GRE Literature In English

Each edition of the test consists of around 230 questions based on poetry, drama, biography, the essay, the short story, the novel, criticism, literary theory and the history of language.

Some questions are based on short works reprinted in their entirety, some on excerpts from longer works.

The exam is framed from literature in English from the British Isles, the United States, and other parts of the world. It also include few questions regarding the major works consisting the Bible, translated from different languages.

GRE english literature focuses on authors, works, genres and movements. The questions may be arbitrarily categorised into two groups: Factual and critical. The factual questions may require a student to find out the features of literary or critical movements, to assign a literary work to the period in which it was written, to identify a writer or work elaborated in a short critical comment or to determine the period or author of a work based on style and content of a short excerpt.

The critical questions aim to evaluate the candidates ability to read a literary text perceptively. Students are asked to examine a given passage of prose or poetry and to answer questions about meaning, form and structure, literary techniques and different aspects of language.

The allocation of questions as per the content categories is shown by the following outline mentioned below-

  • Literary Analysis: 40 − 55%
  • Questions that call on an ability to interpret given passages of prose and poetry. Such questions may involve recognition of conventions and genres, allusions and references, meaning and tone, grammatical structures and rhetorical strategies and literary techniques.
  • Identification: 15 − 20%
  • Recognition of date, author or work by style and content i.e.. For literary theory identifications see IV below:
  • Cultural and Historical Contexts: 20 − 25%
  • Questions based on literary, cultural and intellectual history as well as identification of author or work with critical statement or biographical information. Finding details of character, plot or setting of a work.
  • History and Theory of Literary Criticism: 10 − 15%
  • Identification and evaluation of the features and methods of different critical and theoretical approaches.
  • The literary historical scope follows the distribution as mentioned below-
  • Continental, Classical, and Comparative Literature through 1925: 5 − 10%
  • British Literature to 1660 (consisting Milton): 25 − 30%
  • British Literature 1660 − 1925: 25 − 35%
  • American Literature through 1925: 15 − 25%
  • American, British and World Literatures after 1925: 20 − 30%

Candidates need to remember most complex questions that are troublesome, Questions may also come from those areas of syllabus in which they are least prepared. Candidates appearing for the GRE Literature in English Test should keep in mind that the test of this many questions, much of the material presents no undue difficulty. The duration and scope of the examination eventually work to the benefit of students and give them an opportunity to show what knowledge they possess. No one is expected to answer all the questions correctly; in fact, it is possible to achieve the maximum score without answering all the questions correctly.

The committee who form the question paper have an idea about the drawbacks of the MCQs format, particularly for testing competence in literary study. An examination of this kind provides no opportunity for the student to formulate a critical response or support a generalization, and, inevitably, it sacrifices depth to range of coverage. Also, in a national testing program designed for a wide variety of students with differing preparations, the use of a large number of short, MCQs are the most effective and convenient way of providing a fair and valid examination.

The test acts an instrument for the committee through which they can provide supplementary information about students. In no way is the examination intended to minimize the importance of the students'college records or the recommendations of the faculty members who have had the opportunity to work closely with the students. The committee works on the assumption that those qualities and skills not measured by a national multiple-choice test are reflected in a student's academic record and recommendations. Also, the test may help to place students in a national perspective or add another horizon to their profiles.

A test intended to meet the needs of a particular department should be constructed specifically to measure the knowledge and skills the department considers important. A standardized test, such as the GRE Literature in English Test, allows comparisons of students from different institutions with different programs to find out the skills in literature. Basically a department should not only investigate the relationships between the success of students in advanced study and various measures of competence, but also conduct a systematic evaluation of the test's predictive effectiveness after assimilating sufficient records of the graduate work of its students.