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GRE FAQ: Frequently Asked Questions about the GRE

The GRE is a long, complex exam that requires many hours of preparation. Students are bound to have various questions as they progress through their studies. Thankfully, our test experts have thoroughly analyzed the most prevalent questions in our GRE FAQ blog post series.

Below, you’ll find a sampling of the five most common questions we see. For the full list of our GRE FAQ blog posts, see the bottom of this post.

GRE FAQ-magoosh

1. How long is the GRE?

Excluding breaks, the test length is three hours and forty-five minutes. This includes:

  • The writing sections (60 minutes total)
  • Two verbal sections (30 minutes each, 60 minutes total)
  • Two quantitative sections (35 minutes each, 70 minutes total)
  • One ungraded experimental section (30-35 minutes)

For an in-depth breakdown, see our post How Long is the GRE?

2. How much does the GRE cost?

At a minimum, everyone who takes the GRE must pay a mandatory $205 registration fee. However, there may be late fees, rescheduling fees, and other costs depending upon your situation. See our How Much Does the GRE Cost post for more details.

3. What are the best GRE books?

The offerings from ETS—including the Official Guide, the Quantitative Reasoning Practice Questions, and the Verbal Reasoning Practice Questions—are the best GRE books you can find. ETS is the same company that produces the GRE itself, so the material in these books is written to the same specifications as content you’d find on a real GRE.

Aside from these, we recently published our own physical book: GRE Prep by Magoosh. The book is carefully curated by our experts, and we believe it is one of the strongest third-party GRE books available.

We also have a series of free eBooks and resources that may be found below:

For an in-depth look at physical GRE materials, head over to our Best GRE Books post, or our consult our full list of GRE Book Reviews.

4. Can I use a calculator?

GRE test-takers will have access to a simple calculator capable of performing addition, subtraction, division, multiplication, and square root operations.

That being said, we are strong advocates of avoiding the calculator whenever possible. The GRE is not testing your ability to punch numbers into a machine. Instead, the GRE is analyzing your critical thinking and problem-solving abilities. Most problems will not require a calculator at all, and it is typically quicker to perform simple operations mentally. Granted, there will be a few problems—like those involving multiple decimals, or multiplication/division of complex numbers—where calculator use is warranted. But for the most part, relying on mental math is the best strategy.

For further discussion, check out our post Can you Use a Calculator on the GRE?

5. What is adaptive testing?

Adaptive tests use computer algorithms to “adapt” to the user’s skill level. The GRE is adaptive between sections. This means questions within a given math or verbal section will not change depending upon your performance. However, after completing a section, the next section you see will be adjusted to your abilities, based on the results of the previous section. In other words, performing better on your initial section will lead to a more difficult second section. But this is a good thing—those who advance to more difficult sections will typically receive higher scores than those who are relegated to easier sections.

For additional information concerning this process, see: Is the GRE Adaptive?

Now it’s your turn: Are there any other questions you’d like to see added to our GRE FAQ series?

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2 Responses to GRE FAQ: Frequently Asked Questions about the GRE

  1. Aniruddh July 8, 2018 at 2:32 am #

    Hello Magoosh Team,

    I just wanted to know how much does the actual GRE vary with regards to toughness to the ETS Power Prep Tests.

    I have my GRE on July 31,2018 and I gave my ETS powerprep test 1 a couple of days ago and scored 330 in it. How much can i expect in my actual GRE?

    Would appreciate a response.

    Warm Regards,


    • Magoosh Test Prep Expert
      Magoosh Test Prep Expert July 11, 2018 at 10:28 am #

      Hi Aniruddh,

      The Powerprep test is generally the most accurate score predictor because it’s made by the test-makers themselves. If you took the Powerprep test under real test-like conditions, then you are in great shape for the test! Keep in mind, however, that there are several things that can negatively impact your score on test day. Make sure that you have a plan to decrease test stress and deal with adverse testing conditions such as noisy neighbors, cold A/C and other distractions. Sleep well the night before, have a healthy breakfast, bring snacks, and plan your route to the test center! You should plan ahead to make sure that you give yourself the best shot at achieving this awesome score on the big day!

Magoosh blog comment policy: To create the best experience for our readers, we will only approve comments that are relevant to the article, general enough to be helpful to other students, concise, and well-written! 😄 Due to the high volume of comments across all of our blogs, we cannot promise that all comments will receive responses from our instructors.

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