GRE Syllabus: What topics are tested on the GRE General Test?

Candidates who want to pursue postgraduate studies are required by most universities to pass Graduate Record Exam (GRE) scores. Of course, one should achieve a good score because some universities set a cutoff score or a qualifying score. For a candidate to do this, he/she must know the syllabus of the exam. The GRE General Test has three test sections: verbal reasoning, quantitative reasoning, and analytical writing. It measures one’s skills in these three sections plus critical thinking skills. Read further to know more about the test sections, types of questions, and exam pattern of the GRE.

What is the syllabus for the GRE General Test?

Verbal reasoning, quantitative reasoning, analytical writing, and critical thinking skills are evaluated in the GRE syllabus. It is further divided into three test sections, namely the Verbal Reasoning section, the Quantitative Reasoning section, and the Analytical Writing section. It may be taken in two test formats: computer-delivered testing or paper-delivered testing. For each test format, the test pattern is different.

What is the exam pattern of the GRE General Test in computer-based exam format?

Exam pattern includes test sections, exam time, number of sections, and number of questions in a test. Presented in the table below is the exam pattern of the GRE General Test in computer-based exam format.

GRE General Test: Computer-Based Test

Test Sections

Exam Time

Number of Sections

Number of Questions

Verbal Reasoning

30 minutes per section

2 sections

20 questions per section

Quantitative Reasoning

35 minutes per section

2 sections

20 questions per section

Analytical Writing

30 minutes per task

1 section

2 writing tasks

Unscored

Varies

Varies

Varies

Research

Varies

Varies

Varies

In the computer-delivered GRE exam, there are two sections of Verbal and Quantitative Reasoning with a total of 20 questions each, as well as an Analytical Writing section with two timed tasks. It takes 3 hours 45 minutes to complete the GRE Computer-delivered test.

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What is the exam pattern of the GRE General Test in paper-based format?

Exam pattern includes test sections, exam time, number of sections, and number of questions in a test. Presented in the table below is the exam pattern of the GRE General Test in paper-based exam format.

GRE General Test: Paper-Based Test

Test Sections

Exam Time

Number of Sections

Number of Questions

Verbal Reasoning

35 minutes per section

2 sections

25 questions per section

Quantitative Reasoning

40 minutes per section

2 sections

25 questions per section

Analytical Writing

30 minutes per task

2 sections

2 writing tasks

Unscored

Varies

Varies

Varies

Research

Varies

Varies

Varies

Verbal reasoning, quantitative reasoning, and analytical writing sections each comprise the paper-delivered test. There are 25 questions in each section of quantitative and verbal reasoning, whereas there are two tasks in the analytical writing section. The GRE paper-delivered test takes 3 hours and 30 minutes to complete. This unscored/research section, on the other hand, can take anywhere from a few minutes to a few hours.

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What is the exam syllabus for the GRE verbal reasoning section?

GRE verbal reasoning section’s syllabus assesses the knowledge of the relationships between terms and concepts. Below are the topics encompassed in the verbal sections:

  1. Idioms and Idiomatic expressions
  2. Modifiers and Parallelism
  3. Nouns, Adjectives, and Pronouns
  4. Pronoun Agreement
  5. Subject-Verb Agreement
  6. Verb tense

The Verbal Reasoning section of the GRE assesses one’s ability to comprehend the meanings of individual words, passages of text, and sentences. An examinee must analyze and draw conclusions from the discourse, as well as identify the author's assumptions/perspective and comprehend multiple levels of meaning, including figurative, literal, and authorial intent.

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What are the parts of the GRE verbal sections?

The GRE verbal sections have three question types. These are the following:

  1. Reading Comprehension
  2. Sentence Equivalence
  3. Text Completion

Reading comprehension, sentence equivalence, and text completion are the types of questions asked in the verbal reasoning section. All these parts have different purposes and measure different abilities.

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What is the syllabus for the GRE verbal’s reading comprehension part?

Natural science, humanities, and social science are the subject areas where the passages in the reading comprehension part are based. All reading comprehension questions have one to five passages. Approximately, there are ten passages in the whole test.

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What does the GRE verbal’s reading comprehension part measure?

An examinee’s ability to understand what has been read is measured in the reading comprehension part of the GRE Verbal Reasoning section. One must carefully read and analyze the passage before responding to any questions. Additionally, becoming discouraged must be avoided if you come across an unfamiliar passage. Bear in mind that all of the questions can be answered using the information contained in the passage.

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What are the question types under the Reading Comprehension type?

There are three question types under the reading comprehension type which are the Multiple Choice - One Answer, Multiple Choice - One or Two Answer, and the Select-In Passage.

I. Multiple Choice - Select One Answer

The Multiple Choice - Select One Answer type is the conventional multiple-choice questions that consist of five answer choices. A test taker must only select one.

II. Multiple Choice - Select One or More Answer

The Multiple Choice - Select One or More Answer type consists of three answer choices. A test taker must select all correct answers may it be one, two, or all three. Test raters do not give credit for partially correct answers that means a test taker must select all the possible correct answers.

III. Select-In Passage

The Select-In Passage type presents a passage and the test taker is asked to pick out the sentence that meets a given description. This type is only available on the computer-adaptive version of the test. Equivalent multiple-choice questions are used on the paper-delivered version of the test instead.

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What is the question structure in the Sentence Equivalence type?

The Sentence Equivalence type is structured in a single sentence, with one blank, and six answer choices. A test taker is required to select two answer choices. A test taker must get two correct answers because the test raters do not credit partially correct answers.

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What does the GRE verbal’s sentence equivalence part measure?

An examinee’s grasp of vocabulary and the ability to fill in a passage written incompletely is measured in the sentence equivalent part of the GRE Verbal Reasoning section. Examinees must select two ways to fill in the sentences that have similar meanings but still must be logical and use proper grammar.

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What does the GRE verbal’s text completion part measure?

It tests an examinee’s grasp of vocabulary, just like the sentence equivalence part. Also, it measures one’s ability to complete a picture based on text. The key in this section is to understand the meaning of the words in order to successfully get the correct answer.

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What is the question structure in the Text Completion type?

The Text Completion type is structured in a passage of 1 to 5 sentences, with 1 to 3 blanks, and three answer choices per blank. Take note that there will be 5 answer choices in the case of a single blank. Selecting one answer choice for a blank does not affect what answer choices can be made for another blank. 

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What is the exam syllabus for the GRE Quantitative Reasoning section?

The Quantitative Reasoning section of the GRE assesses your ability to solve problems through the use of mathematical models. Below are the mathematical concepts covered in the GRE quantitative sections:

  1. Algebra
  2. Arithmetic
  3. Data Analysis
  4. Geometry

In the GRE quantitative reasoning section, a test taker must be able to comprehend, analyze, and interpret quantitative data. To ace this section, one must apply fundamental arithmetic, geometry, data analysis, and algebra concepts and skills.

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What topics in algebra are included in the GRE?

The algebra topics included in the GRE are the following.

  • Algebraic Expressions – Factoring and Simplifying
  • Coordinate geometry
  • Equations and inequalities
  • Exponents
  • Linear and Quadratic inequalities
  • Linear Equations
  • Profit and Loss
  • Quadratic equations
  • Speed, distance, and Time
  • Word Problems

These are the areas in algebra included in the GRE. These topics were discussed in high school and do not involve higher-level mathematics.

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What topics in arithmetic are included in the GRE?

The arithmetic topics included in the GRE are the following.

  • Arithmetic Operations
  • Estimation
  • Exponents and Roots
  • Number properties
  • Percentage
  • Power and roots
  • Property and types of integer
  • Ratio and proportions
  • Simple and Compound Interest
  • Statistics

These are the areas in arithmetic included in the GRE. These topics were also discussed in high school and do not involve higher-level arithmetics.

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What topics in data analysis are included in the GRE?

The data analysis topics included in the GRE are the following.

  • Descriptive statistics such as Median, Mean, Range, Mode, Percentiles, etc.
  • Interpretation of data based on graphs, circle graphs, scatter plots, etc
  • Permutation and Combination
  • Probability
  • Sets Theory
  • Venn Diagrams

These are the areas in data analysis included in the GRE. These topics were also discussed in high school and do not involve higher-level data analysis.

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What topics in geometry are included in the GRE?

The geometry topics included in the GRE are the following.

  • Angle Measurements
  • Area, Perimeter, Volume
  • Circles
  • Lines and angles
  • Polygon
  • Quadrilaterals
  • Three-dimensional figures
  • Triangle

These are the areas in geometry included in the GRE. These topics were also discussed in high school and do not involve higher-level geometry.

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What are the GRE Quantitative Reasoning Question Types?

Quantitative Comparison, Multiple Choice - Select One Answer Choice, Multiple Choice - Select One or More Answer Choice, and Numeric Entry are the GRE Quantitative Reasoning question types.

1. Quantitative Comparison Question Type

The Quantitative Comparison type of question asks a test taker to compare two quantities and determine which of the statements below describes the comparison.

2. Multiple Choice - Select One Answer Question Type

The Multiple Choice - Select One Answer type of question is similar to the traditional multiple choice of selecting one answer from a list of five choices.

3. Multiple Choice - Select One or More Answer Question Type

The Multiple Choice - Select One or More Answer type of question asks a test taker to select one or more from a list of choices. Also, some questions do not indicate how many choices to select.

These are the three types of questions in the GRE quantitative reasoning section. In this section, examinees must be able to comprehend, analyze, and interpret quantitative data. To ace this, one must apply fundamental arithmetic, geometry, data analysis, and algebra concepts and skills.

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Is a calculator allowed when taking the GRE?

Yes, an examinee may use a calculator during the exam. For those who are taking the exam at home, there will be an on-screen calculator. On the other hand, for those who opt for the paper-based test, there will be calculators available at the test center.

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What is the syllabus for the GRE Analytical Writing section?

The analytical writing section assesses a test taker’s ability to write analytically and critically. Below are the two tasks under the GRE Analytical Writing section:

  1. Analyze an Argument Task
  2. Analyze an Issue Task

The Analytical Writing section of the GRE assesses your ability to communicate complex ideas effectively and clearly. It necessitates that you provide targeted responses to the tasks presented. It covers a broad range of subjects, including fine arts, physical science, and humanities. You are not required to have knowledge of a particular subject. You will be able to comprehend the task regardless of your field of study or interests.

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What is the syllabus for the GRE Analytical Writing: Analyze an Argument task?

An examinee is required to assess a specified argument according to instructions. Test takers must consider the logical soundness of the argument rather than having to take sides on whether they agree with the position it shows. In the official ETS website, they provided the pool of topics and sample essay responses for the examinees to use during the preparation.

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What is the syllabus for the GRE Analytical Writing: Analyze an Issue task?

An examinee is required to present his or her own personal opinions on an issue which is followed by instructions on how to respond to that issue. One is tasked to evaluate the issue, think about its difficulties, and turn an argument with causes and examples to support his views. In the official ETS website, they provided the pool of topics and sample essay responses for the examinees to use during the preparation.

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Do all the GRE test sections add up to the score?

No, not all test sections in the GRE General Test add up to the score. Only the verbal and quantitative sections’ scores add up to the total score. The score in the analytical writing section is a separate score that ranges from 0 to 6, with 6 being the highest.

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References:

  1. https://e-gmat.com/blogs/gre-syllabus/
  2. https://www.ets.org/gre/revised_general/about/content/verbal_reasoning