How Many Questions Are on the GRE?

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If you’ve been frantically Googling “how many questions are on the GRE exam” and “GRE number of questions,” you’re not alone.

In this straightforward, de-mystifying guide, we’ll lay out how many questions you can expect to see on the GRE. You’ll find out how many questions will be scored for your exam versus how many you will actually need to answer on test day. We’ll go over both the computer and the paper-based GRE, and discuss how many questions on the GRE matter for you in your efforts to get a particular score.

 

How Many Questions Are on the GRE? Computer-Delivered

There are 82 total scored questions on the computer-based GRE. However, on test day, you may find yourself taking 102 questions (or some other number greater than 82) depending on if you get an experimental or research section.

We’ll break it all down in detail by section below, but first, here’s a chart with a quick overview of how it all breaks down.

Section # of Questions Time Allotted
Analytical Writing 2 1 hour total (30 mins per question)
Verbal Reasoning 2 sections of 20 questions; 40 total 1 hour total (30 mins per section)
Quantitative Reasoning 2 sections of 20 questions; 40 total 1 hour 10 mins total (35 mins per section)
Experimental 1 section, 20 questions 35 minutes (if Quant), 30 minutes (if Verbal)
Research varies varies

 

How Many Questions on GRE Writing?

There are two essay questions on the GRE Analytical Writing Section. You’ll have 30 minutes to complete the “Analyze an Issue” essay and 30 minutes to complete the “Analyze and Argument” essay.

 

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How Many Questions on GRE Verbal?

There are 40 total questions on the GRE Verbal section. These are split into two 20-question subsections, and you’ll have 30 minutes to complete each one. This works out to 1:30 for each question.

 

How Many Questions on GRE Quant?

There are 40 total questions on the GRE Quant section, split into two 35-minute subsections with 20 questions each. That gives you about 1:45 to answer each question.

 

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You don’t have to count the questions going by—we did it for you!

 

Experimental Section on GRE: How Many Extra Questions?

The experimental GRE section is an unmarked, unscored section of your GRE exam. It will look just like either a Verbal or a Quant section, it won’t be identified, and it could occur anywhere after the Analytical Writing section amongst the official, scored sections. This means that any Verbal or Quant section that you take during the test administration could be the experimental section, and you won’t be able to tell.

Thus, you need to take every section of the test as though it will count towards your score. It’s a waste of time and effort to “guess” which of the sections is experimental; just treat them all as though they are scored and do your best to shore up against fatigue.

If you get to the very end of your test and realize you had three Verbal sections, this does mean that one of the Verbal sections was experimental, but it won’t tell you which one. ETS does this so that they can test new questions in controlled conditions just like the official test.

While ETS claims that the number of questions in the experimental section “varies,” this isn’t really true. If there was any number of questions other than 20, you would be able to tell the section was experimental. This would eliminate the whole point!

So if you do get an experimental section, that’s an extra 20 questions, bringing the total questions you will take on test day to 102.

 

GRE Research Section: How Many Extra Questions?

Some lucky test-takers will get an unscored research section instead of an experimental section. Why is this lucky? Well, the research section always comes last. Plus, you’ll be told up-front that it’s a research section.

The number of questions in the research section varies. However, you can safely skip the whole thing if you want without worrying about it affecting your score. Alternatively, you can complete the questions without any stress, since you know the questions aren’t scored.

In this case, the total number of questions you take will vary depending on the length of the research section. You’ll have 82 scored questions, plus however many are on the research section.

 

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We are all just research mice to ETS.

 

How Many Questions are on the GRE? Paper-Delivered

The paper-delivered section has a slightly different format than the computer-delivered GRE. Instead of 82 questions + the experimental or research questions as on the computer-delivered GRE, the paper-delivered GRE has 102 scored questions. It breaks down like this:

Section Number of Questions Time
Analytical Writing 2 1 hr total; 30 minutes per essay
Verbal Reasoning 50; 2 sections of 25 questions 1 hr 10 mins total; 35 minutes per section
Quantitative Reasoning 50; 2 sections of 25 questions 1 hr 20 mins total; 40 mins per section

The scored portion of the paper-delivered GRE is longer. But there’s less uncertainty since you know there won’t be an experimental or research section.

 

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The paper-delivered GRE might feel endless, but at least you know exactly how many questions you’ll see on test day!

 

How Many Questions on the GRE Matter for You?

I’ve told you how many questions you can expect to see on the GRE—but how does this affect you? How many questions on the GRE do you need to focus on to get a particular score?

As you would expect, the more questions you answer correctly, the higher your scaled score from 130-170 on a particular section. However, it’s difficult to say exactly how many correctly-answered questions (your raw score) correspond to a given scaled score from 130-170.

Some of the mystery is due to the fact that the GRE is a section-adaptive test. This means that your performance on the first subsection of a given section determines the overall difficulty of your second subsection. So if I do poorly on the first section of Quant, my second section will be easier. By contrast, if I do amazing on the first section of Verbal, my second section will be harder. But the catch is that the easier sections are worth less points for your scaled score. So two people with the same raw score on a given section could have quite different scaled scores, depending on how they performed across the two subsections and how difficult their second subsection was.

Of course, ETS keeps the exact specifics of how different difficulty subsections correspond to particular scaled scores under lock and key! But if you are going for a score on the higher end of the range (think in the 160s), it’s critical that you do well on the first subsection.

It’s also worth noting that scores on the GRE follow a normal distribution. This means that most people score fairly close to the middle of the scale. Far fewer people score at very low or very high levels. This also means that answering only a few more questions correctly can give you a pretty big jump in your scaled score if you are hovering around the middle. So even if you know you only need a middling score, it’s still to your advantage to do your best on every question.

Finally, there’s no guessing penalty on the GRE. Even if you don’t have time to thoroughly address every question, it’s to your advantage to guess on them anyways. You won’t lose any points by doing so—it’s all upside!

 

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Even if you’re just rolling the dice (so to speak), it’s worth it to guess!

 

Review: How Many Questions Are on the GRE Exam?

Here’s the bottom line on the number of questions you’ll be taking on GRE test day:

  • Computer-based GRE: You’ll have 82 scored questions, but you will most likely be actually taking either 102 questions (if you have an experimental section) or some other number greater than 82 (if you have a research section). Remember that the experimental section won’t be identified. So treat every section like it’s going to count towards your score!
  • Paper-based GRE: You’ll have 102 scored questions.

But how many questions matter for you? Here are some things to keep in mind:

  • As you might expect, the better your raw score (the number of questions you get correct), the higher your scaled score from 130-170 on a given section. The exact process through which this happens is called equating. ETS keeps a tight leash on exactly how they do it!
  • However, one thing that complicates the scoring process is that the GRE is section-adaptive. So how you do on the first subsection determines the difficulty of your second subsection. More difficult subsections are worth more points for your scaled score.
  • Additionally, most people score near the middle of the scaled score. If you’re scoring near the middle, an improvement of only a few points to your raw score could mean a big boost to your scaled score!
  • Finally, there’s no guessing penalty. So no matter what score you’re going for, it makes sense to guess on every question you don’t answer!

 

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Kitty salutes you!

 

What’s Next?

Have more GRE questions? See our in-depth GRE FAQ to get all your questions answered! Or see our analysis of whether or not the GRE will be a difficult test for you.

Want more insight into GRE scores? Get more specific information on how the GRE is scored and see what makes for a good (or bad) GRE score.  Plus see how your score stacks up to other test-takers.

For more information on what material you’ll see on the GRE, see our expert GRE syllabus for an overview of all the topics covered on the test and our complete guide to the format of the GRE.


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Author: Ellen McCammon

Ellen is a public health graduate student and education expert. She has extensive experience mentoring students of all ages to reach their goals and in-depth knowledge on a variety of health topics.

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