Much like the SAT and ACT, the GRE exam is a broad assessment of your critical thinking, analytical writing, verbal reasoning, and quantitative reasoning skills — all skills developed over the course of many years. Some schools may also require you to take one or more GRE Subject Tests. The purpose of each GRE examination, of course, is to help graduate schools decide if you’ve got the right stuff for their program.

Similar to portions of other exams you’ve probably taken, the Verbal section of the GRE test includes things like sentence completions, analogies, antonyms, and reading comprehension questions. Its purpose is to test your ability to form conclusions from written materials, recognize relationships between concepts and words, and to determine relationships between different parts of sentences. If you take the GRE on a computer, expect to answer 30 questions within 30 minutes. On the paper version of the test, there are two segments, each 30 minutes long and each with 38 questions.
The Quantitative section of the GRE tests high-school-level math. If you’re a bit rusty, start honing your skills in arithmetic, algebra, geometry, and data analysis. This portion of the exam aims to test your skill at solving a variety of different math problems, as well as to analyze your ability to use quantitative reasoning. For the computer version, you’ll need to answer 28 questions in 45 minutes, but on the paper version you’ll have two 30-minute segments, each with 30 questions. You’ll probably notice similarities between the GRE and other tests you may have taken before you started college. You should prepare for this test much like you did the others, with GRE practice and GRE preparation, but don’t feel daunted or intimidated just because it’s a test for graduate school — you’ll be fine!