3 Tips for Studying for the GRE Quantitative Reasoning Exam

So you’re getting ready for the GRE Quantitative Reasoning (math) exam?

Congratulations on getting started! This exam, like all standardized exams, is a little bit different from a regular math test, but that shouldn’t scare you. Here are 3 tips on studying for the GRE Quantitative Reasoning exam.

1. Practice the TYPES of questions the exam will ask you

Practice makes perfect when it comes to studying for the GRE. Not only do you want to make sure you’re math skills are up to speed, but you also want to make sure you know the types of questions the GRE will ask you like the back of your hand.

The question formats on the GRE math exam are, well, kinda weird. At least different from regular math tests. Here are the types of questions you’ll be asked:

  1. Quantitative Comparison questions
  2. Single response multiple choice questions
  3. Multiple response multiple choice questions
  4. Numeric entry question

Single response multiple choice questions and numeric entry questions are pretty standard, but this is one of the few times in your math test-taking life you’ll be asked to choose multiple answers (and they won’t tell you how many). You’ll also be dealing with quantitative comparisons which sometimes don’t even give you enough information to solve the problem! (the correct answer would be D. not enough information)

The bottom line is you need to practice, practice, practice these types of questions so you don’t get flustered on test day. Lots of practice will also help you pick up on the little tricky questions ETS will try to slip by you.

2. Practice against the clock

Unfortunately, in all their evilness, the ETS won’t give you all day to take the GRE. They actually only give you 3 hours and 45 minutes to complete 6 sections, 2 of which are the quantitative reasoning sections. You get 35 minutes for each quantitative reasoning section.

Since each quantitative reasoning section has 20 not so easy questions, you don’t have too much time to spare. The last thing you want to do is get nervous about the clock during the test so make sure you’ve taken plenty of practice exams against the clock to simulate the test environment.

By doing this, you’ll develop your own personal timing strategies and know when a question is taking too long and should just be skipped and returned to later (if time is available).

3. Give yourself time to prepare

It’s nearly impossible to successfully cram for the GRE quantitative reasoning exam. The exam covers a wide range of math topics and is very unique in the types of questions that are asked as I pointed out above.

For those 2 reasons, you should really give yourself as much time as possible to study and really prepare for the exam. I would say at least 3 months, and preferably longer.

Here’s how I would recommend you spend your time (6 months):

Months 1-2: Study the topics that will appear on the exam (algebra, percentages, geometry) sticking to one or two topics per week, focusing on mastering them. Don’t worry about any tricky questions yet – just study the basics and master them by repeating the same types of problems over and over until you dream about them (almost).

Months 3-4: Now that you know the math, start practicing the types of questions the GRE will throw at you. Take your time and learn how to solve each type of problem.

Months 5-6: Now’s the time to get serious and start taking practice exams. I’d spend a week taking practice exams without a timer, and then grade yourself, studying the parts that you missed. The final week I would recommend complete simulated exams with a timer.

I hope this post has helped you figure out your GRE study plan!