GRE Research Section: Definition, Purpose, and Sample Questions

The GRE research section is an unscored verbal or quantitative section designed by the ETS to try out possible questions in an actual test setting. Examinees take this section along with the other 5 test sections of the GRE.

What is the use of the GRE research section?

The research section is a way for ETS to measure potential questions. Basically, this section is used by the organization for research purposes. Specifically, it is used to test the hardness of the questions the ETS plans to include on future tests.

What is the difference between the GRE research section and the GRE experimental section?

The GRE research section is marked while the GRE experimental section is unmarked. This means that the test takers will know whether they are in the research section or not. Another difference is that the research section appears at the end of the test whereas the experimental section appears randomly. Lastly, examinees have the option to take the research section or not. On the contrary, it is not possible to skip the experimental section since it is unmarked.

What are the questions in the GRE research section?

Either verbal or quantitative questions are in the GRE research section. These are potential questions that are being tested by ETS.

Who gets the GRE research section?

Random and unknown examinees will answer the GRE research question. The ETS system is randomized so there is no pattern of who gets the GRE research section. Candidates either get the research section or the experimental section but never both.

How long does the GRE research section take?

There is no specific time allotted for the GRE research section. Along with the experimental section, testing time varies.

How many questions are there in the GRE research section?

The research section includes a variable number of questions. Nonetheless, test takers have the option to skip this part since it is unscored and it won’t affect the total score. Therefore, there will be 82 scored questions plus the number of questions on the research question.

How do you prepare for the GRE research section?

The best ways for an examinee to prepare for the GRE research question are:

  1. Practice GRE verbal questions. Focus on the subsections that need the most improvement. For instance, vocabulary is one of the most challenging components of the GRE verbal section, and the test taker may want to build up their vocabulary by doing practice tests or drills that focus on this area.
  2. Practice GRE quantitative questions. Focus on the areas that are found to be challenging. For instance, one of the most difficult components of the GRE quantitative section is the data interpretation, and the test taker may want to study data analysis practice questions.
  3. Treat all sections equally. An examinee should prepare for the GRE research section the way he/she would for the other sections of the GRE.

Since this section is unscored, there will be no additional points gained if answered correctly and the other way around. But it would really be helpful to ETS’s research. So, an examinee may opt to answer more practice tests on the verbal and quantitative section. Just bear in mind that this will not affect the overall score.

How hard is the GRE research section?

The difficulty level of the research section varies. Since ETS is testing out potential questions to gauge how test takers would respond to it, examinees may differ in the set of questions given.

Is the GRE research section computer-adaptive?

No, the GRE research section is not computer adaptive.

Will your performance on the research section change the difficulty level of the next section?

No, a test-taker’s performance on the GRE research section will not affect the difficulty level of the next section. The research section is presented only after completing all the test sections. Therefore, there will be no succeeding sections after.

Does every test taker get the GRE research section?

No, not all GRE test takers get the research section. Examinees take either the GRE research section or the GRE experimental section. No test taker gets both extra sections.

Can you skip the GRE research section?

Yes, an examinee may skip answering the GRE research section. Unlike the experimental section, this section is marked. So, GRE test-takers have the option to skip it.

GRE Research Section: Sample Questions with Answers and Explanations

Below are sample questions that a test taker may encounter in the GRE General Test’s research section:

Sample Question 1: In parts of the Arctic, the land grades into the landfast ice so _______ that you can walk off the coast and not know you are over the hidden sea.

(A) permanently

(B) imperceptibly

(C) irregularly

(D) precariously

(E) relentlessly

Correct Answer: The correct answer is Choice B (imperceptibly).

Explanation: The word that fills the blank has to characterize how the land grades into the ice in a way that explains how you can walk off the coast and over the sea without knowing it. The word that does that is “imperceptibly”; if the land grades imperceptibly into the ice, you might well not know that you had left the land. Describing the shift from land to ice as permanent, irregular, precarious, or relentless would not help to explain how you would fail to know.

Sample Question 2: If 5x + 32 = 4 – 2x, what is the value of x ?

  1. -4
  2. -3
  3. 4
  4. 7
  5. 12

Correct Answer: The correct answer is Choice A, Negative 4.

Explanation: Solving the equation for x, you get 7x = -28 and so x = -4.

Sample questions from the GRE research question are presented above. Note that the questions in the GRE research section may either be quantitative or verbal.

Are there GRE prep courses for the Research Section?

Yes, while the GRE (Graduate Record Examination) is primarily known for its Verbal, Quantitative, and Analytical Writing sections, some specialized fields may require a GRE Subject Test. These Subject Tests assess knowledge in specific areas like Physics, Mathematics, or Literature. To prepare for these, many institutions and online platforms offer some of the best online gre prep courses tailored to the content and structure of the Research or Subject Test in question. It’s essential to choose a course that aligns with your specific test and study needs.