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The Revised GRE Test
Introduction and Overview
The GRE – Frequently asked questions*
Q: What is on the GRE?
A: The GRE consists of two subtests - one involving math skills and the other
involving verbal skills - and an analytical writing assessment.
Q: How is the GRE scored?
A: The math and verbal subtests each receive a score ranging from 130-170, in onepoint increments. The analytical writing assessment is given a separate score, on a
scale of 0 to 6.
*For answers to other important questions about the GRE, or to register for the
general test, visit www.GRE.org..
The GRE – Frequently asked questions
Q: How is the GRE structured?
A: The analytical writing assessment comes first. It consists of two 30-minute
sections, each requiring one to respond to a given prompt.
Next comes the GRE proper - 2 verbal sections and 2 math sections. The verbal
sections each consist of 20 items, with 30 minutes to complete them. The math
sections also consist of 20 items, but with 35 minutes to complete each of these
sections.
The GRE is computer-based, but otherwise much like a paper-and-pencil exam –
you may skip questions, leave questions blank etc. The best way to familiarise one
with the interface of the computer-based GRE is to practice with PowerPrep
software, which gives one the closest thing to the actual experience of taking the
GRE.
The GRE – Frequently asked questions
Q: What are the math skills tested on the GRE?
A: Virtually all the math tested on the GRE is covered by most students by the end
of the 9th grade. A few specialized topics, such as standard deviation, are more
advanced, but their mastery is not necessary to obtain a high score. The GRE
emphasizes problem solving, not math knowledge. GRE math items are hard not
because the math skills themselves are difficult, but because the items that involve
these skills require the test taker to analyze complex problems and implement
multi-step solutions.
The GRE – Frequently asked questions
Q: How important is learning new vocabulary to improving one’s GRE score?
A: Not very. Clearly, the more English words one knows, the better. But the revised
GRE is designed to test vocabulary in context only, and so the emphasis is not on
vocabulary per se, but on critical reading skills such as recognizing the roles of key
words like “although” and “since”, and understanding the importance of
surrounding words towards determining the meaning of a missing word.
Most test takers who plan to take the GRE within two or three months are better
served by developing these critical reading skills than by trying to learn new
vocabulary.
GRE Math: Item Formats
Quantitative comparison:
• Four answer choices, select exactly one:
2
2
O is the center of the circle, and the perimeter of Triangle AOB is 6.
Quantity A
The circumference of the circle
Quantity B
A B C D
12
These Items require you to compare two expressions and determine the relation
between their values, if a determinate relation exists.
GRE Math: Item Formats
Multiple choice items
• Five options, select exactly one
14.
If a is the smallest prime number greater than 21
and b is the largest prime number less than 16, then
ab =
a = 23
b = 13
ab = 299
A
299
B
323
C
330
D
345
E
351
These are the standard multiple choice items with which most test takers are familiar.
GRE Math: Item Formats
Multiple choice items
• Three or more options, select more than one
11. In triangle ABC, the measure of angle A is 25° and
The measure of angle B is greater than 90°. Which of
the following could be the measure of angle C ?
Indicate all such measures.
A
12°
B
15°
C
45°
D
50°
E
70°
C
<65°
A
25°
>90°
B
Some of these items require one to select exactly 2 answer choices; other instruct one
to select all that apply, from one answer choice up. The number of answer choices
available with these items ranges from three to more than five. Answer choices appear in
squares to distinguish these items from “select only one” items.
GRE Math: Item Formats
Numeric entry:
• Answer is keyed into provided space, or spaces (for fractions)
23.
The average (arithmetic mean) of the 11 numbers in
a list is 14. If the average of 9 of the numbers in the
list is 9, what is the average of the other 2 numbers?
36.5
x x
1
2
 ...  x11
11
 14
x x
1
2
 ...  x9
9
81 x10  x11  14
11
x1  x2  ...  x9  81
81 x10  x11  154
x10  x11  73
x x
10
11
2

x
10
 x11
2
9
 36.5
Each space will accommodate a single numeral or decimal expression (only
numerals for fractions); negations are keyed as hyphens. Fractions need not be
in reduced form.
GRE Verbal: Item Formats
Reading comprehension:
• Five answer choices, select exactly one
25. In the context in which it appears, “accorded”
(line 9) most nearly means
A
reconciled
B
revealed
C
granted
D
verified
E
maintained
GRE Verbal: Item Formats
Reading comprehension:
• three answer choices, select all that apply
For the following question, consider each of the choices
separately and select all that apply.
A tall tree can transport a hundred gallons of
water
a day from its roots deep underground to the treetop.
21.Which of the following statements is supported by
Is this movement propelled by pulling the water from
the passage?
above or pushing it from below? The pull mechanism
has long been favored by most scientists. First
A
The pull theory is not universally
proposed in the late 1800s, the theory relies on a
accepted by scientists.
property of water not commonly associated with
fluids: its tensile strength. Instead of making a clean
B
The pull theory depends on one of
break, water evaporating from treetops tugs on the
water’s physical properties.
remaining water molecules, with that tug extending
from molecule to molecule all the way down to the
C
The pull theory originated earlier than roots. The tree itself does not actually push or pull;
did the push theory.
all
the energy for lifting water comes from the sun’s
evaporative power.
GRE Verbal: Item Formats
Reading comprehension:
• Select-in-passage: highlight the sentence from the passage that best meets
the given description
10.
In Raisin in the Sun, Lorraine Hansberry does not
reject integration or the economic and moral promise
of the American dream; rather, she remains loyal to
this dream while looking, realistically, at its
In which sentence of the passage does the author
incomplete realization. Once we recognize this dual
provide examples that reinforce an argument
vision, we can accept the play’s ironic nuances as
against a critical response cited earlier in the
deliberate social commentaries by Hansberry rather
passage?
than as the “unintentional” irony that Bigsby
attributes to the work. Indeed, a curiously persistent
refusal to credit Hansberry with a capacity for
intentional irony has led some critics to interpret the
play’s thematic conflicts as mere confusion,
contradiction, or eclecticism. Isaacs, for example,
cannot easily reconcile Hansberry’s intense concern
for her race with her ideal of human reconciliation.
But the play’s complex view of Black self-esteem and
human solidarity as compatible is no more
“contradictory” than Du Bois’ famous,
well-considered ideal of ethnic self-awareness
coexisting with human unity, or Fanon’s emphasis on
an ideal internationalism that also accommodates
national identities and roles.
GRE Verbal: Item Formats
Text completion:
• One-to-three blanks per item, three answer choices per blank. Select exactly
one answer choice per blank.
similarity
6. To the untutored eye the tightly forested Ardennes hills around Sedan look quite (i)_____, (ii)_____ place
through which to advance a modern army; even with today’s more numerous and better roads and bridges,
the woods and river Meuse form a significant (iii)_____.contrast
contrast
A
impenetrable
D
a makeshift
G
resource
B
inconsiderable
E
an unpropitious
H
impediment
C
uncultivated
F
an unremarkable
I
passage
GRE Verbal: Item Formats
Sentence equivalence:
• One blank per item, six answer choices per blank. Select exactly two answer
choices per blank.
similarity
17.
The macromolecule RNA is common to all living
beings, and DNA, which is found in all organisms
except some bacteria, is almost as _____ .
A
comprehensive
B
fundamental
C
inclusive
D
universal
E
significant
F
ubiquitous
Quantitative comparison items nicely illustrate the importance of critical reasoning to
the math section of the GRE.
Generally, the challenge is to recognize what makes comparing the values of the two
expressions difficult, and then to remove this obstacle by implementing the relevant
steps to simplify the problem.
The item itself will offer strong clues as to which steps should be taken to accomplish
this goal.
The following are examples of common tactics for simplifying quantitative
comparison problems.
Simplify one side or another:
Quantity A
Quantity B
64% of (50)(40)
1200
(.64)(2000)
A B C D
1280
A B C D
Add/subtract, multiply/divide* same thing on both sides:
Subtract 39x:
x + 39y
40y
Subtract 39y:
x
y
(930)(420) + 930
930
A B C D
(930)(420) + 420
420
A B C D
* Multiplying or dividing by positive numbers preserves relationship between
expressions
Collect together occurrences of a variable found on one or both sides:
2x - 2
2
2x
4
A B C D
A B C D
Use any given information to solve for one side or the other:
(x - 5)(x + 1) = 0
x = 5; x = -1
A B C D
x + y+ z= 3y
x + z = 2y
A B C D
Quantitative Comparison Items
The Basic Approach to Quantitative Comparison Items:
First step - check to see if one, the other, or both expressions are indeterminate.
• indeterminate – answer choice could be D. (Simplify as above, pick numbers)
• not indeterminate – answer choice could not be D. (Simplify as above)
Q: What do we mean by indeterminate?
A: An expression is indeterminate if it can have more than one value.
Examples:
“x,” “a prime factor of 15,” and “the base of a triangle with area 10 square
meters” are all indeterminate expressions.
By contrast, “4,” “The average of 12 and 13,” and “the greatest prime factor of
15” are all determinate expressions.
Only if at least one of the two expressions is indeterminate, can the relation
between the two expressions change, and thus can the correct answer be D.
Items with indeterminacy:
A B C D
A B C D
Example:
A B C D
x  0:
0
-1
-1
0
y  1 :
y  0:
x  1 :
Example:
x  2:
y  1:
x  3:
y  2:
A B C D
2
Tips for picking numbers, Quantitative Comparison Items:
• Try simple numbers first; 0 and 1 often work best.
• Try the same number for more than one variable at a time, if possible.
• After plugging in one set of numbers, think about which new numbers will
make the relation between expressions change.
• Don’t forget negative numbers, and numbers between 0 and 1 (especially if
exponents are involved).
• Usually if the answer is not D, after plugging in a few sets of numbers you
will understand why the relation does not change.
• If you’ve tried several numbers from all the important categories and the
relation still hasn’t changed, it is probably safe to guess.
Case study:
x  1:
A B C D
2
1
y  1:
x  2:
y  2:
8
16
Case study:
A B C D
x  3:
y  2:
z  1:
x  3:
y  2:
z  1 :
6
-6
Case study:
Alice’s salary is greater than Bill’s salary. At the end
of the year they each receive a bonus of $4000 dollars.
Quantity A
Alice’s bonus, as a
percentage of her
salary
Quantity B
Bill’s bonus, as a
percentage of his
salary
A B C D
THANK YOU

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