Are you taking the GRE for the first time?

The Graduate Record Examination (GRE) is often required for admission into graduate, business, and law schools in the United States. One section is Quantitative Reasoning, which tests your mathematical skills.

Preparing for the GRE can be time-consuming and nerve-wracking, but it doesn't have to be. These tips on GRE preparation for beginners will help you ace the Quantitative Reasoning sections of the exam!

What Quantitative Reasoning Measures

The Quantitative Reasoning sections measure the following:

• Understanding quantitative methods

• Solving problems using basic and simple mathematical concepts

• Applying elementary-level mathematical concepts: arithmetic, algebra, geometry, and data analysis

The Quantitative Reasoning sections are section level-adaptive. This means that section 1 will be of normal difficulty and section 2 will be harder or easier depending on how you did in section 1.

The Quantitative Reasoning sections of the GRE are scored between 130-170, but most graduate schools won't state a particular required score for admission. You should aim for the highest mark possible.

The new GRE, which came into effect in September 2023, is now shorter and can be taken under 2 hours, but it's still timed. The new Quantitative Reasoning sections of the GRE are structured as follows:

1. Section 1 has 12 questions and you have 21 minutes to answer them.

2. Section 2 has 15 questions with 26 minutes to answer them.

What You Need to Study

The Quantitative Reasoning sections of the GRE assess four main areas of mathematics, studying these topics will help you prepare for the exam:

• Arithmetic

• Algebra

• Geometry

• Data analysis

See this resource on question types in each category of the sections for more detailed information on GRE preparation for beginners.

Types of Quantitative Questions

The Quantitative Reasoning sections have 4 types of questions:

1. Quantitative Comparison: Comparing two quantities to calculate which is larger, if they are the same quantity, or if you can't compare because of the information provided.

2. Multiple Choice: Choosing one or more of the five options provided.

3. Numeric Entry: Providing an answer in the input box (if the answer is a fraction, there will be two boxes).

4. Data Interpretation: Interpreting data questions and choosing the correct answer. Visuals like graphs and charts might accompany the data.

Example Questions

Quantitative Comparison

(x + 5)² – (y – 3)² = 0x + y = 2

Quantity A: x – y Quantity B: 0

A. Quantity A is greater. B. Quantity B is greater. C. The two quantities are equal. D. The relationship cannot be determined from the information given.

Multiple Choice

A certain pet store sells only dogs and cats. In March, the store sold twice as many dogs as cats. In April, the store sold twice the number of dogs that it sold in March, and three times the number of cats that it sold in March. If the total number of pets the store sold in March and April combined was 500, how many dogs did the store sell in March?

A. 80 B. 100 C. 120 D. 160 E. 180

Numeric Entry

What is three-fourths times twelve-sixths?

You then insert the answer in the two boxes given for a fraction answer.

Data Interpretation

A given company has 1500 employees. Of those employees, 800 are computer science majors. 25% of those computer science majors are also mathematics majors. That group of computer science/math dual majors makes up one third of the total mathematics majors. How many employees have majors other than computer science and mathematics?

A. 300 B. 250 C. 500 D. 100

Quiz

Using the data interpretation example question, what strategies below can use for this type of question?

Study Tips for Success

GRE Preparation for Beginners: General Study Tips

• Take a free diagnostic practice test to gauge where you are with your math abilities. It will also help to realize what you need to study.

• Set your goal on a score you would like to achieve and work towards it.

• Formulate a study plan depending on what you need to study. This plan can be for 1 month or up to 6 months. Here is an example study plan.

• Research strategies and tips to tackle the quantitative reasoning sections.

GRE Preparation for Beginners: Quantitative Reasoning Study Tips:

• Practice using online calculators as the GRE is a computer-based test that only uses an on-screen calculator.

• Review the questions you get wrong or struggle with and do them again.

• Practice timing; each question should be allocated no more than 2 minutes.

General GRE Study Materials

The resources below on GRE preparation for beginners are great study materials from the official GRE website, companies specializing in GRE prep, and some free resources.

Free GRE Prep

For more prep resources for the GRE general test, Magoosh offers a list of resources that extends the list above.

Quantitative Study Materials

There are plenty of GRE Quantitative section prep resources ranging from costly to completely free. These free resources can help you prepare for the Quantitative sections of the GRE. The practice tests are particularly helpful in GRE preparation for beginners: