Complete Guide for GRE Quantitative Reasoning Section

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The Quantitative Reasoning Section of GRE evaluates the student’s basic skills in mathematics, ability to understand the fundamental mathematical concepts, ability to reason quantitatively and to solve problems using quantitative methods. In the computer-delivered test, there will be an on-screen calculator. In the paper-delivered test, calculators will be given at the test centre.

Duration 35 minutes
Number of questions 40 questions
Number of subsections 2 subsections


Types of questions in GRE Quantitative Reasoning Section

The Quantitative Reasoning module of GRE has 2 sections, each consists of 20 questions which should be completed within 35 minutes. The Quantitative Reasoning deals with these kinds of questions mentioned below:

  • Compare quantities – (6 to 8 questions)

In these kinds of questions, you are required to do a comparison between the two given quantities such as “A” and “B” and then ascertain the relationship between them. For example, whether A is greater, B is greater, the two are equal, or the relationship cannot be determined from the information given.

  • Data Interpretation or Graphs – (5 to 7 questions)

These questions require you to evaluate information and choose a correct answer based on visual graphs and tables. You need to understand the data given in those forms and select the correct answer accordingly. These questions are multiple-choice questions which ask you to choose only one answer choice from the given list or to select one or more answer choices from the given

  • Numeric Entry questions – (2 questions)

These kinds of questions require you to enter your answer in an answer box instead of choosing among alternatives. Here you are asked either to input the answer as a fraction in two different boxes, one for the numerator and another one for the denominator or to input your answer as a decimal or integer in the given single box.

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Syllabus for Quantitative Reasoning Section of GRE

The best part about the GRE quantitative section is that it covers only the math topics taught in schools. Mostly the GRE maths section’s questions are tricky rather than hard. Therefore, careful reading and a systematic approach with techniques & strategies can get you a great score. The Syllabus for Quantitative Reasoning Section of GRE includes

Arithmetic questions

These questions could be on types of integers, exponents and radicals, estimation,  ratio,  per cent, absolute value, the number line, decimal representation and sequences of numbers.

Algebra questions

These include operations with exponents, factoring and simplifying algebra expressions, solving linear and quadratic equations, solving simultaneous equations and inequalities, and coordinate geometry.

Geometry questions

The topics included would be parallel and perpendicular lines, triangles, quadrilaterals, circles, three-dimensional figures, perimeter,  area, volume, the Pythagorean Theorem, and angle measurement in degrees.

Data analysis questions

These questions include basic statistics such as mean, median, mode, range, standard deviation, interquartile range, quartiles and percentiles. Interpretation of data in tables and graphs would include questions like line graphs, bar graphs, circle graphs, scatter plots and frequency distributions, and elementary probability.

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Tips for Quantitative Reasoning Section of GRE

Here we have listed some useful tips for solving Quantitative Reasoning Section of GRE in a better way:

Tips for Quantitative Comparison

Memorize the answer choices

The answer choices for these kinds of questions are the same for every question, so familiarize yourself with them, it will save time. You will come to know without looking that choice (A) means quantity A is greater, choice (B) means quantity B is greater, etc.

  • Simplify the comparison

Many questions of Quantitative Comparison include algebraic expressions. When this is the case, simplify the question where ever possible by factoring and/or cancelling out terms that appear in both Quantity A and Quantity B. Simplification often either makes the answer obvious or makes it easier to guess the numbers to get a better idea of the answer.

  • Plugin numbers

With the help of this, you can usually get a good idea of which quantity is greater by plugging in several numbers with different properties. So try using 0, 1, a positive integer, a negative integer, a fraction and so on. 

Tips for Data Interpretation or Graphs

  • Look for shortcuts

Wherever you are able to avoid in-depth calculations or complicated manipulations of variables, do it. Factor, simplify, estimate, do whatever you can do to cut down on the crunching.

  • Plugin answers

If you don’t really know how to solve a multiple-choice question that asks you to solve for a value, you can almost always find the answer by plugging the choices back in. Start with the ones that seem the most reasonable to save time and so on. 

  • Estimate

Estimation in Multi-answer multiple-choice questions is often a good method to answer. For example, when you need to select all the numbers that meet particular criteria, you can usually exclude some number of answers based on preliminary estimation.

  • Select the right number of answers

Not all multiple-answer multiple-choice questions have the same parameters. In some questions, you may be required to select all answers that meet certain criteria, while others require you to select two or three answers. Ensure to closely follow the given directions.

Tips for Numeric Entry

  • Ensure the answer you write is in the correct format

Sometimes these kinds of questions ask for the answer in a specific format. For example:  as a fraction, in particular, units, rounded to two decimal places, etc. Be sure that your answer is in that asked format.

  • Be careful when transferring your calculator display 

The format of the answer here is critical so make sure that the format is correct when you transfer your calculator display. Sometimes the answer should be rounded, transferring directly obviously won’t be right. For this reason, it can be safer to just type in the answer instead of copying the calculator display. 

General tips

  • Analyze your mistakes

When you look back at your mistakes, you want to identify why you got the question wrong. Did you mis-read it? Did you run out of time? Maybe you didn’t have the knowledge about the concept or you made any mistakes in calculations. When you recognise your mistakes, you know that’s something you need to target. Here are the mistakes which are mostly repeated by the test takers, get the knowledge of it and avoid doing this: 6 Common mistakes made by GRE test takers 

  • If You Get Stuck, Move On

If you have no idea how to answer a question, move on as soon as you realize it. You can make a guess about the answer so that you don’t waste much time on that and spend the time on easy and known questions. For knowing how to much time to spend the time on each question, you should go through this: Time management of  3 Hours 45 Minutes in the GRE

  • Read Questions Carefully

It is important that you read questions carefully to avoid silly mistakes. There is nothing worse than losing points you can actually get because of your carelessness and you didn’t see the “except” or “not” in the question, or you have written your answer in the wrong units.

  • Write answers in the asked format

The GRE questions often ask for answers in a specific format. It may not be the format you think. So make sure that you are writing the answer in the correct format and units. 

  • Take advantage of Scratch Paper

You will be given an unlimited amount of scratch paper on the GRE. So make good use of it. Draw Diagrams and figures, do calculations, graph functions etc do what you need to do to make it easier to understand the questions.

  • Answer all the questions

The GRE does not penalise you for wrong answers, so it’s your advantage to answer every question even if you have to more or less guess randomly. If you can eliminate answers you know are incorrect will increase your chance to write the correct answer. For example, if you can exclude even one Quantitative Comparison answer, you will have a 33% chance of guessing the correct answer.

  • Double-Check Your Answers

Many students won’t really have time to look back over their answers on GRE quantitative, it is a high time-pressure situation. Since to score perfect points quickly double-check your answers for any obvious mistakes at the end of the section, so that there must not be any wrong answers.

So now you know how to prepare and crack the Quantitative Reasoning Section of GRE. So do your best, keep all the tips in your mind and crack it well.

All the best.!!

Here are the guides for other GRE sections

 Analytical Writing section of GRE

Verbal Reasoning Section of GRE