Strategies and Tips for the Paper-delivered GRE® General Test

Preparation for the test will depend on the amount of time you have available and your personal preferences for how to prepare. At a minimum, before you take the paper-delivered GRE® General Test, you should know what to expect from the test, including the administrative procedures, types of questions and directions, approximate number of questions and amount of time for each section.

The administrative procedures include registration and appointment scheduling, date, time, test center location, cost, score-reporting procedures and availability of special testing arrangements. You can find out about the administrative procedures for the General Test on this website and in the GRE® Information Bulletin. Information is also available by contacting ETS.

Test Content

Before taking the practice General Test, it is important to become familiar with the content of each of the measures. To familiarize yourself with the type of material on which you'll be tested and the question types within each measure, follow the links below:

Test-taking Strategies

Verbal Reasoning and Quantitative Reasoning Measures

The questions in the Verbal Reasoning and Quantitative Reasoning measures have a variety of formats. Some require you to select a single answer choice; others require you to select one or more answer choices, and yet others require you to enter a numeric answer. Make sure when answering a question that you understand what response is required. An ETS calculator will be provided to you at the test center for use during the Quantitative Reasoning sections.

When taking a Verbal Reasoning or Quantitative Reasoning section, you are free, within that section, to skip questions that you might have difficulty answering and come back to them later during the time provided to work on that section. Also during that time you may change the answer to any question in that section by erasing it completely and filling in an alternative answer. Be careful not to leave any stray marks in the answer area, as they may be interpreted as incorrect responses. You can, however, safely make notes or perform calculations on other parts of the page. No additional scratch paper will be provided. See new research that shows most GRE test takers increased scores when changing answers.

Your Verbal Reasoning and Quantitative Reasoning scores will be determined by the number of questions for which you select or provide the best answer. Questions for which you mark no answer or more or fewer than the requested number of answers are not counted in scoring. Nothing is subtracted from a score if you answer a question incorrectly. Therefore, to maximize your scores on the Verbal Reasoning and Quantitative Reasoning measures of the paper-delivered test, it is best to answer every question.

Work as rapidly as you can without being careless. Since no question carries greater weight than any other, do not waste time pondering individual questions you find extremely difficult or unfamiliar.

You may want to go through a section rapidly at first, stopping only to answer those questions you can do so with certainty. Then go back and answer the questions that require greater thought, concluding with the difficult questions if you have time.

During the actual administration of the General Test, you may work only on the section the test center supervisor designates and only for the time allowed. You may not go back to an earlier section of the test after the supervisor announces, "Please stop work" for that section. The supervisor is authorized to dismiss you from the center for doing so. All answers must be recorded in the test book.

Download the Practice Book for the Paper-delivered GRE General Test publication to experience a simulated test-taking experience and become familiar with the format of the paper-delivered test.

Analytical Writing Measure

It is important to budget your time. Within the 30-minute time limit for each task, you'll need to allow sufficient time to think about the issue, plan a response and compose your essay. Although GRE raters understand the time constraints under which you write and will consider your response a first draft, you will still want to produce the best possible example of your writing.

Save a few minutes at the end of each timed task to check for obvious errors. Although an occasional typographical, spelling or grammatical error will not affect your score, severe and persistent errors will detract from the overall effectiveness of your writing and lower your score.


There is a 10-minute break following the second Analytical Writing section. Section timing will not stop if you take an unscheduled break, so you should proceed with your test without interruption once it begins.

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