GRE Syllabus (2018-19)

GRE Syllabus in fact is very simple to understand. But before getting into the details we should understand that the GRE exam is offered in two different versions.   GRE General Test and GRE subject tests. The syllabus for each of these tests is different. The GRE General test measures the test-takers’ ability in three key areas: Verbal reasoning,Quantitative reasoning and analytical writing skills. The GRE subject tests on the other hand evaluate the test-takers ability in specific subject areas.

Analytical Writing Assessment (AWA)

One of the major components of the GRE syllabus is The Analytical Writing Assessment section consists of two essay tasks: ‘Analysis of an Issue’ and ‘Analysis of an Argument’. The essays are written on a computer using word a Processing Software specifically designed by ETS. Unlike other word processing the programs, the ‘ETS program’ does not have advanced capabilities such as spell checker or grammar checker. The essays are rated by two readers and ideally four different scores are provided: two for the issue task and two for the argument task. However the final AWA score, which will normally be available after 10-15 days, will be the average of these four scores. The scoring is done on a scale of 0-6

Analysis of an issue:

GRE syllabus also the test taker should write an essay on a given topic. There is no word limit, though there is time limit. The test taker should complete the task within 30 minutes. The topics are taken from a pool of topics published by ETS.

 What you should know

  • Introduction
  • Body of the essay
  • Conclusion

Analysis of an Argument:

The GRE curriculum also includes an argument essay. The test taker will have to develop a critique of argument (a statement of questionable authenticity with supporting information).  The essay is not presentation against the point of view expressed in the argument rather the way in which the argument is presented.The test taker is not expected to present his/her point of view. The test taker should come up with ways to improve the argument while presenting the logical inadequacies in the argument.

Concepts you should master

  • Argument
  • Conclusion
  • Premise/Evidence
  • Assumption
  • Inference
  • Intermediate conclusion
  • Counter premise
  • Fallacies 

Verbal Reasoning Section

GRE Syllabus incorporates another important factor called Verbal Reasoning section into the test structure. The verbal reasoning section of the GRE® revised General Test consists of three different types of questions, namely Sentence equivalence, Text completion and Reading comprehension. The section assesses a test takers Reading comprehension and critical reasoning skills. The test takers command over vocabulary will also be tested.  Ideally there will be two verbal reasoning sections with approximately 20 questions each. The test taker will have 30 minutes for completing each section. The score for the verbal reasoning section ranges between and 170. Scoring is done in 1 point increments.

Quantitative Reasoning Section

The quantitative reasoning section of the GRE® revised General Test consists of four types of questions: Quantitative Comparison Questions,  Multiple-choice Questions —Select One Answer Choice, Multiple-choice Questions — Select One or More Answer Choices, Numeric Entry Questions. The sections measures test takers basic math skills, understanding of the basic mathematical concepts and ability to reason quantitatively and to model and solve problems with quantitative methods. The questions span across four content areas: Arithmetic, Algebra, Geometry and Data analysis. The test taker will have 35 minutes for completing each section.The score for the quantitative reasoning section ranges between 130 and 170.Scoring is done in 1 point increments.

The experimental section

Apart from the regular sections the test GRE exam syllabus may also have an unidentifiable un-scored experimental section. The experimental section will look like the same as the   other regular sections but does not count towards the test takers score.  The experimental section can be either a verbal, quantitative, or analytical writing task. As it not possible to identify the experimental section from the mix, test takers are advised to try their best on every section.

The Research section

An identifiable research section may also be part of the test. The section does not count toward the score. The research section typically appears at end of the test. It is not necessary that GRE Syllabus always include the research section in every test.

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Syllabus of the GRE Subject tests

GRE subject tests evaluate your understanding of the following subject areas.

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


Note the Differences in the syllabus for the general Test and subject tests. if you are planning to take the general test then only the following areas should concern you.

  • AWA
  • Verbal Reasoning
  • Quantitative reasoning

If you are planning to take the GRE subject test, then choose your subject area accordingly.

Check links below to more about the syllabus of the GRE subject tests

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