The GRE is a generalized test that isn’t related to any particular discipline or field. It has been designing to evaluate skills that you’ve already picked up over the years. This allows a wide range of universities to use it to benchmark applicants from diverse backgrounds applying to a big mix of degrees.

If you were to look at the overall GRE exam pattern, it has 3 sections: Analytical Writing, Verbal Reasoning and Quantitative Reasoning.

Analytical Writing

This section tests your ability to analyse facts, dissect arguments, judge the presented evidence and put forth your views in the most convincing and structured manner.

Verbal Reasoning

This section checks your capacity to understand the content author’s perspectives and intentions, prioritize the points made, and connect the dots across various ideas presented, even if they may not necessarily be documented in a coherent manner. This is the tricky section for non-native English speakers.

Quantitative Reasoning

This is where you comfort level with numbers and quantitative data is tested. You’ll have to understand the problem and use models and mathematical formulas (from geometry, algebra, arithmetic) to solve them. The good news is that you will have access to a calculator. So no complex mental arithmetic to be done.

GRE, or Graduate Records Examination: tests your basic analytical (read mathematical) and verbal skills. The entire test is divided into three parts, the first one being the analytical writing assessment. In the remaining two sections, each contains 2 (or 3) set of questions, one math, one verbal.

Part 1: Analytical Writing Assessment (AWA)

Here you are supposed to answer two essay type questions; one issue type essay, and one argumentative.

  1. Issue type essay : Here you are given two points of view on an issue. You have to take one point of view with which you agree with and then write a strong, convincing essay in support of that view.
  2. Argument type essay: Here you are presented with a write-up. The paragraph will try to establish a possible cause of an event by putting forth various reasons in support of the argument. Your job is to weaken the argument by pointing out the fallacies in each reason.

Part 2 and Part 3:

Here you get two sets of questions, one math and one verbal, each having 20 questions for you to answer. There is no negative marking, so try to answer all of them. The math section has 35 minutes allotted for each set, while the verbal section has 30 minutes.

It is very important that you do well in Part 2. This is because how well you do in Part 2 will determine the difficulty level as well as the marking in Part 3. Doing well in Part 2 will raise the difficulty level in the next section, but will also increase the marks per question. Doing poorly in Part 2 will lower the difficulty, but at the cost of reduced marks per questions. Needless to say your overall performance at the GRE will be determined by your performance in Part 2.

Part 3 is the same as Part 2, but with a difficulty level determined by your performance in Part 2.

The Experimental Section:

The most frustrating part of the GRE, the experimental section is an extra set of 20 questions (which could be math or verbal) that is completely unmarked. Your performance in this section will not affect your final score in any way. The catch is that you have no way to determine which portion is the experimental section. So don’t try to guess which section is the experimental section. If you do and skip the entire section, the consequences of getting it wrong would be disastrous.

That’s it for the test. You will then be given a chance to report the scores or forfeit. If you chose to report the score, you will get your results instantaneously (barring the AWA) and the results will be stored at the ETS database. IF you feel less confident and chose not to report, you will not receive your scores and the results would not be stored.

Hope this helps. Good Luck!