GRE Exam Pattern 2023

Seems like you have set your mind on taking GRE soon!
So, here we are, arming you with complete details regarding GRE exam pattern and marking criteria. After all, “ with the right knowledge only, we become the best we can be.”
It is wise to learn about the GRE pattern and structure, but you must also understand it well to tackle the exam smartly.
GRE Exam Pattern: Overview
GRE is available in the form of general test and subject tests. While the general test is common to all applicants, the subject tests are taken for admission to certain specialised/technical programmes.
GRE General Test
GRE general test is composed of six segments, that are based on three major areas: Analytical Writing, Verbal Reasoning, and Quantitative Reasoning. It is a mix of objective and subjective questions. The total duration of the exam is 3 hours and 45 minutes, with each section timed individually. There is also a 10-minute break after the third section.The following table illustrates the sectional break-up of GRE exam pattern:
No. of Questions
Time Limit
Score Range
Analytical Writing
(Two sub-sections)
Section 1: Analyze the Issue
Section 2: Analyze the Argument
30 minutes per task/section
0-6 (half-point increments)
Verbal Reasoning
(Two sections)
20 questions per section
30 minutes per section
130-170 (1-point increments)
Quantitative Reasoning
(Two sections)
20 questions per section
35 minutes per section
130-170 (1-point increments)
Unscored section
Research-based section
225 minutes
*A unique feature of GRE is that it is scored as per individual sections only. In other words, there is nothing like total or composite score in GRE.
GRE Subject Test
GRE Subject tests are exclusively for the following fields:
  • Physics
  • Chemistry
  • Mathematics
  • Psychology
The aspirants with educational background or experience in the above-mentioned fields, who want to pursue further studies in the related streamsopt for the subject test.
Each subject test consists of a fixed number of multiple-choice questions, with no sectional divisions. The total duration of a GRE subject test is 2 hours and 50 minutes.
Did You Know: GRE Subject Tests in Biochemistry, and Cell & Molecular Biology were discontinued by the end of 2016. Further, GRE Subjects Tests for Biology and Literature in English were discontinued in 2021.
GRE Exam Pattern: Key Features
GRE exhibits some prominent differences compared to other entrance exams. Though it is difficult in nature, yet it offers several features that make it one of the most sought-after exam. Here are the key features of GRE paper pattern:
Mode of Exam
GRE General Test is held in computer-based/paper-based mode at test centres and can also be taken in remote-proctored online mode. Paper-based GRE is meant for locations where the computer-based delivery is not possible. Besides, it is administered only three times in a year.
The computer-based and remote-proctored GRE tests are conducted all around the year.
Note: GRE Subject tests are held in paper-based mode only.
Order of Sections
In GRE, you do not have the choice for the sectional order. The first section is always the‘ Analytical Writing’ one. But the remaining sections can appear in any order. An important thing to remember is that since there is an unscored/unidentified section in the exam, you will have to do all sections carefully.
However, you can move to any previous question or fast-forward to any next question within every section.
Format of Exam
GRE test pattern follows a sectionallyadaptive system, in case of Verbal Reasoning and Quantitative Reasoning parts. So, the first section of each part (VR and QR) is generally of medium-level difficulty and the level of their second sections is determined by your performance in their first sections.
Negative Marking
There is no negative marking in GRE exam. Nevertheless, your scores depend upon the total number of questions answered correctly and the difficulty level of the sections.
For more details on GRE paper pattern, checkout the official site.
About GRE
GRE (Graduate Record Examinations) is facilitated by ETS (Educational Testing Service). It serves as a primary requirement for admission to MBA/MS and other master degree programmes across the world. GRE scores are accepted by thousands of B-schools and law schools in US, Canada, and a few other countries. The exam is conducted at nearly 1000 test centres in 100+ countries worldwide and taken by 6-7 lakh people annually.

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