GED Test Prep: Mathematical Reasoning Section

The Mathematical Reasoning section of the GED expects you to have the same mathematical knowledge that someone graduating high school would have. The test covers the following four major areas:

  • Algebra, equations, and patterns

  • Data analysis, statistics, and probability

  • Measurement and geometry

  • Number operations

More specifically, about 45 percent of the questions focus on quantitative problem solving and the other about 55 percent focuses on algebraic problem solving.

The Mathematical Reasoning section has many of the same types of problems as the other sections (multiple-choice, fill-in-the-blank, and so on).

Mathematics is mathematics. That may sound simple, but it isn't. To succeed on the Mathematical Reasoning section, you should have a good grasp of the basic operations: addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division. You should be able to perform these operations quickly and accurately and, in the case of simple numbers, perform them mentally.

The more automatic and accurate your responses are, the less time you'll need for each item, and the greater your chances are of finishing the test on time with a few minutes to spare to check any items you may have skipped or answers you want to double-check.

The other skill you should try to master is reading quickly and accurately. The items are written in English prose and you're expected to know how to answer the item from the passage presented. Try to increase your reading speed and test yourself for accuracy. If you are a slow reader, search “speed reading” on any search engine to get some hints.

You can check for accuracy by writing down what you think you read without looking at the passage and seeing how close you can come to it. More important than knowing whether you can recall each and every word is knowing how accurate you are so that you can compensate for issues before the test.

Consider the following items (one traditional multiple-choice question and two questions that use different formats that you'll encounter on the computer) that are similar to what you may see on the Mathematical Reasoning section.

A right-angle triangle has a hypotenuse of 5 feet and one side that is 36 inches long. What is the length of the other side in feet?

  • (A)3 ft

  • (B)48 ft

  • (C)6 ft

  • (D)4 ft

The correct answer is Choice (D). Using the Pythagorean theorem (a formula that's given to you on the formula page of the test), you know that a² + b² = c², where c is the hypotenuse and a and b are either of the other two sides. Because you know the hypotenuse and one side, turn the equation around so that it reads a² = c² – b².

You can recall the page of formulas on the computer when needed. Remember that the fewer times you need to call it up, the more time you'll have to answer questions.

To get c², you square the hypotenuse: (5)(5)= 25.

The other side is given in inches—to convert inches to feet, divide by 12: 36/12 = 3. To get b², square this side: (3)(3) = 9.

Now solve the equation for a: a² = 25 – 9 or a2 = 16. Take the square root of both sides, and you get a = 4.

The Mathematical Reasoning section presents real-life situations in the items. So if you find yourself answering 37 feet to a question about the height of a room or $3.00 for an annual salary, recheck your answer because you're probably wrong.

The following question asks you to fill in the blank.

Barb is counting the number of boxes in a warehouse. In the first storage area, she finds 24 boxes. The second area contains 30 boxes. The third area contains 28 boxes. If the warehouse has 6 storage areas where it stores boxes, and the areas have an average of 28 boxes, the total number of boxes in the last three areas is…

The correct answer is 86. If the warehouse has 6 storage areas and it has an average of 28 boxes in each, it has (6)(28) = 168 boxes in the warehouse. The first three areas have 24 + 30 + 28 = 82 boxes in them. The last three areas must have 168 – 82 = 86 boxes in them.

A rectangle has one corner on the origin. The base goes from the origin to the point (3, 0). The right side goes from (3, 0) to (3, 4). Place the missing point on the graph.

The correct answer is to put point B at (0, 4). If you shade the three points given on the graph, you see that a fourth point at (0, 4) creates the rectangle. Draw the point as shown on the graph.

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