How Long is the GRE?

GRE Test Length, Section Times, & Exam Structure Explained

how-long-is-the-greGRE Test Times Explained

According to the ETS, the GRE test duration is 3 hours and 45 minutes long and includes six 30-minute sections, a 10-minute break, and a 30-minute unidentified section. Thus, your entire testing window should be around 4 hours from when you arrive at the testing center to the time you check out.

Each section is allocated a different time, so you should manage your time well. Once the time is over for a particular test, you will not return to that section again. It can be exhausting to sit for the whole time, so it is advisable to take some practice tests to be prepared for the full length test day.

Let’s take a look at how long the GRE exam takes and some time management tips to help you make it through the test on time.


How Long is the GRE Test?

The GRE test is comprised of six sections with a ten-minute break after the third section totally approximately 4 hours in length. You will start with the Analytical Writing section, followed by the Quantitative Reasoning, Verbal Reasoning, and Unscored/unidentified section, which will appear in any order.

It is vital to count each section as if it counts to your score. Let’s look at how long is each GRE section¬†and what you can do to manage your time better.


Analytical Writing Section Time

There are two essays that you need to write in this section: the essay and the argument essay. You can use less than the 60 minutes allocated for this section to complete your essay for first writers. Always find ways to minimize the time you take to complete the essay.

You can have practice testy at home to prepare yourself. Don’t go to the test green without knowing what the issue and argument essays require because you might end up wasting time. Many students think this is the hardest GRE test section.


Verbal Reasoning Section Time

There are two sections of the verbal reasoning test comprising 20 questions that must be completed in 60 minutes. Each section is 30 minutes which means you will have 1.5 minutes to attempt each question.

However, the two sections will not be lumped together unless the experimental section appears in the verbal section. The reading comprehension can be challenging pacing through the passages.


Quantitative Reasoning Section Time

This section, also known as the math section, comprises two sections that the test taker can attempt within 70 minutes. You have 35 minutes to attempt 20 questions in each section, and you should remember accuracy is very important in this section.


Experimental Section Time

the duration for the section is 30 to 35 minutes. Since the math section has five more minutes than the verbal reasoning section, you might spend more time in the test center if you have the experimental section in the quant section.

However, if you are good at math, you will spend less time. Occasionally the experimental section can indicate that this is an “identified research question,” At times, it may be unidentified. Attempt the questions as if all are scored to be on the safe side.


Overall GRE Test Length and Time Duration

How long Does the GRE Take with Breaks?

Here is a chart that shows how long it takes to complete the entire GRE test with breaks including a breakdown of each GRE test section duration.

GRE SectionQuestionsTime
Analytical WritingTask 1: issue analysis30 Minutes
Analytical WritingTask 2: argument analysis30 Minutes
Verbal Reasoning 120 Questions30 Minutes
Verbal Reasoning 220 Questions30 Minutes
Quant/Math Reasoning 120 Questions30 Minutes
Quant/Math Reasoning 220 Questions30 Minutes
Break10 Minutes
Experimental/Research Unscored sectionVaries30-35 Minutes
Totals2 Task & 40+ Questions3 hours 45 minutes

How Many Questions are on the GRE?

The complete GRE test has 100 questions and 2 essay tasks in total. Here is a list of the total number of questions on each GRE exam section:

  • Analytical Writing: 2 essay tasks
  • Verbal Reasoning: 40 questions
  • Quantitative Reasoning: 40 questions
  • Experimental: 20-40 questions

Here’s a GRE question table that shows how many questions are in each GRE test section.

GRE Test SectionTotal Question
Analytical Writing2 essay tasks
Verbal Reasoning40 questions
Quantitative Reasoning40 questions
Experimental20-40 questions

Strategies on How to Pace Yourself During the GRE Test Times

There isn’t much time to read, analyze, and respond to key question on the GRE exam. You need to keep things moving. It’s a good idea to set a question answering pace, so you don’t get behind.

If each section gives you 30 minutes to answer about 20 questions, you only have about 90 seconds per question before you need to move onto the next.

Test SectionGRE Time per Question
Analytical Writing30 minutes per task
Verbal Reasoning90 seconds
Quantitative Reasoning90 seconds
Experimental~90 seconds

GRE Time Management Tips

It is necessary to manage your time appropriately during the test because you are working on limited time. For the writing section, you have 30 minutes per essay, and for Quant, you have 1 minute and 45 seconds per question, while for the verbal section, it is 1 minute and 30 seconds per question. Therefore time management is key.

Skip difficult questions – Although you can answer all questions, you can skip difficult questions as you pace through the test and return to them later. Avoid staying on challenging questions that you don’t know how to approach, as they might be wasting your time. Instead, skip them and tackle questions you can.

Use process of elimination – Use elimination to pick an answer from the multiple choices because that will barrow the options to the closest answer. Cross out incorrect answers and remain with choices that are almost the same.

Keep problem time low – Avoid spending too much time on a problem even if you feel like you have already spent much time on it and are determined to complete it. This will waste time, and you might end up missing more straightforward questions you could have attempted.

Choose a guessing letter – You should always choose one letter from the five choices to be your guessing letter because you will increase your chances of scoring high if you attempt every question.

Make an essay outline – For the essay, always outline the essay, although the time might seem to be little. Write down important points your wish to discuss, and don’t spend more than three minutes outlining each essay. The essay should have an introduction and the conclusion last with three paragraphs in between. After that, you jump straight to the body and then later write the intro and conclusion.


GRE Question Answering Strategies to Reduce Your Testing Time

To complete the GRE test, you need to prepare well, and the essential strategy is knowing what is expected in each section in order to get great GRE test results. You should identify the most crucial section of the GRE for you, depending on your joining program. Knowing where the emphasis is for your program, you will know where to put your efforts.

Always remember with GRE, the process is not important, but the answer is. Most questions in the GRE test will have multiple choice answers, and thus you can answer questions through the elimination process, making a straight, educated guess and plugging in answers. It would help if you were not timid about the tool you are using to answer the questions. You should always ensure that you understand the question and what it requires before responding because, in most cases, these questions are testing your logic and critical thinking.

You can also skip some of the questions that seem challenging to answer and then get back to them later. If you are taking a computerized format of the test, there is an option of “mark and review” that allows you to mark questions you wish to revisit. It is important to note that you can only revisit these questions within the stipulated time. Also, if you have time remaining, you can review your answers and make changes.


How Long Does the GRE Take?

The total length of the GRE test is about 4 hours including the check-in process and 10-minute break. This can feel longer if you aren’t adequately prepared. That’s why your study process is so imporant.

Start Studying Today!

Don't put off preparing for the GRE Test. Start studying today and improve your score!

GRE Exam Courses