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GRE Question Types Breakdown

A key to pacing on the GRE is knowing exactly what the breakdown in questions are, and knowing how well you handle each question. Related to this is the numbering of each question. To illustrate: if you struggle with Text Completions, it is helpful to know that the first six questions of each verbal section are Text Completions.

Below is a helpful breakdown of the question type, the number of such questions, and, where applicable, the difficulty level of each question. Remember you’ll see the verbal and math sections twice!


Verbal Sections

Text Completions (TC): Questions 1-6

One-Blank TC (two questions)

Two-Blank TC (two questions)

Three-Blank TC (two questions)

Of note: the second of each type of TC (one-, two-blank, etc.) is usually more difficult.

Reading Comprehension

Medium Reading Passage: Questions 7-9/10

Paragraph Argument: Question 11

Short Reading Passage: Question 12-13

Or the Medium and Short passage will, on one of the verbal sections you see (assuming you don’t get the experimental verbal section) be condensed into a very long reading passage.

Sentence Equivalence
: Usually around questions 14-17

Questions do not become more difficult as the number increases.

Back to Reading Comprehension

Short Reading Passage: Questions 18-19

Remember, pacing your reading comprehension is very important.

Paragraph Argument: Question 20

The above is a rough approximation. For instance sometimes the first reading passage will be precede by a paragraph argument.


Math Sections

Quantitative Comparison: Questions 1-7

Questions get more difficult, i.e., question 1 is typically the easiest and question 7 the toughest.

Problem Solving: Questions 8-20

Questions 8-12 will be a mix of five answer multiple-choice questions, Numeric Entry question (usually one) and a short multiple answer question (usually three answer choices).

Questions 13-16 will be Data Interpretation

Question 17-20 contains a multiple answer question (usually with many possible choices). You may also see a second Numeric Entry question.



Knowing the “lay of the land” on the GRE exam is key to pacing your verbal and pacing your math. Also knowing your strengths and weaknesses—so you can know which questions to skip and, if necessary, come back to later—is important.  Use the above to refer to before taking a practice test. After you become familiar with the format, your grasp of the type and ordering of questions should become second nature. Do you think knowledge is power here? Or is order of questions and quantity just a distraction? Let us know below. 🙂

And if you’re still wondering about specifics of the test, check out the Ultimate GRE Guide!


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