“Hardness” is relative. What seems hard to one student appears simple to another and that is precisely why the answer to this question varies from one student to another. However, considering the average result for GRE one can say with reasonable certainty that GRE is a hard test for most candidates. This is understandable since the test is around 4 hours long and continuously throws at you tough Quant questions, convoluted reading comprehension passages and text completion questions glutted with vocabulary esoteric to most non-natives. All of this, compounded by the limited time available for each question, makes it really hard.
How hard is GRE for you?
Well, it depends on multiple factors, which we have discussed in this post, but if you want to find out exactly how hard it will be, take an official mock exam. If you score much lower than your target score, e.g. 20 points, you will need to put in time and effort and the journey is going to be challenging. If the difference is of less than 10-12 points, it won’t be easy but it won’t require backbreaking hard work either.
In general, candidates who are weak at Math since their school years, and/or weak at English language (non-natives) tend to find the exam really hard. Also, candidates who take the GRE after many years of job are likely to find the test hard since they have lost touch with Mathematics. Finding GRE hard is very common, but this doesn’t mean you cannot achieve a great score, a lot of students who initially find the exam tough end up acing it.
On the other hand, if Math comes to you naturally and you are one voracious reader, you are much less likely to find it tough.
How hard is GRE Verbal?
GRE Verbal is made up of Reading Comprehension passages, text completion and sentence equivalence questions. The harder Reading Comprehension passages are generally convoluted enough to trouble even an avid reader, if that is not enough, the answer choices appear so similar that if you do not understand the strategies, you will have a hard time even differentiating them, let alone finding the right answer choice. The text completion and sentence equivalence passages rely on cracking the logic and understanding important vocabulary words, you need to do all of this in less than 2 minutes. In fact, ideally you should practice doing it in less than 90 seconds. In short, it is tough, especially for non-natives. The good news is colleges understand non-natives are at an inherent disadvantage.
How hard is GRE Quant?
The GRE Quant tests concepts that you read in your school years i.e. Averages, Ratios, Probability and other stuff. The GRE General test does not test university level Math such as Calculus or Fourier analysis so if you are comfortable with all the basic concepts and have been in touch, you may not find it challenging. There are four question types
- Quantitative Comparison
- Multiple Choice Questions with one correct answer
- Multiple Choice Questions with multiple correct answer
- Numeric Entry Questions.
Most students generally find Quantitative Comparisons tricky. In such questions, it is often important to consider all extreme cases/ Boundary cases and to suppress your natural instinct or hunch. Most students also find Probability and Combinatorics but one does not need to worry about them unless one is aiming for an elite score since there are very few questions from it.
In short, the answer to this question depends on the difference between your initial and target score and familiarity with the concepts that are tested on GRE.