The GRE clocks in at 3 hours, 45 minutes. Here’s how you can expect to spend your time on test day. 

GRE Test Day Timeline

TaskTime# of Questions
Biographical Information +/- 10 mins
Issue Essay 30 mins 1
Argument Essay 30 mins 1
Verbal Reasoning (2 sections) 30 mins each 20 each
Quantitative Reasoning  (2 sections) 35 mins each 20 each
Experimental Section (unscored) 30 or 35 mins* Varies
1 Break 10 minutes
Possible Research Section Optional Depends
Select Schools/Programs 5 mins Up to 4
Accept Scores 1 min
Receive Scores 1 min

*If your experimental section is math, your test will be five minutes longer than someone whose experimental section is verbal.

How how long is the GRE

Biographical Information

The first section of the test collects all of your biographical information. If you fill this out, you will start getting mail from programs that have bought your name from ETS. If you don’t want them to sell your name, or you don’t want to spend the time answering their questions, you can click on a box that tells ETS not to share your information.

The Essays

The scored part of the GRE begins with two back-to-back essays. For the Issue Essay, you’ll make a compelling case for your position on a topic and then analyze the logical soundness of another author’s argument for the Argument Essay. You have 30 minutes for each. Get a preview of what you'll face with these sample GRE essay prompts.

Multiple-Choice Sections

You'll complete five multiple-choice sections, but only four will count. The fifth is an “experimental” section.  Keep in mind that the math, verbal, and experimental sections may appear in any order. At the end of the exam, you will know, based on the number of math or verbal sections, if the experimental section was math or verbal, but you will not know which section will not count toward your score.

GRE Breaks

You are given 1 minute between sections except for the second multiple-choice section, when you get a 10-minute break. When tackling practice tests during your test preparation, be sure to mimic the real GRE and give yourself these timed breaks just like the real thing.

Research Section

At the end of the test, you may also have an unscored research section that will be used only to help develop and test questions for the GRE. If you want to skip it, you have the option of skipping it. 

Cancelling/Accepting Your GRE Scores

Before you see your GRE scores, you will be given the opportunity to cancel. But it usually doesn't make sense to cancel your scores.  Most people believe they are doing worse while taking test then they actually are. If you cancel, you will never see your scores and you will have to go through the whole experience again. Plus, you can always make use of GRE ScoreSelect®, which allows you to select which scores get sent to which schools.

GRE Timing Tips

Any timed test will cause at least some level of stress. Try these GRE timing tips to stay confident on test day.

1. Accuracy is better than speed.

Slow down and focus on accumulating as many points as possible. Pushing yourself to work faster results in careless errors and lower scores. Don’t let that clock force you to make silly mistakes!

2. Take it all in.

Correctly answer the questions you know you can get right. This means it’s important to allow yourself to see every question. After all, question 20 could be the easiest one on the test for you.

3. Mark and move on.

If a question is not coming to you immediately, it is not necessarily something that you cannot answer. On the Reading Comprehension questions, for instance, you may struggle on a question that deals with the main idea of the passage. You may even have eliminated some answer choices. Don’t give up yet! If you have invested time and work on a particular question, press the Mark button and move on.

4. Try another question if you're stuck.

When you get stuck on a GRE math question, walk away. Do a few other problems to distract your brain, and then return to the question that was giving you problems

Practice for the GRE

Take a GRE practice test with us under the same conditions as the real thing. You'll get a personalized score report highlighting your strengths and areas of improvement.

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