GRE Exam Pattern - Marking Scheme, Duration, Section-wise Test Pattern

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Mrunmayai Bobade
Updated on Jun 02, 2023 5:11 PM IST

Want to ace GRE exams this year? Go through this page to learn everything you need to know about GRE exam patterns and how you can ace the tests this year. One of the key elements to your success in the exam will be your knowledge of the GRE exam pattern, which include the exam sections, tasks, types of questions, time allotted to each section and question, and much more.

This page will highlight the section-wise exam pattern for GRE General Tests as well as the GRE Subject Tests. You can also find out the exam pattern for GRE Test at Home and learn about the exam structure, questions and duration you need to be mindful of when attempting the tests this year.

GRE Exam Pattern

The GRE is a globally popular standardised examination for entrance to master’s degree programmes abroad. The GRE pattern consists of three important sections including quantitative reasoning, verbal reasoning and analytical writing assessment. Before beginning with GRE preparation, it is important to acquaint yourself well with the GRE exam pattern. The testing agency ETS is behind in determining the pattern of the GRE General Test and GRE Subject Test. The GRE General Test and Subject Test patterns are different. 

With less than 42 questions being asked in GRE General computer-based test the total time allotted for this paper is 1 hour and 58 minutes. In the case of the GRE paper-based test, there are 102 questions in 3 hours and 30 minutes. The GRE Subject Test contains 66-230 questions to be answered within 2 hours and 50 minutes. 

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GRE General Test Exam Pattern

There are two formats of the GRE General Test- GRE computer-based and GRE paper-based. Both tests are similar with slight variations in formats. Refer to the table to know the difference:

GRE General (Computer-Based Test)

Verbal Reasoning 

Two sections

Total 27 questions

Total 41 minutes


Quantitative Reasoning

Two sections Total 27 questions Total 47 minutes

Analytical Writing (One section with two separately timed tasks)

One section

Analyze an Issue task on;y 

Total 30 minutes



Total Sections

Total Questions: Varies

Total Duration: 1 hour and 58 minutes


  • The computer-delivered test comprises six sections with a 10-minute break. 

  • From September 22, 2023, the test will not include an ‘unscored’ section in addition to the "analyse an argument" task. 

  • The first section is of average difficulty. The difficulty level of the second section adjusts itself as per the performance in the first section.

GRE General (Paper-Based Test )

Verbal Reasoning 

Two sections

25 questions per section

70 minutes (35 minutes per task)


Quantitative Reasoning

Two sections

25 questions per section

80 (40 minutes per task) 

Analytical Writing (One section with two separately timed tasks)

Two sections

2 (1 Analyze an Issue &1 Analyze an Argument task  

60 (30 minutes per task) 

One unidentified unscored section




One identified research section 




Total Sections: Six


Total Questions: 102

Total Duration: Three hours and 30 minutes


  • The Paper-delivered test comprises six sections with a 10-minute break. 

  • The first section is always the Analytical Writing section.

  • The rest of the sections from Verbal Reasoning and Quantitative Reasoning may appear in any order. 

  • One unidentified unscored section and one identified research section are present in paper-based tests also.

GRE Subject Test Exam Pattern

The GRE Subject Tests are designed to test one’s expertise in undergraduate discipline to study graduate courses. These can only be taken by those who have a bachelor's degree in a particular subject or vast knowledge of it. Students must note that GRE biology and literature papers have been discontinued in May 2021. 

  • The GRE Subject Tests are delivered in a paper-based format only. 

  • The duration allotted for all the tests is 2 hours and 50 minutes, i.e. 170 minutes. 

  • The tests do not have separately timed sections.

  • The exams are offered three times a year that is in September, October and April.

The GRE Subject Tests are taken for four subjects and the structure and content vary for all of them. 

1. Physics 

2. Chemistry

3. Mathematics 

4. Psychology 

You can check the sections and content for each of the subject tests of GRE here. The following table will help you understand the structure of these GRE Subject Tests.  

GRE Subject Test

Total Number of Questions Asked (approx)

Type of Questions

Testing Time



Multiple-Choice Questions

Two hours and 50 minutes



Multiple-Choice Questions

Two hours and 50 minutes



Five Choice-Based Questions

Two hours and 50 minutes



Five Choice-Based Questions

Two hours and 50 minutes

GRE Test at Home

GRE at Home was first launched during the Covid-19 pandemic to ensure that students can safely take the test from their homes instead of going to test centres. Also, it was designed to encourage the maximum number of test-takers to appear for the exam and apply to foreign universities using their GRE scores.

Test-takers from all over the world, except China and Iran, can avail of the GRE at Home version. They get the option to select GRE at Home while booking the test.

The pattern and syllabus of the GRE Test at Home are identical to the original GRE Test. Also, the marking scheme of the GRE Test at Home also remains the same. To maintain the integrity of the test, the online test is monitored by artificial intelligence technology and trained human proctors. 

GRE Test at Home- Disability Accommodation Request

Candidates who need disability accommodation facilities while taking the GRE Test Home can request the same at the time of the registration process. One can request extra time, breaks, screen magnification, or colour selection while applying for GRE. For other accommodation requests, one can register through the ETS Disability Services.

Explore GRE Accepting Universities Worldwide! 

FAQs on GRE Exam Pattern

How many tasks are in GRE's Analytical Writing?

GRE's Analytical Writing section has one writing task "Analyse an issue". Formerly this section used to contain the "analyse an argument" task which from September 22, 2023, got eliminated entirely by the ETS. The one writing task in the analytical writing section of the General Test is timed for 30 minutes.

How many questions are under GRE Verbal Reasoning?

The GRE verbal reasoning section contains a total of 27 questions from two sections. The overall GRE exam duration combining both sections is of 41 minutes. Therefore, students will get 1.50 minutes to answer each question and they require high speed and efficiency to complete all the questions on time. 

How many questions are under GRE Quantitative Reasoning?

The GRE quantitative reasoning section contains a total of 27 questions combining two different sections. There is a total of two sections which means nearly 13 to 14 questions will be in each section. Apart from these two compulsory sections, there is the probability of a third option quant section to come in the exam. 


What is the total duration of the GRE General Test?

The total time duration of the GRE General test is 1 hour and 58 minutes. From September 22, 2023, the ETS has completely eliminated the "analyse an argument" task along with the GRE unscored section. Further, the GRE exam applicants will receive their official test score reports within 8 to 10 business days as compared to the former test result declaration which used to take an average of 15 business days.

How much time will be allocated for each section of the GRE General Test?

The total GRE duration allotted for the GRE General Test is 1 hour and 58 minutes. Here's the breakdown:

  • GRE Analytical Writing contains one task “Analyse an Issue” which is of 30 minutes.

  • GRE Verbal Reasoning contains a total of 27 questions for two different sections and the overall time allotted for both is 41 minutes. 

  • GRE Quantitative Reasoning section has a total of 27 questions for two different sections and the overall time allotted for both is 47 minutes. 

For how many subjects are GRE Subject Tests administered?

The GRE Subject Tests are administered for only four subjects which are Mathematics, Physics, Chemistry and Psychology. The test is taken in pen and paper mode in various test centres across the globe. It is conducted three times a year in April, September and October and lasts for 2 hours and 45 minutes.

In which format are the GRE Subject Tests delivered?

The GRE Subject Test is conducted in paper-delivered format. An online version of the test is unavailable. GRE Subject Tests measure the extensive knowledge of test-taker in a subject and are only taken by those who have done their bachelors in that particular subject.

How many questions will be asked in the GRE Subject Test for Physics?

In GRE Subject Test for Physics, 100 questions will be asked. They are multiple-choice questions with no timed parts. The questions are divided into different sets and are based on materials like diagrams, graphs, experimental data and physical situation descriptions. Some of the topics covered are classical mechanics, electromagnetism, thermodynamics and etc.

Is there any break in between the GRE test?

Yes, there is a break in between the GRE test. Its duration is 10 minutes and is the same for both GRE computer-based and paper-delivered tests. Students can utilise this gap to use the washroom, drink water or take some refreshments. The break is beneficial considering the stressful exam environment.

Is the GRE a computer-delivered or paper-delivered test?

The GRE is a computer-based test that is taken throughout the year. It can be retaken anytime after 21 days. The paper-based test is available only in case students are unable to take the computer-delivered test, which is also offered multiple times a year.

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