQT is 2 hours 45 minutes consisting of 139 questions.

GRE Format and Scoring

The Verbal and Quantitative measures are section-level adaptive. So, the computer selects the second section of a measure based on your performance on the first. Within each section, all questions contribute equally to your score. Your score will be determined by the number of questions you answer correctly. It is best to answer every question – nothing is subtracted from your score if you answer incorrectly. No question carries more weight than any other. Go through each section answering the easier questions first, then go back to answer the more difficult questions. Once you finish a section, you may not go back to it.

For each of the two measures, a raw score is computed based on the number of questions answered correctly. The raw score is then converted to a scaled score, of which accounts for variations in difficulty from test to test. Thus, the scaled score reflects the same level of performance regardless of when the test was taken and which section was administered.

Three scores are reported: Verbal Reasoning (130-170 score scale, 1-point increments), Quantitative Reasoning (130-170 score scale, 1-point increments), Analytical Writing (0-6 score scale, half-point increments).  Notice:  In November 2011, you will be able to obtain information about how the previous 200-800 score scales correspond to the new 130-170 score scales at

The functionality of the revised GRE General Test is as follows:

  • Onscreen calculator to use during the Quantitative sections
  • Free to skip questions and come back to them
  • “Mark and review” feature
  • Preview other questions within a specific section on which you’re working, review questions you’ve already answered, and change your answers
  • View the complete list of all questions in the section on which you are working (indicates if you have answered a question and identifies which have been marked).

GRE Quantitative Question Types

This section of the GRE consists of two sections with approximately 20 questions per section (approximately 40 questions total). You have 35 minutes to complete each section. Most questions do not require difficult computations. However, for time-consuming calculations, you can use the on-screen calculator. The calculator displays up to eight digits.

There are several types of questions on the Quantitative section of the GRE:

  • Quantitative Comparisons
  • Multiple Choice – One Answer Only or One or More Answers
  • Numeric Entry
Quantitative Comparison Questions

Quantitative Comparison Questions measure your ability to:

  • Reason quickly and accurately about the relative size of two quantities
  • Determine if sufficient information is provided to reason about the size of the two quantities

Each of the following questions consists of two quantities, one in Column A and one in Column B. There may be additional information, centered above the two columns, that concerns one or both of the quantities. A symbol that appears in both columns represents the same thing in Column A as it does in Column B.  You are to compare the quantity in Column A with the quantity in Column B and decide whether:

  • (A) The quantity in Column A is greater.
  • (B) The quantity in Column B is greater.
  • (C) The two quantities are equal.
  • (D) The relationship cannot be determined from the information given.
Multiple-Choice Problem Solving Questions

Multiple-Choice Problem Solving Questions measure your ability to:

  • Apply basic mathematical knowledge
  • Read, understand, and solve a problem that involves either an actual or an abstract situation

The Multiple-Choice Questions will either ask you to select only one answer choice from a list of five choices (marked with ovals) OR to select one or more answer choices from a list of choices (marked with square boxes).

Select One Answer Choice

For this question type, it is important to:

  • Remember that the correct answer is one of the five choices – if you don’t see your answer, reread the problem and check your computations
  • Scan all of the answer choices and determine what type of response is required

Select One or More Answer Choices

For this question type, it is important to:

  • Read the directions clearly – note whether you are asked to indicate a specific number of answer choices or all that apply
  • Avoid lengthy calculations – recognize numerical patterns where appropriate

Each of the following questions has five answer choices. For each of these questions, select the best of the answer choices given.

Numeric Entry Questions

Numeric Entry Questions do not have answer choices, but rather ask you to enter a value as an integer, decimal, or fraction. Make sure that you read the problem carefully and answer the question that is asked. You may be asked to round your response to a named degree of accuracy. Once you have a response, examine it to make sure it is reasonable.

Enter your answer as an integer or a decimal if there is a single box OR as a fraction if there are two separate boxes – one for the numerator and one for the denominator. To enter an integer or a decimal, either type the number in the answer box using the keyboard or use the Transfer Display button on the calculator. To enter a fraction, type the numerator and the denominator in the respective boxes using the keyboard. For a negative sign, type a hyphen.  A decimal point cannot be used for a fraction. Fractions do not need to be reduced to lowest terms, though you may need to reduce your fraction to fit in the boxes.