GRE Exam Syllabus for General Test, Reading, Writing, Verbal

GRE Exam Syllabus for General Test, Reading, Writing, Verbal/Candidates wanting to pursue graduate studies abroad are required to qualify their Graduate Record Examinations (GRE). Candidates are required to check with their university admission guidelines and accordingly start preparing for the test. Candidates can check out the latest GRE Syllabus and the GRE Exam Pattern below.

The GRE Exam has a unique pattern that assesses candidates’ overall ability required to successfully pursue a graduate course. The GRE General Test, which is conducted both online and on paper, comprises three sections. The first component of the GRE General Test is Analytical Writing. Interestingly, this section is scaled between 0-6 and is scored separately. Verbal Reasoning and Quantitative Reasoning sections of the GRE General Test are scored between 130-170.

Two Test Formats

GRE exam has two test formats – GRE General Test and GRE Subject Test. The GRE syllabus is different for each.

  • GRE General Test – General Test is the standard exam that tests students’ verbal reasoning, quantitative reasoning, and analytical writing skills.
  • GRE Subject Test – For more specific courses a Subject Test might be required by the college, as Subject Test focuses on judging the candidate’s expertise in specific fields.

What are the Skills Tested in GRE?

  • Analytical Writing Assessment (AWA)
  • Quantitative Reasoning
  • Verbal Reasoning 

GRE Syllabus for General Test

Here is the GRE exam syllabus covering writing syllabus, verbal reasoning syllabus, and Math syllabus:

Analytical Writing

The analytical writing section aims to measure the test taker’s ability to articulate complex ideas clearly and effectively, support ideas with relevant reasons and examples, examine claims and accompanying evidence, sustain a well-focused, coherent discussion and control the elements of standard written English.

  • articulate complex ideas effectively and with clarity
  • support ideas with appropriate reasons and examples
  • examine claims and accompanying evidence
  • sustain a well-focused, coherent discussion
  • control the elements of standard written English

Verbal Reasoning

The verbal reasoning section aims to measure the test taker’s ability to analyze and draw conclusions from the discourse, reason from incomplete data, identify author’s assumptions and/or perspective, select important points, distinguish major from minor or relevant points, summarize text, understand the structure of a text, understand the meanings of words, sentences and entire texts and understand relationships among words and concepts.

  • analyze and draw conclusions from discourse; reason from incomplete data; identify author’s assumptions and/or perspective; understand multiple levels of meaning, such as literal, figurative and author’s intent
  • select important points; distinguish major from minor or relevant points; summarize text; understand the structure of a text
  • understand the meanings of words, sentences and entire texts; understand relationships among words and among concepts

Type of questions

  • Sentence Equivalence and Text Completion: These sections require a rapid comprehension of the given sentence and a thorough grasp of the usage of words.
  • Reading Comprehension: The questions require students to be equipped with the arsenal to tackle relatively difficult passages. The scale of difficulty varies depending on the sectional additivity.

Expertise required

  • Vocabulary: The exam requires students to have a repository of words embedded in their memory. This is not a parameter that is to be feared. Instead, students must sequentially and systematically improve their command over the ‘GRE jargon’. Jamboree’s Vocabulary lists are extensively planned and formulated in a manner that helps everyone understand how words can be logically separated and therefore, how they can be learnt much faster.
  • Comprehension Speed: A key skill that contributes to an improved GRE score is the speed of comprehension. Consistent effort to increase comprehension speed, combined with the ability to comprehend passages from different fields such as science, art, history, is extremely critical.
  • Reading and Answering: The GRE is keen to test a student’s understanding of the flow of passages and the dependencies between paragraphs, which ultimately help students pick the right choice. In essence, the test is about how quickly one can eliminate answer choices and arrive at the correct one.

Three types of questions are asked in this section and they are: 

  • Reading Comprehension
  • Text Completion
  • Sentence Equivalence

Books for Verbal Reasoning 

  • Best books that can help in the verbal reasoning section of GRE exam is given below.
  • ETS Official GRE Verbal Reasoning Practice Questions
  • GRE Verbal Grail – Aristotle Prep (Good for Reading Comprehension)

List of topics covered under the verbal section

  • Basic Sentence structure: Nouns, Pronouns, Adjectives
  • Verb Tense
  • Idioms & Idiomatic Expressions
  • Pronoun Agreement
  • Subject-Verb Agreement
  • Modifiers
  • Parallelism

Reading comprehension

This makes up about 50% of the GRE verbal reasoning section of the GRE General Test. In this, the test taker is presented with a passage and has to answers related to it. The test is made up of about 10 passages and most of them are one paragraph long. The passages are derived from books and periodicals on:

  • Physical sciences
  • Biological sciences
  • Social sciences
  • Arts and humanities
  • Everyday topics in popular culture

The abilities assessed in this subsection are:

  • Understanding the meaning of words and sentences
  • Understanding the meaning of larger blocks of text like paragraphs
  • Being able to identify minor and major points in a passage
  • Ability to summarize a passage
  • Draw conclusions from text presented
  • Dealing with incomplete data and infer missing information
  • Identifying underlying assumptions an author works from
  • Analyzing an argument to identify its strengths and weaknesses
  • Developing alternative explanations for a situation

Text completion

This section tests the test taker’s ability to form a complete picture from the text presented. If one is able to understand the overall sense that a passage conveys, one would be able to fill in crucial words that have been omitted out of the passage. This section presents:

  • Passages composed of up to five sentences
  • The passage may have up to three blanks
  • Three or five options are presented for each blank
  • Each blank has only one right answer
  • Answer for each blank is independent of the answer chosen of other blanks

Remember that the correct answers would ensure that the passage is not only grammatically correct but also logically and stylistically coherent.

Sentence Equivalence

This subsection also tests the test taker’s ability to draw conclusion about a passage presented from partial information. In this case, the test taker is presented with a single sentence with a. single blank – the test taker has to choose two ways to complete the sentence that have the same meaning while also being grammatically correct. For each blank six answer choices are presented. No credit is given if only one of the two selected answers is correct.

Remember that correct answers may not be words that mean the same thing. The completed sentences have the same meaning – not the missing words.

Quantitative Reasoning

The quantitative reasoning section aims to measure the test taker’s ability to understand quantitative information, interpret and analyze quantitative information, solve problems using mathematical models, and apply basic mathematical skills and elementary mathematical concepts of arithmetic, algebra, geometry, probability, and statistics.

List of topics covered in Quantitative Reasoning

Ratio and proportion Profit and loss
Simple and compound interest Speed, distance and time
Permutation & combination Linear equations
Quadratic equations Sets Theory
Statistics Powers and roots
Probability Pipes, cisterns, work, time
Lines and angles Triangles
Polygon Quadrilateral
Circles Coordinate geometry
Order of operations Volume and surface area
Percentage Number properties

Here are some concepts that will be tested in the GRE quantitative section. It has a lot of overlap between the basic topics tested in the GMAT exam. So you’ll find that the preparation can help you for both tests.

  • Maths Formulas List
  • Number properties
  • Order of operations
  • Percentage
  • Ratio and proportion
  • Profit and loss
  • Simple and compound interest
  • Speed, distance and time
  • Permutation & combination
  • Linear equations
  • Quadratic equations
  • Sets Theory
  • Statistics: Average, Median, Mode, Range, Standard deviation
  • Powers and roots
  • Probability
  • Pipes, cisterns, work, time
  • Lines and angles
  • Triangles
  • Polygon
  • Quadrilateral
  • Circles
  • Co-ordinate geometry
  • Volume and surface area

List of topics in GRE Verbal Reasoning Syllabus

The clickable links will launch a tutorial covering the basic concepts from the GRE verbal syllabus.

  • Basic Sentence structure: Nouns, Pronouns, Adjectives
  • Verb Tense
  • Idioms & Idiomatic Expressions
  • Pronoun Agreement
  • Subject Verb Agreement
  • Modifiers
  • Parallelism

GRE Subject Test Syllabus

GRE syllabus for Subject Test consists of the following subjects:


The test consists of approximately 190 five-choice questions related to Biology. The topics include:

  • Cellular and Molecular Biology
  • Organismal Biology
  • Ecology and Evolution 


The test consists of approximately 130 multiple-choice questions related to the four fields into which chemistry has been traditionally divided

  • Analytical Chemistry
  • Inorganic Chemistry
  • Organic Chemistry
  • Physical Chemistry 

Literature in English

Each edition of the test consists of approximately 230 questions on poetry, drama, biography, the essay, the short story, the novel, criticism, literary theory and the history of the language.

  • Literary Analysis
  • Identification
  • Cultural and Historical Contexts
  • History and Theory of Literary Criticism
  • Consists of about 230 questions on topics among:
    • Poetry
    • Drama
    • Biography
    • Essay
    • Short Story
    • Novel
    • Criticism
    • Literary Theory
    • The History of the Language
  • Some questions would be based on text presented – this could be a short work in its entirety or an extract from a longer work.
  • The questions can be:
    • Factual – requiring identification of literary or critical movements, period in which a work was composed, identifying the author, etc.
    • Analytical – requiring answers about meaning, forms, structure, literary technique and other aspects of language
  • The test covers the following topics:
    • Literary analysis – 40% to 55%
    • Identification – 15% to 20%
    • Cultural and historical context – 20% to 25%
    • History and theory of literary criticism – 10% to 15%

GRE Math Syllabus: Quantitative Reasoning

The test consists of approximately 66 multiple-choice questions drawn from courses commonly offered at the undergraduate level.

  • Algebra
  • Calculus
  • Discrete Mathematics
  • Real Analysis
  • Probability and Statistics
  • Additional Mathematics
  • Additional Topics 

The quantitative reasoning section of the GRE General Test aims to assess the test taker’s

  • Basic mathematical ability
  • Understanding of high school level mathematical concepts
  • Ability to use mathematical models to solve a quantitative problem
  • Ability to reason quantitatively

The questions asked in this section can be purely mathematical in nature, or may be drawn from a real-life scenario. Most of the questions will be so-called “word problems”, where the candidate will have to convert the details provided into a quantitative problem before solving them.

This is designed to access the knowledge of the candidate across four content areas


This includes the following topics:

  • Integers and their properties
    • Divisibility
    • Factorization
    • Prime numbers
    • Remainders
    • Even and odd
  • Arithmetic operations
  • Exponents and roots
  • Estimation
  • Percent and ratio
  • Rates of change
  • Absolute value of numbers
  • The number line
  • Decimal representation of numbers
  • Sequences of numbers


This includes the following topics:

  • Exponents
  • Algebraic expressions
    • Factoring
    • Simplifying
  • Relations and functions
  • Equations and inequalities
  • Linear and quadratic equations
  • Linear and quadratic inequalities
  • Word problems
    • Setting up equations to solve the same
  • Coordinate Geometry
    • Graphs of functions
    • Graphs of equations
    • Graphs of inequalities
    • Intercepts and slopes of lines


This includes the following topics:

  • Lines
    • Parallel
    • Perpendicular
  • Circles
  • Triangles
    • Isosceles
    • Equilateral
    • 30°-60°-90° triangles
  • Quadrilaterals
  • Other polygons
  • Congruent and similar figures
  • Three-dimensional figures
  • Area
  • Perimeter
  • Volume
  • The Pythagorean theorem
  • Angle measurements

It is important to remember that GRE does not test a test taker’s ability to construct proofs.

Some of the conventions used in quantitative reasoning section are:

  • Only real numbers are used
  • All figures are assumed to be in a plane, unless specified otherwise
  • Figures may not be drawn to scale
  • Coordinate systems and number lines are drawn to scale
  • Graphical data presented in the form of bar graphs, circle graphs, line graphs etc. are drawn to scale

Quantitative reasoning section of the GRE 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

These questions can either be independent of each other, or be part of a data interpretation set. You are allowed to use a basic calculator for the quantitative reasoning section of the test.


The test consists of approximately 100 five-choice questions, some of which are grouped in sets and based on such materials as diagrams, graphs, experimental data and descriptions of physical situations.

  • Classical Mechanics
  • Electromagnetism
  • Optics and Wave Phenomena
  • Thermodynamics and Statistical Mechanics
  • Quantum Mechanics
  • Atomic Physics
  • Special Relativity
  • Laboratory Methods
  • Specialized Topics Laboratory Methods
  • Specialised Topics like Nuclear and Particle Physics etc.


The test consists of approximately 205 multiple-choice questions. Each question in the test has five options from which the examinee is to select the one option that is the correct or best answer to the question.

  • Biological
  • Developmental
  • Social
  • Clinical
  • Measurement/Methodology/Other 
  • Biological
  • Cognitive
  • Measurement/Methodology/Other

GRE Syllabus – General Exam Pattern

Even though one is aware of the GRE Syllabus and knows all the answers, failure to manage time can lead to an incomplete exam. This is where the importance of being familiar with the GRE Exam pattern is of utmost importance. The GRE question paper is divided into three main sections, namely, Analytical Writing, Verbal Reasoning, and Quantitative Reasoning. The total time given to complete the exam is three hours and thirty minutes (3 hours 30 minutes=210 mins) and for computer-based, it is three hours and forty minutes (3 hours 40 minutes= 220 mins).

Test Pattern for Computer-Delivered General GRE

For the computer-based pattern, each of these sections is further divided into two-sub-sections with forty questions in total (Verbal Reasoning and Quantitative Reasoning). Analytical Writing has only one section that contains two tasks with a time duration of one hour. Apart from these main sections, there are two other variable sections included in the computer-based pattern exam. This section is followed by a ten-minute break after the Quantitative Reasoning part is complete. However, these two variable sections- Unscored and Research section- are not included in the final GRE Scores.

GRE Sections No. of Sections Duration
Analytical Writing 1 section- two tasks 60 minutes
Verbal Reasoning 2 section- 40 questions 60 minutes
Quantitative Reasoning 2 section- 40 questions 70 minutes
Unscored Varies Varies
Research Varies Varies

GRE Scoring – How is GRE scored?

Measure Scores Reported
Verbal Reasoning 130 – 170, in 1 point increments
Quantitative Reasoning 130 – 170, in 1 point increments
Analytical Writing 0 – 6, in half point increments

Test Pattern for Paper-Delivered General GRE

The paper-based exam includes two sub-sections of each of the main categories- Analytical Writing, Verbal and Quantitative Reasoning. Analytical Writing part contains two tasks with a duration of one hour (60 mins). Verbal and Quantitative reasoning each contains two sections and 50 questions with a maximum time limit of 60 and 70 minutes, consequently. The variable sections of Unscored and Research are not included in the paper-based exam.

GRE Sections No. of Sections Duration
Analytical Writing 2 sections- 2 tasks 60 minutes
Verbal Reasoning 2 sections- 50 questions 70 minutes
Quantitative Reasoning 2 sections- 50 questions 80 minutes
Unscored NA NA
Research NA NA

Best Books for GRE Preparation

The costs of studying and preparing for the GRE exam plus the application costs add up to a lot of expenses. If you are taking coaching classes, even then you will need to purchase an official GRE guide and practice tests. So it doesn’t make a difference whether you will be taking coaching classes or you believe in self-studying; you will need to purchase a few resources to practice GRE sections. So here are the best online resources to boost your studies.

GRE POWERPREP II Software – Preparation for the Computer-based GRE revised General Test – Along with the sample questions, strategies and tips, this free software includes two full-length practice tests. They have timed tests, which simulate the test-taking experience including the user-friendly design features like changing answers within a section, as well as an on-screen calculator.

The Official Guide to the GRE revised General Test, Second Edition – The second edition of the official test prep book includes a copy of the POWERPREP II, Software CD along with four complete practice tests, hundreds of test questions, explanations for answers, sample essay responses with user commentary, test-taking strategies and more. This guide is available in print and eBook versions.


Is calculator allowed in GRE Test?

An on-screen basic calculator (non scientific) is available for GRE Quantitative section.

Can I go back and forth or edit answers and come back to review my answers?

Yes you can move around within a section and edit answers.

What is the price for GRE test?

Cost for most of the countries is $205. It may vary from $205-$230 (depending on your country).

  • If you have taken GRE multiple times, you can send score from any test date (like current score or score from the previous exam). There will be no mention of other scores in your score report.
  • Maximum score for sections Verbal, Quantitative is 170. Analytical writing score will be reported on a 0-6 score scale, in half-point increments.
  • GRE is required by universities in North America (USA and Canada).
  • Most Universities require General GRE for admission to MS and Ph.D. in Engineering Sciences. Many Business schools now accept GRE scores for admission to MBA program.
  • Generally for Engineering Students score like 160 (q)+ 148 (v) + 4 (a) is considered OK for admission for middle order universities ranked between 40 to 90. There might be some deviation.
  • For all Engineering Students GRE Quant. is most important for best results GRE Quant. must be well above 160, GRE A>4.0/6.0), GRE V above 150.
  • A high GRE score can considerably improve your chances of admission. TOEFL score must be well above 92. GPA is another major factor in admission.
  • Top 50 ranked Universities may require GRE>318(162+,156+,>4/6) and TOEFL>95. For International students, the Verbal section is quite difficult. So they must prepare hard on vocabulary.
  • There is no penalty for wrong answers.
  • You can review, move forward and edit/change your answers, etc. (within a section).



One Reply to “GRE Exam Syllabus for General Test, Reading, Writing, Verbal”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *