What level of math is on gre?

Approximately 50 percent of the questions concern calculus and its applications that are supposed to be common to the antecedents of almost all mathematics majors. About 25 percent of the questions on the exam are elementary algebra, linear algebra, abstract algebra, and number theory. You can't expect to get a high score in Quant if you're not familiar with basic mathematical concepts or if you haven't practiced algebra and geometry in several years. That is why it is important to know the fundamentals of all the topics evaluated, that is, the rules, formulas and basic concepts associated with arithmetic, algebra, geometry and data analysis.

The content of these areas includes high school mathematics and statistics at a level that is generally no higher than that of a second year of algebra; it does not include trigonometry, calculus, or other higher-level mathematics. Even so, certain concepts can overlap in surprising ways. Data interpretation problems, for example, can become problems of geometry and statistics when asked about the appropriate angles to include in statistical pie charts. Expect other interesting but challenging mixes of mathematical concepts in the GRE as well.

Of course, word problems also overlap with many concepts. It is conceivable that any GRE Quant concept can be tested in a word problem. The word problem category also has almost 100% overlap with data interpretation. Practically any question in the GRE Quant section that involves reading graphs or tables also involves interpreting associated short word problems.

Common word problems include mixes, work rates, interest, and a number of other “core” topics you've probably seen in other courses and exams. But again, word problems are very common on the exam and they deal with mathematics from many different angles; there are statistical word problems, arithmetic word problems, geometry word problems, and much more. Arguably, word problems are, in fact, the most common GRE mathematical problems. And for the “big picture” of how these mathematical topics fit into GRE concepts and GRE readiness as a whole, check out Magoosh's free guide to the GRE exam.

Similar to all GRE subject tests, the GRE Mathematics test is paper-based, unlike the GRE general test, which is usually computer-based. Unfortunately, taking a look at this GRE math review alone is probably not enough as a refresher for you to score high on the GRE. Like the verbal reasoning part of the GRE test, the Quantitative Reasoning part is adapted at the section level, where the questions in the second section of the exam are selected by computer based on how the questions in the first section were answered. When you finish reading about this range of mathematical problems, you'll really understand what the word “quant” means when it comes to GRE readiness.

The table above, which groups the math test questions by topic, provides a good roadmap for your GRE Quant studies. To earn better GRE scores and enter top graduate schools, you'll need a solid understanding of the underlying mathematical concepts of arithmetic, algebra, geometry, and data interpretation as they are evaluated in the GRE.

Lawrence Glady
Lawrence Glady

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