Everything You Need to Know About GRE Quantitative Reasoning Section

By Sakchi Khandelwal Updated On - Feb 24, 2022 01:06 AM

The GRE Quantitative Reasoning section helps to assess candidates' basic understanding of math concepts along with the ability to reason quantitatively. This section also focuses on problem-solving skills. So, if you are amongst the one who is preparing for GRE Quantitative Reasoning test, then surely this article is for you.

The Quantitative Reasoning section of GRE has been designed to test the candidate's mathematical skills in four major topics - arithmetic, algebra, geometry, and data analysis. Some of the quantitative reasoning questions are also based on real-life situations. Almost all of them are word problems that need to be translated and modelled mathematically. 

Types of Questions in GRE Quantitative Reasoning Section

As earlier mentioned, the question types in the quantitative reasoning section are based on mathematical topics. The skills, abilities and concepts are judged based on some specific areas. Students or candidates who are sitting for the Quantitative Reasoning section are required to pay full attention to the different types of questions to remain mentally fueled so that they know how to answer such questions efficiently. 

Basically, the GRE Quantitative Reasoning has four types of questions - quantitative comparison, MCQ (one answer), MCQ (multiple answers) and numeric entry questions. The tests also contain algebra, geometry, arithmetic and data analysis. These are at a level i.e not higher than the second course in algebra and does not include any higher level of mathematics like trigonometry or calculus.

Quantitative Comparison

The quantitative comparison can be based on real-life settings or purely mathematical or might be written as word problems which the students must be able to solve and interpret mathematically. The section assesses a combination of basic math skills that includes understanding basic math concepts, elementary maths, problem-solving skills, ability to reason quantitatively, etc. 

This section has four possible answers: Quantity A is greater, quantity B is greater, both the quantities are equal or their relationship cannot be determined. The questions are critical enough so it is highly suggested to practise sample problems as much as possible. 

Multiple Choice

Multiple-choice questions have five options out of which the student is required to pick one correct answer. Another MCQ with multiple answers requires more than two correct answers as per the question. The question may not specify sometimes on how many answers to select.

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Numeric Entry

This type of question asks for answers as integers or decimals in a single or two boxes for a fraction (one for numerator and the other one for denominator). This is a computer-based test and hence the students are required to use only a mouse and keyboard.


The topics under the algebra portion include operations with exponents, factoring and simplifying algebraic expressions, relations, functions, equations and inequalities, solving linear and quadratic equations and inequalities, solving simultaneous equations and inequalities, setting up equations to solve word problems, and coordinate geometry, including graphs of functions, equations and inequalities, intercepts and slopes of lines, etc. 


In geometry, there are a few topics that gets covered - parallel and perpendicular lines, circles, triangles — including isosceles, equilateral and 30°-60°-90° triangles — quadrilaterals, other polygons, congruent and similar figures.  Other than those, three-dimensional figures, area, perimeter, volume, the Pythagorean theorem and angle measurement in degrees are also included in the syllabus.

Data analysis

In data analysis, there are various topics that are in the syllabus of GRE Quantitative Reasoning section - basic descriptive statistics, like mean, median, mode. The syllabus also includes range, standard deviation, interquartile range, quartiles and percentiles. Interpretation of data in tables and graphs - line graphs, bar graphs, circle graphs, box plots, scatter plots and frequency distributions. Elementary probability - probabilities of compound events and independent events, conditional probability, random variables and probability distributions, etc.

Structure of GRE Quantitative Reasoning Section

The test structure of the GRE Quantitative Reasoning section is simple. The paper under this section contains 20 questions which need to be completed in 35 minutes. Each of the sections are composed of at least eight quantitative comparisons, nine problem-solving questions, and three data interpretation questions. 

The test calculates the score based on test sections, adjusting the difficulty of the second Quantitative Reasoning section. It also depends on the student's performance in their first section. Candidates who have performed excellently in their first section will "level up" their test, to get more difficult questions in their second section. 

However, the section is somewhat different from the GMAT (graduate management admission test), which aims to test the difficulty level after every question. The main lookout of this difference to candidates is that while taking the GRE Quantitative Reasoning section they can review their answers, and can even mark difficult questions to make it easier further after completing the rest of the section.

Also Read:

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Tips to Prepare for GRE Quantitative Reasoning Section

To prepare for this important section, follow accordingly by reading these tips to master the GRE Quantitative Reasoning section:

Begin doing practice problems

Based on your review of GRE math concepts and your way of learning strategies, begin doing practise problems. Do keep in mind to stick to your time limits and always remember that you can learn from both your correct and incorrect answers. Try to practise different question formats. 

Redo questions you get incorrect

Make a habit to resolve questions that are getting wrong so that during the final exam you can avoid making the error. 

Get used to the on-screen calculator

Since the GRE gives you an on-screen calculator instead of a physical calculator, become familiar with the functions of the GRE calculator and how and when to use it. 

Pace yourself

Try to remain focused and act quickly in a way that you do not run out of time. Approximately, you will have one minute and 45 seconds per question. 

Skip difficult sections for a while

Doing this will keep you on pace. Focus on other strategies as well if possible when returning to more difficult questions.

After reviewing the questions you are served with, try to cover the basic math concepts, and use the strategies to solve the practice problems. Do not get anxious, take a deep breath as you are on your way to achieving your target GRE score.

Problem-Solving Strategies for GRE Quantitative Reasoning Section

Check out these fourteen strategies to help solve Quantitative Reasoning problems: 

  • Translate words to arithmetic or algebraic representation

  • Translate words to a figure or diagram

  • Translate algebra to a graphical representation

  • Translate from a figure to arithmetic or algebraic representation

  • Simplify arithmetic or algebraic representation

  • Add information to a geometric figure

  • Find a pattern

  • Search for a mathematical relationship

  • Estimate

  • Trial and error

  • Divide into cases

  • Try to adapt solutions to related problems

  • Be determined whether a conclusion follows from the information provided

  • Stay determined what additional information is sufficient to solve a question or problem

Always remember that sitting for a practice test or working with a tutor or instructor may help you evaluate your strengths and weaknesses and keep in mind what preparation materials would be most useful for you.

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