GRE Exam Pattern and Syllabus | Subjects, Courses, Paper Patterns


GRE Exam Pattern

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GRE test has been designed to evaluate skills or abilities that one has already learned over the years. This allows a wide range of institutions to use it to benchmark students from different backgrounds. ETS (Educational Testing Services) is the conducting body of this exam.

GRE Exam Pattern

For a better understanding of the GRE exam you can go through the pages of the GRE exam of which links are provided below :

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GRE Exam Pattern

GRE Exam Pattern is specified by ETS((Educational Testing Services). In the GRE exam pattern, the question paper is divided into three main sections, namely, Analytical Writing, Verbal Reasoning, and Quantitative Reasoning. The details of the section are given below :

  • Analytical Writing

This section checks your skills of examining facts, judging the given evidence, dissecting arguments, and putting forward your views in the most convincing and logical manner.

  • Verbal Reasoning

This section evaluates your ability to interpret the content, author’s viewpoint, and intentions, arrange the points made, and connect the dots over several ideas presented, even if they may not necessarily be documented in a unified manner. This may be a difficult area for the candidate who is not from an English background.

  • Quantitative Reasoning

Here your level of comfort with numbers and quantitative data is evaluated. You will be required to solve problems with the help of models and mathematical formulas (from algebra, geometry, arithmetic). The positive news is that you will be allowed, to use a calculator, which will make your work a bit easier.

Time provided for each section in the GRE exam pattern 

General GRE exam pattern

The total time duration given for completing the exam is three hours and thirty minutes (3 hours 30 minutes=210 mins) in the paper-based exam and for a computer-delivered test, it is three hours and forty minutes (3 hours 40 minutes= 220 mins) Besides the main sections mentioned above in computer-based test, there are two more variable sections. The names of the two variable sections are Unscored and the Research section, which do not count toward the actual GRE score in general. However, the variable sections of Unscored and Research are not there in the paper-delivered exam. A break of 10-minute is provided before starting variable sections.

Here is the structure of time you need to manage accordingly to complete the GRE test: 

Subject GRE exam pattern 

The GRE exam pattern includes six GRE subject tests. Each subject has a different GRE exam pattern. The Subjects list of GRE test are as follows :

  • Biology
  • Literature in English 
  • Chemistry  
  • Mathematics
  • Physics 
  • Psychology. 

The GRE Subject Tests are administered in the paper-delivered format. Applicants can appear for the test worldwide 3 times per year in the month of September, October, and April. In this test, the time allowed is only 2 hours and 50 minutes.

Computer-delivered GRE exam pattern


GRE Sections

Number of Questions


(1 section with 2 separately timed tasks)

Section 1: "Analyze an Issue" task.

Section 2: "Analyze an Argument" task.

30 minutes per task

(total 60 minutes)

(2 sections)

20 questions per section

30 minutes per section

(total 60 minutes)

(2 sections)

20 questions per section

35 minutes per section(total 70 minutes)

Unscored or Research Section



Paper-delivered GRE exam pattern


GRE Sections

Number of Questions


Analytical Writing (2 sections)

Section 1: "Analyze an Issue" task.

Section 2:  "Analyze an Argument" task.

30 minutes per task

(total 60 minutes)

Verbal Reasoning (2 sections)

25 questions per section

35 minutes per section

(total 70 minutes)

Quantitative Reasoning (2 sections)

25 questions per section

40 minutes per section(total 80 minutes)

Are you looking for the best preparation materials? her we have compiled a list of them: 

GRE exam pattern for Subject Tests

The Subject and their sub-topics for GRE Subject Test 2019 – 2020 are as listed below: 


Subject Topics

Number of Questions


  1. Cellular and Molecular Biology (33-34%)
  2. Organismal Biology (33-34%)
  3. Ecology and Evolution (33-34%)

190 multiple-choice questions


  1. Analytical Chemistry (15%)
  2. Inorganic Chemistry (25%)
  3. Organic Chemistry (30%)
  4. Physical Chemistry (30%)

130 multiple-choice questions

Literature in English

  1. Literary Analysis (40–55%)
  2. Identification (15–20%)
  3. Cultural and Historical Contexts (20–25%)
  4. History and Theory of Literary Criticism (10–15%)

230 multiple-choice questions


  1. Calculus (50%)
  2. Algebra (25%)
  3. Additional Topics (25%)

66 multiple-choice questions


  1. Classical Mechanics (20%)
  2. Electromagnetism (18%)
  3. Optics and Wave Phenomena (9%)
  4. Thermodynamics and Statistical Mechanics (10%)
  5. Quantum Mechanics (12%)
  6. Atomic Physics (10%)
  7. Special Relativity (6%)
  8. Laboratory Methods (6%)
  9. Specialised Topics (9%)

100 multiple-choice questions


  1. Biological (17-21%)
  2. Cognitive (17-24%)
  3. Social (12-14%)
  4. Developmental (12-14%)
  5. Clinical (15-19%)
  6. Measurement / Methodology / Other (15-19%)

205 multiple-choice questions


It is important to pay attention to the GRE exam pattern as well as keep an eye on the time dedicated to each section. While the GRE Pattern may change from time to time generally, the crux of the format remains the same.

Also, read the following

10 Major reasons why you should choose online GRE Preparation