The Graduate Records Examination (GRE) is a global-level entrance test that is considered as an admission requirement by many universities abroad for masters and Ph.D courses in any field of study. However, achieving a high GRE score is difficult without proper preparation. If you are preparing for the GRE exams, solving as many GRE previous year papers as possible could be an effective method to improve your chances of getting a high score on the test.
In this article, we’ll talk about the types of GRE test, the sources from which you’ll get the GRE previous papers, the exam pattern, and the benefits of solving the previous GRE papers.
Types of GRE Tests
The GRE test is of two types — the General test and the Subject test. You can take the General Test if you are interested in pursuing a master’s or doctoral degree in any field (including business and law). You can take the GRE Subject test if you want to emphasize your knowledge in a specific area of studies such as Chemistry, Mathematics, Physics, and Psychology.
Depending on the location from where you take the test, the GRE General Test can be paper-based or computer-based. The Subject Test, on the other hand, is only taken in paper format. Furthermore, both formats of the GRE General test have identical scoring scales and consist of verbal reasoning, analytical reasoning, quantitative reasoning, and analytical writing sections.
You get 15 minutes extra for the computer-delivered GRE test. Thus, while the paper-based exam lasts 3 hours 30 minutes, the computer-delivered exam lasts for 3 hours 45 minutes. Additionally, the number of verbal and quantitative reasoning questions in the computer-based GRE General test is 20 each. However, in the paper-based GRE exam, these sections have 25 questions of similar difficulty. The distinction mentioned above is to compensate for the lack of reading comprehension questions in the paper-based sections.
|GRE General Test Section||No Of Questions- Computer-Based||No Of Questions – Paper Based|
If you want to be well-acquainted with the GRE format and exam pattern, we suggest you solve GRE previous year question papers. You can get previous year test papers from the Official Guide to the GRE as it includes all the information related to the GRE exam. Besides, the guide also includes full-length tests, test-taking strategies, hundreds of practice questions etc. that will help you in the preparation of your GRE exam. You can buy the guide from the official website of the GRE.
The Pattern of the GRE Test
As mentioned above, the GRE Test assesses your quantitative reasoning, verbal reasoning, and analytical writing skills. These skills are not related to a specific subject but are important for all the fields of study. Let’s take a brief look at the pattern of the GRE test.
The verbal reasoning section gauges how well you interpret a written material and synthesize information from that. The section measures your skill in recognizing logical relations between the parts of a sentence and words and concepts. Verbal Reasoning consists of 20 questions and you get 30 minutes to solve them. The three types of questions asked in this section include:
- Reading comprehension — Here, the questions measure your ability to identify the meaning of words and sentences, draw conclusions from the information provided or summarize a passage. Each question presents a passage of one paragraph or more. You’ll be asked several questions based on this passage. The topic of the passage could be anything general.
- Sentence Equivalence — This question type tests your ability to identify how a passage should be completed based on the partial information given. Each question presents a sentence with one blank and six answer options. You have to identify the two best answer options that can complete the sentence.
- Text Completion — Text Completion assesses your ability to evaluate a written text, and reason from what you have read in the given passage. Here, the question presents a passage with up to three to five blanks. You must fill in the blanks by selecting the best possible answer from the choices given. This section is unique to the GRE, and we recommend that you practice various GRE previous year papers to acquaint yourself with the question type.
Here’s a verbal reasoning sample question from the GRE official website.
- It is refreshing to read a book about our planet by an author who does not allow facts to be (i)__________ by politics: well aware of the political disputes about the effects of human activities on climate and biodiversity, this author does not permit them to (ii)__________ his comprehensive description of what we know about our biosphere. He emphasises the enormous gaps in our knowledge, the sparseness of our observations, and the (iii)__________, calling attention to the many aspects of planetary evolution that must be better understood before we can accurately diagnose the condition of our planet.
|Blank (I)||Blank (Ii)||Blank (Iii)|
|(A) Overshadowed||(D) Enhance||(G) Plausibility Of Our Hypotheses|
|(B) Invalidated||(E) Obscure||(H) Certainty Of Our Entitlement|
|(C) Illuminated||(F) Underscore||(I) Superficiality Of Our Theories|
The quantitative reasoning section measures how good your basic mathematical skills are. The section tests your ability to solve problems from Algebra, Arithmetic, Geometry, and Data Analysis. The 4 types of questions asked in this section are:
- Multiple-choice Questions (Select One Answer) – These are basic multiple-choice questions which you might’ve come across in other competitive exams. Here, you are required to solve a given question — equations, word problems, and more and select one answer from the answer choices given.
- Multiple-choice Questions ( Select One or More Answer) – This MCQ section is more complicated than the usual MCQ questions as you have to select more than one answer from the given choices. Here, you will get marks only if all your selected answers are correct. Besides, some questions specify how many answers to pick, while others leave that up to you.
- Quantitative Comparison Questions – The Quantitative Comparison questions present two quantities; sometimes accompanied by some short description centring around the quantities given. You have to compare the given quantities and select the best possible answer choices.
- Numeric Entry Questions – Here, you have to type the correct answer in the box given. If the answer is a fraction, you’ll be given two separate boxes — for the numerator and the denominator. And, if your answer is a decimal or integer, you must type it in a single box.
Let’s take a look at a sample question from the official website of GRE.
Q. The above figure shows a circle with radius 6 and center C. Find the sum of the areas of the two shaded regions?
The Analytical Writing section consists of two tasks — Analyze an issue and Analyze an argument. These tasks are separately timed, and you’ll get 30 minutes to complete each section. The tasks aim to measure your analytical writing and critical thinking skills. Besides, each task measures how well you articulate your ideas in writing, and construct and evaluate arguments.
Typically, such questions come with a passage where the author interprets events based on evidence. You will be asked to write about the logical soundness of the arguments made. This section is different from the writing test of most other tests, and we recommend that you solve a GRE previous year paper to be well-acquainted with the section.
Here’s a sample Analyze an issue task taken from the official GRE website.
“As people rely more and more on technology to solve problems, the ability of humans to think for themselves will surely deteriorate.”
Discuss the extent to which you agree or disagree with the statement and explain your reasoning for the position you take. In developing and supporting your position, you should consider ways in which the statement might or might not hold true and explain how these considerations shape your position.
Now, if you are confused about the GRE Format, the table given below will acquaint you with the same.
|Section||Question Types||Score Range|
|Quantitative Reasoning||1. Multiple-choice Questions (Select one answer) 2.Multiple-choice Questions (Select one or more answer) 3. Quantitative comparison questions 4. Numeric entry questions||130-170|
|Verbal Reasoning||1. Sentence Equivalence 2. Text Completion 3. Reading Comprehension||130-170|
|Analytical Writing||1. Analyze an issue 2. Analyze an argument||0-6|
The Best Sources for GRE Previous Year Papers
When you start your GRE preparations, you might come across a lot of resources. However, it is really important for you to choose only the reliable resources, especially when it comes to GRE previous years papers. You might get a lot of options to choose from – Both offline and online. How do you choose the most reliable options from them? To decide that, you have to check if the options have the standard of questions as the real GRE. The ETS, the conducting body of the GRE, includes practice tests on their official website. The questions are mostly from the previous years question papers. Apart from that, ETS also provides an Official Guide to the GRE along with Verbal Reasoning practice questions guide and Quantitative Reasoning practice questions guide. Let us take a detailed look at these sources.
- GRE Official Guide
The GRE Official Guide is the most reliable source for the previous year papers. From the GRE syllabus, to the GRE sample questions, the GRE official guide provides all the information related to the GRE exam. ETS offers the guide as a bundle of three test prep books — the Official Guide to the GRE General Test, Quantitative Reasoning Practice Questions guide, and the Verbal Reasoning Practice Questions guide. The Official Guide to the GRE is available at no extra cost through your account on ETS website. The Book includes hundreds of GRE test questions and their explanations, several test-taking strategies to help you excel in the test, sample AWA essay responses and more!
- GRE Verbal Reasoning Practice Questions
This guide completely focuses on the Verbal Reasoning section of GRE. The book has around 150 real, new Verbal Reasoning questions based on the updated format along with full explanations. The guide also provides valuable strategies and tips that will help you in solving the questions from the verbal section effectively. Apart from the verbal questions, the book also includes GRE Analytical Writing measure questions.
- GRE Quantitative Reasoning Practice Questions
This is the only official guide that completely focuses on the GRE Quantitative Reasoning section. Just as the previous two guides, this book also comes directly from the maker of the test. The book has around 150 new practice questions along with the solutions and answer explanations. The guide also provides valuable tips and tricks for solving the quant questions.
Benefits of Solving GRE Previous Papers
GRE previous question papers help you in several ways such as:
- Helps you identify your strengths and weaknesses – Solving GRE previous year question papers help you understand areas you are strong and weak in. Once you identify the subject or section you are weak in, you can start solving practice questions for that subject or section. This is where GRE previous year papers come in handy. These papers help you keep a track of your progress during your test preparation.
- Acquaints you with the test pattern – GRE previous year question papers gives you the feel of the actual exam. The question pattern and the scoring are the same as that of the GRE exam. Hence, if you solve the GRE last year’s paper, you’ll get to know the updated question pattern, section-wise timing, and the concepts tested in the exam.
- Improves Confidence – Solving as many GRE previous year papers builds and improves your confidence. The more papers you solve, the more you feel confident of appearing for the exam.
- Helps you understand the best time management strategies – Solving GRE previous year’s papers helps you in creating strategies to manage time efficiently. Time management is an important factor to consider while preparing for the exam. Since the previous year’s question papers are mostly the replica of the GRE exam you’re going to take, you’ll get an idea of how much time you should spend on each question. This will help you manage your time wisely on the actual test day.
The scope of the GRE is not restricted to getting you a seat in your dream institution, it opens up doors to various job opportunities. The days of your GRE preparation play an influential role in your career’s trajectory. As you solve the GRE previous year’s papers, such as GRE exam paper 2020 or GRE exam paper 2019, you will learn to put your analytical, problem-solving, critical thinking skills to use and these are essential skills that will help you in the long run in your career.
- Which resource is best for GRE preparation?
We recommend you to use previous years test papers for your GRE preparation. Solving as many previous years question papers as you can acquaints you with the exact pattern of the test, question types, etc.
- Does ETS provide official GRE previous year’s question papers?
No, ETS does not provide the actual GRE previous papers. However, you will find sample tests for both the General Tests and Subject tests on the official GRE website.
- What are the benefits of solving GRE previous papers?
Solving GRE papers helps you in more than one way. It helps you understand the test pattern, identify the subject areas you need to focus more on, boosts your confidence and so on.