GRE For High Scorers, Part 2: The Key to Quantitative Reasoning
My Most Important GRE Math Tip
Hopefully you love math, too. After all, it helps us not be wrong. As you know, the GRE will test your knowledge of a ton of different concepts from arithmetic, algebra, geometry, and statistics. But as a high scorer, you probably either know or have confidence in your ability to re-learn those things. Are there any broader insights about the GRE's Quantitative Reasoning section that you should know?
Here's the first key: The section is called Quantitative Reasoning for a reason. Many questions are designed so that if you notice something, you'll see an easier way to solve them. Here's an example from the Quantitative Reasoning Practice Book.
Notice that you don't have to figure out the side length of the square; you can logically conclude that its side length is smaller than that of the triangle.
This leads me to my second, but related, key to GRE math. Keep working with a problem until you've:
- Determined whether there is anything to notice that can make the problem easier to handle
- Figured out the most efficient way to do it
This process will perhaps entail working through a problem multiple times. But in doing so, you'll not only be learning about the test but also making it more likely that you'll be able to apply something from the problem to a future problem. Since the GRE is standardized, it's likely that you'll be able to find a takeaway from many problems that will be useful in the future.
Here's an example of a problem from one of the PowerPrep 2 tests for which reasoning comes in handy.
Noticing that you can rewrite things to make them look like other things is a great takeaway for future problems, especially those involving exponents and roots.
Bonus: in ETS's Quantitative Reasoning Practice Book, there are more than a dozen methods described in the beginning, and in the explanation for many questions, the applicable methods are listed. This is kind of a new one for ETS, but it's actually really helpful in many cases.
Ok! Stay tuned for my next GRE for High Scorers post, GRE people.
p.s. if you didn't get the picture at the top of this post, the square root of negative 1 is i. Haaaaa ha ha. Math humor.