Is The GRE Test Hard? How To Prepare For The GRE

Yes, the GRE test is considered hard and more demanding than tests for college admissions like the SAT and ACT. 

However, it is less challenging than examinations for graduate school like the GMAT, LSAT, and MCAT.

Although the level of a test’s difficulty varies depending on a number of criteria, many applicants contend that the GRE is more challenging than other college entrance exams like the TOEFL or SAT, but not as challenging as the GMAT.

This article explores reasons why the GRE test is considered hard and provides tips on how to prepare for the GRE.

How hard is the GRE test?

GRE is typically considered more complex than other tests like SAT or ACT. The reason is because of its more challenging, mathematical, vocabulary, and reading sections. Most of the questions asked in the test require you to have a higher level of reasoning skills.


For instance, when compared to the SAT, the GRE’s question types are more logically driven, whereas the SAT’s are more math-based. The GRE paper’s structure is also a little more challenging than the SAT’s. 

Furthermore, the GRE has a lot of challenging questions that test a student’s capacity for critical analysis, whereas the SAT is a little bit simpler.

What makes the GRE hard? 

The GRE test requires candidates to solve analytical mathematical questions, properly write essays and solve vocabulary questions within a very limited time

Highlighted below are some reasons the GRE test is considered hard.

1. Challenging vocabulary

The vocabulary on the GRE is one of the more challenging parts of the test. Your vocabulary knowledge will be put to the test in more than half of the Verbal Reasoning part. 

You will be required to choose words or groups of words to complete sentences throughout this section. The GRE features more difficult vocabulary questions than the ACT or SAT, so you’ll probably still need to take extra caution when answering them.

2. Requires solid math knowledge

Students who take the SAT or ACT in high school are probably enrolled in regular math classes at the time they take the test. Hence, they retain the necessary math knowledge needed. 

However, others, like GRE test takers, might need to brush up on their geometry knowledge as it’s been a while since their last math class. If you also struggle with math and word problems, the GRE would be a challenging test to overcome. 

Both of these scenarios increase the difficulty of the GRE because you may need to cover a lot of ground in order to get your math abilities up to par. 

Geometry, algebra, graphs, data tables, and fundamental statistics are all included in the Quantitative Reasoning component of the GRE, so you’ll need to be well-versed in each of these subjects to perform well on that portion of the test.

3. Writing difficulty

You must write two essays for the GRE’s Analytical Writing segment, which is more than the majority of standardized tests: 

The first essay will need you to express your opinion on a topic and back it up with facts, and the second essay will urge you to point out the flaws in a certain argument. Each essay will have a 30-minute time limit.

Hence, speed, time management, and the ability to properly write compelling essays are crucial to overcoming this segment.

4. The use of tricky wording in questions

The GRE makes itself much more difficult by framing questions in a way that demands more logic and analysis to arrive at the right answer. This is in addition to measuring your proficiency in a variety of arithmetic concepts. 

Particularly in the part on quantitative reasoning, this is true. Despite not being very difficult, the wordings used in GRE’s arithmetic test are frequently more difficult to comprehend in comparison to the quantitative reasoning of tests like the ACT or SAT.

5. Limited time

The GRE doesn’t offer you enough time to solve each question as most exams do. You will have 30 minutes to complete each essay, as well as an average of 1 minute 30 seconds and 1 minute 45 seconds to complete each verbal and mathematical question.

You will therefore need to keep track of the test’s time throughout. Even if you are fully prepared for the GRE, you won’t earn a high score if you are unable to respond to many questions due to time constraints.

To finish the test and answer all the questions, you must work swiftly and effectively.

How to prepare for the GRE test

1. Take practice tests

One of the biggest obstacles to taking the GRE is stress. Although you might find that each section can be completed independently, taking the entire test (3 hours and 45 minutes) at once might be intellectually and physically taxing. 

To lower your risk of receiving low results, you must prepare for the exams over a period of several months. Practice exams will also teach you how to pace yourself. 

These will serve as useful baseline references, and taking practice exams is a terrific method to develop testing stamina. 

You’ll also gain a sense of the test’s mental and physical demands by practising the complete GRE. This will eventually enable you to navigate the test with confidence and effectiveness.

2. Become familiar with analytical non-fiction materials

If you don’t read analytical non-fiction during your free time to augment your GRE study, it will become too much of a burden. 

The majority of students who score high on the verbal portion of the GRE major in philosophy or the liberal arts, which exposed them to a wide range of narrative and academic writing styles during their undergraduate studies.

3. Make a strict study plan for the GRE

Although each student must master the GRE, this often requires at least three months of serious GRE preparation. The precise amount of study time required for the best GRE scores differs from person to person. 

Five months would be preferable if you have the advantage of extra time. The most crucial thing is that you create and follow a structured study schedule.

4. Strengthen your weaknesses

You can develop a healthy pace of study by being aware of your shortcomings and how you might work to overcome them. Make every effort to organize your study schedule so that you can focus on your areas of weakness more successfully. 

While it may be terrible at first, it will eventually become less tedious.

5. Keep track of your progress

Defining success criteria can be beneficial for GRE preparation as well. It is imperative that you keep a progress journal since it will show you how your scores have improved and allow you to evaluate your study methods with objectivity.

You should track your success on a daily or even weekly basis and use a metric for improvement that has a set of consistent criteria.


Can the practice test help you pass the GRE test? 

Yes, it is true that taking a GRE practice test will improve your chances of succeeding on the test.

Is GRE easier than the practice test? 

As long as you study from legitimate sources, the actual GRE is not harder than practice exams. The approved practice exams are roughly equal in difficulty to the real test.

What subjects make up the GRE test?

The three sections that make up the GRE exam are verbal, quantitative, and analytical writing assessments. It evaluates your ability to think critically, quantitative reasoning, analytical writing, and verbal reasoning.  


Because GRE questions are more advanced than those on tests like the SAT and ACT, the GRE is often regarded as being hard or more challenging. 

However, because the GRE requires less specialized knowledge than other graduate examinations like the MCAT, LSAT, or GMAT, it is sometimes regarded as being easier. Hence, taking the GRE depends on your perspective and understanding of the test. 

If you struggle with certain aspects of the test like essay writing or quantitative reasoning, proper preparation can help you pass the GRE.

I hope you found this article helpful. Find out how many times you can retake the GRE after failing the test. 

Thanks for reading.