GRE Exam Syllabus & Pattern: Your Guide to Understand the GRE Exam Syllabus & Pattern Image
Exams Know-how

GRE Exam Syllabus & Pattern: Your Guide to Understand the GRE Exam Syllabus & Pattern

Yocket Editorial Team
6 mins read

As you set your foot in a highly skilled pool of Engineers and Business Experts, you are needed to be a master of your own trade. To achieve that, taking the GRE test and ceasing the opportunity is one of the best options to pursue your dreams.

The GRE exam pattern and syllabus are devised to assess your smartly skilled brain and logical personality. Thus, to conquer the test it’s best to understand the nuances of the GRE paper pattern. 

To understand the GRE test format thoroughly, we will closely look at the different types of test patterns, how the GRE is structured, GRE test syllabus and cover various question types present in each section.

So, to begin with, let's look at the cleverly curated GRE Exam Structure.

What is the GRE exam pattern?

The Globally accepted GRE test format is curated to check your overall knowledge of mathematics, language comprehension, finesse of English essay writing and your sense of logical reasoning.

To successfully test the abilities of a student the GRE test structure has three sections, namely-

  1. Verbal Reasoning: Your ability to comprehend complex English passages is examined. Questions based on reading comprehension, text completion and sentence equivalence are a part of the Verbal Reasoning section of the GRE exam pattern.
  2. Quantitative Reasoning: Quantitative Reasoning section of the GRE portion consists of problems based on Arithmetic, Algebra, Geometry and Data Analysis. You are supposed to strategize and solve different kinds of mathematical questions to arrive at the answer at the fastest possible speed. This is to ensure that you are able to apply logic efficiently wherever necessary. 

  3. Analytical Writing: English writing is just as important as honing the knowledge of numericals for any student, as it allows you to communicate. As a part of the GRE portion, Analytical Writing tests your argumentative skills and articulation. Your essay score helps the University judge your language skills as an indicator of how effectively you can communicate during your course.

Note: The computer-based GRE test has an additional unscored section of Verbal Reasoning or Quantitative Reasoning or an unscored research section. 

By testing students over the Verbal, Quantitative and Analytical fronts, Universities abroad can confidently pick their Postgraduate and Graduate students. This well defined examination and the inclusive GRE exam structure ensures that the brightest of minds are Globally recognised. 

Did you know!!

About 50 million students take the GRE examination every year.


GRE for All!! 

Aiming to provide equal opportunity to all, ETS caters to the mass population of test takers by conducting computer-based GRE tests, paper-delivered GRE tests and now, the recently launched GRE Home Edition. 

Despite the different modes of taking the GRE test, the structure and syllabus of GRE exam remain the same. However, the GRE paper pattern, duration and scoring differ based on the type of GRE test you are attending. 

Fancying the computer-based test, 98% of the applicants cater to the GRE exam online. Test-takers attend the GRE test either at a test center or at home via a computer. The overall experience of taking the test marks an interesting approach for the students. Let’s take a look at the GRE computer-based test pattern.

GRE Computer-based Test Pattern: 

The computer-based GRE test is the most opted foreign University eligibility test across the world. To examine students, the question paper pattern followed by GRE has - 

  • 6 sections in the paper 

  • 1 section of 2 tasks of Analytical Writing

  • 2 sections of 20 questions each of Verbal Reasoning

  • 2 sections of 20 questions each of Quantitative Reasoning

  • Unscored section

  • Research section 

GRE test time: Test-takers taking the computer-based GRE test get 3hrs 45 mins as the GRE exam time to complete their paper. 

The computer-based GRE tests work on the mindful section-based adaptability system. Questions change based on the correctness of answers and the speed at which they are answered. Although, the GRE test pattern remains the same. 

The GRE paper has six sections, of which the Analytical Writing is always the first section in the paper. You are given about 30 mins each to complete two tasks of Analytical Writing. This section is followed by a shuffle of two sections each of Verbal Reasoning and Quantitative Reasoning in any order. You have about 30-35min per section of the paper. You also get a 10mins break after attending to the first three sections of the paper.   

Apart from the above mentioned 5 sections of the test, GRE has an additional unscored section or a research section to gauge the students abilities. This is to ensure the consistency of the candidate. This unscored section might appear in any phase of the test making it unidentifiable. So, it is suggested to treat every section like a scored section to achieve a high score. Whereas, the research section of the paper is always marked and so is optional.     

GRE Paper-based Test Pattern: 

The paper-delivered GRE test is conducted twice a year. Since the exam is on paper, definite questions of a set difficulty level are posed to the students. This paper is lengthier than the computer-based GRE test. 

The paper-based test pattern for GRE is as follows:

  • 1 section of 2 tasks of Analytical Writing 

  • 2 sections of 50 Verbal Reasoning questions

  • 2 sections of 50 Quantitative Reasoning questions 

  • The allotted GRE exam time for paper-delivered test is about 3hrs 30mins

Test Pattern for GRE at Home:

GRE from home is hosted on your own computer. Thus, the test follows the same test pattern as the GRE computer-based test. GRE at home resembles the environment of GRE taken at the center. You can expect the same three sections of the paper along with an unscored/research section.  

Do we get research questions along with the unscored Verbal or Quantitative sections in GRE? 

No, you either get an unscored section of Verbal or Quant Reasoning or a research optional section at the end of the paper. The experimental section is just to affirm your answering capability. Whereas, the unscored research section is always optional. You might attend to it if you wish to. 


Clearing the air about the GRE exam pattern and structure, the only business left is to get to the GRE exam syllabus. Since students opting for their higher studies belong to graduate or postgraduate levels, the GRE syllabus is limited to the knowledge of a higher secondary student.

Let’s explore this video that features the minutest details on types of GRE exams, GRE exam pattern, GRE syllabus, and GRE application details.

What is the Syllabus for GRE exam? 

GRE scores help universities decide whether or not the student is fit to pursue the respective course in their college. The objective of GRE is to test your smartness! This involves testing your logical reasoning and command over language. In order to make that decision, questions from the undergrad level are put to test. As the GRE pattern suggests 3 sections, let’s look at the GRE exam syllabus for each section.   

Syllabus of Verbal Reasoning:

The language test can be aced by intensive nonfiction reading, regular grammar exercises and by expanding your personal vocabulary. The Verbal Reasoning section holds three types of questions that assess your english comprehension, vocabulary and grammatical sensibility. 

Types of questions asked in GRE Verbal Reasoning section are: 

  • Reading Comprehension

  • Text Completion

  • Sentence Equivalence 


Topics you must cover in GRE Verbal Reasoning section: 

The following topics form a part of the GRE exam syllabus for the Verbal Reasoning section:

  1. Modifiers and Parallelism

  2. Idioms and Idiomatic expressions

  3. Verb tense

  4. Pronoun Agreement

  5. Subject-Verb Agreement

  6. Nouns, Adjectives, Pronouns

  7. Synonyms and Antonyms 


Syllabus of Quantitative Reasoning:

Quantitative Reasoning section tests your logical reasoning skills using mathematical questions. Questions from various subsections of undergraduate mathematics are posed either as blanks, numeric entry questions or word problems. You can score good points with rigorous practice in this section of the GRE.  

Types of questions in GRE Quantitative Reasoning section:

  • MCQ's 

  • Comparative questions

  • Word problems 

  • Numerical questions 

The questions asked are prepared from the undergrad math portion of Arithmetic, Geometry, Data Analysis and Algebra. The following table highlights important topics that form a part of the GRE exam syllabus for the Quantitative Reasoning section:   

GRE Exam portion for Quantitative Reasoning section



Data Analysis


  1. Property and types of integers

  2. Power and Roots

  3. Statistics 

  4. Estimation

  5. Number properties

  6. Percentage

  7. Exponents and Roots

  8. Ratio and proportions

  9. Simple and Compound Interest

  10. Arithmetic Operations

  1. Lines and angles

  2. Circles

  3. Triangle

  4. Quadrilaterals

  5. Polygon

  6. Three-dimensionall figures

  7. Area, Perimeter, Volume

  8. Angle Measurements


  1. Descriptive statistics such as Median, Mean, Range, Mode, Percentiles, etc.

  2. Interpretation of data based on graphs, circle graphs, scatter plots, etc

  3. Probability

  4. Permutation and Combination

  5. Venn Diagrams

  6. Set Theory


  1. Exponents

  2. Algebraic Expressions – Factoring and Simplifying

  3. Equations and inequalities

  4. Linear and Quadratic inequalities

  5. Linear Equations

  6. Quadratic equations

  7. Word Problems

  8. Speed, distance, and Time

  9. Profit and Loss

  10. Coordinate geometry


Syllabus of Analytical Writing:

The Analytical Writing section requires you to contest two essays, one is an issue-based essay and the other is an argumentative essay. Despite its small score value, the essay strengthens your paper and reflects your presentation skills. 

The examiner checks on your structured writing and argumentative skills. To achieve a good score in the Analytical Writing section, it is recommended to vicariously read articles, debates and news. 

Types of questions in GRE analytical writing: 

  • An argumentative essay 

  • An issue-based essay 

Note: You might have a choice to choose a stance or would be provided with an opinion to defend and justify. Read the question correctly and answer.     

Achieving a good score on your GRE test is a doable task. All you have to do is focus on the GRE test pattern, understand the scoring pattern, and study accordingly. The structure of the paper is well planned, making it widely relatable for all the students who take the test. All you need to do to find your roadmap to success in GRE is stay focused and prepare thoroughly. 

Learning about the syllabus and pattern of GRE exam is a fruitful way to start your preparation. Tackling your weaknesses and preparing for the exam is the next effective step. Refer to the ‘How to prepare for GRE’ to get a grip on how you can conquer your weaknesses and master the GRE paper. 


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