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Center For Academic Excellence

CAE | Graduate Record Examination

Aptitude Test--CAT

Four or five sections, scores from only 3
One verbal with 30 minute time limit: reading and vocabulary
One quantitative section: arithmetic, basic algebra, and geometry
One analytical section with 60 minute time limit: logic games and arguments
One wild card section
Number of questions depends on performance, but test has minimum number

Adaptive or interactive, the CAT has fewer items and takes less time than the paper version. After the first question, the level of difficulty of each succeeding question is determined by your correct or incorrect answer.

Scored on a scale from 200-800. Each question is worth ten points although the range of points may be from 0-20 based not on the difficulty of the question but on the number of questions you answer correctly. You must answer every question. There is no deduction for incorrect answers.


Sentence completions
Reading Comprehension


Quantitative comparisons
Discrete quantitatives (word problems)
Data interpretation (charts and graphs)


Analytical reasoning (games)
Logical reasoning (arguments)

Writing Assessment Test

Strategies for Taking the GRE

  • Use the process of elimination.
  • Guess.
  • Don’t read the instructions, be familiar with them beforehand.
  • Practice many times on the computer; speed is important-- the computer will beep every five minutes.


The emphasis is always vocabulary, reading comprehension, and critical thinking.

Strategies for improving vocabulary (Princeton gives 45 most frequently asked words.)

1. Say the word aloud.

2. Study the word by dissecting it—examine the root of the word and the prefix and/or suffix.

3. Make note cards with definitions and sentences, color coding for positive and negative attributes.

4. Write a sentence on the note card.

5. Use the word with family and friends; assign characteristics to a member of your family, for example, all the words that mean gossip, you might assign to your mother-in-law.

6. Tape your sentences and listen as you exercise or drive.

7. Associate or divide words according to the four humors:

melancholic (gloomily pensive) black bile, earth

sanguine (headstrong and passionate), blood, air

phlegmatic (unemotional and passive) phlegm, water

choleric (bad-tempered and angry) yellow bile, fire


1. Make a sentence with the pairs. (lack of, type of, part of, place for, degree of, tool for, sign of, sequence, spurious form of)

2. If all answers fit the analogy of your sentence, make your sentence more specific.

3. If you cannot make a sentence with the question analogy, reverse the order and check the answers for a possible relationship.

4. Remember that often the second word is an extreme degree of the first.

5. Recognize that most pairs are adjectives or nouns and the answer will have the same pairing.

Sentence Completions

1. This test is a test of overall reading comprehension.

2. As you read, anticipate and supply your own word or words.

3. Often a suggested answer is wrong because it creates a phrase that is not idiomatic.

4. Another reason to reject a possible answer is that it fails to support the logic of the sentence.

Developed by
Jennie Ariail, Ph.D. - Director
Tom Waldrep, Ph.D. - Director (retired)

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