Is the GRE Exam Hard?

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If you try to ask the previous takers about how difficult is GRE, most probably, the majority of them will answer it’s a challenging exam. However, the GRE is recognized as one of the most effective measurements of an individual’s reasoning and critical thinking skills. Because of that, it is used as an entrance exam to the most competitive academic programs worldwide.

No matter how tough it sounds, you can still make it if you are determined and well-prepared for it. In this article, you will learn more about the GRE, which will help you prepare for attaining the highest GRE score.

What Does the GRE Test For?What Does the GRE Test For?

Business and law are the most competitive and demanding graduate school programs. That’s why the universities will usually measure your critical thinking and analytical reasoning skills and your readiness for graduate school through the GRE test before enrolling in these graduate school programs.

The GRE test is the Graduate Record Examination, an entrance exam for business and graduate school programs administered by Educational Testing Service or ETS. The GRE test consists of verbal reasoning, quantitative reasoning, critical thinking, and analytical writing sections, which you need to answer and pass to be accepted in your preferred graduate program. Getting a high score on this test will be your edge over the rest of the applicants.

What is a Good GRE Score?

What is a Good GRE Score?

Part of the preparation for the GRE test is to know the GRE scores. The general test score ranges from 130-170 scores per section, which is a total of 340 according to verbal and quantitative reasoning. When the scores are combined, it ranges from 260-340. The following is the total GRE score:

GRE Sections

Minimum Score

Maximum Score

GRE Verbal Reasoning



GRE Quantitative Reasoning



GRE Analytical Writing






You can set your target GRE score when you know the average score. However, the average score is determined by each university’s admission requirements. These universities may set up a cutoff. That’s why knowing these cutoff or average scores is essential to know what score you need to attain. As much as possible, it would help if you achieved a higher score than the average score to be qualified for the graduate school program. According to The Princeton Review, the average GRE scores for universities are the following:

Average GRE Score Section

Average GRE Score

Average Verbal Reasoning Score GRE


Average Quantitative Reasoning Score GRE


Average Analytical Writing Score GRE


Based on the data above, a good GRE score ranges from 152-158 in the verbal section, while in the quantitative section, the score must be from 153-158. In the analytical section, you must attain a score of more than 4.0 to set yourself apart from the rest of the exam takers.

Is GRE More Difficult than SAT and ACT?

Is GRE More Difficult than SAT and ACT?

There is a difference between GRE and SAT, and ACT. However, each is an essential requirement for different academic programs, both undergraduate and graduate courses.


GRE is a standardized test for graduate school programs, while SAT is a standardized aptitude test for the undergraduate program. When you graduate from a secondary high school program, you can take SAT and be qualified for college courses. GRE, on the other hand, can be taken after you graduate from any bachelor course and plan to proceed to a graduate school program.

In terms of difficulty, GRE is more challenging than SAT. Although the total score you can get from SAT, which is 400-1600, is greater than GRE, which is 260-340, SAT has only three sections. These sections are mathematics, evidenced-based reading, and writing. GRE also consists of more advanced reading passages and vocabulary questions than SAT. Its vocabulary words are vague and not commonly used. Its mathematics questions belong to higher-order thinking skills compared to SAT regarding quantitative reasoning. You must already acquire the necessary mathematical skills when solving GRE math questions. When it comes to acceptance, many takers fail to meet a good GRE score, unlike with SAT.


Again GRE is the admission test required before a student can enroll in any graduate school program, business program, and law. ACT, on the other hand, is the standardized test taken by high school students before entering college. It is also the basis for the student’s eligibility for scholarships. GRE and ACT are both different.

GRE is still more complicated than the ACT. GRE is taken after the students finish college, in which the students have already acquired significant knowledge and even skills, while high school students take the ACT. Thus, the difficulty of the exam will be based on the developmental level, particularly the maturity of the takers.

The ACT composes of subjects, namely: English, Math, Reading, Science, and Writing. The first four sections, English, Math, Reading, and Science, are scored on a scale of 1 to 36. However, the writing section has a separate score on a scale of 1 to 12. In GRE, you will not answer the Science section as it only focuses on Math and language skills. The English and reading sections in the ACT are considered separate sections, while in GRE, the vocabulary and reading are combined and taken as a single score.

What Makes GRE Difficult?

What Makes GRE Difficult?

If you ask those who have taken GRE before, you will probably only find a few who would say that it is an easy exam. Here are some of the reasons that make the GRE difficult:

Difficult Content

When you take GRE, you will find out that it has a difficulty level of vocabulary and sentence complexity. You may think you are already familiar with its verbal section, but the odds are, you may find it not familiar. You may even encounter words that are new to you because you have not used them or heard them before.

What makes it more difficult is that the GRE verbal section is unpredictable. You may even find info-six passages that you have to answer immediately. You will not be able to determine the right words to memorize. However, since GRE is formulaic, you can do some tricks if you learn how to identify them.

The math section will be about arithmetic, algebra, and geometry data analysis. You may have learned these topics during your high school years. Most probably, you have forgotten these concepts already, which makes it more frustrating to study the match section of the test. It requires you to relearn the concepts again.


The timing is given to finish all the questions are limited. It can be stressful, especially if you are not good at time management. For example, only thirty minutes are given to write an argument essay and another thirty minutes for the issue essay. Two verbal sections with twenty questions are to be finished within thirty minutes. That means to say; you must only take one minute per question.

For the quantitative section, you must be done within thirty-five minutes for 20 questions. You are given one minute and forty-five seconds to finish the questions. The time is not enough and adding to it is the pressure of answering each question given the time constraint. You must establish a strategy and be decisive when answering the questions.

As much as possible, you must quickly identify questions that you can respond to right away from those that you need to leave and return later for the review.

It is a computer-adaptive test.

One of the reasons why the GRE is difficult is because it is a computer-adaptive test. At the same time, it is also a section adaptive. The first section comprises the medium-level question, determining whether your next section will be easy, medium, or difficult.

For example, if you got a high accuracy rate in the first section, your second section may be easy, but if you have an average accuracy rate in the first section, the second section may be medium. That’s why you must get a high accuracy rate in the first section.

How Long Does It Take to Prepare for the GRE?

How Long Does It Take to Prepare for the GRE?

GRE can be challenging. However, if you have prepared for it, passing it is attainable. Since GRE will measure your college vocabulary by analyzing highly complicated passages for meaning and applying math concepts through geometry to solve problems, you need to be ready a few months before the exam date.

Spending three hours every day for 10-12 weeks studying is recommended. Before the exam, you need to find out the type of questions, the materials to use, and the kind of reasoning questions. It may be enough to cover all the sections included in the exam. You may need to use online practice exams and math reviews.

5 GRE Study Tips to Pass Successfully

5 GRE Study Tips to Pass Successfully

With the right and substantial preparation, there will be no doubt that you will pass the GRE test and choose your preferred university. Here are some tips on how you can pass the GRE test successfully:

1. You need to establish a study habit.

It would be best if you established a study habit. As much as possible, it would help if you determined the things that may distract you, such as the internet, particularly spending a lot of time on social media.

If you ever observe yourself using social media, you must stop and focus on studying each section of the GRE. You can divide your hours into four hours of studying the verbal section and four hours of the quantitative section.

2. Prepare for the writing section.

You will need to write two essays for thirty minutes each. You will be given a topic and need to write down your opinion about it. You may need to write 5 600 words to describe the situation. The second topic will require you to scrutinize the parameters and the basis of the given situation and how it is analyzed. In the second situation, you are not needed to provide your opinion, unlike in the first situation.

3. Be ready for each section.

After your writing section, you will proceed to two verbal and two quantitative questions. However, the plot twist is in the last part; you will have another unannounced verbal or another quantitative question. It is just for review. However, you may not know which among them is the exact review part only. That’s why you need to answer all of them to the best of your ability. You must be ready to answer each section and become a master of it.

4. Determine the possible topics for verbal section.

In answering the verbal section, you must be well-versed in sentence structure, such as nouns, pronouns, and adjectives. You must also know the use of verb tense, which as the past, present, and future.

Do not forget to study idioms and idiomatic expressions. Do not be confused about using the proper pronoun agreement and subject-verb agreement in singular and plural. It would help if you also studied the modifiers and parallelism.

5. Learn about some Math tricks.

When taking the quantitative section of the GRE, you will encounter four questions: quantitative comparison, single correct multiple choice questions, multiple correct answers, and input correct answers. When answering the questions, you need to do it slowly but surely. You must have one attempt only, and it should be a 100% correct answer.

If you find difficult questions, you should leave them first. You can come back later on to make your final answer. It would help if you started answering those easy questions. In this way, you will increase your chances of getting high scores.

Wrapping Things Up: Is the GRE Exam Hard?

Is the GRE hard? Based on the comparison we had above, it is more difficult than the ACT and SAT. They also differ regarding the type of questions, the time given, and the subjects included in the exam. However, like any other exam, GRE needs ample preparation for you to make it.

In the preparation, it would help to know the types of questions so you can practice answering them. Lastly, you can follow the tips mentioned below by establishing a study habit, understanding the different sections, and how to answer them. Good luck!

Should You Take the GRE or the GMAT? Find out here.

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Professor Conquer

Professor Conquer started Conquer Your Exam in 2018 to help students feel more confident and better prepared for their tough tests. Prof excelled in high school, graduating top of his class and receiving admissions into several Ivy League and top 15 schools. He has helped many students through the years tutoring and mentoring K-12, consulting seniors through the college admissions process, and writing extensive how-to guides for school.

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