GRE Guide

EXAM DURATION : 3 hrs 45 min (max)

COST ESTIMATE : USD 205 (as observed on May 2018)



  1. GRE stands for Graduate Record Examination. Conducted for a total of 340 marks out of which 260 marks are default, so, you’ll attempt the exam for 80 marks. NO NEGATIVE MARKING.
  2. 80 questions with each question carrying one mark.
  3. 80 is divided into 40 for Quantitative (Mathematics) and 40 for Verbal Reasoning (English) sections.
  4. The verbal/quant sections are divided into five 20 question sessions (one section is unmarked)
  5. Excluding AWA, the sections pattern can be QVQVQ or VQVQV.
  6. Two essays termed as AWA (Analytical Writing Analysis) is conducted for 6.0 which won’t have an effect on your 340 score. Each of the two essays are evaluated for 6.0 (with 0.5 increments) and the ceil of average is the total (Eg. 4.0 and 4.5, avg = 4.25 rounded off to 4.5).
  7. After the exam ends, your Quant and Verbal scores will be displayed on the screen. As AWA is evaluated by people, you’ll be scored within the next 10 days.
  8. You’ll have an option of sending your GRE scores to 4 universities of your choice for free (can also skip the section). Find out beforehand what universities (Read my article on University Selection) to opt for each range of scores (I may write about the rankings in future) as you’re going to save $27*4 = 108$ (~7.5k INR).


For every section, you’ll have a timer on the right-top of the screen. You can always skip to next section before the timer runs out. If the timer runs out, the answers are automatically saved and submitted.

Section-I : AWA – 1hr (2 paragraphs x 30 min each x 6.0 each)
NOTE: You can always re-evaluate your answers before the timer runs-out in the QUANT/VERBAL sections. Each QUANT section spans for 35min while VERBAL for 30min.
Section-II : QUANT-I / VERBAL-I – 20Q x 1M each
Section-III : VERBAL-I / QUANT-I – 20Q x 1M each
Section-IV : QUANT-II / VERBAL-II – 20Q x 1M each
Section-V : VERBAL-II / QUANT-II – 20Q x 1M each
Section-VI : QUANT-III / VERBAL-III – 20Q x 1M each


  1. If you’re planning to apply for the following year’s fall, take the GRE by the end of September (i.e. for Fall 2018, take your GRE by September 2017).
  2. A 3 month preparation period is enough considering you’ll have to spend at least 3 hours a day. (~90hrs)
  3. For Verbal, spend 1.5x the time you spent for your Quant.
  4. Book your GRE slot by the first week of September if you’re planning it to write by the end of the month.

Make sure that the NAME TO REGISTER FOR GRE matches exactly with your NAME ON THE PASSPORT.


  1. Most of the problems can be solved using a calculator (option on the screen) and without writing down on a paper.
  2. If you didn’t join a coaching center, go through this material. The PDF in the link is notes I’ve written, which has tricks to solve time-taking problems without having to remember the formulae (except for “Area and Volume” problems).
  3. Take mock tests every Sunday (Try not to skip the AWA). Take the ETS official mock tests (downloadable from the ETS website) in the last week of your preparation. Try solving your wrong answers again or search for an answer.
  4. Note your mistakes to avoid repetition.
  5. Quantitative section is the easiest in GRE. Read every question twice before attempting to solve (Data Interpretation questions are tricky and take-taking). Missing little details can get you the wrong answer.
  6. You can re-visit the questions. So, save difficult questions for later. You’ll have plenty of time to revise your answers in Quant sections (In my case, I evaluated my answers twice before the timer ran out).


  1. Learn the high-frequency words (Either the 2000 words one or 333 Barrons). Revise the meanings once each week. These words will cover the “Meaning” and “Synonyms” questions.
  2. Solve one critical reasoning, a large and a small paragraph every day. The verbal section is majorly composed of paragraph questions.
  3. Synonym questions are the easiest. Find a pair which means the same unless you get more than one pair. Tips for other types can be found on the web (most of the paragraph questions are answered by ‘determining boundaries’).
  4. You may not have enough time to revise your answers, unlike the Quantitative section. So make sure you mark answers the first time.
  5. This section may seem tough but can be cracked using simple tricks and practice. A 20+ will greatly improve your chances of getting a good overall score.


  1. Know how to write organized paragraphs (1st para intro…last para conclusion). Make sure your essay is coherent (use connector words for smooth transitions between the sentences; like Also, So, Hence, Although, But etc) and grammatically error-free (tenses and such).
  2. Read one Issue and an Argument topic every day.
  3. You might not have the time to revise what you wrote. So, make sure to type right the first time. Practice this in your mock tests.
  4. In the exam, type down keywords that comes to your mind in the first 5 minutes, in the text box (NOT ON THE PAPER). Add sentences that use these keywords, one sentence for the keyword introduction and one for the keyword conclusion. For example, lets say you wrote the word “Education”, you can create a sentence like- Education is a process of …(whatever you think education is). This definition supports the author view that… (whatever is in the article). Hence, it supports the conclusion ..(How does this supporting point add to the conclusion)”.
  5. You must complete typing your essay in 20 minutes. Spend the first 5 minutes of the last 10 minutes adding sentences between sentences, ensuring coherence. Spend the last 5 minutes to delete trivial details and check your grammar.


  1. Passport and Booking confirmation (hardcopy) are the only things required.
    NOTE: You will be provided with a drop-down of US states and not a search box to enter the university name if you opt to send your score to a university.
  2. The PROMETRIC test center (usually hosts ETS exams including TOEFL) has drinking water, washroom, locker facilities and provides you with scratch papers and pencils. Get something to eat in the break-time, if you’re hungry!
  3. Get to the center 30min before your original time as the test center might take time to verify your identity and perform check-ups. Also, some test centers allow you to start whenever you are ready, even before your time slot!
  4. If you think you may not be comfortable with the air conditioning, get a sweater.
  5. In the exam, raise your hand and the coordinators will approach you (Don’t yell at them like I did).

Comment any further queries. Read my experience.



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