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How Long Is The GRE Test?
The GRE, or Graduate Record Examination, is administered under strict supervision and security measures, and takes about 3 hours and 45 minutes in total to complete, not including breaks.
You will start with ten minutes to fill out your basic information. However, you do not have to use the full 10 minutes offered. When filling this out, be aware that the information you provide may be sold to certain entities who might in turn send you information about their programs.
If you don’t want ETS to sell your name, you have the option to click on a box that tells ETS not to share your information. After you complete the information section, you will have six sections total to complete.
The exam begins with Analytical Writing, which includes two separate writing tasks. The Issue Essay requires you to write on your stance regarding a topic that is provided in the prompt. For the second task, the Argument Essay, you will discuss another author’s argument, analyzing their logic and reasoning.
Verbal & Quantitative Reasoning
This part of the exam consists of four sections altogether and a total time of 2 hours and 10 minutes in which to complete it. There are 20 questions in each of the four sections.
You’ll have 30 minutes to complete each of the two Verbal Reasoning sections and 35 minutes to complete each of the two Quantitative Reasoning sections.
Generally speaking, you should probably spend no more than 80-90 seconds on each of the Verbal Reasoning and Quantitative Reasoning questions. These sections will appear in any order, and although the questions for these sections are multiple-choice, the question format tends to vary, so be sure that you understand what response is required before answering.
The number of questions you answer correctly will determine your overall score for these sections. Points will not be subtracted from a score if you answer a question incorrectly. This means you can skip questions if you do not know them, however, it is best to answer every question (even if it is an educated guess) in order to earn the best possible score.
You have a one-minute break between each section, except after the second multiple-choice section, where you’ll get a ten-minute break. When tackling practice tests during your test preparation, be sure to mimic the real GRE and give yourself these timed breaks, just like the real thing.
By taking your breaks, which is recommended, the total time for the exam is about 4 hours.
If you feel like you are on a roll, you might be tempted to skip your 10-minute break. Don’t do it! Give your brain a well-deserved rest. Allow your eyes a break from looking at a computer screen.
Ward off increased levels of stress by using the break time wisely: drink water, stretch, close your eyes, get some fresh air, and go to the restroom. Bring and eat a snack (avoiding those containing high levels of fat or sugar, as they tend to make you sluggish).
Take your break. Your mind and body will be refreshed and ready to move forward with the test.
While this exam consists of six sections, one of the sections called the Experimental Section will not be graded, and it will not be identified. You won’t know which section it is because it will appear as either a Verbal or Quantitative Reasoning section and placed in a random order.
Sometimes the unscored Experimental Section is identified and called the Research Section, which will always appear at the end of the exam.
You’ll have 30 or 35 minutes depending on if you receive an exam with an unidentified Experimental section or the Research Section. You will never receive both unidentified and identified sections; there will be one or the other.
If you are presented the identified Research Section at the end of the exam, you are not required to complete it. However, there is no way of knowing if you will receive an unidentified Experimental Section or an identified Research section until the reach the last section of the exam. With that in mind, you should do your best for all the six sections and focus on answering as many questions as you can.
The Order Of The GRE
The exact order of the exam sections varies in terms of the Verbal, Quantitative, Experimental/Research Sections. You should expect to always start with the Biographical Info, following with the Analytical Writing Sections back-to-back, and then the Quantitative and Verbal Sections in random order with a possible Research Section at the end.
You should also expect to have (and is recommended that you take) your ten-minute break after the first or second multiple-choice (Quantitative or Verbal) section.
How Long Is The GRE Test With Breaks?
Here’s a breakdown of the sections, times, and the number of questions:
Finally, once you completed the six sections of the GRE, you have five minutes to send your exam results to the school(s) for which you applied and require your score for admission.
By including the breaks, sending select schools your results, and going through security/check-in, you should expect to spend around 4 hours and 30 minutes in order to complete the GRE. So be sure to get there on time and clear out your schedule for that day to prioritize the test and its timely requirements. With commute to the testing center, it could be five or more hours.