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Difficulty of the Quantative Section

Fresh Brew

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Hello everyone! I have two months to prepare for the GRE, and am nervous because my math skills have never been strong, and I am at a loss for how to adequately prepare for the quant section. Could anyone who has recently taken the exam or who is preparing offer insight into the difficulty of the quant section and what I should emphasize while studying? Prep material suggestions would also be much appreciated. Thanks.

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I'm not inherently terrible at math, but my algebra and geometry knowledge was ridiculously rusty going in to the GRE (I'm an older student who hasn't studied algebra or geometry since 1995, my freshman year of high school!).

My advice:

Go to the bookstore and leaf through Princeton Review's Cracking the GRE. Some of the process of elimination tricks will help you on the math. You definitely want to refamiliarize yourself not only with math concepts but with test-taking shortcuts and tricks as well.

Do the ETS practice tests on Powerprep and in their book. Barron's book called Six Practice Tests is also an accurate representation of GRE quant and verbal; I've heard other Barron's practice test materials are sorely lacking so avoid those.

My test last month included a significant amount of questions (possibly six or more?) about mean/mode/median/range, standard deviation, and basic probability--all easy enough concepts that you can quickly review.

Do some practice graph/chart questions, too. There are usually five or so questions based on those as well.

If you have any sort of math aptitude or recent in-class math experience, I think the GRE quant isn't bad at all. Two months of focused studying and review is plenty of time to do well enough. My score ended up improved but still mediocre since I literally haven't taken any kind of math course in 11 years, and I didn't properly study due to procrastination and other issues, which I will fully admit was stupid.

My main advice is spend a few days conquering concepts and tricks and then practice, practice, practice.

Good luck!

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If you want to do relatively well, and just capture a few key concepts so as to not embarrass yourself, take the advice that midnight streetlight has given. I have heard that Princeton is very good for giving a clear and concise overview of everything, in terms of study tips, tricks, for more obscure concepts. Definitely make sure you digest some key concepts in algebra, geometry, number properties, fractions/decimals/percents, and familiarize yourself with word problems.

Unfortunately, my test last month was everything that I am NOT good at - a lot of geometry and number properties. I wish I had gotten central tendency, probability, variability (I have worked as a stats TA for two years)

I used the Manhattan test prep. It's VERY good if you want to go incredibly in-depth and absolutely nail the GRE. Unfortunately, I did not have the resolve to really power through all of the material and take enough practice tests to apply my knowledge. I should have gone with Princeton and ETS, in hindsight.

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Honestly, it's not hard in terms of the material, which really is barely more advanced than what you see on the ACT/SAT. The difference is you have to be careful about wording and other such trickery. There are a lot of trick-type questions.

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I'd second Bamafan. The GRE math's difficulty isn't so much in the math concepts, but in the unpredictability of the question's presentation. You have to be ready to translate what you read into the concepts quickly, and it really is very tricky.

Manhattan was really helpful for me. Their books helped me get my technique down, and the practice tests (6 for $30) were invaluable because they helped me get used to the complexity and unpredictability of the questions' presentation. The tests also come with helpful problem explanations, and detailed statistical breakdown of your performance. I only used Manhattan stuff for about two weeks before taking the test. I got a 159, and I estimate I would have gotten only about 154 to 156 had I not used Manhattan.

Manhattan's test questions are a little harder than the real GRE; Powerprep's are (ironically) a little easier than the real thing.

Anyway, the key is being able to stay on your toes and identify what's being asked for, and where the trap is. That will take practice.

Good luck.

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