GRE Quantitative Reasoning - Approach

Quantitative Reasoning comprises two of the four scored sections of the GRE, with a possible third unscored experimental or research section. In 2013, non-US test takers out-performed US test takers on the Quantitative Reasoning section. Students who are studying for the GRE should prepare for the Quantitative Reasoning section by reviewing the mathematical concepts that will be covered and by completing many practice problems. Practice tests can serve as a way to identify concepts that you may not understand or skills that you may lack. Manhattan Review tutors work with our students to identify weaknesses quickly so that study time can be spent efficiently, strengthening the skills that will be most effective towards earning a top score. Once you have studied the content, however, it is important to practice extensively to become an expert at the skills you will use on test day.

Quantitative Problem Solving Approach

First, it is important to read the problem carefully and ensure that you understand the information and what you are required to solve. Information may be given in words, mathematical expressions, or a combination of both. Quantitative information may come in the form of data presentations, coordinate systems, geometric figures, formulas, conditions, or definitions. In addition to understanding the problem, finding the correct answer requires understanding what needs to be accomplished in order to solve the problem.

Solving the problem requires strategically choosing and using mathematical facts and information. A variety of strategies are available to help solve problems, and many problems can be solved using more than one strategy. You should develop a set of problem solving strategies, and an understanding of what strategies are likely to be useful for various types of problems. Problem solving without a strategy is likely to result in a lot of work without a solution.

Once you have a solution, be sure to check your answer to ensure that it is reasonable and correct. Evaluate whether you have answered the appropriate question, check that the strategy you used was correct (and maybe use an alternate strategy to check your work, if convenient), and make sure that you did not make any computational errors.

ETS Problem Solving Strategies

ETS lists fourteen strategies to help solve Quantitative Reasoning problems. 

  1. Translate from words to an arithmatic or algebraic representation;
  2. Translate from words to a figure or diagram;
  3. Translate from an algebraic to a graphical representation;
  4. Translate from a figure to an arithmetic or algebraic representation;
  5. Simplify an arithmetic or algebraic representation;
  6. Add information to a geometric figure;
  7. Find a pattern;
  8. Search for a mathematical relationship;
  9. Estimate;
  10. Trial and error;
  11. Divide into cases;
  12. Adapt solutions to related problems;
  13. Determine whether a conclusion follows from the information given;
  14. Determine what additional information is sufficient to solve a problem.

Details for all of these strategies can be found on the ETS website. Manhattan Review offers a suite of preparation materials to help students studying for the GRE quantitative reasoning sections. These books include GRE Math Essentials, GRE Number Properties, GRE Arithmatics, GRE Algebra, GRE Geometry, GRE Word Problems, GRE Combinatorics & Probability, and GRE Statistics & Data Interpretation. Taking a practice test or working with an instructor may help you evaluate your strengths and weaknesses and determine what preparation materials would be most useful for you.