Expert Guide: How Long Is The GRE?

GRE can feel tedious. You must take the time to study for it, learn complex math, and put yourself under tremendous pressure.

However, you might wonder: "Exactly what length is your GRE?" The ETS test slot duration is 4.5 hours. But how do you manage that?

What's the GRE's Duration?

is approximately three and 45 minutes for a computer-based GRE . is exactly three and forty minutes for a paper-based GRE . These timing estimates include all six GRE section breaks, as well as breaks for Analytical Writing and Verbal Reasoning. The paper-based GRE takes approximately three hours 40 minutes.

Please note that the lengths for the unscored portion on the computer based test vary so it is difficult to know with 100% accuracy how long the computer based GRE will be.

What is the GRE's time frame? Breakdown by section

While the GRE test length itself comes in at under four hours, even including breaks, computer test appointments are four and half hours long because of the administrative/logistical procedures (confirming identity, getting everyone seated at a computer and set up, etc. ).

Using a computer to monitor the time for the GRE

Below is a chart that shows one possible GRE schedule to be used for computer-based GRE. The timing of each section is the same for every test.

Division Total Questions Total time (min)
Analytical writing: Analyze an issue 1 30
Analytical writing: Analyze an argument 1 30
Thinking with words 20 30
Split No previous source. 10
Analyzing numerical data 20 35
Not graded ? (varies) Variable (likely between 30-35).
Reasoning using numerical data 20 35
Thinking with language 20 30

According to the GRE's timing restrictions for each section, you should not spend 90 seconds on a Verbal Reasoning question or 84 seconds on a Quantitative Reasoning query . Each Analytical Writing section will allow you to plan and create your responses in 30 minutes.

Three sections are required for the computer-based GRE. They should be completed in approximately 1.5 hours. There will be a ten-minute break. You should remember that Analytical Writing is not the only section. It will be different from other sections. You could, for example, complete an experimental, unscored section before you break, or a Quantitative Reasoning, Quantitative Reasoning, or Verbal Reasoning section.

The GRE's experimental parts

The computer-based GRE has two extra sections; you will only receive one of them, and never both.

The experimental, unlabeled section that is the first in a series can be used after the Analytical Write section. Unscored sections will not be distinguished from normal Verbal or quantitative reasoning sections (unless they have at least 20 questions), so don't count any one section as unscored. This section, which is not scored, is used to verify validity and to compare scores from older GREs.

The labeled study section on GRE is the other unscored type. The labeled research sections will always appear at test's end. They are always identified as research sections and are only added if they have not been previously identified. ETS has no explanation for why this research section was included.

GRE Timing on Paper

The chart below shows an example schedule for paper-based GRE.

Total time (minutes) Analytical writing: Analyze an issue 1 30 Analytical writing: Analyze an argument 1 30 shatter There is no original text. 10 Analyzing numerical data 25 40 Thinking with words 25 35 The ability to understand and solve problems using numerical data. 25 40 What can be concluded by using logic? 25 35

The paper-based GRE will have the same format as the computer-based GRE. It will start with two questions on Analytical Writing, then proceed to two sections of Verbal Reasoning. The paper-based GRE does not have an experimental or unscored section.

It is important to note that the paper-based GRE allows for a ten-minute rest after the second Analytical Write section. The Verbal, Quantitative Reasoning sections are also given more time. However the time per query is not as long as on the computer GRE. 84 Seconds for Verbal Reasoning questions and 96 Seconds for Quantitative Reasoning questions . The Analytical Writing questions will remain open for 30 minutes so you can still plan and prepare your free responses.

Here are 3 tips to help you cope with the length of your GRE.

1. For a more realistic experience, take a full length practice GRE. To make the simulation as realistic as possible, use POWERPREP II software.

A sample PDF of the paper GRE is available for you to use as a practice test. You can also download the practice PDF if your computer isn't capable of running POWERPREP 2. However, this should not be done unless it is absolutely necessary. The paper GRE has slightly different timings and questions per section. A paper practice GRE is not the best way to prepare for the computer-based GRE. Your score will likely be lower than the one you receive on the computer-based GRE.

2. Make sure to take your breaks and use them well. Move your body by standing up and stretching. Take advantage of the ten-minute time you have during the test.

3. GRE testing times can be chosen to suit your schedule. You might choose to take the GRE in the morning if that's your preferred time, while a more energetic person would prefer to take the GRE later in the day.

Some GRE test centers offer multiple slots at different times (e.g. You can choose from an 8:30, 9:00, or 9:30 slot. You can also be more specific about the time you test at the GRE test center. Your peak alertness might be between 8am-1pm. If you are unable to travel at rush hour, the best time would be between 7:30-8:15.


  • camdynelliott

    Camdyn Elliott is a 35-year-old educational blogger and school teacher. She has been writing about education for nearly a decade, and her work has been featured on sites like The Huffington Post and The New York Times. Camdyn is the founder of the education blog Education Week, and she is also the author of the book "How to Teach Like a Pro: A Guide to Effective Teaching Methods for College and Career Students."

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