Experimental Section on the GRE

The experimental section on the GRE is universally the most hated section of the GRE. Working hard on a section which will account for nothing at the end can be a little unfair on the test takers. However, ETS has its own valid reasons for this section.

So, what is this experimental section? Every year apart from the regular two sections on math and verbal, you will get an additional section from either of the two topics. This section can come in anytime after the analytical writing assessment. Performance on the experimental section has no bearing on your final score.

The ETS presents the experimental section with questions that will be used in the future versions of the exam or to ensure that scores in the newer versions of the GRE are comparable to scores from previous tests. It is the only way for ETS to test the difficulty level of the questions created regularly. Testing in a real-time exam environment gives them a large and accurate sample size for study.

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So, what should be your strategy? Well, ideally if you could identify the section, you could skip it. However, there is no real way of identifying the section on the exam day. It is not as if the questions in the experimental section are harder, stranger or easier than the regular sections. The only thing you can do is figure out which subject area was experimental. For instance, if the exam had three math sections, you know that one of them was experimental. But there is no way to pinpoint at one section.

Our advice is to not waste time trying to determine the experimental section on the GRE. Since there is no accurate way of determining the section, approach all sections very seriously. Misidentifying the section and skipping it can have a detrimental result on your GRE scores.

A few test takers get lucky every year. Their exam does not contain the experimental section. If you see only two sections each for math and verbal, you just got lucky.

To prepare for this section, make sure that you take practice tests with the additional section. That’s the only way to build stamina and the right mindset for GRE.

All the best!

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