Is the GRE Hard? Expert Insights and Tips for Success

Is the GRE Hard? We’ll tell you that the answer is yes if this is a query that has crossed your mind. Even though the GRE is a difficult test, adequate preparation makes it feasible to perform well on it. We will respond to your query about the GRE’s difficulty in this article.

To understand how difficult the GRE is, we’ll do a quick overview of the GRE and compare its level of difficulty to other tests.

Then we’ll go over all the parts of the GRE that are difficult and quite simple. we’ll wrap up by offering some advice on how to prepare for the GRE on test day.

Overview of GRE 

The Graduate Record Examination (GRE) is a sophisticated test for graduate and business school programs. It is a computer-based, multiple-choice exam required for admission to graduate programs worldwide, including MBA programs. 

The GRE test registration process can be completed on the ETS website if you intend to take the exam. After registering, you are free to select a date for the GRE test of your choice. Although the exam is an all-year-round exam, there may only be a few spots open from October to December. So make wise plans. 

The primary phase, your GRE test preparation, starts once you’ve managed to register. Nevertheless, you are always welcome to begin preparing before registering. There isn’t a set, unbending rule. Additionally, you can enroll in various coaching programs to aid in your preparation.

Is the GRE Hard or Easy?

Tips for Reducing GRE Stress
Is the GRE Difficult? Expert Insights and Tips for Success

The degree of difficulty of the GRE varies depending on who you ask. For instance, the GRE is far harder than the SAT and ACT exams, which are frequently taken by high school students, because it includes terminology meant for those with higher-level reasoning as well as more difficult arithmetic problems and reading passages.

The GRE is less challenging than other graduate admissions tests, such as the LSAT or MCAT, according to many students.

Do you know How to Achieve the Perfect GRE Score? Here is A Comprehensive Guide

How Hard Is the GRE?

Comparing the GRE to other standardized tests, at least one of which you’ve probably already taken. It is the best way to get a rough idea of how challenging the exam is.

The GRE is frequently regarded as more difficult than the ACT and the SAT. Because even though the math on the GRE is tested at a lower level than the math on the SAT and ACT, the GRE has more difficult vocabulary and reading passages. The math problems either have tricky wording or call for higher-level reasoning.

The GRE is frequently tougher than other graduate examinations like the MCAT, LSAT, or GMAT since it needs less specific knowledge, has an easier slope, and typically has less difficult math questions.

Therefore, the GRE is generally more difficult than college entrance exams like the SAT and ACT but less tough than other graduate admissions tests like the MCAT, LSAT, and GMAT. 

Why is the GRE Hard?

In a short time, applicants taking the GRE must correctly write essays, do analytical math problems, and answer vocabulary questions. 

The GRE test is difficult for the following reasons.

Do you doubt if Can You Use A Calculator On The GRE? All Question Answered

1. Needs Strong Math Skills

Most individuals who take the SAT or ACT do so while still in high school and are most likely to enroll in regular math classes. However, for other test-takers, it may have been a while since they last took a math course or needed to exercise their geometry skills. Or perhaps you’ve simply never enjoyed math and assumed that you were done with it once you fulfilled your university math requirements.

Both situations make the GRE more challenging because you might need to progress significantly in your math skills before taking the test. To perform well on the Quantitative Reasoning component of the GRE, you must thoroughly understand mathematics, geometry, data tables and graphs, and fundamental statistics.

Individuals who have never felt comfortable with math and those who haven’t recently taken a math class or used math extensively, such as humanities majors.

Studying prep materials will help you become more proficient in GRE math. You can learn more about the math topics covered on the GRE by consulting one of the many prep books available. If you want more in-depth information on a subject, supplement it with extra resources, like Khan Academy’s math videos.

2. Time Limit

Unlike most standardized tests, the GRE doesn’t give you much time to answer each question. The time given for each essay is 30 minutes, and the average time allotted for each verbal and mathematics question is 1 minute 30 seconds and 1 minute 45 seconds. As a result, you must monitor the test’s progress at all times.

How challenging is the GRE under time constraints? No matter how well you prepare for the GRE, you won’t earn a high score if you cannot answer many questions in time. You must work swiftly and effectively to finish the test and answer all the questions.

Those who have trouble finishing standardized tests (or any tests) in the allocated time are slow readers.

Practice, practice, practice is the key to beating it. Your response time will increase as you become more accustomed to the GRE and the types of questions it poses. Take timed practice examinations to monitor your progress and determine which areas you frequently run out of time on.

Consider where you tend to spend a lot of time as well. Do the required reading sections take a long time for you to finish? Do you frequently become trapped trying to complete a math issue and lose count of the passing minutes?

Concentrate on eradicating these trouble spots, and develop the practice of moving on to the next issue if you’ve spent more than a minute trying to figure out a difficulty.

Check Out The Ultimate GRE Official Guide Book Review: Boost Your Score!

3. Difficult Writing

More than most other standardized tests, the GRE’s Analytical Writing section requires you to complete two essays: You must state your perspective on a subject in the first essay and support it with facts, but the second essay will ask you to criticize a certain argument. You will be given a 30-minute time limit for each essay.

The Analytical Writing portion intimidates many individuals because you can’t just pick “A” and cross your fingers. You’ll have one hour to write both two entire essays.

ESL learners and people who aren’t confident in their writing abilities are the groups this affects the most.

To prepare, familiarize yourself with the essay topics and evaluation criteria. For you to fully prepare, ETS has also made available the whole set of potential prompts for the Analyze an Issue and Analyze Argument essays.

4. Adaptive Format and Computerized Testing

While paper and pencil are still used to take the SAT and ACT, practically everyone takes the GRE online. Because they’re not used to viewing questions and answers on a screen and want to be able to see directly on the test paper, this can be confusing for some people.

This implies that you might need to alter some of your test-taking techniques, such as making notes in the margins or crossing out responses you’ve already decided against.

The GRE also features section-level adaptiveness. Your performance in the first section of the Verbal Reasoning and Quantitative Reasoning courses will determine how difficult the problems in the second section of each subject are. You will have harder questions in the second segment, depending on your performance in the first segment.

Some test-takers waste valuable exam time estimating how well they performed on the first segment by guessing the difficulty of problems in the second half due to nervousness or confusion about adaptive testing.

The most affected groups are those who are unfamiliar with computer-based or adaptive testing.

Become familiar with the computer-based GRE format. You can download two free computer-based practice GREs from ETS, the company that developed and manages the GRE.

So that you know what to expect on test day, these match the computer-based GRE’s exact format. To get more accustomed to the format, attempt to take extra unofficial GREs on a computer.

Don’t let adaptive testing influence your test performance or how you respond to questions. You won’t increase your score by attempting to estimate how well you did, and doing so will only make the test take longer.

Prioritize the questions before you, and leave score concerns for when the exam is over.

Here is How to Apply for GRE Accommodations as a Disabled

 5. Tricky Question Wording

The GRE deliberately makes itself more challenging by structuring questions in a way that requires more reasoning and analysis to come up with the correct response, in addition to evaluating your mastery of various arithmetic topics. Particularly so in the section on quantitative thinking.

The language frequently makes it more challenging than the quantitative sections of the SAT and ACT, even when the arithmetic isn’t very difficult.

How is this related to the GRE’s difficulty? This can be a particularly irritating portion of the exam because even though you may be familiar with all the material needed to perform well, you may still be misled by the wording of the questions and fail to comprehend them or choose the wrong response.

Those who haven’t recently taken standardized tests or aren’t familiar with them are the ones this affects the most.

The solution to this difficulty is to complete so many practice questions that you become accustomed to the GRE’s gimmicks and stop being deceived by them. Take several practice exams and quizzes, and after each one, review all the questions you got wrong and figure out what went wrong so you don’t repeat the same mistakes.

6. Hard-to-Use Vocabulary

One of the more difficult sections of the GRE is the vocabulary section. More than half of the Verbal Reasoning section will test your vocabulary skills.

Throughout this section, you will be asked to select words or combinations of words to finish phrases. Even if you did well on vocabulary questions on the SAT or ACT, the GRE has more challenging vocabulary, so you still need to review.

ESL students who are less fluent in the English language are those who this affects the most.

Thankfully, the GRE examines many vocabulary items more than once, so you can study and become comfortable with the most popular vocabulary phrases by creating flashcards and taking practice tests.

Tips for Reducing GRE Stress

Now that you know how difficult the GRE is, use these three preparation strategies to ensure that, regardless of how difficult the GRE is, you’ll feel confident and prepared to ace the test on test day.

1. Use Practice Tests

You must take full-length practice GREs as part of your test preparation to familiarize yourself with the exam and monitor your development. To determine where you’ve improved and still need to improve, attempt to fit in at least 2-3 practice GRE tests during your study time.

Computerized training: The GRE is the finest since it will prepare you for taking the actual GRE on a computer. You can purchase software that includes two official practice exams, and many GRE preparation books also include one or two unauthorized paper-based or computer-based GREs.

2. Make a Rigid Study Schedule for the GRE.

Although each student must pass the GRE, this usually necessitates at least three months of intense GRE study. The exact amount of study time needed for the highest GRE scores varies from person to person. 

Five months would be better if you had the luxury of extra time. Most importantly, you design and stick to a study routine.

Do you Need to Reschedule Your GRE? Here’s What You Should Do

3. Make Sure You Know the Exam

This post has repeatedly stressed the benefits of studying for the GRE and becoming familiar with its structure. Read up on the format of the GRE, try out some practice questions, and get familiar with the test.

Here are some details to concentrate on:

  1. Read over the list of probable prompts for analytical writing.
  2. Study the arithmetic topics you’ll be tested on for quantitative reasoning.
  3. Become familiar with the vocabulary words that are frequently used in exams.

The more familiar you are with the test, the more at ease you’ll feel on test day, and the easier it will be for you to recognize any techniques used to manipulate you into choosing the incorrect answer.

To make these tests as similar to the actual GRE as possible, take them in a timed environment with few interruptions. The most accurate score and an understanding of where you need to improve will be provided by doing this.

4. Examine the Essays Before the Exam

The two essays on the GRE’s Analytical Writing section can be one of the hardest parts to prepare for, but they are also one of the easiest. If it’s been a while since you’ve written a lot, review the guidelines for a typical five-paragraph essay. Many online materials are available that describe what it is and how to write one.

All potential essay prompt themes are available online, as was already explained. Review all the subjects for the essays on “Analyze an Issue” and “Analyze an Argument” to ensure you are ready for the test.

Look for recurring trends in the concerns raised and common logical and structural flaws in the arguments as you examine the prompts so you can recognize patterns and become accustomed to responding to those types of inquiries. If you desire more practice, you may also put up outlines for various prompts or even whole sample essays.

5. Overcome your Weaknesses

You can develop a healthy study pace by being conscious of your deficiencies and working to overcome them. Make every attempt to structure your study plan so that you may more effectively focus on your areas of weakness. 

While it may be unpleasant initially, it will soon become less so.

How Prep Courses Can Make The GRE Easier

Taking a test prep course is one proven approach to raise your GRE score. The GRE can seem intimidating and frustrating if you don’t prepare. The GRE covers topics you might not have studied in years and tests these ideas in deceptive ways.

The test is full of double negatives and trap answers. As a result, I firmly advise that you enroll in a tried-and-true prep course to aid in your preparation. I endorse the GRE preparation programs offered by Kaplan and Princeton Review. I wish you luck!


What is the hardest section of the GRE?

The Mathematics Part: A strong understanding of arithmetic topics is necessary for the GRE’s math section. The quantitative reasoning section of the GRE covers ideas like fundamental statistics, graphs, data tables, geometry, and algebra, which for many people, makes it challenging.

Is it easy to get a 170 on GRE?

GRE’s quantitative part tests your capacity for mathematical problem-solving, data interpretation, and quantitative reasoning. Although getting a perfect 170 on the GRE quantitative is difficult, it is possible with the appropriate planning and techniques.

What majors score highest on GRE?

In general, applicants perform better on tests that are more pertinent to the course they plan to take. For instance, engineering majors had the highest average for Quant. In contrast, majors in the arts and humanities had the highest average for Verbal and AW.


The GRE is frequently considered harder or more difficult than other exams because GRE questions are more complex than those on exams like the SAT and ACT. 

However, the GRE is occasionally considered simpler because it requires less specialized knowledge than graduate exams like the MCAT, LSAT, or GMAT. Therefore, taking the GRE depends on your viewpoint and exam comprehension. 

With the right preparation, you can ace the GRE even if you have trouble with some test parts, like essay writing or quantitative reasoning.

There you have it, a comprehensive response to the question, “Is the GRE difficult?”


  1. – GRE study guide: Verbal Reasoning section
  2. – Is the GRE Hard? Expert Analysis of 10 Key Factors
  3. – How Hard Is The GRE?

Leave a Comment

Scholarsly is an educational blog which aggregates study abroad, scholarships update, VISA application and and other important info for our readers. We do not offer direct employment, scholarship, VISA procurement or offer physical travel assistance. We also do not charge you or request money and would not refer you to any agent either. Find more info on our Privacy policy page below and kindly contact us if you need further information.