The GRE Quantitative Reasoning Test

Written by tutor Jana P.

Welcome to Wyzant’s lesson on GRE Quantitative Reasoning! Is this lesson, you will learn tips and strategies for performing well in this section of the exam. Remember, preparation can make a real difference in your score … and your future!

Let’s get right to it!

Quantitative Reasoning Content

What is GRE Quantitative Reasoning?

  • This section of the GRE tests your application of basic math skills and your understanding of elementary math concepts that are standard at the high school level.
  • You will use quantitative methods to model and solve problems.

How many questions are in the GRE Quantitative Reasoning section?

  • In each of two sections of Quantitative Reasoning, you are given 35 minutes to complete 20 questions.
  • Give yourself adequate time to prepare. Use whatever time you have to your full advantage, and do not allow yourself to be distracted during your homework time. Learn to study better, not harder.

What types of questions can I expect in the GRE Quantitative Reasoning section?

Quantitative Comparisons: You will need to figure out if quantity A is greater, if quantity B is greater, if the two quantities are equal, or if there isn’t enough information to answer the question. You will not need to solve for exact numbers; just estimate to make a comparison.

Multiple-choice: Two types: i) select one answer, or ii) select more than one answer. You will look for numerical patterns in the answers provided. Some questions require that you choose more than one answer.

Numeric Entry: No answer options are given, instead you must enter the answer. Be sure to answer the question being asked and to the correct decimal, then quickly double-check your answer.

Each of the above question types can appear either as a discrete question or as part of a set of questions called a Data Interpretation set. All of the questions in a Data Interpretation set are based on the same data presented in tables, graphs, or other displays of data.

What content areas does the GRE Quantitative Reasoning section cover?

Arithmetic: topics include properties and types of integers (e.g. divisibility, factorization, prime numbers, remainders, odd and even integers); arithmetic operations, exponents and roots; and estimation, percent, ratio, rate, absolute value, the number line, decimal representation and sequences of numbers.

Algebra: topics include operations with exponents; factoring and simplifying algebraic expressions; relations, functions, equations and inequalities; solving linear and quadratic equations and inequalities; solving simultaneous equations and inequalities; solving word problems; and coordinate geometry, including graphs of functions, equations and inequalities, intercepts and slopes of lines.

Geometry: topics include parallel and perpendicular lines, circles, triangles (e.g. isosceles, equilateral and 30°-60°-90° triangles), quadrilaterals, other polygons, congruent and similar figures, three-dimensional figures, area, perimeter, volume, the Pythagorean theorem, and angle measurement in degrees. You will not be tested on the ability to construct proofs.

Data analysis: topics include basic descriptive statistics (e.g. mean, median, mode, range, standard deviation, interquartile range, quartiles and percentiles); interpretation of data in tables and graphs, such as line graphs, bar graphs, circle graphs, boxplots, scatterplots and frequency distributions; elementary probability (e.g. probabilities of compound events and independent events); random variables and probability distributions (e.g. normal distributions); and counting methods (e.g. combinations, permutations and Venn diagrams). You will not be tested on inferential statistics.

No testing of math or calculus at a higher level than generally seen in a second course in algebra.

Now, here’s what you need to know to score high on the GRE Quantitative Reasoning test.

Preparing for the Quantitative Reasoning Test

How can I prepare for the GRE Quantitative Reasoning portion of the exam?

  • A good first step is to take a practice test online or on paper to pinpoint your weak areas; then, carefully review your errors.
  • Using test prep manuals, websites, and other resources, brush up on targeted concepts.
  • Take brief sets to practice your skills, improve your pacing, and gain familiarity with the test.
  • Practice, practice, practice! Isn’t that the way you get good at anything you really want to do? Learn about and integrate strategies into your practice to maximize your time and effort.

What resources do you recommend to help me make the most of my study time?

  • So that you can experience the design features of the computer-based test, download the free ETS PowerPrep II software, which includes section overview and two practice tests.
  • Want a good summary of quantitative topics? Check out this study sheet from ETS.
  • The Texas State University website offers a good review of targeted concepts and strategies pertaining to the Quantitative Reasoning section.
  • Look for free online and paper-based resources on the internet, including full-length practice tests and sample test questions in each subject.
  • Use workbooks, manuals, and online supports published by reputable test prep companies.

What are the best test-taking tips?

  • Effective time management can have a significant impact on your score. For this reason, avoid relying on the on-screen calculator; instead, take shortcuts to reduce your problem-solving time.
  • Memorize basic equations, particularly for the geometry section (e.g. area of a triangle, square, rectangle, parallelogram), the area and circumference of a circle, and the volume for basic shapes. Memorize the side ratios of special right triangles.
  • In practice, examine your errors carefully to avoid repeating them.
  • Answer the easy questions first, then go back and answer the more difficult ones. Be sure you take advantage of the “mark and review” feature of the testing software that enables you to mark questions you wish to revisit during the time allowed for that section.
  • Use process of elimination to narrow the field of possible answer choices.
  • You are not penalized for guessing, so aim to answer every question.
  • Make sure you review all the Quantitative Reasoning material you can find, so you can enter the test room with confidence and take on the GRE Quantitative Reasoning challenge.

A tutor can make all the difference in helping you effectively prepare for the GRE Quantitative Reasoning test. For support with learning GRE exam content, targeting your weak areas, integrating section-specific strategies, and using your time wisely, contact a Wyzant GRE Tutor today! A test prep tutor is ready to help you achieve your goals.

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