For the short answer to this question, I can easily quip, “Make sure to bring a bigger snack”.
Yes, it is true—the Revised GRE will run close to four hours. That’s more time than even the most epic of films, about the same time many can run a marathon in and only a little less time than it takes a plane to fly over the entire U.S.
This is a difficult reality to swallow, and one that could easily inform your answer to the question, should I wait to take the New GRE?
But if you’ve decided to wait until August to take the Revised GRE (or even if you’re not sure), you don’t want to spend time dreading the four-hours. Instead, you want to prepare yourself by knowing what to expect.
Analytical Writing – 1 hour
The good news: You will spend less time writing essays on the new GRE than you currently do. The bad news is, you will have only 30 minutes to craft a sophisticated response to an issue (currently you have 45 minutes). Those of you who’ve toyed around with the GMAT may recognize that the 30-minute split between the Issue and the Argument Essay on the Revised GRE mirrors that of the GMAT (this, of course, only adds fuel to the conspiracy fire that the GRE is changing in order to compete with the GMAT).
The takeaway is this: remember, when you are prepping for the test using the PowerPrep software from home, you may want to take the entire test with the essays included. Sure, not the best way to spend a Sunday afternoon, but there is no better preparation for the GRE then taking a full-length CAT written by ETS.
Verbal Reasoning – 60 minutes
Here, you will find your Text Completion, Sentence Equivalence, and Reading Comprehension questions. Currently, the test only has one 30-minute section. Now there will be two verbal sections, each 30-minutes. The adaptation will not happen within a section, but between sections. Regardless of whether you get the more difficult section, you will spend a total of 1 hour on verbal reasoning on the Revised GRE.
Also of note, though this doesn’t apply to time, the Revised GRE verbal reasoning section will have approximately 20 questions per 30-minute section vs. the current GRE’s 30-minute, 30-question set up. Part of this extra time is because you will be able to go back and forth between questions in the set, something you are unable to do on the current GRE (this extra time may also help with the three-blank text completions).
Quantitative Reasoning – 70 minutes
On the math section of the new GRE, you will also have two sections. Again, there will be approximately 20 questions per section. The time allotted, however, differs from the Verbal Reasoning sections. On Quantitative Reasoning, you will receive 35 minutes per section.
Again, not to throw logs onto the conspiracy fire, but the Revised GRE Quantitative Reasoning section’s 40 questions over 70 minutes is very similar to the GMAT’s 37 questions over 75 minutes.
More significantly—and an important distinction from the GMAT—on the new GRE math section you will be able to move between questions (I’m guessing for most this will come as a relief). And, like the Verbal Reasoning section, the Quantitative Reasoning section does not adapt within the section, but does so between sections.
The Unscored Section – 30/35 minutes
It would have been nice had the test ended there. But, not only will you have one more section – that section will be unscored. To make matters worse, you will have no idea which of the sections is the unscored section. Commonly referred to as the experimental section, the unscored section can be either a verbal reasoning section (tack on 30 minutes) or a math section (another 35 minutes).
My advice to students is do not try and guess which section is the unscored section. For instance, if you see a very strange looking shape on the math section don’t think, Hey, this is probably the experimental section. If you are wrong, the consequences will be catastrophic.
Research Section – 30/35 minutes
The good news—the research section is not always included. The bad news—another 30 or so minutes hanging out at the test center. If you feel up to it, by all means take it. If you just feel like clicking (A) on every answer go ahead and do so (sorry ETS—I know advocating this course of action will confound your results. But you’ve probably already thought of a way to deal with this).
With the research section you are not risking anything—ETS will always explicitly let you know that you are about to take a Research Section.
Tucked into the test-athlon that is the Revised GRE, surely there must be some breaks. The answer is yes. As to exactly how they stagger those breaks, I’m unsure. You will always be given the option to take a break or not. A countdown clock will appear on your computer letting you know how much time you have. The test center should brief you on the etiquette of raising your hand in order to stand up.
That’s Not It
What I’ve not mentioned is the time you will need to fill information regarding your background. Currently, the GRE asks you to do the same thing. For instance, you will be filling information such as your educational background. You will also be asked about your graduate school goals—something to the effect of where, what, and when. This process could take as long as 15 minutes.
Add all of these different parts together, and you will most likely spend over 4 hours in the test center. As rough as that sounds, hopefully you will only have to take the GRE once. In terms of time spent in the test center, just think of it as a long flight, during which time you’ve watched an incredibly dull movie. Hey, at least you won’t have to run a marathon.
And if you still need information on the test, check out our free GRE Guide!