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Hi everyone,

As a math major looking to get into a quantitative-heavy graduate program (engineering/computational finance/statistics/computer science), I am determined to get a [near] perfect quantitative reasoning score on the GRE.  I would be happy with a 165-167 and absolutely thrilled with a 168-170.

My question is: how exactly does one achieve these scores? I am still early in my GRE experience, but it seems to me no matter how much GRE math you know, there is usually at least one or two of the 40 (or 50) questions I have to guess on or stumps me with time. Additionally, there are still questions I get wrong from silly mistakes.

If you or anyone you know has gotten 90+ percentile quant scores, please elaborate on any of the study methods, preparation, or books used. Thank you!

Philip

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I have a 168 quant score on my gre. I think the one question i got off was the one I decided to skip and come back later. I did not end up with enough time so I had to take a guess on the answer. Coming into the GRE, I knew my strength in math already, (as I supposed you are too since you are a math major.) I actually did not spend a lot of time practicing the math other than the mock test. (I used Kaplan and powerprep by ets) The biggest problem i faced was actually not having enough time to finish all the questions, so I focused on improving my speed and I think it paid off in the end. I think what slowed me down is the data interpretation type of questions since there are some small traps like unit conversions. It's easy to miss those when you are aiming for speed. 

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Having seen plenty of people who were very strong in mathematics miss enough questions to prevent them from the scores you want, I have some advice.

1. Use the ETS math review to show you what concepts might be on the test, and the Manhattan 5-lb. book to practice them.

2. Make sure you can do all the ETS questions in the ETS books.

3. Identify the optimal way to do each ETS question and see if you come up with any takeaways that might be helpful for future questions of that type. Write these takeaways down.

4. Cross-train with pre-2016 official SAT practice tests (which were written by ETS). Official GMAT computer tests and guides will also be helpful.

5. Take enough timed tests to get used to the pressure. Learn from your mistakes. Write down tips for next time. Make sure your practice tests include the Powerprep ones.

It may interest you to know you can get questions wrong and still get the scores you want. This might seem obvious, but far too many people do not let themselves skip or sacrifice questions at your score level. The last time I took the GRE, I got a 167. That was one wrong on the 1st math section and two wrong on the second. 

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I got a 170Q with 1 wrong out of 40. I wrote up some tips in the reddit post below. I'd advise you to aim for 165+ though and relax if you don't know one or two early on. Too much pressure to be perfect can be paralyzing. 
 

 

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Thank you all for such detailed answers! I will take into consideration a lot of the tips here. I already feel much more confident from reading all your helpful explanations. 

@cmykrgb  Time is crucial I am definitely going to work on that. Great tips!

@Vince Kotchian GRE Prep I'm going to invest in the Manhattan book, I only have the ETS and Kaplan now. Thanks for your response!

@Ibycus Thanks for sharing your reddit post, that helped a lot!

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I got a 170 on the quantitative section of the GRE. I used Magoosh to prepare. I knew if I bought a book I would have a hard time motivating myself to sitting down and just study it. The videos that explained the topics and the practice tests were super helpful on Magoosh. The score predictor was lower than what I actually received but I would rather do better on the actual test than the other way around! The math questions were definitely harder than the actual exam so I felt like the actual test was a piece of cake and finished each section with minutes to spare. The program does a great job of teaching you how to take the exam along with teaching little tricks and shortcuts. They let you do a week trial so I strongly suggest checking it out. The six month membership seems to be the best option especially since it seems you are preparing early (Good for you!!).

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I'm liberal arts so the math wasn't as big a focus for me, but I did 1 month of intensive studying (about 3-4 hours a day) before taking the test, and got my score on the quantitative section up from low 130's (on the first practice test I took, with no studying) to 155. I also got 169 on the verbal section. I know most people study for at least several months before the test, but this method really worked for me and I'm happy with my scores!

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Also, get a math-specific practice book, look at the table of contents, and focus on the stuff you don't already know. The one I got was Kaplan and it had practice questions for each section (geometry, graphing, fractions, etc.) as well as more comprehensive practice tests at the end. 

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I got 170Q. If you're already fluent in mathematical concepts, then your biggest problem will likely be making stupid mistakes. Of all the practice problems I did, 90% of the questions I missed were because I didn't read carefully or because of some other stupid brain fart.

On rare occasion, you will get a genuinely difficult problem but that's actually quite uncommon. If you do enough practice problems, the vast majority of questions you'll get will look familiar to you. I myself didn't get any super-hard problems when I took the real test.

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