GRE Syllabus 2021 – List of topics in GRE General and Subject syllabus

7 mins


The graduate record examination, commonly known as GRE, is taken by candidates interested in doing a postgraduate course from international colleges and universities. To score well in these exams, one needs to know all about the current trends and updates, especially the GRE exam syllabus. Therefore, the GRE Exam Syllabus is crucial information to possess. It will give candidates clarity about which areas they need to focus on and give them a better outlook of the exam. The GRE Exam Syllabus generally contains two types of tests: the GRE General Test and GRE Subject Test. This article will discuss the GRE exam syllabus and various other aspects of the exam.

Topics in GRE General Test

If you want to prepare thoroughly for the GRE, then you need to know about the details and the GRE exam syllabus. The GRE is broken up into various sections. The first thing that you need to prepare for is a 60 minutes long writing section. Then there is another section of 30 minutes long with verbal reasoning questions. Then the third thing that you will see in the GRE General Test is the Quantitative reasoning section, followed by the experimental or research section. And finally, at last, we have the computer test in the GRE Exam syllabus. Here is a brief description of all of these sections:

Analytical Writing- Generally, the first thing you will see while given the GRE is the analytical writing section. This section is one of the most crucial parts of the GRE Exam Syllabus. The Analytical Writing Section consists of two writing tasks: an argumentative writing task and the other is the issue writing task. You should look at the basic prompts for both tasks to better understand them, prepare well for the GRE exam syllabus, and provide all the right answers.
Verbal Reasoning- Straight after the Analytical Writing section comes along the Verbal Reasoning Section. You should know that the Analytical  Writing and Verbal reasoning sections are the main parts you need to prepare for the GRE exam syllabus. These sections hold the most weight and are assessed very seriously, thus requiring you to study well for them. As the name suggests, this section will check your reasoning skills and correct the sentences for any kind of errors.
Quantitative Reasoning- Now, for the third section, we have the Quantitative Reasoning Section. This section is easier compared to the last sections and also allows the students to use a calculator. This section will test your quantitative comparisons. The students will be presented with a question in which they have to determine which of the two quantities is bigger. The questions can come in a multiple-choice pattern or numeric entry questions.
Experimental or Research Section- After the previous section, the Experimental section will incorporate the Verbal Reasoning or Quantitative Reasoning section. You should not focus your attention on determining the location of the section as the exam is changed and updated every year and is never the same. If a Research Section does come into your exam, it will be at the very end, and it will be presented to you as an optional choice question.
Computer Adaptation Section- And now finally, we have the Computer Adaptation Section. This section is an adaptive section that will make your second round of questions difficult if you perform well in the first round of Quantitative Reasoning and Verbal Reasoning sections. Thus, making the candidates level up to a more difficult second round of questions. You should also know the writing sections are non-adaptive and will not have these kinds of changes. The same goes for the experimental or research section, thus not increasing the difficulty level of these sections.

Topics in GRE Subjective Test

After learning about the GRE Exam syllabus of the GRE General Test, the next thing that candidates should know about is the GRE Subjective Test. The GRE Subjective Test contains six major disciplines. Here is a list of subjects in the GRE Exam Syllabus:

  1. Chemistry
  2. Biology
  3. Literature in English
  4. Mathematics
  5. Physics
  6. Psychology 

Each of these subjects has its sub-topics and weightage in the GRE Subjective Test. For example:

  1. Chemistry- The chemistry test generally contains 130 multiple-choice questions, with subtopics like analytical chemistry, inorganic chemistry, organic chemistry, and physical chemistry.
  2. Biology- In the Biology test, there are approximately 188  multiple-choice questions, with subtopics like cellular and molecular biology, organismal biology, and ecology and evolution.
  3. Literature in English- This section contains 230 questions testing you on various basic English literature sections. The sub-topics for this section are literary analysis, identification of various poems or famous quotes, cultural and historical context, and history and theory of literary criticism.
  4. Mathematics- The Mathematics test contains 66 multiple-choice questions. The sub-topics for this test are calculus, algebra, and other additional topics depending on the undergrad program you want to enrol in.
  5. Physics- The exam consists of 100 multiple-choice questions. It has a wide range of sub-topics like classical mechanics, electromagnetism, optics and wave phenomena, thermodynamics and statistical mechanics, quantum mechanics, atomic physics, special relativity, laboratory methods, and specialised. In addition, it has topics depending on the course you are opting for.
  6. Psychology- This test has approximately 205 multiple-choice questions and has subtopics like biological, cognitive, social, developmental, and clinical psychology.

GRE Exam Syllabus 2021

As mentioned above, the GRE Exam Syllabus, 2021, contains two major tests. The first test is the GRE General Test, and the second one is the GRE subjective test. Each of these tests has a bunch of sections under them. Read the first two topics again to get a brief introduction to the GRE exam syllabus 2021. For example, the GRE General test has five sections, with the Analytical Writing section and the Verbal reasoning section as the major sections. Similarly, the GRE Subjective test has six major disciplines: Chemistry, Biology, Literature in English, Mathematics, Physics, and Psychology. Therefore, you need to have in-depth knowledge about the whole GRE exam syllabus 2021 to perform well.

GRE Exam Eligibility Criteria

The GRE eligibility criteria are pretty straightforward. Talking about the age restriction to give the exam, there are none, as mentioned by the board. The GRE exam syllabus also does not mention any academic qualifications to appear for the exam. Although interested candidates should remember that the GRE is a graduate-level exam, they must complete their undergraduate degrees. You should also research the GRE exam syllabus and practice well, as almost every college and university needs you to present your GRE score scale, prepare. Finally, you should check out the college or universities official website if they require you to take a GRE exam or not. You should also pay the exam fee to attend the exam, which is approx—$ 205.

GRE Exam Pattern and Marks

We all know taking the GRE could be very stressful and nerve-wracking. As many institutes have standardised the exam to enter the college or university, this exam is even more important and competitive. One should know all about the GRE Exam pattern and the marking scheme. You should also be aware of the GRE Exam syllabus to perform exceptionally well and get a good score in the exam. You should know that the GRE exam occurs in two ways. In one, the exam is attempted on paper and the other one on a computer. 

The total duration for the computer-based exam is 3 hours and 45 Minutes. In contrast, the duration for the paper-based exam is 3 hours and 30 minutes. In addition, the total number of sections in the computer-based exam is seven, and for the paper-based, it is six sections. In these sections, the number of questions asked in the computer-based exam is 82, whereas it is 102 questions for the paper-based exam. And now, talking about the marking scheme in the general test, the Verbal and Quantitative reasoning section is scored between 130-170 for each section. Thus, making a total of 340 marks to this section, whereas the Analytical Writing section is scored in between 1-6 marks. And now, for the subjective test, each discipline holds a weightage of 200 to 990 score with a 10 points increment.


1-Is GRE a tough exam?

The GRE exam is considered a bit tough as compared with the ACT or SAT exam. This is because it tests a person on various levels and subjects. However, it is not as tough as a professional exam such as MCAT.

2- What is the GRE exam used for?

The GRE exam is a graduate-level exam and is used for gaining entrance into various colleges and universities. The exam has also been standardised by many colleges and acts as a gateway for selecting students. Therefore, you should try and score well in the exam to gain admission into your aspiring college. To achieve this, you should look for the GRE exam syllabus and the marking scheme for various sections.

3- What is on the GRE exam syllabus?

The GRE exam consists of two tests. One of them being the General test and the other one being the subjective test. Each of these tests has its sub-sections that you need to be aware of to perform well.


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