Top 10 Most-Tested GRE Math Concepts

To get better GRE scores and get into the best graduate schools, you’ll need a strong understanding of the underlying math concepts: arithmetic, algebra, geometry, and data interpretation as they are testing on the GRE. Even if you’re good at math, a little basic review is a great refresher. Even the best GRE test taker needs a quick review of the concepts tested on the exam.

• 1. Number Properties

The properties of odds and evens, integers, fractions, positives, and negatives will all appear in various questions on your GRE test. This is especially tested on Quantitative Comparisons. Variables can be negative integers, negative fractions, zero, positive fractions, or positive integers – don’t ever make assumptions!

• 2. Plane Geometry

Triangles are the most-tested shape on the GRE. You should know the Pythagorean Theorem, Triangle Inequality Theorem, the special right triangle ratios (45-45-90 and 30-60-90), as well as the properties of isosceles and equilateral triangles. Also review the types of angles, circles, and polygons.  Make sure you know how to find the perimeter, area, and volume of these shapes.

• 3. Word Problems

The GRE Problem Solving questions often contain challenging word problems – you’ll need to know how to “translate” English to Math.

• 4. Rates and Work

The most important need-to-know formulas on the GRE are D = R x T, Distance = Rate x Time, and the concept of Average Speed. Average Speed = Total Distance / Total Time.

• 5. Probability

The probability of an event occurring is the desired outcomes/total possible outcomes. The probability of two events occurring together is the product of the two probabilities. Memorize the combination and permutation formulas. Combination: n! /n-k! k! Permutation: n! / n-k!

• 6. Ratios and Proportions

A ratio is a relationship, such as 3x:y. Given a ratio and one “real world” number, you can always set up a proportion to solve for the other missing “real world” number. Sometimes you will need to do this for similar triangles in Geometry, and sometimes in algebraic word problems.

• 7. Percents

For percent questions on the GRE with unknown starting values, always pick 100. Make sure to review profit and interest concepts and know the formulas for simple and compound interest.

• 8. Data Analysis

The GRE will present you with graphs, tables, or charts and ask specific questions about the data trends. Always identify what is being presented and what the information suggests BEFORE moving onto the questions. Don’t rush through these questions!

• 9. Functions

A function is a simply a different way of writing an equation; we simply replace the “y” with a symbol,“f(x).” The GRE may also present made-up symbol functions; pay attention to any definitions you are given, and expand accordingly.

• 10. Systems of Equations

You will need to be able to solve for a system of equations. Remember the “n equations with n variables” rule. If you have 2 variables, x and y, then you will need 2 equations with those 2 variables to solve for both. Familiarize yourself with Substitution and Combination.

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