Free GRE Course > GRE Introduction > What is the GRE?

The GRE (Graduate Record Examination) General Exam is a required test for most American graduate schools except for law schools (which typically require the LSAT). The GRE consists of four multiple-choice sections (two Quantitative Reasoning and two Critical Reasoning) and an Analytical Writing section consisting of two essays.

Quantitative Sections:

20 questions per section
35 minutes per section

Quantitative Comparison
Multiple Choice (one answer)
Multiple Choice (one or more answers)
Numeric Entry

Verbal Sections:

20 questions per section
30 minutes per section

Reading Comprehension
Text Completion
Sentence Equivalence

High-scorers typically spend over 40 hours preparing.

Video Courtesy of (site-affiliate) Kaplan GRE prep.

Unscored Sections:

The GRE has two unscored sections. One includes questions that are being tried out for use in future tests or are included to check consistency of scores across editions of the exam. This section will not be identified and could appear anywhere. The second unscored section is a research section that includes questions for ETS research purposes. This section will be identified and is always at the end of the exam.

Analytical Writing Section:

The GRE has two separately timed essay questions, “Analysis of Issue” and “Analysis of Argument.” You have 30 minutes to type each essay using a simple word-processing program. You will get a single score for this section from 0-6.

Video Courtesy of (site-affiliate) Kaplan GRE prep.

The GRE primarily tests four skills:

1. Endurance and ability to focus

You’ll have to stare at a screen intensely and focus for nearly four hours. Keep this in mind when taking practice tests. Get used to working for many hours on end. The physical and mental exhaustion is part of the test’s challenge. That’s why we offer GRE CAT practice tests. You should take as many practice CATs as possible to learn the test and to get used to the grueling experience.

2. Basic knowledge of grammar, math, reasoning, and argument formation

The second skill is covered in the later chapters of this online prep guide.

3. Test-taking skills: ability to guess, work at an appropriate pace, and make decisions under pressure

These skills are covered in this chapter and throughout the online guide. Timing is a major test-taking skill, particularly for the GRE CAT.

4. Problem-solving abilities

To improve your problem-solving abilities, we have extensive information on reasoning techniques and math concepts throughout this online guide. When you get a question wrong, make sure to review our explanations so that you understand the conceptual error that you made in the question. You do not want to repeat errors.

Find local GRE classes & schedules using our database of over 150 cities.