GRE Quantitative Reasoning syllabus: Essential topics and questions

Updated on: Oct 18, 2023
GRE Quantitative Reasoning syllabus: Essential topics and questions
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The quantitative reasoning section of the GRE is designed to assess a test-taker's mathematical and problem-solving abilities. This section evaluates the quantitative skills that are essential for success in graduate-level programs in various fields.

Understanding the GRE quantitative reasoning syllabus is crucial for aspiring graduate students, as it helps them prepare effectively and maximise their performance on this important exam.

In this article, we will explore the key components of the GRE quantitative reasoning syllabus, including the topics covered and the types of questions that can be expected.

Overview of GRE quantitative reasoning section

The GRE quantitative reasoning section assesses your mathematical skills and ability to reason quantitatively. It measures your understanding of basic mathematical concepts, your capability to solve problems using mathematical methods, and your proficiency in analysing and interpreting quantitative data.

The quantitative reasoning section of the GRE is divided into two main categories: Quantitative Comparison and Problem Solving. In both question types, you will encounter questions that require you to apply multiple mathematical concepts and skills simultaneously.

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Content areas covered in GRE quantitative reasoning syllabus

The GRE quantitative reasoning section covers a variety of content areas that test your mathematical skills and ability to reason quantitatively.

Here are the main content areas covered in the GRE quantitative reasoning syllabus:

1. Arithmetic

  • Basic arithmetic operations: addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division
  • Fractions, decimals, and percentages
  • Number properties: prime numbers, factors, multiples, and divisibility rules
  • Exponents and roots
  • Ratio and proportion
  • Integer operations and number sequences

2. Algebra

  • Algebraic expressions and equations
  • Inequalities
  • Linear and quadratic equations
  • Functions and their properties
  • Word problems involving algebraic concepts
  • Coordinate geometry

3. Geometry

  • Lines, angles, and triangles
  • Quadrilaterals and polygons
  • Circles and their properties
  • Three-dimensional geometry: volumes, surface areas, and solids
  • Coordinate geometry: points, lines, and slopes

4. Data interpretation

  • Graphical representations: bar graphs, line graphs, pie charts, and scatter plots
  • Tabular data: interpreting and analysing information presented in tables
  • Data analysis and statistical concepts: mean, median, mode, range, standard deviation, and probability distributions
  • Interpreting trends, patterns, and relationships in data

Also read: GRE geometry questions | GRE Vocabulary Words | GRE AWA Samples

Symbols, terminology, conventions, and assumptions

Symbols, terminology, conventions, and assumptions play important roles in the GRE quantitative reasoning section. Understanding and applying these elements correctly is crucial for accurately interpreting and solving mathematical problems.

1. Symbols

Symbols are used to represent mathematical operations, relationships, and quantities. They provide a concise and standardised way of expressing mathematical concepts.

Common symbols include addition (+), subtraction (-), multiplication (×), division (÷), equality (=), less than (<), greater than (>), less than or equal to (≤), greater than or equal to (≥), pi (π), and square root (√). These symbols are used to express equations, inequalities, formulas, and mathematical relationships.

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2. Terminology

The terminology refers to the specific language and vocabulary used in mathematics to describe concepts and relationships. Understanding mathematical terminology is vital for interpreting questions and expressing solutions accurately.

Familiarising yourself with terms such as sum, product, quotient, factor, multiple, numerator, denominator, coefficient, variable, exponent, function, equation, inequality, perpendicular, parallel, congruent, and similar is important for success in the quantitative reasoning section.

3. Conventions

Conventions are agreed-upon rules or standards that govern mathematical notation and representation. These conventions ensure consistency and clarity in mathematical communication. An example of a convention is the order of operations, often referred to as PEMDAS or BODMAS, where parentheses, exponents, multiplication/division, and addition/subtraction are evaluated in a specific order.

Another convention is the use of standard units for measurements, such as metres for length, grams for mass, and seconds for time.

4. Assumptions

Assumptions are implicit or unstated beliefs or conditions that underlie mathematical problems or scenarios. Identifying and understanding the assumptions made in a problem is crucial for arriving at the correct solution.

Assumptions may involve properties of numbers, geometric figures, or the validity of certain mathematical rules. By recognizing and questioning assumptions, test-takers can approach problems critically and ensure the validity of their solutions.

Also Read: GRE Text Completion | GRE General Test and GRE Subjects Test

Types of questions

Understanding the different question formats and data interpretation sets is essential for effective preparation and performance on this section of the exam. There are 4 main types of questions in GRE quantitative reasoning section:

1. Quantitative comparison questions

Quantitative comparison questions present two quantities, labelled Quantity A and Quantity B. Your task is to determine the relationship between the two quantities. You will choose from answer choices that indicate whether Quantity A is greater, Quantity B is greater, the two quantities are equal, or the relationship cannot be determined from the given information. It's important to avoid solving the quantities fully; instead, use estimation or apply basic mathematical principles to compare the quantities.

2. Multiple-choice questions with one correct answer

These questions present a problem or scenario and provide you with five answer choices. You must select the one correct answer among the choices. It's important to carefully read the question, evaluate each answer choice, and use your mathematical knowledge and reasoning skills to determine the correct option.

3. Multiple-choice questions with one or more correct answers

These questions also present a problem or scenario, but instead of having only one correct answer, they may have multiple correct answers. You need to evaluate each answer choice independently and determine whether it is a correct answer or not. It's important to carefully read the question and consider all the possible correct choices. Pay attention to any instructions that specify the number of correct answers.

4. Numeric entry questions

Numeric entry questions require you to provide a specific numeric value or an exact decimal value as your answer. Instead of selecting from provided answer choices, you need to calculate the answer yourself and enter it in the provided space. Pay attention to any specified units, rounding requirements, or decimal formatting instructions. Accuracy in calculations and entering the answer correctly is crucial for these questions.

Also Read: GRE Reading Comprehension | GRE Quant Syllabus | GRE Prep Apps

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Data interpretation sets

Data interpretation sets present information in the form of graphs, charts, tables, or passages. You are asked a series of questions related to the given data, and you must analyze and interpret the information to answer the questions correctly.

Data interpretation sets require the application of mathematical concepts, such as percentages, ratios, averages, and statistical analysis, to draw conclusions from the data provided.

Steps for problem-solving

Problem-solving is a systematic approach used to find solutions to various challenges or tasks. Whether you're facing a complex mathematical problem or addressing a real-life situation, following a structured set of steps can help guide your problem-solving process.

Here are the 3 main steps you can follow when approaching a problem-solving task:

1. Understand the problem

Begin by carefully reading and comprehending the problem. Identify the key elements, variables, and constraints involved. Consider what is being asked and what information is provided. Make sure you have a clear understanding of the problem's requirements and objectives.

Break down the problem into smaller components or sub-problems. Identify the relationships and patterns between different elements. Look for any given data, conditions, or restrictions that may affect the solution. Identify the relevant concepts or principles that may be applied to solve the problem.

2. Devise and execute the plan

Based on your analysis, develop a plan or strategy to solve the problem. Consider different approaches and techniques that can be applied. Determine the calculations, formulas, or steps needed to reach a solution. Choose the most appropriate method that aligns with the problem's requirements and your strengths.

Implement your chosen plan by performing the necessary calculations, measurements, or actions. Follow the steps outlined in your plan, ensuring accuracy and attention to detail. Take your time and proceed systematically, checking your work along the way.

3. Evaluate the solution

Once you have obtained a potential solution, evaluate its validity and effectiveness. Ask yourself if the solution addresses the problem's requirements and if it makes logical sense. Check for any errors or mistakes in your calculations or reasoning. Consider alternative perspectives or approaches to validate your solution.

Analyse your approach and identify any areas for improvement. Consider whether there could be alternative or more efficient strategies. Learn from your experience and apply these insights to future problem-solving tasks.

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5 tips to use a calculator effectively

Using a calculator effectively can significantly aid in performing calculations efficiently and accurately. Here are 5 tips to help you make the most of your calculator:

1. Familiarise yourself

Take the time to thoroughly understand the features, functions, and buttons of your calculator. Read the user manual or explore online tutorials specific to your calculator model. Knowing how to navigate and utilise the calculator's functions will save time during the exam.

2. Master shortcut keys

Many calculators have shortcut keys or buttons that can expedite calculations. For example, some calculators have dedicated buttons for percentages, square roots, exponentiation, or trigonometric functions. Familiarise yourself with these shortcuts and learn how to use them effectively.

3. Use parentheses

When entering complex equations or expressions into your calculator, use parentheses to ensure the correct order of operations. Parentheses help clarify the intended sequence of calculations and avoid errors. When in doubt, add parentheses to make your intentions explicit.

4. Utilise memory functions

Most calculators have memory functions that allow you to store and recall values. Take advantage of these features to store intermediate results or constants that you frequently use in calculations. It can save time by avoiding repetitive calculations.

5. Manage rounding and precision

Understand how your calculator handles rounding and decimal places. Depending on the problem requirements, adjust the precision of your calculator to match the desired level of accuracy. Be mindful of rounding errors that can accumulate over multiple calculations.

Also Read: Importance of GRE Geometry | GRE Geometry Questions

The GRE quantitative reasoning section covers various mathematical topics such as arithmetic, algebra, geometry, data analysis, and word problems. To excel in this section, it is crucial to understand the concepts, practice problem-solving strategies, and familiarise yourself with the approved calculator models and guidelines for their effective use. By dedicating time and effort to studying and practising, you can develop the necessary skills and confidence to tackle the quantitative reasoning section of the GRE and achieve your desired results.

Frequently asked questions

What topics should I focus on when preparing for the GRE quantitative reasoning section?

It's important to focus on a variety of topics, including arithmetic, algebra, geometry, data analysis, and word problems. Review the core concepts, formulas, and problem-solving techniques associated with these topics. Familiarise yourself with the question formats and practice solving GRE-style questions across different mathematical areas.

Is a calculator allowed in the GRE quantitative reasoning section?

Yes, a calculator is allowed in the GRE quantitative reasoning section. However, there are specific guidelines and restrictions regarding the types of calculators permitted. It's essential to check the ETS website or contact the test centre for the most up-to-date information on approved calculator models.

What are the different types of questions in the GRE quantitative reasoning section?

The GRE quantitative reasoning section includes various question formats, such as multiple-choice questions with one correct answer, multiple-choice questions with one or more correct answers, numeric entry questions, and quantitative comparison questions. Each question format assesses different aspects of your quantitative reasoning skills.

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