What is Included on the Computer Science GRE&Reg;?

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  • Written By: T.S. Adams
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  • Last Modified Date: 13 November 2019
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The Computer Science Graduate Record Examination® (GRE) is broken up into four main parts. These parts include: Computer Architecture and Organization, which accounts for 15 percent of the test grade; Software Methodology and Systems, which accounts for 40 percent of the test grade; Mathematical Theory and Background, which accounts for 40 percent of the test grade; and an umbrella category called Other Topics, which accounts for the remaining 5 percent of the test grade.

In the Computer Architecture and Organization area, there are five primary sub-fields. The first is Control Units and Processors. In this field, the Computer Science GRE® involves questions on things such as number and arithmetic representation, data paths and control sequencing as well as general questions on instruction sets.

The second sub-field is Digital Logic Design, and it involves analysis and optimization questions along with sequential and combination circuit implementation. The third is Memories and Hierarchies, involving cache and storage types, paging, segmentation, virtual memory and questions on performance and implementation. The fourth is Communications and Networks, involving networking devices such as routers and switches, input-output systems and synchronizing computers. The last is High-Performance Architecture, involving distributed and parallel architecture and superscalar pipelining and unordered execution processors.


In the Software Methodology and Systems field of the Computer Science GRE®, there are five sub-fields. The first is Data Organization, involving data implementation techniques, data structures and data types. The second is Program Structure and Control, involving questions on synchronization, concurrency and communication; recursion and iteration; and functions, methods, procedures and exception handlers.

The third sub-field in the Software Methodology and Systems field of the Computer Science GRE® is Programming Notations and Languages, involving evaluation of expressions, parameter passing, binding, scope, and program control/data organization constructs. The fourth is Software Engineering, which involves verification techniques, specifications, assertions, development models, tools, and patterns. The last sub-field involves Systems questions, including databases, system analysis, resource management, interpreters, run-time systems, compilers, operating systems, Internet, and networking questions.

In the Mathematical Theory and Background of the Computer Science GRE®, there are three primary sub-fields. The first is Complexity and Algorithms, and it involves questions on design techniques for algorithms, asymptotic and exact algorithm analysis, computational complexity and upper and lower complexity bounds. The second section is Language Theory and Automata, involving computation models, decidability and formal grammar and language. The last is Discrete Structures, involving graph theory, elementary combinatorics, number theory, recurrent relations and mathematical logic.

The final area of the Computer Science GRE® is called Other Topics. It includes questions on things such as on cryptography, computer graphics, number analysis, artificial intelligence and security. This section also includes questions on social issues.


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