The GRE examination feels like a marathon with several sections that you have to go through to be admitted to graduate school. It measures your preparedness for the laborious academic tasks so you have to prove that you are ready for the challenging world ahead of you by acing the GRE exam.
Preparing for the GRE not only requires you to study and complete practice tests, but it also requires you to be knowledgeable about what to expect on the exam day. In this article, I have covered the most important details you need to know as to how long does the GRE takes.
Summary of the GRE Test Duration
|Activity||Designated Time||Number of Questions||Remarks|
|Signing in at the test center||5 to 20 minutes||–||Duration depends on the test center|
|Filling out of personal information||5 to 15 minutes||–||Duration depends on how fast you supply the information|
|Analytical Writing||60 minutes||2 questions||This section always goes first|
|Verbal Reasoning||60 minutes||40 questions||The order of this section may change|
|Quantitative Reasoning||70 minutes||40 questions||The order of this section may change|
|Break||10 minutes||–||Break time always occurs after the third section|
|Experimental Section||30 to 35 minutes||Varies||The order of this section may change but it is always unscored|
|Selecting schools or programs||5 minutes||Up to 4||The schools or programs you selected will see only the scores that you chose to send them|
|Accepting or rejecting scores||5 minutes||–||Before knowing your score, you have the option to either accept or reject it|
|TOTAL||250 to 280 minutes||–||You will roughly spend 4 to 5 hours at the test center|
Now, you have a grasp on what to expect on the test day. Let’s discuss each one by detail.
Before the GRE Test Begins
When you reach the test center, the first thing you will do is sign in. The staff would take your finger or palm print. Sometimes, a photo of you will also be taken. You will then be asked to place your belongings in the locker, in which you will either be guided or you have to figure the locker area out for yourself.
The time before you get to sit down on your seat depends on the queue as well. There are times you can sit down within 5 minutes and there are also times that you may have to spend around 20 minutes, especially if you are stuck behind a long queue of other test-takers.
You will also need to fill out your personal information, such as your name and your level of education. There are more pieces of information you need to supply if you are a first-time test-taker, so you have to be aware of this.
Educational Testing Service or ETS (1), which is the assessment organization that handles the GRE test uses the information for statistical purposes as well as for their roster that programs look at for potential students. However, you are still given the option to tell ETS not to share your personal information.
If you choose to fill out your personal information without clicking the box that tells ETS not to share your information, you will start receiving mails from certain programs that bought your name from the ETS roster.
How long is the GRE test on Analytical Writing alone?
This section is scored and has two parts–the Issue Essay and the Argument Essay. In the former, you have to come up with a compelling case about your position on a certain topic. In the latter, you have to analyze the logical soundness of the argument of another author. Each part runs for 30 minutes, which makes this section a total of 60 minutes.
Due to the timed condition for you to write the two essays during the test day, you need to practice beforehand under timed conditions. Practice as much as you can until you are able to master the organization, soundness, and quality of your essay without spending more than the allotted GRE test time.
You may also check these GRE essay prompts (2) so you will get an idea of how this section looks like.
Verbal Reasoning: GRE length
There are two parts in this section and each part has 20 questions that you need to finish within 30 minutes. Take note that this section is not back-to-back unless your experimental section happens to be the verbal section.
Also, keep in mind that you will encounter lots of passages in this section, so you have to practice your pacing in understanding a passage, which is a struggle for most students. Going through dense passages in one sitting makes this section feel like a marathon, so build that needed stamina in order to survive this test portion.
How long is the GRE exam for Quantitative Reasoning?
Like the previous section, the Quantitative Reasoning has two parts with 20 questions each. However, unlike verbal reasoning, this one has 35 minutes for each part. It has an extra 5 minutes for each part because this is where you would most likely spend more time in each question because of their quantitative nature.
My best recommendation for this section? Always make sure that you answer with accuracy. Although you have a limited time, it’s not a reason to haphazardly answer the question without making sure that it is the correct one. That being said, I recommend that you practice your pacing for each question very well.
How long is the GRE good for the Experimental Section
This is the most tricky part of the GRE test because you will not know which section is the experimental one. It can be the math or verbal section. At times, it can be the research section. Regardless, this section is always unscored so you have to treat each section as if it is your experimental section. No time for guessing.
Of course, you would get an idea which is your experimental section only after the end of the test based on the number of math and verbal sections that you had.
In taking the GRE exam, be sure to equip yourself so you can maximize your 10-minute break. It is a very brief period for you to eat and do whatever, so the option to take it or not is yours to decide. I suggest you take it, nonetheless checking in if you want to stretch your muscles or go to the comfort room to address the call of nature.
As I have said, eating during this break time is not recommended because of how short it is, so I am reminding you to eat a heavy-loaded meal before you get to the test center. Eat enough without stuffing yourself to slumber world, however.
Accepting or Rejecting Scores
This is the last section of your test-day experience, which should no longer be nerve-wracking because you are already done with the test. However, I understand if there is still pressure on whether or not to cancel your scores.
But in honor of your efforts, I suggest you accept your scores. There is no point if you cancel them. Well, if you do cancel, you will not be able to see your scores so that will cause anxiety on your part because you will keep guessing how well or bad you did base on your score.
It would also be excruciating to take the test again just because you have been wondering about your scores. Remember, the GRE test length is grueling, and you don’t want to repeat this because you rejected your scores.
However, if you realize that your scores aren’t good enough after accepting them, then you can make use of the GRE Score Select Feature that allows you to choose which scores you would like to send to the schools or programs of your choice.
Overall, you will be spending roughly 4 to 5 hours in the testing center, so be sure to prepare yourself. Do tons of practice tests that allow you to simulate the actual test-day experience. The best way to be confident on the GRE test day is to be familiar with how everything goes, including the GRE time length.
I hope this article has helped you enough. If you feel this would help other test-takers, share it with them!