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How Long Is The GRE (And Why)?

Exact Answer: About 3 Hours And 45 Minutes

The Graduate Record Examination (GRE) is a standardized test that is an admission requirement for many graduate schools in the United States, Canada, and few other countries. The GRE is owned and administered by the Education Testing Service (ETS).

The GRE test measures one’s verbal reasoning, quantitative reasoning, critical thinking, and analytical writing skills that have been developed over a long period and are not related to a specific field of study but are important for all.

The GRE is typically considered more difficult compared to exams like SAT as it has more challenging vocabulary and reading sections. However, it is less difficult than more specialized exams like the MCAT.

How Long Is The GRE?

Analytical Writing60 minutes
Verbal Reasoning60 minutes
Quantitative Reasoning70 minutes
Research/Experimental Section30 – 35 minutes

The GRE clocks in at 3 hours and 45 minutes. It consists of six sections with a 10-minute break after the third section. Thus, one can conclude that approximately 3 hours and 45 minutes are required for the computer-based GRE and exactly 3 hours and 40 minutes for the paper-based GRE.

The above timing estimates include all 6 GRE sections. The sections include analytical writing, verbal reasoning, quantitative reasoning, a-ten minute break, and a sixth unscored section on the computer-based test.

As the length of the unscored section on the computer-based test varies, it is not possible to say with 100% accuracy the exact computer-based GRE length. While the GRE test length itself comes in at under 4 hours, even including breaks, computer tests appointments are 4 and half hours long because of the administrative and logistical procedures like confirming identity, getting everyone seated at a computer and set up, etc.

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Why Is The GRE So Long?

As The GRE is split up into different sections, it takes time.

In the analytical writing section, a fast writer may take less than 60 minutes allotted for GRE analytical writing. However, most examinees use the maximum time allotted for the essays. This section is always first and thus one should never walk inside the examination hall without never having written essays under timed conditions.

Each GRE verbal section is 30 minutes and 20 questions, for a total of 60 minutes. The verbal sections are not back to back unless the experimental section is verbal. In GRE, each quantitative reasoning section is 35 minutes, for a total of 70 minutes. One must keep in mind that accuracy on time is of utmost importance in this section. Experimental Section consists of 30 – 35 minutes in a GRE.

Based on GRE’s timing constraints for each section, one should not spend more than 90 seconds per verbal reasoning question and 84 seconds per quantitative reasoning question.

While the actual exam takes about 4 hours, one should plan on spending at least four and a half hours from the time one walks into the test center until the end of the test. This is because one needs to deal with the administration related to the test which can take about half an hour.

One needs to check in the test center which could take about 5 – 20 minutes. After that, filing one’s accurate information could take another 5 – 15 minutes. There are timed breaks of 10 minutes too between sections. One must keep these things in mind before going to take the test to keep oneself calm and for avoiding stress on D-Day.

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The actual test time of the GRE is 3 hours and 45 minutes. Checking in takes 10 – 35 minutes which makes the GRE at least 4 hours long. There are a total of 6 sections consisting of 1 writing section with 2 essays, 2 quant sections having 20 questions each, 2 verbal sections of 20 questions each, and one experimental section of either quant or verbal.

The writing section is of 1 hour, each verbal section being of 30 minutes, each quant section is of 35 minutes, and the experimental section varies in time. One is also allowed to have a 10-minute break following the third section. Since 3 hours and 45 minutes is quite a lot of time to focus on one exam, one must ensure to take plenty of GRE practice exams before the test day so that one is mentally prepared for the rigors of taking the GRE.


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