The six sections on the GRE are :

  1. Analytical Writing Assessment
  2. Two Verbal Reasoning Sections
  3. Two Quantitative Ability Sections
  4. An Experimental or Research Section
  1. Analytical Writing Assessment – The Analytical Writing Assessment sections tests your critical thinking and analytical writing skills. It assesses your ability to articulate and support complex ideas, construct and evaluate arguments, and sustain a focused and coherent discussion. It does not assess specific content knowledge.

The Analytical Writing measure consists of two separately timed analytical writing tasks for which 30 minutes are allocated each:

  1. Analyze an Issue task
  2. Analyze an Argument task

The two tasks are complementary in that one requires you to construct your own argument by taking a position and providing evidence supporting your views on an issue, and the other requires you to evaluate someone else’s argument by assessing its claims and evaluating the evidence it provides.

Individuals taking the computer-delivered test will use a basic word processor developed by ETS. The processor in the real test is similar to Microsoft-Word,  but this basic word processor contains only the following functionalities: insert text, delete text, cut-and-paste and undo the previous action. Tools such as a spell checker and grammar checker are not available in the ETS software, largely to maintain fairness with those examinees who must handwrite their essays at paper-delivered administrations.

In layman’s language, AWA includes two essays which have to be typed out.

  1. Analyze an Issue task – The “Analyze an Issue” task assesses your ability to think critically about a topic of general interest and to clearly express your thoughts about it in writing. Each Issue topic makes a claim that can be discussed from various perspectives and applied to many different situations or conditions. Your task is to present a compelling case for your own position on the issue. Before beginning your written response, be sure to read the issue and the instructions that follow the Issue statement. Think about the issue from several points of view, considering the complexity of ideas associated with those views. Then, make notes about the position you want to develop and list the main reasons and examples you could use to support that position.

The usual set of instructions before an ISSUE ESSAY are :

In this section, you will need to analyze the issue presented and explain your views on it. There is no “correct” answer. Instead, you should consider various perspectives as you develop your own position on the issue.

WRITING YOUR RESPONSE : Write a response in which you discuss the extent to which you agree or disagree with the statement and explain your reasoning for the position you take. In developing and supporting your position, you should consider ways in which the statement might or might not hold true and explain how these considerations shape your position.

Take a few minutes to think about the issue and plan a response before you begin writing. Be sure to organize your ideas and develop them fully, but leave enough time to reread your response and make any revisions that you think are necessary.

” Many people believe that a few individuals or small groups (family, friends, teachers, celebrities, for example) have caused them to think and behave in the way they do. Yet it is always society as a whole that defines us and our attitudes, not a few individuals.

It is important that you address the central issue according to the specific instructions. Each task is accompanied by one of the following sets of instructions:

  • Write a response in which you discuss the extent to which you agree or disagree with the statement and explain your reasoning for the position you take. In developing and supporting your position, you should consider ways in which the statement might or might not hold true and explain how these considerations shape your position.
  • Write a response in which you discuss the extent to which you agree or disagree with the recommendation and explain your reasoning for the position you take. In developing and supporting your position, describe specific circumstances in which adopting the recommendation would or would not be advantageous and explain how these examples shape your position.
  • Write a response in which you discuss the extent to which you agree or disagree with the claim. In developing and supporting your position, be sure to address the most compelling reasons and/or examples that could be used to challenge your position.
  • Write a response in which you discuss which view more closely aligns with your own position and explain your reasoning for the position you take. In developing and supporting your position, you should address both of the views presented.
  • Write a response in which you discuss the extent to which you agree or disagree with the claim and the reason on which that claim is based.
  • Write a response in which you discuss your views on the policy and explain your reasoning for the position you take. In developing and supporting your position, you should consider the possible consequences of implementing the policy and explain how these consequences shape your position.

The GRE® readers scoring your response are not looking for a “right” answer — in fact, as far as they are concerned, there is no correct position to take. Instead, the readers are evaluating the skill with which you address the specific instructions and articulate and develop an argument to support your evaluation of the issue.

  1. Analyze an Argument task – Also called as Argument Essay, the Analyze an Argument task assesses your ability to understand, analyze, and evaluate an argument and to clearly convey your critique in writing. A prompt for the essay, similar to the one below, is given and the candidate has to type in an essay on the prompt in a time duration of 30 minutes. The processor in the real test is similar to Microsoft-Word but it does not have any autocorrect / spell-check / grammar-check functions.

Discuss how well reasoned you find this argument. In your discussion be sure to analyze the line of reasoning and the use of evidence in the argument. For example, you may need to consider what questionable assumptions underlie the thinking and what alternative explanations or counterexamples might weaken the conclusion. You can also discuss what sort of evidence would strengthen or refute the argument, what changes in the argument would make it more logically sound, and what, if anything, would help you better evaluate its conclusion.

The following appeared in a newspaper story giving advice about investments.

“As overall life expectancy continues to rise, the population of our country is growing increasingly older. For example, over twenty percent of the residents of one of our more populated regions are now at least 65 years old, and occupancy rates at resort hotels in that region declined significantly during the past six months. Because of these two related trends, a prudent investor would be well advised to sell interest in hotels and invest in hospitals and nursing homes instead.”

AWA-Essay is scored out of 6 in 0.5 increments by two assessors. The final score is calculated after taking the average of the two grades and rounding off the average score. The score on AWA ranges between a 0 and 6.

  1. Verbal Ability – GRE has two sections of Verbal Reasoning. The Verbal Reasoning sections measure your ability to:
  • analyze and draw conclusions from discourse; reason from incomplete data; identify author’s assumptions and/or perspective; understand multiple levels of meaning, such as literal, figurative and author’s intent
  • select important points; distinguish major from minor or relevant points; summarize text; understand the structure of a text
  • understand the meanings of words, sentences and entire texts; understand relationships among words and among concepts
  • The Verbal Reasoning section measures your ability to understand what you read and how you apply your reasoning skills.

In Verbal Reasoning sections, scores range from 130 to 170 in 1 point increments. Verbal Reasoning questions appear in several formats. About half of the measure requires you to read passages and answer questions on those passages. Rest of the measure requires you to read, interpret, and complete existing sentences, groups of sentences, or paragraphs. Many, but not all, of the questions are standard multiple-choice questions, in which you are required to select a single correct answer; others ask you to select multiple correct answers, and still others ask you to select a sentence from the passage. The number of choices varies depending on the type of question. test your skills on three different types of questions:

  1. Reading Comprehension
  2. Text Completion
  3. Sentence Equivalence

B1 - Reading Comprehension – Reading passages contain material from subject areas like social sciences, history, physical sciences, and business-related areas. Reading comprehension passages are accompanied by interpretive, applied, and inference questions. This section measures the following abilities:

  • Understanding words and statements in reading passages
  • Understanding the logical relationships between significant points and concepts in the reading passages
  • Drawing inferences from facts and statements in the reading passages
  • Understanding and following the development of quantitative concepts as they are presented in verbal material
  • Understanding the author’s point of view and their proposed arguments

Each Reading Comprehension question is based on a passage, which may range in length from one paragraph to several paragraphs. The test contains approximately ten passages; the majority of the passages in the test are one paragraph in length, and only one or two are several paragraphs long. Passages can be drawn from the physical sciences, the biological sciences, the social sciences, the arts and humanities, and everyday topics, and are based on material found in books and periodicals, both academic and non-academic. Usually, about half of the questions on the test will be based on passages, number of questions based on a given passage can range from one to six. Questions can cover any of the topics listed above, from the meaning of a particular word to assessing evidence that might support or weaken points made in the passage. Many, but not all, of the questions are standard multiple-choice questions, in which you are required to select a single correct answer; others ask you to select multiple correct answers, and still others can ask you to select a sentence from the passage.

Example of a Reading Comprehension Question :

Passage 21

Line    The new school of political history that emerged in

the 1960’s and 1970’s sought to go beyond the traditional

focus of political historians on leaders and government

institutions by examining directly the political practices of

(5)      ordinary citizens. Like the old approach, however, this new

approach excluded women. The very techniques these

historians used to uncover mass political behavior in the

nineteenth-century United States – quantitative analyses of

election returns, for example – were useless in analyzing

(10)    the political activities of women, who were denied the vote


By redefining “political activity,” historian Paula Baker

has developed a political history that includes women. She

concludes that among ordinary citizens, political activism

(15)    by women in the nineteenth century prefigured trends in

twentieth-century politics. Defining “politics” as “any action

taken to affect the course of behavior of government or of

the community,” Baker concludes that, while voting and

holding office were restricted to men, women in the nine-

(20)    teenth century organized themselves into societies commit-

ted to social issues such as temperance and poverty. In

other words, Baker contends, women activists were early

practitioners of nonpartisan, issue-oriented politics and thus

were more interested in enlisting lawmakers, regardless of

(25)    their party affiliation, on behalf of certain issues than in

ensuring that one party or another won an election. In the

twentieth century, more men drew closer to women’s ideas

about politics and took up modes of issue-oriented politics

that Baker sees women as having pioneered.

  1. The primary purpose of the passage is to

(A) enumerate reason why both traditional scholarly methods and newer scholarly methods have limitations

(B) identify a shortcoming in a scholarly approach and describe an alternative approach

(C) provide empirical data to support a long-held scholarly assumption

(D) compare two scholarly publications on the basis of their authors’ backgrounds

(E) attempt to provide a partial answer to a long-standing scholarly dilemma

  1. The passage suggests which of the following concerning the techniques used by the new political historians described in the first paragraph of the passage?

(A) They involved the extensive use of the biographies of political party leaders and political theoreticians.

(B) They were conceived by political historians who were reacting against the political climates of the 1960s and 1970s

(C) They were of more use in analyzing the positions of United States political parties in the nineteenth century than in analyzing the positions of those in the twentieth century.

(D) They were of more use in analyzing the political behavior of nineteenth-century voters than in analyzing the political activities of those who could not vote during that period.

(E) They were devised as a means of tracing the influence of nineteenth-century political trends on twentieth-century political trends.

B2 – Text Completion – Text-completion questions test your ability to figure out which word or words best complete a given sentence or group of sentences. On the GRE, the sentence can have one, two, or even three blanks that you must fill.

Text Completion questions test your ability to interpret while you read. Normally, skilled readers do not simply absorb the information presented on the page; instead, they maintain a constant attitude of interpretation and evaluation, reasoning from what they have read so far to create a picture of the whole and revising that picture as they go. Text Completion questions test this ability by omitting crucial words from short passages and asking the test taker to use the remaining information in the passage as a basis for selecting words or short phrases to fill the blanks and create a coherent, meaningful whole.

Example of a Text Completion Question

  1. Just as the authors’ book on eels is often a key text for courses in marine vertebrate zoology, their ideas on animal development and phylogeny ____________ teaching in this area.

(A) prevent

(B) defy

(C) replicate

(D) inform

(E) use

  1. What readers most commonly remember about John Stuart Mill’s classic exploration of the liberty of thought and discussion concerns the danger of (i) : _____________ in the absence of challenge, one’s opinions, even when they are correct, grow weak and flabby. Yet Mill had another reason for encouraging the liberty of thought and discussion: the danger of partiality and incompleteness. Since one’s opinions, even under the best circumstances, tend to (ii) : _______________ and because opinions opposed to one’s own rarely turn out to be completely (iii) : __________________, it is crucial to supplement one’s opinions with alternative points of view.

Blank (i)                                Blank (ii)                                               Blank (iii)

(A) tendentiousness         (D) embrace only a                          (G) erroneous

portion of the truth

(B) complacency               (E) change over time                      (H) antithetical

(C) fractiousness              (F) focus on matters                       (I) immutable

close at hand

B3Sentence Equivalence – These questions are similar to the text completion questions. You may still require you to find the best word to complete a sentence, but you’ll have to pick two answers that best complete the sentence; this means the two correct answers will be synonyms. Because both words create sentences that are equivalent—both have the same meaning.

Select the two answer choices that, when used to complete the sentence, fit the meaning of the sentence as a whole and produce completed sentences that are alike in meaning.

  1. As my eyesight began to _____________, I spent a lot of time writing about it — both poems and “eye journals” — describing what I saw as I looked out through damaged eyes.
  2. deteriorate
  3. sharpen
  4. improve
  5. decline
  6. recover
  7. adjust
  1. Quantitative Ability – The quantitative section of the GRE measures the ability to reason quantitatively, solve quantitative problems, interpret graphic data, and analyze and use information given in a problem. The use of calculators is not allowed on the quantitative section of the GRE. Test takers must do their math work out by hand using a dry erase pen and laminated graph paper which are given to them at the testing center. Questions require knowledge of topics such as arithmetic, algebra, and geometry. Scores range from 130 to 170. The Quantitative Reasoning section includes an on-screen calculator.

Questions are presented in three formats:

  1. Problem Solving,
  2. Quantitative Comparison Questions
  3. Data Interpretation

C1 – Problem Solving – Problem solving questions are designed to test the ability to reason quantitatively and solve quantitative problems. In these questions, you may be asked to select one answer, one or more answers, or may be asked to make a numeric entry in the space provided.

Example of an Problem Solving Question :

  1. The shaded region in the figure represents a rectangular frame with length 18 inches and width 15 inches. The frame encloses a rectangular picture that has the same area as the frame itself. If the length and width of the picture have the same ratio as the length and width of the frame, what is the length of the picture, in inches?


(A) 9?2      (B)   3/2    (C)   9/ ?2     (D)  15{1-1/?2}        (E) 9/2

The level of difficulty of the Math component is the common level to which all students have studied Math, so in case of Indian students, the level is Class X – CBSE, though questions do not require derivations and proving theorems.

C2 – Quantitative Comparison Questions -

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