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Strategies and Tips for the 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 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 on-screen calculator is available during the Quantitative Reasoning sections.

When taking the GRE General Test, you are free to skip questions that you might have difficulty answering. The testing software has a "mark and review" feature that enables you to mark questions you would like to revisit during the time provided to work on that section. The testing software also lets you view a complete list of all the questions in the section on which you're working, indicates whether you've answered each question and identifies the questions you've marked for review. Additionally, you can review questions you've already answered and change your answers, provided you still have time remaining to work on that section. See research that shows most GRE test takers increased scores when changing answers.

Here is an example of the review screen.

An example of the review screen is shown.

Note that the review screen is intended to help you keep track of your progress on the test. Do not spend too much time on the review screen, as this will take away from the time allotted to read and answer the questions on the test.

Your Verbal Reasoning and Quantitative Reasoning scores will be determined by the number of questions you answer correctly. 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, 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.

Access the free POWERPREP® Online practice tests to experience a simulated test-taking experience and become familiar with the testing software and test design.

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 readers 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.

Scratch Paper

You will receive a supply of scratch paper before you begin the test. You can replenish your supply of scratch paper as necessary throughout the test by asking the test administrator.


There is a 10-minute break following the third section and a one-minute break between the other test sections. You might want to replenish your supply of scratch paper during each scheduled break. Section timing will not stop if you take an unscheduled break, so you should proceed with your test without interruption once it begins.