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All You Wanted to Know About GRE Quant

Posted on October 19, 2017

Are you looking for techniques and material to crack the GRE with a 160+ GRE Quant score?


Are looking for a no-nonsense approach to get your dream GRE Quant score?


Are you getting overwhelmed with all the advice and looking for simple GRE Quant strategies?


If your answer was a “yes” to any of the above questions, you have come to the right page!


In this article, we will look into the GRE Quant questions and syllabus in detail.


First, let’s understand what GRE Quant is all about.


Many students misunderstand the term and think that “Quant” is synonymous with “Math”.

Mathematics is different from Quantitative analysis. Educational Testing Service (ETS), which administers the GRE exam, could have easily called it “mathematical assessment” but didn’t, and there is a reason for that.


What is the difference between ‘math’ and ‘quant’?


Mathematics includes derivations, theorems, construction, mensuration, etc.

Quantitative Reasoning has more to do with reasoning than actual mathematics. It has very little to do with derivations and high level formulae. If that’s been worrying you, rest assured. Even if you have not done well in Math in your school and college, you can do well in GRE Quant.


Having said that, there are some basic mathematical concepts you need to know to fare well in the GRE, and in this article, we will look at what they are.



Understanding the GRE Score



The Quant section of the GRE forms an integral part of a student’s score. Similar to the Verbal section, the maximum score for the Quant section too is 170, out of the GRE 340 score.


The fact is, a score of 165 in GRE Quant falls only in the 89th percentile, which means that more than 11% of the students score more than 165.
Considering that the difference between 165 and 170 – the maximum possible score, is just 5 points, the fact that 165 falls on the 89th percentile makes GRE Quant much more competitive, when compared to GRE Verbal.

Percentage of Test Takers Scoring lower than Selected Scaled Scores




Topics Covered in the GRE



GRE Quant is made up of four major buckets:

   • Arithmetic

   • Algebra

   • Geometry

   • Data Interpretation


The GRE Quantitative Reasoning section tests your ability to interpret given data correctly rather than just your knowledge of formulae and concepts. Out of the four topics, Arithmetic is what is going to be tested pre-dominantly, accounting for approximately 40 to 50 percent of your questions. Arithmetic tests your skills in numbers, ratios, percentages and exponents, etc.


Hence, you should be very good at your basics, which you would have typically studied up to the Eighth or Ninth grade.


   • For information about Arithmetic questions in GRE Quant, see All You Wanted to Know About GRE Quant Arithmetic

   • For information about Algebra questions in GRE Quant, see  All You Wanted to Know About GRE Quant Algebra

   • For information about Geometry questions in GRE Quant, see  All You Wanted to Know About GRE Quant Geometry

   • For information about Data Interpretation questions in GRE Quant, see All You Wanted to Know About GRE Quant Data Interpretation


Question Types


The GRE Quantitative Reasoning section consists of the following question types:

   • Quantity Comparisons

   • Multiple choice questions (MCQ) with single answer

   • Multiple choice questions (MCQ) with more than one answer

   • Numerical entry question



I) Quantity Comparisons


Sample Question


X > 0

Quantity A                                                                           Quantity B

X                                                                                                                 |X|


You will be provided with four default answer choices for any Quantity comparison question:


   1. Quantity A is greater

   2. Quantity B is greater

   3. Both the Quantities are equal

   4. The relationship cannot be determined with the given information.




Understanding the Quantity comparison answer choices is very important.


In the first answer choice when they say “Quantity A is greater”, they mean that “Quantity A is always greater”, that is, for any given value, according to the condition of the question, Quantity A is always greater.


Likewise, the second and third option, “Quantity B is always greater” and “Both the quantities are always equal”.


The last answer choice, “The relationship cannot be determined”, indicates that you cannot really say which quantity is greater, or whether they are equal, because it keeps changing for different values.


The answer for the question is C (Both are equal), because given that X is positive, both the quantities will be equal for any value greater than zero.



II) Multiple choice questions (MCQ) with single answer


In this type of question, a statement is given, followed by five answer options. You have to choose the right answer to the question.


Sample Question


If x and y are real numbers, what is the value of x, given that:  x + y = 3, and x + 2y = 6?

      1. -3

      2. -1

      3. 0

      4. 3

      5. Cannot be determined




This a typical school math question. Two equations with two variables, x and y

x + y = 3………………. (1)

x + 2y = 6………….…. (2)

Multiply equation (1) by 2

2x + 2y = 6………………. (1)

x + 2y = 6…………. (2)

Subtracting both the equations, we get x=0

The beauty of the GRE lies in the fact that it is not necessary to always solve a quant question mathematically. You can use different techniques to get to an answer.

This equation can also solved by substituting the answer choices back into the equation and checking whether it gives the same “y” value.

You might feel that this a long method to solve this question. However, for some questions in the GRE, that is the way to go.



III) Multiple choice questions (MCQ) with more than one answer


This is similar to MCQ question type, with a few changes:

    • You will be provided with three or more answer choices.

   • Most of the times, the question expects you to select more than one answer choice, or sometimes, it could be more specific, prompting you to select two answers from the given answer options.

   • Answer choices are provided with check boxes, and students need to select all the answer choices that apply to the question.

   • You won’t be provided any partial credit if you have selected one of the answer choices correctly, or if you selected only one correct answer. You have to choose all the options that apply to the question, correctly.


Sample Question


If w is a non-positive integer, which of the following must be positive? Indicate all possible values.

   1. −3w

   2. 2w + 10

   3. w^4

   4. w^0

   5. −w + 0.5




Non-positive integer means negative or zero.

So, if we substitute w= -5, answer choice ‘B’ is eliminated.

And, if we substitute w= 0, answer choices ‘A and C’ are eliminated.

Therefore, the correct answer choices are D and E.



IV) Numerical entry question


This type of question is not very frequent in the GRE. It comprises less than 20% of the entire test. Questions of this type ask you either to enter your answer as an integer or a decimal in a single answer box, or to enter it as a fraction in two separate boxes, one for the numerator, and one for the denominator. In the computer-based test, use the computer mouse and keyboard to enter your answer.


To enter an integer or a decimal, either type the number in the answer box using the keyboard, or use the Transfer Display button on the calculator.


   • First, click on the answer box. A cursor will appear in the box. Type the number.

   • To erase a number, use the <Backspace> key.

   • For a negative sign, type a hyphen. For a decimal point, type a period.

   • To remove a negative sign, type the hyphen again and it will disappear; the number will remain.

   • The Transfer Display button on the calculator will transfer the calculator display to the answer box.

   • Equivalent forms of the correct answer, such as 2.5 and 2.50, are all correct.

   • Enter the exact answer unless the question instructs you to round off your answer.


To enter a fraction, type the numerator and the denominator in the respective boxes, using the keyboard.


   • For a negative sign, type a hyphen; to remove it, type the hyphen again. A decimal point cannot be used in a fraction.

   • The Transfer Display button on the calculator cannot be used for a fraction.

   • Fractions do not need to be reduced to lowest terms, though you may need to reduce your fraction to fit in the boxes.


Sample Question


A dress that is originally sold for $150 is now selling for $120. What is the percent decrease in the cost of the dress that is originally sold?




The original price is $150.

The new price is $120. The difference is $30.

Hence, the percent decrease is, (30/150)*100 = 20%


Almost 70% to 80% of the questions would be of the first two types.

The first six or seven questions in every Quant section would be of the Quantity Comparison question type.


What else do you need to know about GRE Quant?


   • There are a minimum of 40 questions (a maximum of 60 questions if you get the experimental section as Quant). Each section is made up of 20 questions, with a time limit of 35 minutes.

   • The syllabus covers portions that were taught until high school; NO advanced topics such as Binomial theorem are asked.

   • Within the broad buckets of Arithmetic, Algebra, Data Interpretation and Geometry, many topics such as Arithmetic, Geometric and Harmonic progressions, trigonometry, etc. are excluded.

   • You can mark and move any question within a section. You will be provided with a Mark and Review button, which you can use to review questions you mark.

   • There is an online calculator provided for GRE Quant. Students are not allowed to take any calculating devices such as calculators or phones.


We hope you found this blog useful.


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If you have any questions about the GRE Quant section, go ahead and let us know in the Comments section.


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