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GRE Quant Syllabus

Now that we have got an idea over what we expect from the GRE Quants, let’s take a look at the various topics covered in the Quant section, along with the key concepts required to crack them. As we’ve seen, these are usually topics that you’d have learned in your secondary mathematics classes, but in order to grab that elusive 170/170, you not only need to have a perfect command over these concepts, but need to have them on your fingertips to facilitate lightning-fast problem-solving.
For a better understanding of the various topics the Quant section entails, we at GREedge have divided them into six main types. These are: Algebra, Arithmetic, Geometry, Data Interpretation, Data Analysis and Applied Mathematics.
Now, let’s try to briefly understand these six main concepts:
Algebra:

Algebra questions test your ability to simplify linear equations, finding roots, factoring equations, and modelling word problems into mathematical equations, to name a few. A classic example of an algebra question looks something like this:

Sample Question:
Sam is now 14 years older than Pam. If in 10 years Sam will be twice as old as Pam, how old will Sam be in 5 years?
Arithmetic:

Now, this is a total throwback to your 6th and 7th grade math: remember factors and multiples, and prime numbers and number properties? That’s all there is to this concept! Additionally, you will also be tested on exponents, order of operations (remember BODMAS?) and percentages. However, do note that the GRE is notorious for its ability to disguise a simple concept in a seemingly difficult question, so don’t be daunted! Here’s a question you could expect from arithmetic:

Sample Question:
After John gave 110 baseball cards to Steve and 75 to Bill, he still had 315 left. What percent of his cards did John give away?
Geometry:

So, Geometry happens to be one of the areas on the Quant that students find the most challenging. Again, although these are concepts you have already learned before, the GRE loves to make the questions look impossibly difficult. The trick here is to learn the relevant formulae, and keep practicing. Generally, you’ll be tested on proofs, trigonometry, lines, angles, triangles and the Pythagoras theorem, to name a few. Here’s just one type of question you can expect for Geometry:

Sample Question:
Which is greater: the circumference of a circle with an area of 25π in2, or the perimeter of a square with side length 7 inches?
Data interpretation:

Simply put, Data Interpretation is the ability to visualise data and make sense of it. On the GRE, you can expect one DI question per section, with one information source and 3 questions that you’ll need to answer based on the data. This could be in the form of a chart, table or graph.
Data analysis:

This section deals with tools of data analysis, such as mean, median, mode, quartiles, range, deviations, permutations and combinations. More than just rote-learning formulae, in order to ace this section, steady, regular practice is key. Here’s a classic DA question for you:

Sample Question:
A list is composed of five positive integers: 4, 4, x, 7, y. What is the range of the possible values of the medians?
Applied mathematics:

Put simply, Applied Math is that which helps solve a real-life problem. Take a look at this question, for example:

Sample Question:
Working alone, pump A can empty a pool in 3 hours. Working alone, pump B can empty the same pool in 2 hours. Working together, how many minutes will it take pump A and pump B to empty the pool?


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Topic-wise breakdown of questions

What are the GRE’s favourite topics? In other words, what are the topics that appear most frequently? At GREedge, we sifted through more than 6000 questions, and here’s what we found out:

GRE Quant Topicwise Breakdown

Types of Quant questions

What about the kind of questions you could expect from the Quant section? Here are the broad types:

1. Quantitative comparison: in this type of question, you will be required to compare two quantities—quantity A and quantity B—and then figure out which of the four answers best describes the comparison. Here’s an example of Quantitative Comparison, along with the four choices:
Quantity A - x2 + 1
Quantity B - 2x2 - 1

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.
Answer: D. The relationship cannot be determined from the information given
(HINT: Replace 'x' by 0,1 and 2 and evaluate the values of A and B in all 3 cases)

2. Numerical entry: Numeric entry questions account for approximately 10% of the GRE quantitative reasoning section, and require you to solve a problem and enter your answer in the space provided. For example:
One pen costs $0.25 and one marker costs $0.35. At those prices, what is the total cost of 18 pens and 100 markers?
Answer: $39.50

3. Multiple choice with a single selection: These are the classic MCQ questions where you will only be asked to pick one correct answer from a list of five. Take a look:
If 5x + 32 = 4 - 2x, what is the value of x?
A. -4
B. -3
C. 4
D. 7
E. 12

Answer: A. -4

4. Multiple choice with multiple selections: Here, you will be asked to select one or more answers from the list of answers given. Be sure to solve the entire question, since partial credit is not given. For instance:
Which of the following integers are multiples of both 2 and 3? Indicate all such integers.
A. 8
B. 9
C. 12
D. 18
E. 21
F. 36
Answers: C (12), D (18) and F (36)

No matter which topics the questions are culled from, you can be assured that they will fall under either one of these question types.
We hope you found this information helpful and eye-opening, and wish you all the best on your graduate school journey!

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