The test basically consists of three sections of 800 marks each:
Total marks = 800 + 800 + 800 = 2400
IMPORTANT NOTE : one of the sections above is REPEATED, so that in the exam, you actually have to solve four sections instead of three. However only three sections count towards your score. The other section is experimental and is used to gauge the difficulty of the questions for use in future tests. However, ETS has chosen not to mark the experimental section. It may appear anywhere along the sequence and one of the most foolish things you could do would be to try and identify it and solve it casually, because if you are mistaken, you could be solving a scoring section casually! Take my advice, solve all the sections with equal diligence.
What follows is a brief description of these sections:
1) Quantitative :
In simple words, Mathematics. The level of maths that is to be used is very low. That , however does not mean that the questions in this section are extremely easy.
The Questions are very well thought out, which means that you have to apply the principles you ALREADY know (except for the odd probability / sequences problem, all the problems are based on math principles that were taught to us in high school) DIFFERENTLY in order to solve those problems.
An example would be more illustrative than anything I could write .Try
solving this oft repeated question:
The questions in this section can be divided into various subsets :
a) Problem solving : like the problem given above.
b) Quantitative comparisons : e.g.. which one is greater? (0.8)(0.8) OR 80(0.004)
c) Graph questions : A graph is provided and question based on the graph (e.g.. What is the percentage change in sales from July to November) are asked. This is the question in which you might make mistakes because the numbers involved are frequently very large and the answer choices , frequently very close together.
The section most people find most difficult and which improves SIGNIFICANTLY with practice. You will get almost all the questions wrong in this section before you read the guidelines in one of the books we recommend (And we strongly recommend Kaplan for this purpose..)
There are two main types of questions in this section :
a) Logic games : the predominant type. Have you ever played those mind games that appear in books or at the very last page of the Sunday review? These are a bit like those.
b) Logical reasoning : An argument is given . You have to find out the conclusion, the evidences supporting that conclusion and the assumptions the author makes in order to make the evidences relevant to the conclusion, and THEN find a logical fault in the author's reasoning. If you are confused by now, you ought to be. This according to me, is THE single most difficult question type on the GRE. However with a lot of practice, you could turn this question into one of your strong points. Once you get the hang of it (again, read Kaplan) you can solve these questions in a very short time, thereby giving you more time for the logic games.
3 ) Verbal :
The section in which the most hard work is required. The work consists of trying to cram in a "word list" of around 2000 words that is listed in Barrons. In other words, it is like trying to cram a dictionary! VERY boring, but VERY necessary.
Four types of questions are asked :
1) Sentence completions : fill in the blanks :) . However, you would be very mistaken if you thought this was child's play. The choices given are pretty difficult words themselves and its quite difficult to pick the correct answers.
2)Antonyms : eg. choose the antonym of the following word from amongst the choices given: (Voluble) choices : taciturn, manly, heavenly ,slovenly. These Questions are straightforward : you know the word list, you can answer them. If you don't , you can't .End of story.
3) Analogies : I cannot even begin to explain what this means. You would do better to read a book rather than have your mind confused by me over this difficult question type.
4) Reading comprehension : The most wildly irritating question type. I wish I could find the people who wrote these horribly constructed vague essays and cauterize their language areas, which have probably herniated into their scrotums... Pretentious topics, a pompous array of words arranged in a bewildering fashion with no apparent direction of motion.
In my exam, the long essay of this type described " The application of logical reasoning to art, especially painting". I couldn't understand a word of it. I marked all the "C" s.