The Shorter GRE: New Test To Be Half as Long

The Educational Testing Service (ETS) recently announced that they are shortening the Graduate Record Exam (GRE®) in 2023. Instead of a 4-hour long exam, test-takers will receive a condensed exam that will take less than two hours to complete, about half the time of the current test. Find out when this GRE test change goes into effect, what is changing on the GRE, and how it affects you. We’ll answer FAQs about the shorter GRE so you know what to expect on test day.

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When will the GRE be shortened?

As of September 22, 2023, the ETS will administer a new shorter GRE to all test-takers. You will not have the option to take the 4-hour version of the GRE after this test change goes into effect. Registration for the shorter GRE is now open for test dates beginning September 22, 2023.


[Keep Reading: How Do I Register for the GRE? ]

What is changing on the GRE?

While the GRE test will be shortened in September 2023, none of the content tested on the exam will change; the GRE will still test the same skills using all of the same question types. However, ETS has removed a few sections and reduced the number of questions in others to shorten the length of the exam. Below, we break down how the GRE is changing.

A list of what's changing on the new GRE in 2023.

GRE Changes: Test Length

The most significant change on the GRE in 2023 will be the duration of the exam. The current GRE is 3-hours 45-minutes long, but the shorter GRE launching in September will be 1-hour, 58-minutes long.

GRE Changes: Structure

In order to shorten the exam, ETS has removed and condensed some of the sections on the GRE. Here’s how the structure of the GRE is changing: 

  • Removal of the argument essay
  • Removal of the experimental (unscored) section
  • Removal of the 10-minute break
  • Reduction in the number of questions across the Quant sections from 40 to 27
  • Reduction in the number of questions across the Verbal sections from 40 to 27
Section TypeStructureNumber of QuestionsEstimated Timing
Analytical Writing1 section1 essay30 minutes
Quantitative Reasoning2 sections27 total questions47 minutes
Verbal Reasoning2 sections27 total questions41 minutes
Total: 1-hour, 58-minutes

GRE Changes: Score Delivery Timing

The final GRE change being implemented is the expediency of test score delivery. ETS will be sending GRE scores to institutions in 8-10 days instead of the current 10-15 day turnaround time. This will help you submit applications sooner so you can meet tight deadlines.

What is staying the same on the shorter GRE?

Overall, the new GRE is the same as the current GRE – just shorter. None of the content on the GRE will change. The shorter GRE will still test your verbal reasoning, quantitative reasoning, critical thinking, and analytical writing skills to measure your readiness for graduate studies. Your GRE score will continue to be accepted at thousands of graduate, business, and law schools for their master’s, MBA, JD, and PhD programs. Furthermore, the GRE test-taking experience, fees, and preparation for the exam will remain the same between the current and shorter exam.

Is the GRE score scale changing?

With the significantly shorter exam, some test-takers may be wondering if the score scale on the GRE will be changing as well. The answer is no, the score scale will not change for the shorter GRE. When designing the test change, ETS took great care to maintain the score scale so schools can evaluate GRE scores the same way whether you take the exam before or after the September 2023 test change. Therefore, your GRE score will not be penalized if you take the shorter GRE.

Why is the GRE being shortened?

All of these changes to the GRE are meant to make it easier for students to take the test and send scores to schools. “The changes we’re announcing today underscore the emphasis we place on keeping our customers at the center of all that we do,” said ETS CEO Amit Sevak in ETS’s May 2023 press release. “As we continue to introduce product innovations, we’re committed to balancing two things — maintaining rigor and validity, while improving the test-taker experience.” Clocking in at just under two hours, this shortened GRE will be the shortest test of general skills for graduate and professional program admissions. We here at Kaplan think that these changes will make the GRE a simpler, shorter, and less physically and mentally demanding test.

Does the shorter GRE affect you?

The shorter GRE only affects you if you were planning to take the exam on or after September 22, 2023. If you are taking the exam before that date, then you will be administered the current 4-hour version. Keep in mind, none of the exam’s content is changing – just the length. Waiting to take the shorter GRE does not mean you will earn a higher score. If you are debating which version of the GRE to take, we have more insights for you below.

Should you take the shorter or longer GRE test?

Here are some things to consider before deciding if you should take the current GRE or the shorter GRE when it launches in September 2023.

  • Have you been studying for awhile and are ready to take the test now?
    If so, then go for it! The GRE’s content isn’t changing, so you probably aren’t going to get a better score just by taking a shorter test. If you feel prepared, then go take the test, get it out of the way, and get prepared for your fall semester.
  • Do you make a couple of silly mistakes in every section you take?
    If so, then it might be better to take the longer test. After September 22, you’ll be looking at a test that is scored the same but has fewer questions, meaning the weight of each question is going to go up, reducing the margin for error.
  • Do you get very fatigued after two hours of sitting at a computer taking a test?
    If so, then waiting to take the shorter GRE in September is probably best for you.
  • Do you have application deadlines before October 1?
    If so, then you’ll want to try to take the test this summer, before the GRE changes. Even if you were able to take the new test on the first day it was offered – September 22 – that’s still not enough time to guarantee the results will arrive by October 1.

[ Learn More: When to Take the GRE ]

How to prep & practice for the shorter GRE

The ETS has announced that they will release 2-hour practice tests sometime in September. We here at Kaplan are hard at work creating some of our own 2-hour practice tests, and we hope to have them for you soon. In the meantime, you can continue preparing for the GRE in the same way you’ve been practicing up until now. The types of questions, the overall format of the test, and the content being tested will all remain the same.

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