PROMOTED: Is GRE Really Very Difficult ? Tips on How to Tackle it


Before getting into any graduate schools, you need to take the GRE, which is a standardized exam with different sections such as Essay, multiple-choice questions for verbal ability and math. Every year, a lot of students take this exam. Many students find this test challenging compared to others. Nevertheless, is this test very challenging?

This article will tackle this exam in more details, the common challenges test takers have, and how to deal with them.

Are you preparing to take the GRE? Then, continue reading.

Reasons Why the GRE Could Be Difficult

Since the GRE is an adaptive computer exam, the test format is the same for all test takers. However, the exam content is different for every student. For the quantitative reasoning and verbal parts of the test, the students will take 2 parts. After the score is given for the first part, the second part’s questions can be a little more difficult compared to the first section.

The second part will likely be more difficult if you answered most of the questions correctly in the first part. On the other hand, if most of your answers are wrong, the second part’s questions will be less challenging. Because of this, many test-takers worry if they did well in the first and second sections. The stress can be a reason for them to get a lower score.

One of the key techniques in taking the GRE is to practice answering computer-based exams. It will be better to answer practice tests on your computer if you have not taken a test like this before. This is to adapt yourself with the test format. Another effective tip is to avoid spending too much time analyzing one question and overthinking each part’s difficulty. You find free practice tests for GRE on the ETS’s website. ETS is a great test resource. You can also consider taking test prep courses to fill up your weak areas be it verbal or quant. Here is a good resource about how to pick the right prep course.

Breaking Down Each Part of GRE

In general, the GRE is more difficult than the SAT, ACT, and other college admission tests. Nevertheless, it is easier than the MCAT, GMAT, LSAT, and other graduate entrance examinations.

In analytical writing, you can get a score from 0 to 6. You need to answer two essays within an hour. For quantitative reasoning, you can get a score of 130 to 170. You will be tested for your math abilities here. In verbal reasoning, you will be checked for the extensiveness of your vocabulary. You can get a score from 130 to 170.

Now, we will see the sections of GRE, the challenges for each section, and how it will be easier for you.

Quantitative Reasoning

The math part of the GRE is quantitative reasoning. This part is easy for those who graduated with an engineering or advanced math degree. Thus, the concepts that you will see in this part are high school math. Some of these concepts may include basic geometry, graphs, tables, and basic algebra.

This section can be challenging if your degree does not focus on the subject too much. That is because you might likely have forgotten the math you studied in high school. Many test-takers are in the same boat since these concepts were last used a long time ago. Stressing over how to come up with a solution can be a contributor to getting a low score.

Tips on Answering Quantitative Reasoning:

  • You should start by reviewing related math materials and practice books. This is to establish an understanding of the math concepts. You can also refresh your memory with what you learned in highschool math because most of the fundamentals were discussed there.
  • You should avoid thinking about what concepts or kinds of math questions will appear in the test. You could end up wasting your time since the concepts that appear on the test change each year.
  • You can focus your effort and time in grasping the basic math concepts. You can better prepare for this part if you know how to answer different equations.

Verbal Reasoning

Verbal reasoning is the vocabulary section of the GRE. Therefore, you need to identify the proper word definition, synonyms, and antonyms. You can also be required to complete a sentence. What makes this section a challenge is that the words used are not everyday vocabularies you use daily. You will likely encounter words you have not read before,

This part is more difficult for those who do not use English as their mother tongue. For native speakers, it can still be difficult if they do not read a lot. Therefore, test-takers who have a limited word bank will have a harder time choosing the correct word or definition. Because of the words selected in the test, many students get overwhelmed and confused.

Tips on Answering Quantitative Reasoning:

  • To learn vocabulary, you need to practice a lot by taking advantage of practice online tests and books.
  • In the ETS website, you will see a list of words you need to download and be familiar with before taking the test.
  • When studying the words, you can be creative with your strategy. You can make flashcards, write sentences every day, and practice the words you learned in your everyday conversations.

Analytical Writing

As mentioned, you are required to complete two essays in an hour for the analytical writing part. Therefore, spending 30 minutes on every essay is the ideal time allotment. The topics you will write about are called Analyze an Issue and Analyze an Argument.

The former will require you to support or dispute an idea. Therefore, you need to provide supporting statements for your opinion. You have to disagree with the idea for the latter by giving the idea’s weaknesses.

Many test-takers find it hard to answer this part since most of them are not familiar with presenting their ideas in this kind of essay. It can also be challenging for those who know how to write analytical essays because of the time constraint since you do not have the answer choices. You have to provide all the answers.

Tips on Answering Analytical Writing:

  • You have to understand the structure of the essay. To practice writing, you can utilize GRE practice websites and books to get some writing prompts and topics.
  • You give yourself a time limit in writing, and you have to make sure to complete your essay in the time given.
  • You practice how to outline your ideas fast. The test will be easier to answer if you have a thesis statement, supporting ideas, and a conclusion fast since you have the basic essay framework.
  • For the second topic, you can practice digesting a statement and provide a counterstatement instead of emphasizing your opinion from your point of view.

Time Constraint

Although not part of the test, time restriction is a big hurdle in taking the GRE. In Quantitative Reasoning, you get 70 minutes for the 2 sections. In Verbal Reasoning, you get 60 minutes for 2 sections. In Analytical Writing, you get 60 minutes for 2 essays.

If the time limit is digested, you need to answer every quantitative reasoning question for 1 minute and 45 seconds. For verbal reasoning, you can answer each question for 1.5 minutes. Therefore, this can be the main trigger of stress for test-takers. Because they tend to lose their concentration, it could take longer to complete the test.

Tips on Better Time Management:

  • You answer practice tests with the standard time limit given in the actual test. This is to grasp the time you need for every question.
  • When you practice, you can pressure yourself by answering 2 essays and all the sections for Quantitative and Verbal Reasoning.
  • On the day of the actual test, you should not stress too much. You get some sleep and eat properly. Also, drink a lot of water.


Finally, getting a great GRE score could be challenging. Learning how to develop a decent essay in a few minutes, studying math concepts, and learning new vocabulary can get overwhelming. Nevertheless, with the right strategies, you can prepare and ace the test. If you have the resources to practice, you maximize their use to get a high score.

Many students get a low score because they do not prepare enough. There are a lot of free and paid materials you can avail of. You need to breathe deeply and adjust yourself to the question types. If you identify the area you find most difficulty with, you can spend more time improving it.