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The Graduate Record Examination® (GRE®) consists of sections that test a person's analytical writing, verbal reasoning and quantitative reasoning. The analytical writing section consists of two writing tasks that are timed separately and must be answered in an essay format. Following changes that were to be implemented in August 2011, the verbal reasoning section was to contain text completion, sentence equivalent and reading comprehension questions. The quantitative reasoning section, which also was to be changed in August 2011, was to contain quantitative comparison, numeric entry and multiple-choice questions.
The verbal reasoning section of the test assesses an individual's ability to analyze and evaluate written materials. Text completion GRE® questions require the examinee to choose the best words or phrases to complete omitted sections from a short passage. Each passage might contain several omissions.
Sentence equivalent questions require an examinee to choose which words from a list can best be substituted for a blank in a sentence. Each sentence will contain only one blank. Reading comprehension questions require the examinee to choose the best possible answer in response to a question about a short passage. Each passage presented will be followed by several questions.
The GRE® questions in the quantitative reasoning section assess an individual's basic math skills and ability to reason quantitatively. Quantitative comparison GRE® questions present the examinee with two quantities or formulas and require him or her to choose which is greater, whether both are equal or whether a determination cannot be made based on the information provided. Multiple-choice quantitative questions present the examinee with a question or formula and require the respondent to choose the best answers from a list. Some multiple choice questions require only one answer, and others require multiple responses.
Numeric entry GRE® questions require that the examinee enter an answer to a mathematical equation as an integer, decimal or fraction. Graphs or tables might be presented alongside multiple choice and numeric entry questions. These can provide background information.
The analytical writing section of the GRE® is composed of two writing tasks. Each task presents the examinee with a single prompt, which must be answered in essay format. One of the prompts will be an "analyze an issue" task, which presents a claim and requires the examinee to discuss the extent to which he or she agrees or disagrees. The other writing task will be an "analyze an argument" task, which presents a brief argument and requires the examinee to discuss how logically sound that argument is through critical analysis of the reasoning and evidence employed.