If you are planning to take up the GRE exam, then the first thing that might come to your mind is what are the GRE sections. This is an obvious question to occur to you as you need to know the GRE sections thoroughly to understand the exam, make a study plan, prepare and ultimately get a good score. So, let’s see what are the three sections of the GRE exam. 

GRE (Graduate Record Exam) is a computer adaptive test which has 3 main segments: 

  • Analytical Writing Assessment section
  • Quantitative Reasoning Section 
  • Verbal Reasoning Section 

This article will help you to understand in depth about all of these sections and their significance in the GRE exam. Your grades in each of these sections will determine your admissions into the universities of your choice. Moreover, the total test time for the exam is approximately 3 hours and 45 minutes. You will be provided with a ten minute break after the completion of the 3rd section.

Now, let us look at the sections in detail.

Quantitative Reasoning section: QR has 20 questions per section and the time allocated for each section is 35 minutes. There are various formats in which you will be required to answer. Some might ask you to select a single answer choice, whereas others might need you to enter a numerical answer manually and for some you might have to select one or more answer choices. You have to ensure that you are certain of which response is required while answering each question. The questions in this section appear in different formats: 

  • Quantitative Comparison – In the comparison section, you are asked to evaluate which of the given two quantities are greater (or if you are unable to determine the relationship or if they are equal). It is necessary to mention the relationship between the two quantities given in the question. These questions have a text box where you will be expected to enter a specific value of the correct answer.
  • Problem Solving– These are your standard multiple choice questions which contain 5 choices and one correct answer. You will also encounter questions that ask you to fill in your answer in a box (numeric entry).

There are also certain questions that are associated with one or more charts. Such Data Interpretation questions also come under problem solving, however, it is important that you obtain the information given in the graph correctly before answering the questions.

The Quantitative Reasoning section is section-level adaptive. This means that your performance in each section will determine the level of difficulty of the next section. The QR questions will basically test your knowledge on geometry, algebra, data analysis and basic arithmetic. You will be provided with a calculator on screen that you can use for calculations in the Quantitative Reasoning sections. Your score is dependent on the number of questions that you answer correctly and there are no negative marks if you answer a question incorrectly. 

The scoring range for this section is between 130 to 170.

Verbal Reasoning section: This category too has 20 questions per section and the time allotted is 30 minutes per section. The verbal reasoning section is also section-level adaptive in nature. In both the Verbal and Quantitative reasoning sections you have the option to skip questions that you may find difficult to answer. The testing software also gives you a mark and review feature where you can mark the questions you would want to examine once more within the time provided for that section. The questions for Verbal Reasoning are classified as follows : 

  • Text Completion – All of the text completion questions consist of about 6 sentences with either one or upto three blanks. The choices for questions with 3 blanks contain 3 possible answer choices for each blank. This is basically aimed at testing your vocabulary knowledge. Since there are no partial credits you have to answer all blanks correctly to receive the score for these questions.
  • Sentence Equivalence – There are 4 questions in the Verbal section and it requires you to fill in a single blank with two words of similar meaning. They must both give the same or identical meanings when substituted for each other. Again to obtain the credit in these questions you must choose both the correct answers. 
  • Reading Comprehension – You are provided a passage and must answer the questions on it that follow. These are to determine your comprehension and logical thinking abilities. It is to check if you are able to draw conclusions, infer information and identify the author’s assumptions. There are usually 10 comprehension questions and five different passages.

This section is  scored within the 130 to 170 range.

Analytical Writing section: This section has 2 separate writing tasks, timed at 30 minutes each. The first is:

  • Analyze an Issue – For this essay you are provided a general topic of interest and instructions on how to respond to the issue mentioned. 
  • Analyze an Argument– In this essay, you have to check if the author’s argument is logically supported by valid examples or the author has made any assumptions. 

It is recommended that both these essays contain an introduction, substantial supporting evidence, a good thesis statement and a conclusion.

The tasks are given to you on the computer and you have to type out your essay responses. This section makes use of a basic word processor, which has the following features: Cut and paste, inserting text, deleting text, undoing the previous action and scrolling. The ETS website provides you with in depth information on how your essay should be structured and how your essay is scored. This section basically assesses your ability to critically analyse and communicate your opinion in a clear and precise manner. You should be able to support your views with valid reasoning and examples. 

The Analytical Writing section will be scored from 0 to 6.

We hope now you know what the GRE sections are, and that this article was instrumental in guiding you through each of them.

All the best for the exam!


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