GRE Sections - How Many Sections in GRE Exam?

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Mrunmayai Bobade
Updated on Jun 02, 2023 4:42 PM IST

Choosing to take the GRE exam this year? Check out this page to learn about the GRE exam sections that you need to prepare for, in order to ace the tests this year. Knowing, not only how many sections there are in the test, but also the type of questions you may be asked to answer in the test will be crucial to your success in GRE exams this year.

Primarily, there are 3 sections in GRE exams conducted across the globe, viz., the Analytical Writing Assessment, Verbal Reasoning and Quantitative Reasoning. These GRE sections are designed to assess your academic proficiency as per top university standards. Go through this exam page to learn in-depth information about GRE sections.

GRE Exam Sections 2023

Much like many other standardised tests to study abroad, the Graduate Record Exam (GRE) consists of six sections. With the objective of evaluating the different academic skills of the candidate, the GRE exam analyses the Analytical, Verbal and Quantitative reasoning abilities of all test-takers.

All the sections of the GRE exam, also known as the GRE General Test have been designed to analyse the prospects of a candidate from the purview of graduate admissions at top universities around the world. Keeping a common ground in terms of the basic requirements and academic proficiency that any prospective student should possess for graduate admissions abroad, the GRE sections ensure they satisfy the basic requirements for graduate programmes across different disciplines.

The Graduate Record Examination, popularly known as the GRE exam,  is taken by applicants from all around the world who want to pursue a master's, specialised master's in business, MBA, JD, or PhD degree. The GRE Test, which is administered by ETS, is one of the most popular graduate admissions tests for applicants interested in pursuing MS or graduate courses overseas.

How many GRE sections are there?

There are six GRE sections in the General Test, which takes around three hours and 45 minutes to complete, with a 10-minute break after the third section and small 1-minute breaks in between other sections. Check out the table below to understand the exam pattern for GRE sections you will have to attempt this year.


Number of Questions

Allotted Time

Analytical Writing

(One section with two separately timed tasks)

One "Analyse an Issue" task and one "Analyse an Argument" task

30 minutes per task

Verbal Reasoning

(Two sections)

20 questions per section

30 minutes per section

Quantitative Reasoning (Two sections)

20 questions per section

35 minutes per section

GRE Exam Structure

The entire exam is conducted over a span of 1 hour and 58 mins, with dedicated time limits for the different GRE sections of the exam. As per the current exam pattern for the test, both for online and offline GRE exams, the Analytical Writing section, which consists of 2 separately-timed tasks, will always be the first section of the test. Subsequently, the GRE Verbal Reasoning and the GRE Quantitative Reasoning tasks will be conducted, each containing two sections.

What all is asked in GRE Exam?

You will have two independently timed writing tasks in the GRE analytical writing section. You must type your essay responses for the two computer-delivered writing assignments. With regards to the GRE Verbal Reasoning and the GRE Quantitative Reasoning sections, there will be different forms of questions in the two GRE sections.

Some questions across different GRE sections ask you to choose only one option, while others may ask you to choose one or more options, on the other hand,  other questions may want you to submit a numerical response. The GRE Quantitative Reasoning and the GRE Verbal Reasoning tests are adaptive at the sectional level. Based on your success in the first section of the measure, the computer chooses the second section. For use during the GRE Quantitative Reasoning sections, an on-screen calculator will be made available at the testing facility.

You are free to skip any questions in the GRE Verbal Reasoning and the GRE Quantitative Reasoning sections that you might find challenging to respond to. You can mark questions you want to go back to and look at them again during the allotted time. The testing software also provides you with access to a comprehensive list of all the questions in the GRE sections you are working on, allowing you to ensure that all the questions have been answered and those that have been flagged for further consideration.

Inevitably, the number of questions you successfully answer in both the GRE verbal reasoning and the GRE quantitative reasoning sections will determine your scores. However, if you choose the incorrect response to a question, your score will not be affected. Thus, it is recommended to attempt every question in order to maximise your chances of scoring high.

How is GRE Exam Conducted?

The ETS GRE exam is conducted at various times throughout the year, and students can take the exam in a designated GRE test centre or from the comfort of their own homes if they choose the 'GRE at Home' option. Candidates who want to take the proctored GRE exam at home must have the prerequisite system requirements and a test-friendly environment set up at home.

Who Accepts the GRE Score?

In English-speaking countries, the GRE is one of the most popularly accepted entrance exams at thousands of graduate, business and law schools. Admissions or fellowship committees use GRE scores to complement your undergraduate records, recommendation letters, and other credentials for graduate school. They provide a uniform metric for schools to compare. GRE scores are accepted across different universities in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Europe, Singapore, Australia and many more.

Apply to Top GRE Accepting Universities Worldwide! 

FAQs on GRE Exam Sections

What is the GRE exam structure?

The GRE exam structure is designed for test-takers to complete a set of questions under analytical writing, verbal and quantitative sections. From September 22, 2023, the GRE unscored or research section has been entirely eliminated by the ETS in addition to the "analyse an argument" task. All aspiring test-takers are expected to complete all the sections in the total GRE test duration of 1 hour and 58 minutes.

How many questions are presented during the GRE Quantitive section?

The GRE quantitative section contains a total of 27 questions spread nearly equally between the two sections. Candidates will be given approx. 23 minutes each to answer all the questions asked in the GRE quantitative section. Here candidates will be required to answer any two types of questions from the different sections, i.e. MCQs (Single Answer), MCQs (Multiple answers), Quantitative Comparison Questions and Numeric Entry Questions.

How many GRE sections will I have to attempt?

In total, the GRE exam is divided into five sections containing a variety of questions and tasks that should be completed within the given timeframe. Currently, the five GRE sections include the Analytical Writing section involving two timed tasks and the Verbal sections made up of two sections consisting of 20 questions each, which is similarly followed in the Quantitative section of the test as well.

Are there MCQs in GRE exam?

Yes, test-takers will face several different types of questions, among which are Multiple Choice Questions, or MCQs. The verbal and quantitative reasoning sections of GRE exams contain two types of MCQs, i.e.Single Answer and Multi-Answer MCQs. Single answer MCQs mean there is only one correct answer, while multi-answer MCQs include multiple answers that are correct.

Is using a calculator during GRE exam allowed?

Yes, according to ETS rules and regulations for GRE exams, test-takers are allowed to use calculators during the test. However, the calculator to be used will be given to you with the test. Every candidate will be able to access an on-screen calculator which they can use during the quantitative reasoning.

Will I get a negative marking on GRE for wrong answers?

No, ETS policies specify that there is no negative marking in GRE exams, regardless of the section being answered. Candidates are suggested and advised to answer all the questions in the GRE exam in a bid to increase their chances of selecting or presenting the right answers. With the addition of the MCQs presented during the GRE exam further increases the chances of securing a better score.

Are there fewer sections in GRE ‘at-home’ testing?

No, the GRE sections, in both the test centre and at-home testing versions contain the same number of sections and questions. The only major difference between the two tests is the invigilation and testing environment. Candidates will be given 3 hours and 45 minutes to complete the tests, in both the GRE exam options.

Are the questions in GRE exam repeated?

Yes, GRE exam questions can be repeated in a few of the tests, however, that may be a result of the automatic selection of the questions from the GRE question pool. It should be noted that not all the questions will be repeated. If you wish to learn more about the questions you can face during the GRE exam, then register and connect with us now!

What is the GRE exam used for?

The Graduate Record Exam, or GRE exam, is one of the more commonly accepted, and in some cases required, entrance exams for graduate programmes across different countries. The GRE exam quantifies the academic qualifications and skills possessed by an aspirant, thus allowing universities and colleges to judge and select students based on their academic merit.

Is attempting GRE necessary?

GRE is an important entrance exam that is accepted by top universities across the globe for graduate programmes throughout all disciplines. However, it may not be a compulsory requirement at all universities. Therefore, before applying to any graduate programme abroad, check the individual admission requirements for the course and university of your choice.

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