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GRE Math

GRE Quantitative Reasoning Measure

The GRE Quantitative Reasoning measure is NOT a test of advanced math. In fact, remembering all the geometry proofs, calculus, and trigonometry that you learned back in high school won’t help you at all on the GRE Math section. The difficulty of GRE Quantitative Reasoning comes from the need to logically reason your way through each problem. Once you figure out what the question is asking (often easier said than done), the math involved in solving the problem is actually fairly basic.

gre-quantitative-reasoning, math gre

GRE Math Prep: The Basics

Technically, GRE QR assesses your ability to deal with number properties and standard geometric figures. But what the GRE Quantitative Reasoning measure really tests is the logic you use to approach problem solving. Just as GRE Verbal tests your ability to analyze or “reason with” written English, GRE Math tests your ability to reason using numbers. The key to finding the answer to GRE Math problems lies in finding a way to unwrap the problem using logic.

And remember: The GRE doesn’t reward you for process. Unlike your math teacher who gave you partial credit for showing your work, the GRE only cares that you select the correct answer choice.

Four Math GRE Concept Categories

Most of GRE Quant appears in word problem format. The rest appears in purely mathematical form. In both cases, the mathematical concepts and abilities tested fall into four main categories: Arithmetic, Algebra, Geometry, and Data Analysis.

For a full list of the topics that fall under these categories, be sure to check out . Luckily, these concepts don’t get much harder than the Algebra II level math classes that most of us took in high school.

If you need a refresher course on any of these topics, check out the comprehensive list of Clemmonsdogpark’s GRE Math posts, listed below. ETS also offers a that promises to help you understand the concepts needed to solve problems as well as how to reason quantitatively.

GRE Assumptions

Math on the GRE follows the basic number conventions that you learned in high school:

  • The positive direction of a number line is to the right and the negative direction is to the left.
  • Distances are nonnegative.
  • Prime numbers are greater than 1.

also states additional assumptions in its instructions. Hint: It’s best to memorize these instructions before taking the GRE exam so you don’t have to spend your time reading and processing basic instructions.

GRE Quantitative Reasoning Question Types

There are four types of questions on the GRE QR test:

1) Quantitative Comparison Questions

You’ll be given two values: Column A and Column B. Your goal is to determine the relationship between the two.

math gre, quantitative comparison

2) Multiple-choice Questions — Select One Answer Choice

Your basic multiple-choice format with five answer choices.


3) Multiple-choice Questions — Select One or More Answer Choices

Exactly how it sounds…multiple-choice on steroids.

multiple-answer, math gre

4) Numeric Entry Questions

Instead of five answer choices to guide you, you’ll type your answer into a box.


You can practice all of the GRE Math question types here!

Other Important Info

Data Interpretation Sets

Some of the GRE Quant questions appear on their own, independent of other information. Others appear as a set of questions called a Data Interpretation set. Data Interpretation questions are all based on the same set of data presented in tables, graphs, or some other sort of display.

GRE Calculator

Let’s keep this short and sweet: Can you use a calculator on the GRE? Yes, but it looks something like this:

You also get scratch paper. 🙂

GRE Math Practice & Other Resources

For more details about the GRE Quantitative Reasoning test, check out the following links from the Clemmonsdogpark GRE Blog. They’re organized by category to make searching simple.

gre-math-practice, math gre

Combinations and Permutations Data Interpretation

Math Basics

Rate Problems
Work Rate


Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in May, 2011 and has been updated for freshness, accuracy, and comprehensiveness.


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