April 6, 2014

Structure of the GRE: Overview

There are three sections in the Graduate Record Examination: Analytical Writing, Verbal Ability, and Quantitative Ability. On exam day, you will take the Analytical Writing section first. For many students, this is a welcome arrangement, since the Analytical Writing section is the most feared part of the exam.

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Analytical Writing section is composed of two essays, one of which takes 45 minutes and one of which takes 30 minutes. First, you will have 45 minutes in which to Present Your Perspective on an Issue. In this essay, you will select a prompt and then assert and defend your opinion on the subject. In order to score well on this exam, you will need to provide good reasoning and examples to support your opinion. Next, you will have 30 minutes in which to Analyze an Argument. In this essay, you will be given a brief written argument, which you will have to critique. In order to compose a successful critique, you will need to identify weak areas of the argument and possible counter-examples that could affect the strength of the argument. After the Analytical Writing section of the GRE exam, you will be given a 10-minute break. After this, there will be the 30-minute Verbal Ability section. The Verbal Ability section is composed of 30 multiple-choice questions of the following types: antonyms, analogies, sentence completions, and reading comprehension questions. After another break, you will be given 45 minutes to complete 28 multiple-choice questions in the Quantitative Ability section. Half of the questions in this section are quantitative comparisons and half are data interpretation and problem-solving questions. In addition, there will be either another Quantitative Ability or another Verbal Ability section. This extra part of the exam will feature some questions that may be used in future versions of the GRE test. While your score on this section of the exam will not count towards your final score, it will be impossible for you to distinguish which is the scored section and which is the un-scored section.

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