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Seeing Whats on the GRE

Acronyms for standardized tests tend to convey a sense of gloom and doom. Telling someone you have to take the SAT, ACT, or GRE usually elicits the same facial expression as saying that you need to have your wisdom teeth pulled. Ho wever, breaking the GRE down into its component parts makes it much more manageable and much less threatening. Table 1-1 provides a quick overview of whats on the GRE. The essays are always first, but the four multiple-choice sections may be in any order. Table 1-1

GRE Breakdown by Section

Number of Questions Time Allotted

Analyze an Issue Analyze an Argument Verbal Section Math Section Verbal Section Math Section Unscored Hidden Math or Verbal Research Section

1 essay 1 essay 20 questions 20 questions 20 questions 20 questions 20 questions

30 minutes 30 minutes 30 minutes 35 minutes 30 minutes 35 minutes 30 or 35 minutes

At close to four hours long, the GRE challenges your stamina as much as your ability to answer the questions. No matter how solid your math and verbal skills are, you must maintain a high level of concentration for the duration of the test. You can achieve this through practicing in four-hour stretches and taking several practice tests. The GRE includes an unscored Math or Verbal research section. You actually have three Math or three Verbal sections, meaning one section isnt scored. Unfortunately, you wont know which one it is. Note: The practice exams on the CD dont include an unscored Math or Verbal section ( youre welcome!).

Unlike other computer-based tests (such as the GMAT and TOEFL), the GRE allows you to skip questions and return to them later, as long as youre still in the section. When you reach the end of each section, the GRE displays a review screen that indicates any unanswered questions. If you have time remaining in the section, return to these questions and answer them as well as you can. This feature is nice, because you can knock out all the easy questions before spending time on the hard ones. Within a section, each question is worth the same number of points, and the questions dont become more or less difficult based on your performance. Combined with the ability to go

back to earlier questions, the format of the GRE is more like that of a paper-based test than some other computer-based tests, such as the adaptive GMAT. However, your performance on the first Math or Verbal section determines the overall difficulty level of the next Math or Verbal section. For example, if you do extremely well on the first Math section, the GRE will place you in high esteem and make the second Math section harder. Even if you dont get as many questions right in the second Math section as you did in the first, the GRE considers that the questions are harder and will give you a higher score. So exactly what types of questions and how many of each type can you expect to run into on the GRE? Check out Table 1-2 for the answers. Table 1-2
Type of Question Per Math Section (20 questions each)

GRE Breakdown by Question Type

Approximate Number of Questions

Multiple choice with exactly one correct answer Multiple choice with two or more correct answers Fill in the blank with the correct answer Data Interpretation (based on graphs) Quantitative Comparisons
Per Verbal Section (20 questions each)

6 2 2 3 7

Text Completion Sentence Equivalence Argument Analysis Reading Comprehension

6 4 2 8

These question types are mixed throughout their respective sections, so you may encounter them in any order. Sometimes the software groups like questions at the beginning or the e nd. For example, if youre halfway through a Verbal section and havent seen a Text Completion question, you soon will.