The Graduate Record Examinations is a standardized test that is an admissions requirement for many graduate schools in the United States and Canada. The exam is owned and administered by Educational Testing Service. The test was established in 1936 by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching.

The GRE is developed and administered by testmaker ETS to provide graduate and business schools with common measures for comparing applicants’ qualifications and preparedness for graduate-level academic work. Graduate school and business school admissions committees look at your GRE score, along with your academic record and supporting materials, to assess your readiness for the rigors of graduate academic study.


GRE Exam Pattern

The question paper is divided into three main sections, namely, Analytical Writing, Verbal Reasoning, and Quantitative Reasoning. The total time given to complete the exam is three hours and thirty minutes (3 hours 30 minutes=210 mins) and for computer-based, it is three hours and forty minutes (3 hours 40 minutes= 220 mins).

No. of SectionsDurationNo. of SectionsDuration
Analytical Writing2 sections- 2 tasks60 minutes1 section- two tasks60 minutes
Verbal Reasoning2 sections- 50 questions70 minutes2 section- 40 questions60 minutes
Quantitative Reasoning2 sections- 50 questions80 minutes2 section- 40 questions70 minutes

The paper-based exam includes two sub-sections of each of the main categories- Analytical Writing, Verbal and Quantitative Reasoning. Analytical Writing part contains two tasks with a duration of one hour (60 mins). Verbal and Quantitative reasoning each contains two sections and 50 questions with a maximum time limit of 60 and 70 minutes, consequently.

Two test formats

The exam has two test formats – GRE General Test and GRE Subject Test. The GRE syllabus is different for each.

  • General Test: General Test is the standard exam that tests students’ verbal reasoning, quantitative reasoning, and analytical writing skills.
  • Subject Test: For more specific courses a Subject Test might be required by the college, as Subject Test focuses on judging the candidate’s expertise in specific fields.

GRE Syllabus

Syllabus for General Test

Here is the GRE exam syllabus covering writing syllabus, verbal reasoning syllabus, and Math syllabus:

Analytical Writing

The analytical writing section aims to measure the test taker’s ability to articulate complex ideas clearly and effectively, support ideas with relevant reasons and examples, examine claims and accompanying evidence, sustain a well-focused, coherent discussion and control the elements of standard written English.

Verbal Reasoning

The verbal reasoning section aims to measure the test taker’s ability to analyze and draw conclusions from the discourse, reason from incomplete data, identify author’s assumptions and/or perspective, select important points, distinguish major from minor or relevant points, summarize text, understand the structure of a text, understand the meanings of words, sentences and entire texts and understand relationships among words and concepts.

List of topics covered under the verbal section

  • Basic Sentence structure: Nouns, Pronouns, Adjectives
  • Verb Tense
  • Idioms & Idiomatic Expressions
  • Pronoun Agreement
  • Subject-Verb Agreement
  • Modifiers
  • Parallelism

Quantitative Reasoning

The quantitative reasoning section aims to measure the test taker’s ability to understand quantitative information, interpret and analyze quantitative information, solve problems using mathematical models, and apply basic mathematical skills and elementary mathematical concepts of arithmetic, algebra, geometry, probability, and statistics.

List of topics covered in Quantitative Reasoning

Ratio and proportionProfit and loss
Simple and compound interestSpeed, distance and time
Permutation & combinationLinear equations
Quadratic equationsSets Theory
StatisticsPowers and roots
ProbabilityPipes, cisterns, work, time
Lines and anglesTriangles
CirclesCoordinate geometry
Order of operationsVolume and surface area
PercentageNumber properties

GRE Subject Test Syllabus

GRE syllabus for Subject Test consists of the following subjects:


The test consists of approximately 190 five-choice questions related to Biology. The topics include:

  • Cellular and Molecular Biology
  • Organismal Biology
  • Ecology and Evolution



The test consists of approximately 130 multiple-choice questions related to the four fields into which chemistry has been traditionally divided

  • Analytical Chemistry
  • Inorganic Chemistry
  • Organic Chemistry
  • Physical Chemistry 

Literature in English

Each edition of the test consists of approximately 230 questions on poetry, drama, biography, the essay, the short story, the novel, criticism, literary theory and the history of the language.

  • Literary Analysis
  • Identification
  • Cultural and Historical Contexts
  • History and Theory of Literary Criticism



The test consists of approximately 66 multiple-choice questions drawn from courses commonly offered at the undergraduate level.

  • Algebra
  • Calculus
  • Additional Topics



The test consists of approximately 100 five-choice questions, some of which are grouped in sets and based on such materials as diagrams, graphs, experimental data and descriptions of physical situations.

  • Classical Mechanics
  • Electromagnetism
  • Optics and Wave Phenomena
  • Thermodynamics and Statistical Mechanics
  • Quantum Mechanics
  • Atomic Physics
  • Special Relativity
  • Laboratory Methods
  • Specialized Topics 


The test consists of approximately 205 multiple-choice questions. Each question in the test has five options from which the examinee is to select the one option that is the correct or best answer to the question.

  • Biological
  • Cognitive
  • Developmental
  • Social
  • Clinical
  • Measurement/Methodology/Other 

For free materials relating to the exam, check:

For more details about the exam, check:

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