Tackling the GRE Section-by-Section: Part II — Quantitative Reasoning

This is the second post in our blog series on breaking down the GRE. This week’s post focuses on the Quantitative Reasoning section of the GRE. This section includes basic mathematics as well as data analysis. If you weren’t an A student in math class or if it’s been a while since you studied mathematical concepts, the tips below will help you prepare.

What is the Quantitative Reasoning Section?

The Quantitative Reasoning section of the GRE tests your ability to understand and analyze data. This includes interpreting quantitative information as well as solving problems via mathematical models in addition to using basic math skills. Four main topics are covered in this section of the test:

  • Arithmetic: Some of the concepts covered in this section include arithmetic operations, ratios, absolute values, exponents and roots, estimation, rates, and decimal representation.
  • Algebra: In the algebra section, test takers can expect quadratic and linear equations, graphs, word problems, relations, and functions.
  • Geometry: Within this section, popular concepts include perimeter and volume, equilateral and isosceles triangles, angle measurements, and congruent figures.
  • Data analysis: This section is geared toward descriptive statistics, quartiles and percentiles, standard deviation, and interpreting data from a variety of formats (including tables and graphs).

There are four question types in the Quantitative Reasoning section:

  • Quantitative comparison questions: These questions compare two different quantities of something and ask the test-taker to determine whether one quantity is greater, whether they are equal, or whether the answer cannot be determined based on the information provided.
  • Multiple-choice questions — select one answer choice: Questions that have only one correct answer choice out of a possible five.
  • Multiple-choice questions — select one or more answer choices: Questions with more than one possible correct answer.
  • Numeric entry questions: This portion of the GRE requires the entry of an answer to the stated question; examples include using an integer or a decimal in a single answer box or to enter it as a fraction in two separate boxes.

What is the Best Way to Prepare for the Quantitative Reasoning Section?
The best way to prepare for this portion of the GRE is to brush up on math skills. Most of the math tested on the GRE is at the high school level, which is good if you are concerned about your math capabilities. This also means that it may have been several years since you have encountered these mathematical concepts. Reviewing algebra and geometry basics will help you build a general foundation to approach the questions.

Plan your study time according to the level of difficulty of the different question types and math topics. Try to achieve the best possible score in your strongest math areas, but spend the majority of study time on other questions that might require more review.

What are the Best Resources/Tips for the GRE Quantitative Section?

Resource: There are some formulas that can help you prepare for this section of the GRE. These are common concepts that appear frequently on the Quantitative Reasoning portion. Some of the examples of the best formulas can be found online.

Tip: If a particular question is taking too long, skip to the next question or estimate the answer. If an algebra problem seems complex, remember that you can plug in smaller numbers to attempt to get an idea of the answer.

Tip: It is important to remember that you cannot bring a calculator with you on testing day. An on-screen calculator will be provided during the test, and a simulation of what that calculator looks like can be found on the ETS website.

Tip: Taking an online course or purchasing a computer software program that simulates the testing environment is also an excellent way to prepare for the test. Since most people are used to completing mathematics tests on paper, it may help test-takers adjust to the computer style. The bottom line is to create a studying and practicing environment that mirrors the real test environment as closely as possible.

Tip: Working with a tutor can also help you identify potential areas of improvement and tips for tackling those particular challenges.

Remember, preparation is key for success when taking the GRE. It is important to find what study and preparation method works best for you. Be sure to check back next week for our breakdown and tips on the Analytical Writing section of the GRE.