GRE Test Sections

student studying for different sections of the GRE


How Many Sections Are on the GRE?

The GRE covers writing, mathematical, and reading comprehension skills in six sections, but only five count toward your final score. The test always begins with Analytical Writing followed by either Verbal or Quantitative Reasoning. The GRE's order of sections is different for every test-taker, and there's no way to predict the sequence you'll see on test day.

Scoring by Section

Which GRE Test Sections Are Unscored?

The ETS uses two types of unscored GRE sections for future tests or research. Unidentified sections appear on the test as an extra Verbal or Quantitative measure. However, you won't know which section counts toward your final result, so treat all of them the same. Unscored sections specifically identified as Research are always last in the GRE's section order. Your exam will include only one unscored part.


Total Time Limit, Breaks & Other Details

The GRE test takes about three hours and forty-five minutes to complete. After the first three sections on the exam, test-takers get a 10-minute break before tackling the remainder of the test. The timing and number of questions given in the unscored section varies depending on the type used in your exam.

Scaling Difficulty

What Does Section-Level Adaptation Mean?

Each GRE test section is adaptive. Your initial attempt on either a Verbal or Quantitative section starts at average difficulty. Based on your performance in the first part, the test adjusts the remaining section to a higher or lower difficulty level. Correct answers and difficulty levels across both sections contribute to your final score.

Structure & Section Time Limits

Analytical Writing Section

Analytical Writing measures your ability to discuss difficult concepts clearly and effectively, identify claims and proof, and support ideas with logic and relevant examples.

  • Format: 2 separate essays
  • Time Limit: 30 minutes for each written response - 60 minutes total
  • Tasks: Based on the instructions given, you'll compose one essay analyzing a general interest issue as well as a second written evaluation of an author's argument or claim.

Verbal Reasoning Section

Evaluating sentences and written passages is the focus of the Verbal Reasoning section. You'll need to read, interpret, or complete text-related tasks successfully to score well in this GRE section.

Quantitative Reasoning Section

This GRE test section assesses your understanding of basic arithmetic, algebra, and geometry as well as problem-solving and data analysis skills. When answering Quantitative Reasoning questions, you will have access to an onscreen calculator.

  • Format: 2 sections - 20 questions each
  • Time Limit: 35 minutes per section - 70 minutes total
  • Tasks: Choose the correct multiple-choice answer for quantitative comparison, problem solving, and data interpretation questions.

Study Resources

Online GRE Test Prep

GRE Writing Tips

GRE Verbal Reasoning Tips

GRE Reading Comprehension Tips

GRE Sentence Equivalence Tips

GRE Text Completion Tips

GRE Quantitative Reasoning Tips

GRE Scoring Breakdown