Mapping Out the Revised GRE

To be successful at any endeavor, you must make yourself familiar with the terrain on which it will take place.  For the Revised GRE, this means mapping out the different sections of the test so that you can most effectively study and prepare for each.

You will have 3 hours and 45 minutes to complete the computer based GRE Revised General Test, which will consist of 6 sections.

Though one of these sections, usually a Verbal Reasoning or Quantitative Reasoning section, will be an unidentified unscored section or an identified research section, it is, of course, recommended that you make your best effort on every section to ensure that you get the highest score possible.  Managing your time effectively is a must, but your graduate school admission process is the last place you want to try to cut corners.

Analytical Writing

The Analytical Writing section is always the first section to appear when you take the GRE.  You will be assigned two writing tasks, which will be timed separately, and you will be typing your responses in the form of essays.  The testing software provides an elementary word processor with basic typing functions for you to use to write your essays.

Your essay responses to the writing tasks should meet the following six criteria:

Clarity – your ideas may be complex, but your responses should articulate them clearly
Support – your responses should support your ideas with examples and reasoning
Evidence – your responses should examine some evidence relating to your claims
Coherence – your ideas should be presented in logical order, with clear transitions, and without internal contradictions
Technical correctness – you should employ the standard conventions of written English correctly and effectively
Focus – your response should respond immediately and directly to the required task

Verbal Reasoning

The questions in the Verbal Reasoning Section have a variety of formats.  You will either select a single answer choice, one or more answer choices, or input a numeric answer.  Make sure you are clear about the type of response required for each question.

It is possible to skip questions and mark them for review, which is important for time management.  It is also possible to guess on questions you don’t know the answer to, and there are no penalties for wrong answers, so it’s best to answer every question.

The purpose of the Verbal Reasoning section is to understand and apply your reasoning skills to things you read.  The three general types of skills tested are the following:

Generalization – These are skills involving integrating and synthesizing viewpoints, reading between the lines, identifying different points of view, and drawing conclusions based on extrapolation.
Differentiation – These are skills involving identifying data and details, distinguishing relevance, outlining, and summarizing.
Verbal Precision – These are skills involving meanings of words and phrases and the relationships among words and concepts.

Quantitative Reasoning

The questions in the Quantitative Reasoning section are formatted similarly to those in the Verbal Reasoning section.  Like the Verbal Reasoning section, it is section-level adaptive.  An on-screen arithmetic calculator is provided for the Quantitative Reasoning section.

The concepts covered in the Quantitative Reasoning section break down into four categories:

Reading quantitative information
Interpreting quantitative information
Solving problems using mathematical models
Applying the basic concepts from elementary math: arithmetic, algebra, geometry, probability, and statistics


Dane Dormio is an online tutor and blogger with an unconventional approach to education.  Visit his tutoring blog at


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