The GRE (Graduate Record Examination) is administered by the Educational Testing Service (ETS of the USA). GRE exam has 2 test formats – GRE General Test and GRE Subject Test. The GRE syllabus is different for each.

What is GRE?

GRE is taken mostly by the students applying for Master’s and Doctoral level programs in the Universities in the USA and Canada (including business & law disciplines). GRE test scores are also accepted at many Universities around the world. GRE scores are valid for 5 years.

GRE Syllabus – Broad Topics for General Test

GRE Syllabus: Sections of General Tests
GRE Syllabus: Sections of General Tests

  • The GRE syllabus for General Test is curated to measure verbal reasoning, quantitative reasoning, and analytical writing skills.
  • The GRE composite score ranges from 400 to 1600 and is drawn from the 2 multiple-choice sections (verbal reasoning & quantitative reasoning). The writing section does not get factored into the composite score.
  • GRE General Tests are computer-delivered. In most regions of the world, it is conducted throughout the year. A paper format test is administered in November & February in areas where the computer format isn’t a possibility.

GRE Syllabus – Subject Test Disciplines

GRE Syllabus: 6 Disciplines for Subject Tests
GRE Syllabus: 6 Disciplines for Subject Tests

  • The GRE syllabus for Subject Test is curated to measure your achievement in a specific subject area.
  • You will need an extensive background in those disciplines, at least of college-level study.
  • The GRE Subject Tests are available for Biology, Chemistry, Mathematics, Physics, Psychology & English Literature.
  • The GRE Subject Tests are only paper-delivered (pen-paper based). It is conducted 3 times every year in September, October, and April.

GRE Syllabus of General Test: What is there in it?

GRE uses Computer Adaptive Testing (CAT) method.

Remember, ComputerAdaptive Testing (CAT) methods automatically change the difficulty of questions as you proceed with the exam, depending on the number of correct or incorrect answers that you give. You will not be allowed to go back and change the answers to previous questions.

GRE Syllabus for Analytical Writing: List of Topics Covered

  • Grammar
  • Argument Formulation
  • Writing Ability
  • English Usage
  • Examples used to support an argument

This section aims to measure your ability to:

  • Support ideas with relevant reasons & examples
  • Articulate complex ideas clearly & effectively
  • Sustain well-focused & coherent discussion-making
  • Examine claims & accompanying evidence
  • Control the elements of standard written English.

GRE Syllabus for Verbal Reasoning: List of Topics Covered

English usage

  • Nouns, Pronouns, Adjectives
  • Idioms & Idiomatic Expressions
  • Verb Tense
  • Subject-Verb Agreement
  • Modifiers
  • Pronoun Agreement
  • Parallelism

Rhetorical skills

Analyze & make conclusions based on written material

Compare & contrast the relationships between words and concepts

GRE Exam Syllabus for Quantitative Reasoning: List of Topics Covered

GRE Syllabus: Important Areas to Focus on for Quantitative Reasoning
GRE Syllabus: Important Areas to Focus on for Quantitative Reasoning

GRE Syllabus: Detailed Syllabus of Quantitative Reasoning


  • Prime Number
  • Integers
  • Rational Number
  • Types of Fractions
  1. Proper
  2. Improper
  3. Mixed
  • Adding and Subtracting Fractions
  • Equivalent Fractions
  • Multiplying and Dividing Fractions
  • Comparing Fractions
  • Decimals
  1. Terminating Decimals
  2. Infinite Repeating Decimals
  • Real Numbers
  • Percentages & Interest
  • Multiplication Table
  • Squares and Square Roots
  • Powers of 2&3
  • Cubes and Cube Roots
  • Powers of 10
  • Factorials


  • Sets
  • Arithmetic Mean
  • Mode
  • Median
  • Range
  • Standard Deviation


  • Basic Concepts
  • Linear Equations
  • Equations & Inequalities
  • Exponents & Roots
  • Quadratic Equations


  • Properties of Angles
  • Triangles
  • Equation of a Line
  • Coordinate Geometry
  • Quadrilaterals
  • Polygons
  • Circles
  • Polygons Inscribed in Circles
  • 3-D Figures
  • Properties of Similar Figures
  • Extending or Adding Lines


  • Dependent and Independent Events
  • 2 Overlapping Events
  • 3 Overlapping Events


  • Permutations
  • Combinations
  • Identical Objects
  • Circular Arrangements

GRE General Test Pattern – Computer-based Test

The computer-based GRE General Test has 80 questions and 2 tasks for the Analytical Writing section. The Analytical Writing Score (0-6 points) does not affect the overall score out of 340 points (Quantitative 170 + Verbal 170).

What is GRE? – Structure of Computer-Based GRE General Test
What is GRE? – Structure of Computer-Based GRE General Test

GRE General Test Pattern – Paper-based Test

The paper-based GRE General Test has 100 questions and 2 tasks for the Analytical Writing section. The Analytical Writing Score (0-6 points) does not affect the overall score out of 340 points (Quantitative 170 + Verbal 170).

What is GRE? – Structure of Paper-Based GRE General Test
What is GRE? – Structure of Paper-Based GRE General Test

GRE Subject Test Syllabus: Detailed Syllabus for Each Subject

GRE Syllabus: English Literature


  • Interpretation of passages of prose and poetry
  • recognition of conventions and genres
  • allusions and references
  • meaning and tone
  • grammatical structures and rhetorical strategies


  • Recognition of date, author or work by style and/or content


  • Knowledge of literary, cultural / intellectual history
  • Identification of author or work
  • Identification of details of character, plot or setting of a work


  • Identification and analysis of the characteristics & methods of various critical / theoretical approaches.

GRE Syllabus: Psychology


  • Sensation & Perception
  • Physiological/Behavioral Neuroscience


  • Learning
  • Language
  • Memory
  • Thinking


  • Social Perception, Cognition, Attribution, Beliefs
  • Attitudes / Behavior
  • Emotion, Affect, / Motivation
  • Conformity, Influence, Persuasion
  • Interpersonal Attraction, Close Relationships
  • Group / Intergroup Processes
  • Cultural or Gender Influences
  • Evolutionary Psychology, Altruism, Aggression




GRE Syllabus: Mathematics


  • Differential & integral calculus of one and of several variables
  • Connections with coordinate geometry, trigonometry, differential equations


  • Linear algebra
  • matrix algebra,
  • systems of linear equations,
  • vector spaces,
  • linear transformations,
  • characteristic polynomials,
  • eigenvalues & eigenvectors
  • Abstract algebra and number theory
  • group theory
  • theory of rings and modules
  • field theory
  • number theory


  • Introductory real analysis:
  • Sequences and series of numbers and functions,
  • Continuity
  • Differentiability
  • Integrability
  • Discrete mathematics
  • Set theory
  • Logic
  • Combinatorics
  • Graph theory
  • Algorithms
  • General topology
  • Geometry
  • Complex variables
  • Probability / statistics

GRE Syllabus: Biology




  • Cellular Structure and Function
  • Biological compounds
  • Enzyme activity, receptor binding, & regulation
  • Major metabolic pathways and regulation
  • Membrane dynamics & cell surfaces
  • Membrane dynamics & cell surfaces
  • Cytoskeleton: motility & shape
  • Cell cycle: growth, division, & regulation (including signal transduction)
  • Genetics & Molecular Biology
  • Mendelian inheritance, Pedigree analysis, Prokaryotic genetics, Genetic mapping
  • Chromatin and chromosomes
  • Genome sequence organization
  • Genome maintenance
  • Gene expression and regulation
  • Immunobiology
  • Bacteriophages, animal viruses, & plant viruses
  • Recombinant DNA methodology

GRE Syllabus: Chemistry


  • Data Acquisition and Use of Statistics
  • Solutions and Standardization
  • Acid-base, oxidation-reduction, complexometry
  • Gravimetric analysis, solubility, precipitation titrations, chemical separations
  • Electrochemical methods, spectroscopic methods, chromatographic methods, thermal methods, calibration of instruments
  • Environmental Applications
  • Radiochemical Methods


  • Periodic trends, oxidation states, nuclear chemistry
  • Covalent Molecules
  • Metals and Semiconductors
  • Acids & Bases
  • Main Group Elements
  • Transition Elements
  • Organometallic chemistry, catalysis, bioinorganic chemistry, solid-state chemistry, environmental chemistry


  • Structure, Bonding and Nomenclature
  • Functional Groups
  • Reaction Mechanisms
  • Reactive Intermediates
  • Organometallics
  • Resonance, molecular orbital theory, carbon acidity, lipids, amino acids, peptides, carbohydrates, nucleic acids


  • Thermodynamics
  • Quantum Chemistry & Applications to Spectroscopy
  • Chemical kinetics, solution & liquid dynamics, photochemistry

GRE Syllabus: Physics








  • Data and error analyses
  • Electronics & instrumentation
  • Radiation detection
  • Counting statistics
  • Interaction of charged particles with matter
  • Lasers and optical interferometers
  • Dimensional analysis
  • Fundamental applications of probability & statistics


  • Nuclear & particle physics
  • Condensed matter
  • Astrophysics
  • Single and multivariate calculus
  • Coordinate systems (rectangular, cylindrical and spherical)
  • Vector algebra
  • Fourier series
  • Partial differential equations
  • Matrices and determinants

What is GRE Scoring Pattern of Subject Tests?

GRE Syllabus 2020: The Ultimate Guide to Help You Succeed 1

A GRE Subject Test can be taken to highlight strengths in a specific subject area. In rare instances, a graduate program will actually require a GRE Subject test score.

It may be required by only a few grad programs at a top university like the University of Notre Dame, Yale, Stanford, NYU, UC-Berkeley, etc.

Consider the Electrical Engineering & Computer Sciences program at UC-Berkeley. It’s mentioned on the EECS Berkeley page that “The General GRE is required for all applicants, even those with advanced degrees. A Subject GRE is not required and there is no penalty for not taking one.”

This is the case mostly. A recommendation, not a requirement.

If the graduate program you’re interested in doesn’t mention the requirement of a GRE Subject Test, treat it as low priority. Contact the school and check, if your doubts persist.

Distribution of GRE Syllabus in Different Subjects

Distribution of GRE Syllabus of Biology
Distribution of GRE Syllabus of Biology

Distribution of GRE Syllabus of Psychology
Distribution of GRE Syllabus of Psychology

Distribution of GRE Syllabus of Mathematics
Distribution of GRE Syllabus of Mathematics

Distribution of GRE Syllabus of English
Distribution of GRE Syllabus of English

GRE Syllabus 2020: The Ultimate Guide to Help You Succeed 2
Distribution of GRE Syllabus of Physics

Distribution of GRE Syllabus of Chemistry
Distribution of GRE Syllabus of Chemistry

GRE Preparation: A Scoring Guide with Essential Test-Taking Strategies

Just like eating a large-sized pizza, you don’t do it all in one bite. Dominating the GRE is a journey. You take one step at a time.

This guide is for the lion-hearted! You cannot expect help to guide you get a top score, if you don’t believe that you can.

  • Preparation for the GRE requires an investment of time.
  • You will have to learn valuable techniques for eliminating wrong answers and choosing correct ones in a given amount of time, much like other competitive exams.
  • For this, you will need a step-by-step analysis of the thought processes required to arrive at the correct solution.
  • It is most essential that you become familiar with the content of the syllabi for every subject and each section.

To get a high score on the GRE, you will need 3 things.

GRE Preparation: 3 Essential Weapons
GRE Preparation: 3 Essential Weapons

Knowledge – It is not as difficult as it seems either. If you can buckle down for a few weeks and learn each and every concept with proper understanding, it will be an easy journey for you.

Skills – Some of the important skills are the process of elimination, reading skills, logical reasoning, ability to extract information data, data interpretation skills, etc.

Strategy – Educated guessing, learning how to perfectly manage time, skipping hard & time-consuming questions, and building your mental stamina to withstand 4 hours of rigorous work.

How to prepare for GRE: Accessible Materials

Accessible Materials

General Tests

You can access a variety of free as well as some low-cost tools to help you prepare for the GRE General Tests. You can also sign-up for a free language webinar conducted by ETS to feel more confident on the day of your test.

This official test prep book (ETS Official Guide) covers all the basic concepts that you come across on the test and also includes a few example questions for each of the topics discussed.

Subject Tests

Here you can find free, official test preparation materials for the subject tests. You can download free practice booklets for the specific subject test you plan to take.

Every subject test practice booklet has a full-length test with answer-keys and is also equipped with student strategies & explanations with respect to scoring mechanisms. If you wish to understand the test content & structure in detail, you may have a look at these descriptions.

Download practice books of each subject for the Subject Tests

ETS PowerPrep Software

The PowerPrep (ETS PowerPrep Plus GRE Practice Tests) is a set of 2 free practice sets provided by ETS. ThePowerPrep is byfar the best source of practice you can get for the GRE. The questions on the PowerPreparethose that have previously appeared on real GRE tests.

Some other popular practice tests:

List of Degree Programs to Apply For

You can view the latest 2019-2020 information bulletin released by ETS here. If you wish to know the disciplines you can apply for after clearing GRE tests, visit this page. Navigate to the “Major Field Code List” sub-section to know all the different graduation disciplines that you can apply for after you clear GRE!

GRE Syllabus 2020: List of Study Disciplines You Can Apply To
GRE Syllabus 2020: List of Study Disciplines You Can Apply To

About GRE General Test Scores

GRE General Test Maximum Scores
GRE General Test Maximum Scores

  • An average candidate can score about a 150 on both the GRE Verbal & Quantitative sections, with a 4 for Analytical Writing.
  • A good score can be anything above 155 for Verbal and above 160 for Quantitative. However, what constitutes an ideal score will vary with school &the program that you choose to opt for.
  • You can, in fact, make use of the ScoreSelect option to decide which test scores you want schools to see and which ones reflect your personal best so you can increase your chances of getting into your chosen school and your chosen academic program in a college. Take a closer look at the overview of the General Test here.
  • Unlike the SAT & ACT, all section scores that you get are not combined into one GRE total score. Rather, you’d have to list your 3 section scores separately when reporting your GRE results.
  • For example, if you’re applying for an engineering Ph.D. program, the score you achieve in the Quantitative section will be the most important part of your GRE scores.
  • Similarly, if you’re applying for a Master’s in Literature, your Verbal score will be much more important. So, keeping section scores separate helps schools easily see how well you did in the section they care most about.
  • Most graduate schools are better interested in one section score over the others, depending upon what you choose to study. Consider having a look at all the frequently asked questions here.

GRE Preparation: 40 Super Exam Tips

  1. Get to know the test
  2. Know your strengths & weaknesses
  3. Set a realistic target score
  4. Make your own study plan
  5. Start early
  6. Focused, targeted practice
  7. Get the right prep material
  8. Practice solving harder questions
  9. Build your stamina
  10. Review wrong answers thoroughly
  11. Read everyday
  12. Do all official guide questions –“OG” is the GRE bible
  13. Maintain notes
  14. Timed practice
  15. Know the concepts back and forth
  16. Don’t peek at the answers!
  17. Build your stamina
  18. Work open book for the first few weeks
  19. Study consistently
  20. Make extensive use of the process of elimination
  21. Review correctly guessed questions
  22. Procrastinate procrastination!
  23. Learn the question types and the common wrong answer traps
  24. Prepare to go wrong
  25. Try to study in 30 minute chunks
  26. Get the blood moving – jump around, move your legs, arms, hands,
  27. Learn how to use a scratch pad
  28. Don’t be afraid of the tough questions
  29. Use mind maps to memorize concepts
  30. Don’t cram
  31. Practice mental math
  32. Always find the right place to study
  33. Learn to speed read
  34. Workout to stay focused
  35. No last-minute preparation
  36. Visit the testing center before your test
  37. Wear earplugs while studying and on test day
  38. Have a physical stopwatch with you
  39. Never leave questions unanswered – GRE does not have any negative marking
  40. Hard work pays off!


If you’re still unsure of where to start with the GRE syllabus or how to prepare for GRE or what your strategies of GRE preparation should be, you can access help from expert Study Abroad Counsellors. They can guide you to draw up a winning strategy.

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