GRE Exam Pattern 2021

Updated by: Subhashri Roy on June 11, 2021, 10:20 a.m.

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GRE Test Structure

The Educational Testing Services (ETS) has formulated the test structure of the GRE General Test (both computer-based and paper-based) and the GRE Subject Test. The GRE, short for Graduate Record Examination, is a test taken by graduate aspirants for international universities such as Stanford UniversityUniversity of Massachusetts, BostonKing's College, London,  Oregon State University, Suffolk University, etc.

If you are one of the GRE aspirants then you must check the test structure of GRE. Without actually understanding the GRE sections breakdown, you cannot begin with the GRE preparation. This will also help you in managing your time during the examination by allocating fixed time (as per your convenience) to every question comprising a particular section. Knowing the GRE test structure will also help you in separating different sections on the basis of their difficulty level and allotted time, which in turn will help you better in time-management before as well as during the GRE test.

Also Read:

What is a Good GRE Score & How is it Calculated? Differences Between GMAT and GRE - Which is the Best?
Top 100 MBA Programs With GMAT/GRE Waiver in 2021 When is the Right Time to Start Planning Higher Education Abroad?

COVID-19 Updates

Keeping in mind the different COVID-19 regulations of each country, ETS has provided a temporary provision of a GRE General Test at Home, which allows applicants to appear for the test at home itself. Students will be asked to follow certain protocols and guidelines to attempt the GRE 2021 test at home.

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GRE Subject Tests Structure

  • 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 GRE Subject Tests are taken for six subjects and the structure and content varies for all of them. 

  1. Biology

  2. Literature in English

  3. Physics 

  4. Chemistry

  5. Mathematics 

  6. 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

Biology 

188

Five Choice Based Questions

2 hours and 50 minutes

Chemistry 

130

Multiple-Choice Questions

2 hours and 50 minutes

English Literature

230

Environmental Applications

2 hours and 50 minutes

Mathematics 

66

Multiple-Choice Questions

2 hours and 50 minutes

Physics 

100

Five Choice Based Questions

2 hours and 50 minutes

Psychology 

205

Five Choice Based Questions

2 hours and 50 minutes

GRE General Test Structure

  • The GRE General Test is conducted in two formats: Computer-Delivered GRE and Paper-Delivered GRE.
  • The testing time, sectional breakdown and number of questions asked are different in both formats. 

  • The testing time for the Computer-Delivered GRE General Test is 3 hours and 45 minutes, which is 225 minutes. 

  • The testing time for the Paper-Delivered GRE General Test is 3 hours and 30 minutes, which is 210 minutes. 

Structure of Computer-Delivered GRE General Test

The overall duration of the Computer-Delivered GRE General Test is 3 hours and 45 minutes, which is 225 minutes. The further sectional breakdown of the test can be checked below.

Measure

Number of Sections/ Tasks

Number of Questions

Allotted Time

Analytical Writing

1 Section and 2 Tasks

Task 1 based on Analysing an Issue and Task 2 based on Analysing an Argument

30 Minutes Per Task

Verbal Reasoning

2 Sections

20 Questions in Each Section

30 Minutes per Section

Quantitative Reasoning

2 Sections

20 Questions in Each Section

35 Minutes per Section

Unscored

Varies

Varies

Varies

Research

Varies

Varies

Varies

NOTE: 

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

  • The test may include an ‘unscored’ section which does not contribute towards your score. The questions asked in this section might be used in future tests.

  • Another ‘research’ section might be included in place of the unscored section. This section also does not contribute to your scores and is used for ETS research purposes. 

Structure of Paper-Delivered GRE General Test

The duration of the Paper-Delivered GRE General Test is 3 hours and 30 minutes, which is 210 minutes. You can check the sectional breakdown of the test in the table given below.

Measure

Number of Sections/ Tasks

Number of Questions

Allotted Time

Analytical Writing

2 Sections (based on tasks)

Section 1: A Task-based on Analysing an Issue

Section 2: A Task-based on Analysing an Argument

30 Minutes Per Task

Verbal Reasoning

2 Sections

25 Questions in Each Section

35 Minutes per Section

Quantitative Reasoning

2 Sections

25 Questions in Each Section

40 Minutes per Section

NOTE: 

  • 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. 

Also Read: 10 Mistakes You Should Avoid Making on Tests like GMAT and GRE

GRE Test at Home

As a response to the COVID- 19 pandemic, ETS, the conducting body of GRE has allowed students to take the GRE test at home. The decision has been made to ensure the safety of test-takers and to make sure that the maximum number of the students are able to take GRE to apply for admissions at universities abroad. 

The option is almost available for students belonging to any part of the world except China, Iran and Mainland. However, final confirmation of the availability of the ‘Test at Home’ option is done at the time of registration. Based on the country selected, students will be allowed to take GRE at Home.

The pattern and syllabus of the GRE Test at Home is 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. 

Check the following link for detailed GRE Test at Home option:

GRE Test at Home-  Eligibility, Registration, Requirements

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 registration. 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.

FAQs about GRE Exam Pattern 2021

1. Is the structure for Computer-Delivered GRE and Paper-Delivered GRE different?    

Yes, the structure of Computer-delivered GRE and Paper-delivered GRE is different. While the total duration of the computer-delivered GRE is 225 minutes, the total duration of the paper-delivered GRE is 210 minutes. Check out the detailed structure of both on our website.

2. How many tasks are in GRE's Analytical Writing?  

 There will be one section with two writing tasks in the Analytical Writing section under the GRE General Test, each time for 30 minutes.

3. How many questions are under GRE Verbal Reasoning?    

There will be two sections with 20 questions each writing tasks in the Verbal Reasoning section under the GRE General Test. Each section will be timed for 30 minutes.

4. How many questions are under GRE Quantitative Reasoning?  

There will be two sections with 20 questions each writing tasks in the Quantitative Reasoning section under the GRE General Test. Each section will be timed for 35 minutes.

5. What is the total duration of the GRE General Test?  

The total duration of the GRE General Test is 3 hours and 45 minutes.

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

During the GRE General Test, 30 minutes will be allotted per task in the Analytical Writing section; 30 minutes will be allowed for each section under Verbal Reasoning and 35 Minutes will be allotted for each section under Quantitative Reasoning.

7. Is there any break in between the GRE test?    

Both the computer-delivered and paper-delivered GRE tests will have a 10-minute break in between.

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

A total of 100 questions approximately will be asked in the GRE Subject Test for Physics.

9. In which format are the GRE Subject Tests delivered?    

GRE subject tests are delivered only in paper-based format.

10. For how many subjects are GRE Subject Tests administered?  

 GRE subject tests are administered for six subjects, namely, Biology, Literature in English, Physics, Chemistry, Mathematics, and Psychology. 

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