In a 2 hour 50 minute long GRE Exam, you’ll be facing 230 questions from poetry, drama, criticism, biography, the essay, the short story, the novel, criticism, literary theory and the history of language. In GRE Subject Test for Literature in English, few questions will be from short works mentioned in their entirety, or some questions could be asked by the short extract from their longer works. The test paper questions are formulated from literature in English from the British Isles, the United States and other parts of the world. It also carries a few questions on major works, including the Bible, translated from other languages. The questions in the paper are categorized into two: Factual and Analytical.
The Factual questions comprise the characteristics of the literary and critical movements, determining the period or author of work by the writing style from short works reprinted in their entirety.
The Analytical questions measure the ability to read a literary text with understanding. Test seekers are asked to scrutinize a given passage of prose or poetry and to answer questions about meaning, form and structure, literary techniques, and various aspects of language.
The following outline indicates the approximate distribution of questions according to content categories.
Literary Analysis (40–55%)
Interpretation of passages of prose and poetry. Such questions may involve recognition of conventions and genres, allusions and references, meaning and tone, grammatical structures and rhetorical strategies, and literary techniques.
Recognition of date, author or work by style and content
Cultural and Historical Contexts (20–25%)
Knowledge of literary, cultural and intellectual history as well as identification of author or work through a critical statement or biographical information. Also identification of details of character, plot or setting of work.
History and Theory of Literary Criticism (10–15%)
Identification and analysis of the characteristics and methods of various critical and theoretical approaches.
The literary-historical scope of the test follows the distribution below.
|1. Continental, Classical, and Comparative Literature through 1925||5–10%|
|2. British Literature to 1660 (including Milton)||25–30%|
|3. British Literature 1660–1925||25–35%|
|4. American Literature through 1925||15–25%|
|5. American, British, and World Literatures after 1925||20–30%|