Top 10 Math Tips for Better Scores on the GRE

Even if you aren’t a math genius, better GRE scores and the best graduate schools are within your grasp! As you build your content knowledge for the GRE test, you will need effective GRE strategies to help you get the best GRE Quantitative score possible. Here are ten tips and proven GRE strategies that will take your GRE practice to the level of the highest-scoring GRE graduate student. Try them out on your next free GRE practice test! The Powerpreps from ETS are two free GRE practice tests you can download right now to get started!

  1. Slow down on Word Problems. Make sure you really understand the concepts underlying the question. One or two words can radically change the meaning. Don’t rush these challenging questions, even if the math seems fairly obvious;you’ll need to spend some time familiarizing yourself with “English-to-Math” translation tables.
  2. Use the calculator judiciously. When you practice for the GRE, avoid using a calculator unless you really need one. Most GRE Quant questions can be solved within 1-3 minutes without one. It’s provided on the GRE and allows for simple calculations, but don’t use it as a crutch. You should only need it for a couple of questions. You’ll save time if you can do simple conversions in your head.
  3. Plan to spend no more than 2 minutes per question. Each Quantitative section has approx. 20 questions and you are given 35 minutes in which to complete them. Some questions you will be able to solve in 1 minute, and some will take 2. If you’ve already spent more than 2 minutes on a question, guess strategically and move on.
  4. Consider all the given info on Quant Comps. Write down any key numbers, variables, or phrases from the Quant Comp question and write them down on your scratch pad. Don’t just scan the screen and start solving – QC questions are slightly different from Problem Solving questions, and often don’t require any math at all to solve! Ask yourself: why am I being given this piece of centered information? Always approach it strategically.
  5. Backsolve when there are numbers in the answer choices. Backsolving is a great strategy to check your work as you go through Problem Solving questions. Go through the answer choices and plug each one into the question, starting with either (B) or (D). You’ll have a 40% chance of finding the correct answer based on your first round of calculations!
  6. Pick Numbers as much as possible. Substituting abstracts like “z” for easy-to-worth-with integers like “2” and “5.” Keep the numbers small and make sure they are allowed by the definitions in the question.
  7. Stick to your methods. The GRE Quantitative section contains questions of various difficulty levels. Remember to be methodical in your approach, and don’t abandon your strategies when you’re faced with more difficult questions. Evaluate the question from ALL angles before deciding whether it seems easier for you to do the math traditionally or use a specific strategy.
  8. For Quant Comps, memorize the answer choices ahead of time. They never change, so become confident with their phrasing so that you don’t waste precious seconds reading and re-reading them. Every little bit of extra time helps!
  9. Analyze tables/graphs thoroughly. For Data Interpretation questions, don’t rush to the problems. Read the titles, labels, units, and note the general trends of the data beforehand. How do the variables interact with one another? What general conclusions can be drawn about the presented information? You’ll know exactly where to find the correct answer if you already full grasp the data.
  10. Always break down complex figures into smaller shapes. Tough Geometry questions like to hide triangles with quadrilaterals, and circles within squares. Look for ways to apply information from one piece of the shape to another. Redraw the figures on your scratch pad if you need to – label everything!

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