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How Long is the GRE?

The GRE is approximately four hours long. Some may take even longer than four hours. After all, you do have to answer some questions and input personal information. You may also take the maximum time allotted on each section, including the ten-minute break and the five agonizing minutes you have to ponder over whether you want to accept your score.

Conversely, you may breeze through each section, in which case the test may take less than three hours. Below is the actual time given for each section. Based on your experience taking practice tests and working on your speed you can adjust accordingly to answer the question: How long is the GRE for me?


Testing center check-in: 5-20 minutes

At a bare minimum you have to sign in, the staff has to take your finger/palm print, and you have to figure out the locker experience. The minimum time for you to actually sit down at the computer screen is five minutes.

You can also have the unenviable experience of getting stuck behind a line of people, which typically has to do with the testing center’s lack of efficiency. In these extreme cases you may have to wait as long as twenty minutes to actually sit down at the computer.


Filling in information: 5-15 minutes

If you are taking the GRE for the first time, you will have to enter in quite a lot of personal information (don’t worry – this doesn’t figure into your score!). This process may take as long as fifteen minutes.


How long is the writing section? 1 hour

Again, if you are a fast writer you may take a little less time. However, I’m guessing 99% of test takers will use the maximum time allotted for the essays. Of course you can always find ways to cut down on your essay writing time.


How long are the verbal sections? 1 hour

Each section is 30 minutes. The verbal sections do not follow back to back, unless the experimental section is a verbal section. I am just lumping the two verbal sections together to indicate the total time. Many students struggle with pacing on Reading comprehension.


How long are the math sections? 70 minutes

Same as applies to verbal section, save for the fact that each section is 35 minutes. Of course, you’ll be happy here to have those precious extra 5 minutes.  Here’s some tips on saving time with GRE math.


Experimental section: 30 or 35 minutes

You may have noticed that each  math section is five minutes longer than the verbal section. So if you end up getting a math section for an experimental section, expect to spend another five minutes in the testing center.


Timed break: 10 minutes

You do not need to take this break, but for a better test score—and your sanity—I highly recommend you do.


Score accept screen: 5 minutes

You have five minutes to determine whether you want to accept or reject your score. While you might be feeling the pressure here, at least you’re done! Breathe!



Checking in time: 10-25 minutes

Actually taking the GRE time: 4 hours

Therefore from the time you walk into the testing center to the time you walk out, you are looking at close to four and a half hours. Yikes! Because it’s obviously so exhausting to sit through the entire test, I really recommend taking at least a couple of practice tests that simulate the real thing  before test day – that means no interruptions for 4 and a half hours! Can you do it?

If you’ve still got questions about the GRE, check out our Ultimate GRE Guide!


About the Author

Chris Lele has been helping students excel on the GRE, GMAT, and SAT for the last 10 years. He is the Lead Content Developer and Tutor for Magoosh. His favorite food is wasabi-flavored almonds. Follow him on Google+!

2 Responses to How Long is the GRE?

  1. Rishi March 5, 2013 at 12:16 am #

    Hi Chris,

    Thanks for the info.
    I would like to know something – what is the breakup of question types in both the Verbal sections, meaning out of a total of 20 questions for each Verbal section, how many each for RC/TC/SE can appear? Is there any fixed pattern or anything might come in at random?

    • Chris Lele
      Chris Lele March 5, 2013 at 3:07 pm #

      Hi Rishi,

      What great timing :)!! We are just about to release a post that answers your very question. It should be coming out in the next 36 hours. Stay tuned!!

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