How to Prepare for GRE Quantitative Section?

    Updated on: 12 Sep 2023

    Why is the GRE Quantitative Section Important?

    GRE stands for Graduate Record Examination and is conducted by ETS every year. The test scores are useful for you to get into top graduate schools for master degree programs, including MS. 
    Speaking of the importance of GRE sectional scores, the requirement of minimum GRE sectional scores varies as per the program and university you are choosing. A certain program may focus on one section more than the other, and therefore, in such cases, a candidate will have to ensure that he/she performs well in that particular section. All in all, to get a good overall score, one needs to ace all the sections equally well. One has to, therefore, prepare each section thoroughly. While you can swing by the following if you are looking for GRE preparation guides for other sections, this article will specifically focus on how to prepare for GRE Quantitative section.


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    What is the Syllabus for the GRE Quantitative Section? 

    The quantitative section in GRE is aimed at testing your basic mathematical skills and concepts. It tests your competency in four areas: Arithmetic, Algebra, Geometry and Data Analysis. 
    The topics under each section include: 

    1. Arithmetic
      • Divisibility, Prime Numbers, Factorization, Even & Odd Integers, Remainders
      • Arithmetic Operations, Roots, and Exponents; 
      • Percent, Estimation, Ratio, Absolute Value, Decimal Representation, Number Line Sequences of Numbers
    2. Algebra
      • Quadratic and Linear Equations and Inequalities 
      • Simultaneous Inequalities and Equations 
      • Simplification & Factorization of Algebraic Expressions 
      • Functions, Equations, Relations, and Inequalities
      • Forming Equations to Get Answers to Word Problems 
      • Coordinate Geometry, Graphs related to Functions and Equations
    3. Geometry
      • Quadrilaterals, Perpendicular & Parallel Lines, Circles and Triangles
      • Polygons and Congruent Figures
      • 3-D figures, Area, Volume, Perimeter
      • Pythagorean Theorem 
      • Measurement of Angle in Degrees
    4. Data Analysis
      • Statistics
      • Interpreting Data in Tables & Graphs
      • Frequency Distributions & Scatterplots
      • Elementary Probability 
      • Conditional Probability 
      • Probability Distributions and Random Variables and Counting Methods
      • Combinations, Venn Diagrams, Permutations

    Word problems and algebra problems are the most frequent in GRE. The problems are generally of high school level and do not include trigonometry, calculus, etc.

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    What is the Exam Pattern of GRE Quantitative Section?

    Quantitative Reasoning has two sections, with 20 questions each. 35 minutes are allotted per section. You shall not lose marks for answering incorrectly in the GRE. 
    The Quantitative section has 4 kinds of questions

    • Quantitative Comparison Questions - This section asks you questions in which you are required to compare two given quantities on the basis of the information provided. 
    • Multiple-Choice Questions - Select One Answer Choice - In these questions, you will be required to find one correct answer out of 5 given choices. 
    • Multiple-Choice Questions - Select One or More Answer Choices - These require you to choose one or more correct answers from the list of options given. 
    • Numeric Entry Questions - In these questions, you enter your answer as an integer, decimal, or fraction.
    • Data Interpretation Set - This consists of sets of questions which are supposed to be answered based on the same data representation, like, the same graph or table. 

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    How to Answer GRE Exam Quantitative Section Questions? 

    Here are some tips that will definitely help you while answering all types of questions in the GRE section on the exam day. 

    1. Quantitative Comparison Questions

    Become familiar with the answer choices, as the choices are the same for all the questions under this section. Try to use as much estimation as possible instead of going into lengthy calculations. Simplify the questions so that the comparison becomes easier. You can substitute the variables in algebraic expressions with numbers and make an approximate comparison. 

    2. Multiple-choice Questions - Select One Answer Choice 

    Examine the choices properly. Find out how much approximation is okay. If you use approximations to get the correct answer, it will save you a lot of time. Hence, do not go into the calculations right away. 
    If your answer is not in the choices, it is likely that you have made a mistake. Recheck your solution, or try to use another method. 

    3. Multiple-choice Questions - Select One or More Answer Choices 

    Read the question carefully and figure out how many answers are expected. Use your mathematical knowledge to determine the least and greatest possible value the answer could be. That can help you to eliminate irrelevant choices. Do not go into lengthy calculations that might end up confusing you. 

    4. Numeric Entry Questions 

    Firstly, find out what type of answer is required from you, as in, units, etc. If you are required to round it off, notice the degree of accuracy required. You should always double-check your answers using a different method, or putting in approximate values. 

    5. Data Interpretation Set 

    Pay attention to the parts that might be important for solving the questions that follow. Do not try to read the entire question in detail. 

    For bar graphs and line graphs, handle operations by sight or by measurement, judging by the scales used.
    You are supposed to answer the questions, solely on the basis of the information provided and universally accepted facts. You should not use any information that you previously read somewhere. 

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    How to Prepare for GRE Quantitative Section?

    Following are a few study tips which you can put to use while studying for the GRE Quantitative section:

    1. You get 35 minutes to answer each section, which may or may not be enough for you. Hence, you should totally work on your time management skills to be able to complete the sections within the limited time frames while ensuring that accuracy is not compromised. 
    2. Arithmetic topics may not include any advanced mathematics, but the questions can be tricky sometimes. Make sure that you are familiar with the concepts mentioned in the GRE quantitative section syllabus above.
    3. Math is all about practice. Hence, to prepare for the GRE quantitative section, practice as many questions as possible. Learn the format properly. Take mock tests, and solve them in the same amount of time as you will be provided in the exam. Realize your strong and weak points. That will help you to plan your strategy for attempting the questions. 
    4. Learn to simplify word problems into easy equations, so that you can solve it faster.

    What are Some Useful Study Resources to Prepare for GRE Quantitative Section?

    1. Books
      • The Official Guide to the GRE Revised General Test, 3rd Edition - ETS
      • Official GRE Quantitative Reasoning Practice Questions - ETS
      • PowerPrep and PowerPrep PLUS - ETS
      • Practising to Take the GRE General Test, 10th Edition - ETS 
    2. Online Resources

    Sample Questions to Prepare for GRE Exam Quantitative Section

    • Quantitative Comparison Questions
    • Numeric Entry Questions
    • Multiple-Choice Questions - Select One Answer 
    • Multiple-Choice Questions - Select One or More Answer 

    General Tips for GRE Preparation

    • You are advised to get started with your preparations as early as possible and not leave things for the last minute. 
    • Prepare a proper time-table to complete the GRE syllabus on time. 
    • Regular revision and practice is a must.
    • Focus on the important and basic concepts.
    • Practice as many mock tests as possible. Consult seniors or mentors to clear any doubt that arises. 
    • Also, the most important advice while you are preparing for any exam is, to ace your time management skills. 

    Tips for One Week Before the Exam 

    • Concentrate on solving more practice problems. 
    • Revise your weak concepts. 
    • Take as many practice tests as possible. 
    • Do not try to learn new concepts. 
    • Make sure you are not working under stress. 

    Tips for the Exam Day

    • Reach exam centre on time. 
    • Make sure you are carrying all the required documents. 
    • Eat proper breakfast. 
    • Stay calm and concentrated. 
    • Do not try to cheat. 

    Tips to Boost Your Score in GRE Quantitative Section 

    • Maintain neat rough work, so that you can understand it better if you need to. 
    • Since GRE does not have negative marking, do not skip any questions. Take a guess. 
    • Use approximations and shortcuts to save time. 
    • If you are taking more than 2 minutes on a certain question, keep it for later and move to the next. 
    • Try back calculating from the given options to get the correct answer. 
    • Draw proper diagrams for geometry questions to help you visualize the question better. 
    • Use the on-screen calculator, only if it is necessary.


    Maths gets easier with practice. Try to make your own strategies to lessen lengthy calculations and save time while answering mock tests. Set your target score, and start working accordingly. A little hard work is all that it takes. 

    If GRE prep work still continues to give you a hard time, don’t hesitate to give us a call. We have partnered with the best GRE coaching centres who have mastered the mantra to crack the GRE, and we will get you too in touch with one of them in case you need a helping hand with GRE. 

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    First published date: 31 Jan 2020

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Madhuwrita Nandi
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