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Tips for Mastering the Math Section of the GRE

Part of the The GRE Test For Dummies Cheat Sheet

Success on the GRE (Graduate Record Examination) Math section has a great deal to do with applying logic and common sense. Following are some tips for how to do your best on this section of the test:

Before you start

  • Lose the calculator (it’s not allowed). The proctor will provide scratch paper.

  • Remember that the GRE tests algebra, geometry, and arithmetic, not calculus or trigonometry.

  • Memorize formulas before you take the test. The GRE doesn’t provide them.

Following are some tips for those tricky Quantitative Comparison questions:

  • Triple-check your answer before hitting the Confirm button on the computer, because the answers to Quantitative Comparison (QC) questions often aren’t the obvious, first-response answers.

  • Remember that the answer choices are the same for every question. Choose A if Column A is greater; B if Column B is greater; C if the two columns are equal; and D if insufficient information is given. E is never a choice in the QC-question realm.

  • If the columns seem to be equal, do the required calculations to prove that they are.

  • Play the “what if” game by plugging in 1, then 2, 0, –1, –2, and 1⁄2. If the answer depends on what you plug in for the variable, choose D.

And now for some Problem Solving tips:

  • Note what the question specifically asks you to find: perimeter, area, length, degree, fraction, percentage, and so on.

  • Before you begin working on a problem, read the answer choices. You may be able to estimate and answer without working out the solution.

  • Plug answer choices into the question to see which one works. Do the easy choices first; you may not have to do the hard ones.

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