GRE Quantitative Reasoning - The Math Section

The revised GRE is divided into three sections: Analytical Writing, Verbal Reasoning, and Quantitative Reasoning.  This post looks at the specifics of the Quantitative Reasoning section.


The GRE Quantitative Reasoning section is designed to measure four specific types of skills related to quantitative, or mathematical, reasoning.  The four skills measured are the following:

Understanding quantitative information
Interpreting and analyzing quantitative information
Solving problems using mathematical models
Applying skills from the basic math subjects (arithmetic, algebra, geometry, probability and statistics)

In addition to measuring these four skills, the Quantitative Reasoning section is designed to emphasize data interpretation and real life scenarios, as these are considered to be the types of thinking skills most relevant to graduate and professional school programs.  It is not designed to emphasize computation and calculation, and when you take the computer based test you have access to an on-screen calculator for assisting with arithmetic.

GRE Question Types

The Quantitative Reasoning section is organized into single questions and sets of questions that accompany a specific set of tables, graphs, or other data displays, which are called Data Interpretation sets.  Each question will be one of four types:

Multiple choice: single answer
Multiple choice: one or more answers
Numeric entry
Quantitative comparison

For multiple choice questions, either a single answer or multiple answers may be specified.  Numeric entry questions will ask you to input a number, and quantitative comparison questions will ask you to compare two quantities and select one of four statements that describes the comparison.

GRE Question Topics

The Quantitative Reasoning section is designed to measure the basic math skills common to all college grads, whether they take advanced math classes or not.  Consequently, the math that appears on the GRE is no more advanced than high school Algebra II, and the notations and conventions used are the standard ones used in high school level math.  Any questions that use non-standard notation will explicitly say so.  In particular, the Quantitative Reasoning section does not contain any questions from trigonometry, calculus, or more advanced subjects.

The topics covered on the Quantitative Reasoning section are shown in the following lists.

GRE Arithmetic

Working with integers (divisibility and factorization, remainders, prime numbers, odd and even)
Arithmetic operations (addition, subtraction, multiplication, division, exponents, radicals)
Other topics (estimation, ratio, percent, rate, decimal representation and series of numbers, absolute value and the number line)

GRE Algebra

Working with exponents
Factoring and simplifying algebraic expressions
Relations (functions, equations, and inequalities)
Solving algebraic expressions
Word problems
Coordinate geometry (slopes and intercepts, graphs of functions)

GRE Geometry

Parallel and perpendicular lines
Triangles (isosceles, equilateral, special right triangles)
Quadrilaterals and other polygons
Congruence and similarity
Area, perimeter, and volume
Pythagorean theorem
Angle measurement (degrees)
Three dimensional figures

GRE Data Analysis

Descriptive statistics (mean, median, mode, range, standard deviation)
Comparative statistics (quartiles and percentiles)
Interpreting graphs (line graphs, bar graphs, circle graphs, boxplots and scatterplots)
Probability (independent and compound events, random variables, probability distributions)
Counting methods (combinations, permutations, Venn diagrams)


Dane Dormio is an online tutor and blogger with an unconventional approach to education.  Visit his tutoring blog at


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