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GRE Exam Pattern and Syllabus: What is the Syllabus of GRE

Updated on 13 April, 2023

Mrinal Mandal

Mrinal Mandal

Study Abroad Expert

gre syllabus

The Graduate Record Examinations (GRE®) is the first step in planning higher education abroad in Master's or Graduate programs. The exam scores are also accepted for admission to MBA and some Law courses abroad. The GRE syllabus 2022 is spread across three sections – Analytical Writing, Verbal Reasoning, and Quantitative Reasoning. The score you earn after taking the 3 hours and 45 minutes exam is valid for the next five years. The article will try to cover all information regarding the GRE exam syllabus to help aspirants prepare well for the exam.

Understanding the GRE Exam Pattern and Syllabus

GRE is an admission prerequisite at most universities in countries such as the USA, UK, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, and Singapore. You should have a detailed understanding of the GRE syllabus and its exam pattern before you commit your time, effort, and resources to prepare.

GRE® Syllabus 2022

The GRE Syllabus for 2022 can be broadly divided into General Test Syllabus and GRE Subject Test Syllabus. The General Test Syllabus covers three areas of testing: Analytical Writing, Verbal Reasoning, and Quantitative Reasoning. These are individually scored, and the universities then consider the average final GRE score.

The test is standard for every student aspiring to pursue their post-graduate programs abroad. Now, some universities demand that the applicants appear for the GRE Subject Test, which examines the applicants on their knowledge about the specific subject they wish to specialize in. The test covers a wide range of subjects in the streams of language, analytics, and science.

GRE Exam Pattern

There are two ways a candidate can take the GRE®:

1. Computer-Delivered Test — GRE® is generally a computer-based test that one can take five times a year while maintaining a gap of 21 days between two attempts.

2. Paper-Delivered Test — In cases where a computer is unavailable, the GRE can also be taken as a paper-delivered test.

Section-Wise Syllabus for GRE® General Test

1. Analytical Writing

The analytical writing section challenges a student to articulate clearly complex ideas. The test measures the taker's ability to fluently communicate ideas, support them with relevant reasoning, hold up an engaging discussion, and prove command over written English. The syllabus for the GRE Analytical Writing comprises two individually timed tasks allowing thirty minutes for each of them:

a) Issue Analysis

b) Argument Analysis

2. Verbal Reasoning

The GRE® verbal syllabus is structured to test the taker's reasoning proficiency from incomplete data, interpret perspectives, and draw conclusions from presented communication. The test taker should be able to highlight major and minor points of relevance from the given body of text, summarize it, and establish relationships between words and ideas. Following are the topics covered under the verbal syllabus:

a) Verb Tense

b) Modifiers

c) Idioms and Idiomatic Expressions

d) Pronoun Agreement

e) Parallelism

f) Subject-Verb Agreement

3. GRE Quantitative Reasoning

The GRE® quant syllabus measures the student's strength in comprehending quantitative information, analysis & interpretation of those using mathematical theories in problem-solving, and applying fundamental mathematical concepts of arithmetic, geometry, statistics, algebra, and probability.

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Syllabus for GRE® Subject Test

Listed below is the syllabus covered in the GRE Subject Test:


The test approximately has 190 multiple-choice questions (MCQs) related to Biology, including topics like:

1. Cellular and Molecular Biology

2. Organism Biology

3. Ecology and Evolution


You will find 130 MCQs related to the four conventional fields of Chemistry. The questions will be based on the following topics: 

1. Analytical Chemistry

2. Inorganic Chemistry

3. Organic Chemistry

4. Physical Chemistry

English Literature

The subject test presents around 230 questions on poetry, biography, essays, short stories, drama, novels, criticism, literary theory, and the language's history. Students must pay attention to the following to prepare for the subject well: 

1. Literary Analysis

2. Identification

3. Cultural and Historical Contexts

4. History and Theory of Literary Criticism


The math subject test has around 66 MCQs based on the curriculum commonly taught in undergraduate programs. GRE® maths syllabus includes the following: 

1. Algebra

2. Calculus

3. Discrete Mathematics

4. Geometry

5. Statistics


The GRE® Subject test for Physics comprises approximately 100 MCQs. You will find some of the questions grouped in sets based on different physics concepts. Following are some of the topics you need to prepare:

1. Classical Mechanics

2. Electromagnetism

3. Optics and Wave Phenomena

4. Thermodynamics and Statistical Mechanics

5. Quantum Mechanics

6. Atomic Physics

7. Special Relativity

8. Laboratory Methods

9. Specialized Topics (Nuclear and Particle physics, crystal structure, astrophysics, etc.)


The psychology subject test has around 205 MCQs based on the various branches of the subject like:

1. Biological

2. Cognitive

3. Developmental

4. Social

5. Clinical

6. Measurement/Methodology, etc.

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How to prepare for GRE® General Test

The last thing that will get you through your GRE® is cramming. It is an intense and extensive examination format that requires candidates to invest a reasonable amount of time and sincere effort. The suggested timeline for preparing for your GRE® is at least four to twelve weeks, depending on your speed and your daily commitment to studies. You can follow the tips below and plan your preparations accordingly:

1. Know Your Base Score: Before beginning, take a full-length practice test available online and see where you stand if you were to take the actual test soon. It will help you determine the topics you need to rework.

2. Set Your Target Score: Shortlist your prospective universities and note the score you need to aim for with them. This way, you will know your goal and be able to work towards it. 

3. Plan Your Ascend: It will take some research to arrive at the perfect plan to help you rise from your base score to the target score. Look at online testimonials of successful students and follow what suits you best.

4. Focus on Technique: Besides having a result-oriented approach, you should pay attention to how you approach each question. Find out the techniques to solve particular problems and work on bettering them.

5. Review Your Performance: Always analyze how you did in the practice tests, search for the patterns in your mistake and the questions you consistently have problems with. You will eventually see how useful that is.

6. Build Your Vocabulary: One way to enrich your vocabulary is by reading academic journals and publications. The internet will help you do this easily. Having a strong vocabulary takes you a long way in your GRE journey.

A master's degree from a reputed university abroad is an asset that helps you realize your career goals. A great GRE score is the first step to getting enrolled in a renowned global university. There are plenty of resources online, and you will find all you need to know about studying online on upGrad. So, get started now.

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Frequently Asked Questions

How many times can one appear for GRE®?

You can appear for GRE® a total of 5 times a year. The attempts need to be 21 days apart.

What is a good GRE score?

You are scored individually in the three segments of the GRE. A Verbal Reasoning score in the range of 158-162, a Quantitative Reasoning score between 159-164, and an Analytical Writing score of 4-6 are considered good.

What is the GRE fee?

The fee as of the 1st of July 2021 is $213 (~₹ 16,000) in India. If a student needs to reschedule the test, a handling fee of $50 (~₹3,700) is charged.

Can a student crack the GRE without coaching?

Coaching for the GRE comes at a considerable expense, and it can be avoided. With proper time management and dedicated effort, it is possible to crack GRE without burning a hole in your pocket. You just need to go through all the online resources and prepare from the GRE study materials sold in the market. While a tutor and classes do help, with proper planning, it is possible to score well in GRE without coaching.

Is there any similarity between the GRE syllabus and the GATE syllabus?

GATE and GRE are entirely different from each other and are taken for two different purposes. While the GRE is required for admission into master's programs abroad, the GATE examination is conducted exclusively for admission to MTech and ME programs in India. The GATE syllabus is subject-specific and is taken by students who have studied the topic during their undergraduate program.

Is the GRE syllabus the same for all branches?

The GRE General Test is the same for all graduate programs across different subjects and programs. GRE General Test score can be used for MS as well as MBA programs. While the GRE General Test has the same syllabus across branches, the GRE Subject Test syllabus varies across streams/subjects.

Is there any change in the GRE syllabus 2022?

There is no change in the GRE syllabus for 2022 when compared to the 2021 syllabus. So, if you had prepared well in 2021, you are good to go if taking the test in 2022.

How much time does it usually take to complete the GRE syllabus?

With proper planning, students are able to score well in 6-8 weeks of intensive preparation. Aspirants can expect to put in four hours each day to complete the syllabus timely.

Is three months sufficient to prepare for the GRE?

Yes, three months or 12 weeks are more than enough to prepare for GRE.

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Mrinal Mandal

Study Abroad Expert


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