What are the key components of the GRE exam syllabus?

The Graduate Record Examination or GRE is a standardized test widely used to get admissions in graduate schools. Most English-speaking countries like the UK or the US accept the GRE as a standard scoring criterion. However, the GRE is not an easy exam. Although each year, numerous students spear for this exam, only a handful can clear the required benchmark. Many students fail the exam because of inadequate preparation. They remain unaware of the key components of the GRE exam and how to clear them. So, in this blog, we will discuss everything you need to know before you sit for the test.

The GRE exam syllabus consists of three main sections –

  • Verbal Reasoning
  • Quantitative Reasoning
  • Analytical Writing. 

Let’s delve into each of these components. But before that, students should consider which country they want to apply to. Preparing for the GRE for a UK-based university won’t be the same as for a US University. Many students seek help from sites like AbroAdvice.com to understand their GRE exam is for which country. However, the basic aspects of the GRE exam remain the same. 

  1. Verbal Reasoning

The Verbal Reasoning section evaluates your ability to analyse and evaluate written material. By reading a paragraph, students are expected to synthesize that information. Students are also expected to understand the structure of the language before analyzing. This section consists of two types of questions:

– Reading Comprehension

This assesses your ability to understand, and analyse the information from a text. You have to read the entire text as fast as possible. Then you have to apply those information and concepts and analyse it. The total time allocated for the verbal reasoning section is just 30 minutes. So, you need to be extremely quick to read and analyse the entire thing. Most of the questions that come in this section are related to –

  • Science
  • Humanities
  • Social science
  • Business-related

So, you must start preparing yourself by going through old samples on these topics. The more you will read various topics; your speed and accuracy will improve. 

– Text Completion and Sentence Equivalence

These questions measure your understanding of the structure and content of sentences. In Text Completion, students need to fill in the blanks with the most appropriate word or words. In Sentence Equivalence, you have to choose two words that complete a sentence meaningfully. Although this seems rather simple, you must be careful about making silly mistakes. Since this section is also time-bound, you need to attempt all of them quickly. 

Moreover, the options that you get are similar-looking. This makes answering them even more confusing. So, carefully go through a lot of solved answers to understand the pattern. 

  1. Quantitative Reasoning

The Quantitative Reasoning section evaluates your ability to 

  • Understand
  • Interpret
  • Analyse quantitative information 

It also asks the students to solve problems using mathematical concepts and techniques. This section includes:

– Quantitative Comparison Questions

In this section, students are required to compare two quantities and determine the relationship between them. You have to choose one of four answer choices. Usually, the answer choices are like this –

  • A if Quantity A is greater
  • B if Quantity B is greater
  • C if the two quantities are equal
  • D if the relationship cannot be determined.

– Multiple-choice Questions

These questions present a problem and ask you to choose the correct answer from a set of options. The topics covered include arithmetic, algebra, geometry, and data analysis. MCQ questions are, again, extremely confusing to answer. All the options seem similar, which confuses even the best of students in an exam setting. 

  1. Analytical Writing

The next section is the analytical writing section. This part assesses your ability to articulate complex ideas clearly and effectively. Students are required to examine various claims and evidence. Then, they need to support these ideas with relevant reasons and examples. The end goal of this section is to write a well-focused and coherent discussion. This section consists of two tasks:

– Issue Task

In this task, you are presented with a topic. Next, the students are asked to present their perspectives on that particular issue. You need to support your claims with reasons and examples.

– Argument Task

This task requires you to critically analyse an argument. Students have to identify the logical flaws of an argument. They also need to prove these flaws by providing strong evidence to counter the given points.

Apart from these, remember these general tips to prepare for the GRE:

  1. Understand the Format

Familiarize yourself with the structure of the exam. GRE is different from any of the exams you have faced till date. There are several sections, as we discussed above. Carefully observe the number of sections and the types of questions you have to answer. You also need to consider the time constraints for each section. For example, the verbal section includes 20 questions that you have to answer within 30 minutes. You get 20 questions in both qualitative and quantitative sections as well. You get 35 minutes to answer these 20 questions. Moreover, there is another section where students need to answer unscored questions. The number of questions in this section may vary, and you get approximately 30 minutes to answer them.

  1. Develop Strong Reading Skills

Both the Verbal Reasoning and Analytical Writing sections involve reading and comprehending complex passages. So, practice reading to hone your reading skills. The more you will read, the more you will be confident while reading an unseen paragraph. The faster you can complete the reading, the more time you will get to summarize it.

  1. Practice Time Management

Time management is of utmost importance while attempting an exam like the GRE. GRE is a timed test, so practicing under timed conditions is crucial. There are various strategies to manage your time effectively during the GRE exam. However, all the methods may not be ideal for an individual. So, try to develop strategies that suit you. Follow that method and allocate your time efficiently across different sections.

  1. Build a Strong Vocabulary

Enhance your vocabulary before taking the GRE exam. Although this doesn’t essentially test your English language proficiency, it is still essential for the Verbal Reasoning section. Focus on learning words in context to improve comprehension. Read more books, and take the help from online tools to sharpen your vocabulary skills. 

  1. Strengthen Mathematical Foundations

Review and practice essential mathematical concepts. Especially if you have been away from math for a while, revise the basics. The quants in the GRE aren’t extremely complex. However, you must have a solid foundation in arithmetic, algebra, geometry, and data analysis.

  1. Write Regularly

Improve your writing skills by practicing essays on a variety of topics. Pay attention to organization, clarity, and coherence in your writing. Students can check solved samples to understand how they should look. They can also ask their seniors or online experts to guide them in understanding the best way to prepare for the GRE. 

  1. Take Practice Tests

Simulate the test environment by taking practice tests. There are several sites that offer mock test questions. These not only help you become familiar with the types of questions but also identify areas where you need improvement. You can find both free and paid practice tests online. Choose the one that suits your needs and budget, and get familiar with the questions.

  1. Review Mistakes

Analyse your mistakes in practice tests and understand the reasons behind them. This helps you identify patterns and focus on areas that need improvement. If you cannot understand the areas you are lagging, take expert help. 

Remember that for a successful GRE score, you need full clarity about the GRE exam syllabus. Moreover, you must combine your knowledge and critical thinking skills to formulate a perfect test-taking strategy. Dedicate sufficient time to prepare and approach the exam with confidence.

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