Structure and Syllabus for GRE Exam

GRE Exam (Graduate Record Examination) is a standardized online exam which is compulsory to apply for a Master’s Degree or PHD in any field overseas. You can take the GRE exam any time during a year, by selecting a slot for the exam 45 days prior. ETS (Educational Testing Service) is responsible for conducting the exam.

The GRE is conducted in multiple stages, In this test, the difficulty of next section depends upon your performance in the previous section. If you do well in the first verbal section, the difficulty level of second verbal section will automatically increase.

The difficulty level of questions within a section does not change. The scores for Verbal and Quant sections are between 130 to 170, in one point increments. Analytical writing is scored on a scale of 0 to 6, in 0.5 increments.  

GRE structure and syllabus

The GRE syllabus basically consists of three subjects namely: verbal reasoning, quantitative reasoning and analytical writing. Time duration of GRE test is 3 hours and 45 minutes. There are total six sections: two sections each on verbal and quantitative reasoning, one section on analytical writing. The sixth section is redundant as it has no role to play in calculation of final score. The GRE exam syllabus covering all three sections is as follows:-

Analytical Writing  

In this section, the writing skills of a candidate are tested. Candidates are given topics on which they have to write. They may also be given passages, on the basis of which they have to write the answers. The passages could be related to any topic, so the syllabus of this section is quite vast. In the first task, candidate has to analyse the issue and provide his point of view on the matter. In the second task, a candidate has to analyse the logical strength of the given argument. The candidate has to present that argument’s strengths and weaknesses. It aims to test the analytical capability and power of expression.

Verbal Reasoning

This section measures a candidate’s ability to analyse and draw conclusions from the given data. It also tests a candidate’s ability to comprehend the written material, read and find out the logical relationship between the points mentioned in the passage.

The verbal reasoning section measures a candidate’s ability to read and understand written material of a kind, which is commonly used in academics. Three types of questions make up this section: (i) Reading comprehension; (ii) Text completion; (iii) Sentence equivalence. In order to comprehend texts, a candidate has to identify the relationships between parts of a sentence. He must be able to analyse associations between words and concepts. The verbal reasoning segment tests whether a candidate has required talent and ability or not.

About 50 per cent of the questions in verbal reasoning section are based on RC passages. In order to get a good score in RC, the test-taker has to understand the meaning of words used in the passages. He has to understand the relation between different parts of a paragraph and draw inferences based the analysis. He must be able to grasp an author’s opinion and position on the matter. The passages may be related to any field like sciences, humanities, or business topics published in academic or non-academic journals.

In text completion, the candidate is expected to add the missing words or phrases in the paragraph, for a given overall context. It again tests a candidate’s comprehension abilities based on the given text and also the ability to draw the right conclusions from the given paragraph.

The third type of question asked under the verbal reasoning section is sentence equivalence. It requires the test-taker to fill in the blank in each sentence, with the most suitable word and also choose an alternative word from the given options.

The topics covered under this section are as follows:-

  • Basic sentence: Nouns, Pronouns, Adjectives
  • Verb Tense
  • Idioms and Idiomatic Expressions
  • Pronoun Agreement
  • Subject-Verb Agreement
  • Modifiers
  • Parallelism

Quantitative Reasoning

The quantitative reasoning aims to find out the understanding, interpreting and analysing ability of a candidate, through the presented quantitative information. The questions are of high-school level. This section can be further divided into 4 major sections: Arithmetic, Algebra, Geometry, Data analysis. Candidates taking the computer-based test are provided with on-screen calculators and those taking the paper-based test are provided handheld calculators. However, the ETS GRE website contains some guidelines that advise against the use of the calculator for some type of questions. It points out that the powers of reasoning and estimating may be more effective and less time-consuming in these cases.

Detailed syllabus is as follows:

  • Arithmetic
  1. Integers
  2. Fractions
  3. Exponents and Roots
  4. Decimals
  5. Real Numbers
  6. Ratio
  7. Percentages
  • Algebra
  1. Operations with Algebraic Expressions
  2. Rules of Exponents
  3. Solving Linear Equations
  4. Solving Quadratic Equations
  5. Solving Linear Inequalities
  6. Functions
  7. Applications
  8. Coordinate Geometry
  9. Graphs of Functions
  • Geometry
  1. Lines and Angles
  2. Polygons
  3. Triangles
  4. Quadrilaterals
  5. Circles
  6. 3-D Figures
  • Data Analysis
  1. Graphical Methods for Describing Data
  2. Numerical Methods for Describing Data
  3. Counting Methods
  4. Probability
  5. Distributions of Data, random Variables and Probability Distributions
  6. Data Interpretation Examples

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