GRE Exam Changes – What You Must Know 

 September 10, 2023

By  Chuky Ofoegbu

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ETS, the organization behind the GRE General Test, has just announced some new changes to the GRE exam, which begins in September 2023. 

Why the new changes you might wonder?

While ETS claims this is done to streamline the GRE exam, it was also done to make the GRE exam as attractive as its closest competitor the GMAC, which introduced a new version of the GMAT exam named the GMAT Focus.

Want to master this updated format of the GRE exam? In this article, we'll be breaking down the significant changes to the GRE and offering insights on how to ace it. 

Let's dive in!

Overview of New GRE Changes

Before we dive into the big changes, let’s have a quick snapshot of what remains unchanged:

  • The GRE continues to measure core critical thinking skills across the same three sections which are: verbal reasoning, quantitative reasoning, and analytical writing.
  • The quant and verbal sections will still have 2 sub-sections that are section-level adaptive - meaning how you perform in the first subsection will determine how difficult the second subsection will be.
  • The scoring scales remain the same, which ensures a seamless transition for institutions using GRE scores for graduate admissions purposes.

Verbal Reasoning Changes

Now let's start with the changes to the Verbal Reasoning or VR section.

As discussed earlier, the VR section will still consist of 2 sub-sections but now there’ll be a total of 27 questions.

Where 12 questions will appear in the first subsection, and the remaining 15 questions will appear in the second sub-section.

As for the time allocation, test-takers will have 18 minutes to complete the first subsection, and 23 minutes to complete the second sub-section.

So when you do the math, you’ll have 90 seconds to answer each question in both of the verbal reasoning sub-sections.

Which is exactly the same amount of time you had to answer each VR question in the previous version of the GRE

Quantitative Reasoning Changes

In the current GRE exam, the Quantitative Reasoning section follows an identical structure as the previous version of the GRE

But now the 2 sub-sections will have a total of 27 questions instead of 40 questions.

This will follow the same split in the VR section, where you’ll get 12 questions in the first subsection and 15 questions in the second.

And as expected, with the reduction in the total number of QR questions will come a reduction in the total time to complete this section.

Which is now cut down to 47 minutes, giving you about 105 seconds to attempt each QR question on both sub-sections .

Just like before there will be a simple on-screen calculator that you can use in the QR section. 

Analytical Writing Changes

Shifting gears to the notorious Analytical Writing section, you’ll be glad to know that there is now a reduction from two essay tasks to just one essay task - which is the Analyze an Issue Task.

Giving you 30 minutes of your time back compared to the previous GRE exam!

As for the writing environment, the Analytical Writing section will still use a dummy word processor developed by ETS, that lacks advanced features like spelling and grammar corrections. 

Only simple functions like insert text, delete text, cut, paste, and undo are present.

New GRE Exam Duration and Structure

As you can tell by now, the GRE exam is no longer an almost 4-hour marathon that it used to be.

Thanks to the removal of 1 essay task, the hard to identify unscored/experimental section, and a reduction in the number of questions in the Verbal Reasoning and Quantitative Reasoning sections. 

The test is now streamlined to just shy of 2 hours with a very predictable sequence as follows! 

The test will begin with the Analytical Writing section with 1 essay task to be completed in 30 minutes

Followed by the Quantitative reasoning section to be completed in 47 minutes

And then the Verbal Reasoning section to be completed in 41 minutes.

Given that the exam is now under 2 hours, there will be no scheduled 10 minute break as in the previous version of the GRE 

How to Conquer the New GRE Exam

So how do these changes impact your prep strategy? 

As the duration has halved, it’s only natural that you will want to completely adjust your practice sessions to mimic the updated timings. 

But that could be a slippery slope!

As the same level of stamina that was critical in the past is still gonna be critical now...

My recommendation for those gunning for a top tier GRE score will be to train your mind to stay ultra sharp for the entire 2-hour stretch of this current GRE by preparing for the current GRE like you were preparing for the previous version of the exam. 

Does that mean that you must practice with 4 hour-long GRE practice material? May be not! But at least practice like you were getting ready for a 3-hour long exam.

And as for your practice material, if you've invested in older GRE materials, don’t think that you need to purchase any new material.

Since all the question types in the current GRE remain unchanged, the GRE courses we’ve purchased, tested, and recommended still remain valuable. 

Related: Check out our first-hand review of the best GRE Prep Courses on the market: Best GRE Prep Courses of 2023 – Honest Review - Sojourning Scholar

Chuky Ofoegbu

With almost a decade of experience pursuing higher education in the United States, I fully understand the pain points foreign students endure. I created this website to help foreign students successfully navigate their way through the challenges they will face while living in the United States.

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