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GRE Test Structure

The revised GRE test format claims to be more "test-taker" friendly, but that really depends on what kind of test-taker you are. The following points summarize the most important changes to the GRE:

  1. New Question Types: The Revised GRE has some new question types such as sentence equivalence, numeric entry, multiple choice questions with multiple correct answers, etc.

  2. Format & Scoring: The layout of the Revised GRE is a bit different than its predecessor's. Instead of seven sections, and scores between 200 and 800, the new GRE consists of 6 graded sections:
    1. Analytical Writing – Two essays, 30 minutes allotted for each
    2. Quantitative Reasoning – 2 sections of about 20 math questions in 35 minutes each
    3. Verbal Reasoning – 2 sections of about 20 verbal questions in 30 minutes each
  3. The scores of the Revised General GRE will be given between 130 and 170, and you may see an experimental section during your test as well, but there is nothing to distinguish it from the graded sections of the test.

  4. Complex Reasoning Skills: The Revised GRE now emphasizes more cognitive and complex reasoning skills than before. This means that you will face more text-based materials, such as reading passages, less dependence on isolated vocabulary knowledge, and a broader selection of reading material, including some passages and questions based on principles of logical arguments.

  5. No More Analogies and Analogies: Good riddance. These highly subjective questions were fairly confusing for many students, and they will not be missed.

  6. Section-Adaptive Test: While both versions of this test are adaptive (meaning the difficulty of the questions you face adjusts based on your performance), the Revised GRE is a bit different. Instead of adjusting the difficulty of each question you face, the test will perform an analysis after every section. This basically means that the second section of each subject that you face on the GRE will consist of questions chosen based on your performance during the first section.

  7. Question Navigation: One distinctly test-taker friendly feature of the new test is students' ability to navigate through each section at will, and go back and forth to questions within a section. On the old test, students were not allowed to see the next question until they had submitted an answer, and were not permitted to return to previous questions at any time.

  8. Mark and Review: Students can click Mark to mark a question for review later, and Review to examine an overview of all questions in that section. The test software explicitly indicates these features in the upper right hand corner of the testing screen.

  9. No More Essay Choice: Students were at one point able to choose from two "Analyze an Issue" essays. However, the test no longer offers this choice; students must write about the issue they are given. The "Analyze an Argument" essay remains the same; students are not given a choice of the subject matter for that essay, either.

  10. On-Screen Calculator: Another test-taker friendly feature is the addition of an on-screen calculator. Although its functionality is not extremely advanced, it does allow students to forego arithmetic calculations. It even has a basic copy and paste function that enables students to directly transfer the calculator screen to the answer box for a question.

Overall, the Revised GRE isn't a world of difference. Complex Reasoning, Question Navigation, and the removal of Antonyms and Analogies are the most significant changes that have been implemented for this version of the test.

Here is a quick summary of the test structure:

Section Content Score Range
Quantitative Reasoning 2 sections of 20 questions Each section to be completed in 35 minutes 130-170
Verbal Reasoning 2 sections of 20 questions Each section to be completed in 30 minutes 130-170
Analytical Writing 2 essay prompts, an "issue task" and an "argument task" 1-6

Section-based computer-adaptive testing (CAT)

The Verbal and Quantitative sections of the test use a section-based computer-adaptive testing (CAT) format. This is a brand new change in the revised GRE. The section-based computer-adaptive testing (CAT) format automatically adjusts the difficulty in the second section of the same topic. For example, if you perform well in the first quantitative reasoning section of the test, you are more likely to find tougher questions on the second quantitative reasoning section.

Taking the GRE

The GRE revised General Test continues to be a computer based test. The test is administered year-round at various centers in most locations around the world. The paper-based test is offered in areas of the world where computer-based testing is not available. The test appointments are given on a first-come-first-served basis. The GRE scores are typically available after 10 to 15 days after your test date. You can take the GRE only once every 60 days, and no more than five times within any continuous rolling 12-month period.

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