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GRE Test Preparation Resources


Components of the GRE

The test has three scored parts and one unscored part. The three scored parts are

  • Analytical Writing, in which you write two 30-minute essays responding to particular questions. In one essay you'll write your own argument on a topic you're given; in the other, you'll identify and explain the problems with an argument you're given.
  • Verbal Reasoning, divided into two 30-minute sections each with about 20 questions of 3 kinds: Reading Comprehension, Text Completion, and Sentence Equivalence
  • Quantitative Reasoning, divided into two 35-minute sections each with about 20 questions of 3 kinds: Quantitative Comparison, Problem Solving, and Data Interpretation. Covers arithmetic, algebra, and geometry but not trigonometry or calculus. Includes calculator!

The test's format allows you to edit or change answers within a section; its "mark and review" feature lets you flag questions you want to go back to. The test is computer-based and uses word-processing software that does not include spell-check or grammar-check functions. Scratch paper is available.

The unscored part is usually an extra verbal or math section. The Analytical Writing section is always first, but the other five sections may appear in any order. The test time is 3 hrs and 45 minutes, including a 1-minute break between each section and a 10-minute break after the third section.

If a question seems too difficult, mark it and go back to it later. If it is still too difficult, guess and go on: all questions within a section have the same scored rate, and there is no penalty for getting a question wrong. The difficulty (and point value) of your second verbal or quantitative section will, however, depend upon how well you do on the first.

To register for the test, go online to www.ets.org/gre. To prepare for the test, try

  • downloading free preparation materials from www.ets.org/gre
  • writing a timed practice essay and making an appointment with a writing tutor for feedback
  • trying several different review books, some of which can be used in libraries or the Student Success Center. It's also easy to find used copies online.
  • making or buying vocabulary flashcards
  • checking out online math tutorials like Khan Academy and www.justmathtutoring.com
  • getting used to reading online at sites like smithsonianmag.com and nytimes.com


GRE Preparation Handouts

ISU offers the following GRE preparation handouts:

Reading Comprehension

Sentence Equivalence and Text Completion

Learning GRE Vocabulary


Common Roots

Finding Area, Perimeter, and Circumference

Angles of Lines and Triangles

Diagnostic Math Quiz

What Kind of Number Is It?


ETS Resources

GRE review books are available in REND 323, the Student Success Center. The Student Success Center is open 8:00 am-5:00 pm Monday through Friday. You may reserve time to work on these practice materials by calling (208) 282-3662. Check in with the front desk when you arrive, and you will be directed to the appropriate computer.

ETS provides general information about the GRE, including information about online registration and sample test questions.  Their website also includes links to take practice tests and find other free GRE preparation materials.


Other Resources

Discover Data Science offers free GRE preparation overview online. Kaplan also offers additional free material for test preparation.


To register for the GRE exam call 208-282-2130 (ISU Counseling and Testing Center) VISA, MasterCard or Discover card accepted.