If you are planning to take the GRE exam, then being well versed with the GRE previous year papers will help you be prepared better. Given the intense competition, you need to put your best foot forward when planning and preparing for the exam. Hence, practising previous years papers and getting acquainted with the questions that are asked makes your GRE prep easier. 

Read on to learn about how you can prepare for this career-deciding test.

Types of GRE Tests

Before you get to solving the GRE previous year papers, you need to understand that the GRE is of two types —  the General and Subject Tests. Depending on the location from where you take the test, the GRE General Test will be conducted on paper or on the computer. Moreover, the GRE subject test is offered in Psychology, English literature, Physics, Mathematics, Biology, and Chemistry. The subject test, on the other hand, is only taken in the paper format.

Furthermore, both formats of the GRE General test have identical scoring scales and contain verbal reasoning, analytical reasoning, quantitative reasoning, and writing sections. Thus, irrespective of the method of the exam, look up GRE previous question papers to understand the expectations and prepare yourself for the test. Besides, the computer-delivered GRE test gives you 15 extra minutes of exam time. Thus, while the paper-based exam lasts 3 hours 30 minutes, the computer-delivered exam is 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, 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
Verbal Reasoning 20 25
Quantitative Reasoning 20 25
Analytical Reasoning 2 2

If you need more information regarding the test and its pattern, the Official Guide to the GRE will be extremely beneficial for you 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 for the GRE. You can buy the guide from the official website of the GRE. 

The Pattern of the GRE Test

A look at the GRE last year paper reveals three main sections. These are listed below:

Verbal Reasoning 

The verbal reasoning section gauges how well you interpret the given information. The first section requires you to read a passage and answer a set of questions related to the passage. This reading comprehension section has three types of questions. 

Reading comprehension — This section has three parts. First is the traditional multiple-choice section where you will be asked to identify the appropriate answer from the five given options. The second type of reading comprehension question is where you need to choose all of the correct options from the list. The third is a select-in passage question where you need to identify a sentence from the passage that meets the description in the question.

Sentence Equivalence — Here, you will be given a sentence with a blank. You need to select the two most appropriate answers of the six given options. The catch here is that you need to get both the answers correct. For situations where you  get one right answer, you will not get any marks.

Text Completion — This is the last sub-section under verbal reasoning. Here, you get a passage with upto three blanks. Your choice of the first blank will not affect the others. This section is unique to the GRE, and we recommend that you practice various GRE previous year question papers to acquaint yourself with this question. 

Here’s a verbal reasoning sample question from the GRE official website.

  1. 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


Quantitative Reasoning

The quantitative reasoning section tests your understanding of numbers and the ability to see word problems in numeric representation. The GRE papers from last year established that the multiple-choice questions of the quantitative reasoning section might have one or more correct answers.

The numeric entry section is slightly more challenging than the rest as you will not be given any options while answering the question. In the computer-based test, you will have to type in the numerical value of the answer. In paper mode, you will have to circle the grid values to submit your answer.

Let’s take a look at a sample question from the official website of GRE.

If What is the value of x ?

  1. 4
  2. 7
  3. 12


Analytical Writing

The first type of analytical writing question requires you to study an issue task and express your views on it. The other analytical writing question is where you have to analyse an argument.

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 question paper from the previous year to get yourself 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.


The scope of the GRE is not restricted to getting you a seat in your dream institution. The days of GRE preparation play an influential role in your career’s trajectory. As you solve the GRE previous papers, you will learn to put your analytical skills to use and this is an essential life skill that will help you in the long run.

Related Links
gmat quantitative section gmat test cost
gmat sample paper 2021 gmat registration fee
gmat official website gmat study plan 6 months
gmat online classes how should i prepare for gmat
gmat test online gmat validity period

Talk to an expert?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *