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GRE Exam 2020 | Everything you Need to Know About the Test

GRE stands for the Graduate Record Examination, and Educational Testing Service (ETS) conducts it. You can either take the computer or paper-delivered testing at the GRE Exam centers.

Due to the coronavirus outbreak, ETS has started to offer GRE at-home testing option. Here you can take the test on your computer at home, and a human proctor monitors the exam.

You can take the At-Home option for GRE General Test around the clock (Friday through Monday) until June 30, 2020. However, from July 1 through September 30, 2020, you can take the GRE seven days a week. Also, appointments may be available within 24 hours after you register.

Did you know you can now also give GMAT at Home? Check out this article to know more.

In this article, we talk about what is GRE and answer frequently asked questions related to the exam. Here is the outline of the article:


GRE Exam 2020: An Overview 

GRE Exam What is it?

GRE is a standardized computer-based exam with multiple-choice questions. You can also register for a paper-based exam. However, it is available two-three times a year in areas of the world where computer-delivered testing is not available.

The GRE provides schools with a standard measure for comparing candidates’ qualifications. If you are planning to attend a graduate school or business school, then taking the GRE is an important step. There are two types of GRE tests:

  1. GRE General Test
  2. GRE Subject Tests

GRE General Test is taken by prospective graduates and business school applicants who are interested in pursuing an MBA, Master’s, specialized master’s in Business, Doctoral, or Law degree.

On the other hand, the GRE Subject test measures your knowledge of a particular field of study. This exam is for students who have an extensive background or an undergraduate degree in one of these six disciplines:

  1. Chemistry
  2. Mathematics
  3. Physics
  4. Psychology
  5. Biology
  6. Literature in English

The scores of GRE Subject tests are used by fellowship panels or admissions to supplement your undergraduate records, other qualifications, and recommendation letters.

In this article, we will cover the GRE General Test in detail.

The table below provides a brief overview of the GRE exam 2020:

GRE Exam – General Test


Graduate Record Examination

Types of Format

Computer-delivered and Paper-Delivered


$ 205

Total Score Range

260 – 340

Average GRE score range for Top business schools



5 years


Verbal Reasoning, Quantitative Reasoning, and Analytical Writing section

Number of sections

For computer-delivered test

Verbal reasoning: 2 sections

Quantitative Reasoning: 2 sections

Analytical Writing: 1 section  

For Paper-delivered Test

Verbal reasoning: 2 sections

Quantitative Reasoning: 2 sections

Analytical Writing: 2 section 

Syllabus 2020

To crack the GRE, you need to develop verbal and quantitative reasoning skills, critical thinking and analytical writing skills


Computer-delivered: 3 hours 45 mins

Paper-delivered: 3 hours 3 mins


10 min break

Calculator Allowed


Scratchpad Allowed

You may use the test booklet to take notes for paper GRE, whereas for computer-delivered test sheets will be provided at the center


Did you know you can also take GMAT to get into top business schools? Check out this article, where we highlight whether you should take GMAT or GRE. Moreover, which test is easier to crack?

GRE General Test

The GRE General Test consists of questions that are based on the kind of skills and thinking you will need to get ahead in today’s demanding business school and graduate programs.

Between July 1, 2018, and June 30, 2019, around 532,826 examinees took the GRE Exam. Most of the test takers were from United States (295,829), followed by China (74,568) and India (72,855).

However, from the total examinees, only 42,700 intended to pursue a Business major. The majority of them took the GRE with the intent to pursue a Life science major (118,396), followed by Physical Sciences major (78,779) and Engineering major (67,318).

Check out the list of business schools accepting the GRE score.

Top Business Schools Average GRE Score

Here is the average GRE score at Top Business Schools:

Top Business Schools GRE Score
Wharton UPenn 324
Harvard Business School 326
Stanford GSB 330
Dartmouth Tuck 324
UC-Berkeley Haas 323
Yale SOM 330
Michigan Ross 319
MIT Sloan 324
Virginia Darden 321
UT McCombs 318
Indiana – Kelley 318
Georgetown – McDonough 315

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Now that you have an idea about what is GRE, let’s have a look at frequently asked questions on the GRE exam pattern, syllabus, fees, scores, validity, and types of questions in each section.

When and Where to take the GRE Exam?

when and where to take GRE Exam

The GRE General test allows you to choose from 1000s of graduate and business school programs around the world. If you are unsure about what to do after graduation, GRE makes perfect sense. Also, there are 1000+ GRE General test centers worldwide, in more than 160 countries.

You can take the computer-based or paper-delivered exam. The former can be taken throughout the year in most of the countries. Besides, in Mainland China, Taiwan, Korea, and Hong Kong, the computer-delivered exam is available up to three times per month. The latter is offered twice a year in November and February. Check out the difference between both the formats here. 

The GRE General Test is the only admissions test for professionals and graduate school that lets you skip questions within a section. Thus, you can go back and change your answers.

How Long is the GRE?

The overall testing time for the computer-delivered GRE is about three hours and 45 minutes. One optional break is also given for approx. 12 mins. Thus, in total, you can expect to spend at least 4 hours.

Here is the allocated test timing for each section:

GRE Sections


Verbal Reasoning

30 minutes

Analytical Writing

30 Minutes

Experiential or Unscored

30 or 35 minutes

Optional Breaks

12 mins Approx.


Approx. 4 hours

What is the GRE Exam Pattern for 2020?

GRE Exam Pattern and Format

You can take the GRE in two ways – Computer-delivered test and paper-delivered test. Although the GRE Exam syllabus for both the formats remains the same, one significant difference is that the GRE paper test does not have Reading comprehension select-in-passage type questions. Also, the number of questions in Quantitative and Verbal reasoning differs. The paper-based test consists of 25 questions per section, whereas the computer-based exam includes 20 questions per section.

Thus, the total number of questions is 82 for the computer, and 102 for the paper-delivered exam.

GRE Exam Pattern 2020


Total No. of questions

Duration per section

Computer-delivered Exam

Verbal Reasoning: 2 sections

Quantitative Reasoning: 2 sections

Analytical Writing: 1 section


3 hours 45 mins

Paper-delivered Exam

Verbal Reasoning: 2 sections

Quantitative Reasoning: 2 sections

Analytical Writing: 2 section


3 hours 30 mins


Here is the GRE Exam Pattern 2020 discussed in detail where we highlight the difference between both the formats and present the types of questions asked.

What types of questions are there?

There are three types of GRE questions:

  1. Verbal Reasoning: This type of questions measures your ability to analyze and draw conclusions from the discourse, understand multiple levels of meaning, understand the meaning of words, sentences, and entire text, reason from incomplete data, and understand relationships among concepts and words
  2. Quantitative Reasoning: This type of question measures the ability to interpret, understand, and analyze quantitative information, solve math problems, and apply basic arithmetic concepts like algebra, data analysis, and geometry. There is an emphasis on quantitative reasoning skills.
  3. Analytical Writing: This type of question measures your critical thinking and analytical writing skills. More emphasis is placed on analytical writing skills.

Check out the types of questions with examples for each section here.

How many Sections are there?

The computer-delivered test has six sections, one of which is an unscored/unidentified section. Both Quantitative and Verbal Reasoning has two sections each. The analytical writing section has two tasks.

The Paper-delivered test does not have an unscored/unidentified section; however, the analytical writing section has two sections with one task in each.

Check out this article to know in detail what to expect in each section?

Note: An identified research section that is not scored may be included in place of the unscored part. Also, you will see a Research section which is for ETS research purposes.

What is the order of the sections?

The GRE exam starts with the Analytical section always, followed by Verbal, Quant, and unidentified section in any order. For the computer-based test, you need to select the correct answer choice on-screen, and for the paper-based, you need to enter all responses in the textbook itself.

What is the GRE Exam Syllabus for 2020?

The GRE Syllabus for 2020 is broadly divided into three sections for both Computer and Paper delivered testing:

  1. Analytical Writing: In this section, your ability to articulate your thoughts and how efficiently you present it, is measured. Two separately timed tasks need to be completed within 60 minutes (30 minutes each task). The topics can range from humanities to fine arts to Physical science. Regardless of your field of study, you will be able to understand the task clearly.
  2. GRE Verbal Syllabus: Some of the topics that you will be tested on are Verb tense, Idioms, modifiers, parallelism, and idiomatic expressions. This section is further divided into reading comprehension, text completion, and sentence equivalence.
  3. GRE Quantitative Reasoning Syllabus: In this section, you need to solve problems using mathematical models. Topics from geometry, arithmetic, algebra, and data analysis are covered in this section.

Learn in detail about the GRE Exam Syllabus 2020.

Can I use a calculator for the exam?

Yes. You can use the on-screen calculator for the computer-delivered testing. For Paper-delivered testing, you will be provided with a basic calculator for use during the quantitative reasoning section.

How is GRE Scored?

How is GRE Exam scored

GRE is a computer-adaptive test just like GMAT, where the level of difficulty of the subsequent Verbal and Quant sections is determined based on your performance on the first section.

The raw GRE score is computed based on the number of questions you answer correctly and then converted into a scaled score through the process of “Equating.”

The GRE Analytical Writing section includes two essays that receive a score from at least one trained rater, using a six-point holistic scale. The final scores on the two essays are then averaged and rounded to the nearest half-point interval on the 0-6 score scale.

Note: Like GMAT, three scores are reported on the GRE – Verbal Reasoning, Analytical Writing, and Quantitative Reasoning.

Look at the table below to see how GRE is scored:

GRE Sections GRE Scores
Verbal Reasoning 130-170, in 1-point increment
Analytical Writing Score 0-6, in half-point increment
Quantitative Reasoning 130-170, in 1-point increment

How high can you score on the GRE?

The total GRE score that you get is calculated by adding up your Verbal and quantitative reasoning scores. The maximum that you can score on both the sections is 170. Thus, the highest score on the GRE is 340.

Here is an article that highlights the total GRE score and range section Wise.

How to analyze your GRE scores?

To interpret your scores, you need to use the GRE score percentile ranking. A percentile describes the percentage of test-takers who scored lower than you. For example, if you scored 95th percentile, it means that you scored better than 95 out of every 100 GRE test-taker.

Check out the GRE score percentiles for each section here.

Is GRE Exam hard to crack?

How hard is GRE Exam?

One way to get a general sense of how difficult it is to crack GRE is by comparing it with another standardized test. GMAT is another type of standardized test that you can take to get into business schools.

When we had compared the GRE sections with GMAT, we found out that the GRE Verbal section is a bit challenging as it tests your vocabulary. The emphasis of the GMAT verbal section is on reasoning and grammar. Thus, the GRE Verbal section is slightly harder than GMAT.

On the other hand, GMAT Quant is considered to be harder than GRE Quant as it tests your problem-solving skills. Also, the GMAT data sufficiency questions are quite challenging. Thus, GRE Quantitative reasoning is slightly easier than GMAT Quant.

How to send my GRE Exam scores to institutions?

On the exam day, you can choose upto four institutions/business schools for free where you want to send your score report. Once your official score report is available on your ETS account, your scores will be automatically forwarded to the institutions you selected. Besides, if you want to send your scores to more than four institutions, you need to pay $27 per report.

It takes 10-15 days after your exam date to get your official score report. Learn more about the GRE Score report here.

What is ScoreSelect?

This feature in GRE gives you the option to send only the GRE scores from any exam date. You will decide which Score you want to send out to business schools.  Thus, if you have taken the GRE exam multiple times, you can select the best Score that you want to send out.

How many times can you retake the GRE Exam?

You can take the test once every 21 days, up to five times within any continuous 12-month period. This is applied even if you cancel your scores.

What is the cost of taking the GRE?

The GRE General Test costs $205, except for these four countries where the GRE fee is higher than $205:

Country GRE Fees
Australia $230
Nigeria $226
Turkey $255
China $231.30

The cost of the computer-based and the paper-based test is the same.

Can I use a calculator for the exam?

Yes. You can use the on-screen calculator for the computer-delivered testing. For Paper-delivered testing, you will be provided with a basic calculator for use during the quantitative reasoning section.

Do Business Schools prefer GRE?

In the last few years, the acceptance and popularity of GRE for MBA admissions have increased. However, GMAT is still highly valued by all the top business schools.

Many top business schools such as Harvard Business School or Stanford GSB do not clearly state that they don’t prefer GRE over GMAT or visa versa. But, when you compare the MBA application objectively, many of these b-schools convert GRE to the GMAT score.

Around 73% of Business schools give equal consideration to GMAT and GRE. However, majority test takers apply with a GMAT score, and thus, the admission committees convert GRE to GMAT to objectively compare all applications. This is one of the reasons why the GRE score comparison tool to GMAT is provided by ETS.

Learn more about the factors to consider while choosing GMAT or GRE.

Do business schools convert GRE to GMAT Score?

Yes. As many applicants apply with a GMAT score, the admissions committee tends to convert GRE to GMAT scores to objectively compare all the applicants. Here is the conversion chart that you can refer.

FAQs – GRE Exam

How long is the GRE Test?  

It takes 3 hours 45 minutes to complete the test without any breaks.

Is GRE accepted for an MBA Program?

Yes. GRE is accepted for an MBA Program. Many of the top business schools in the world accept both GMAT and GRE scores.
Check out the difference between GRE and GMAT.

Which is easier GMAT or GRE?

Both GRE and GMAT are similar when it comes to the overall difficulty level. However, the GRE Verbal section tests challenging vocabulary than GMAT. Also, GMAT Quant is considered a bit harder than GRE.
Know everything about GMAT here.

Can I cancel my GRE Scores?

Yes. You can cancel your GRE Scores. However, you need to do it on the day of the exam. Once you have taken the exam, you will be asked if you want to report/view or cancel your scores. Once you chose the report/view option, you cannot cancel your scores. Here are a few points that you need to keep in mind if you decide to cancel your scores.

Can I retake or cancel my GRE exam?

Yes. you can retake or cancel your GRE Exam.

How many times can I take the GRE Exam?

You can appear for the GRE General Test up to five times, every 21 days, within any continuous rolling 12-months period.

What is the cost of GRE?

The GRE General Test costs $205.

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