GRE Premier 2017 with 6 Practice Tests


Chapter 9. Introduction to Quantitative Reasoning


The Quantitative Reasoning section of the GRE is designed to place most of its emphasis on your ability to reason quantitatively—to read a math problem, understand what it’s asking, and solve it. The mathematical concepts tested on the GRE are similar to those tested on the SAT. You will see questions related to arithmetic, algebra, geometry, and data interpretation. There is no trigonometry or calculus on the GRE. The emphasis in the Quantitative Reasoning section is on your ability to reason, using your knowledge of the various topics. The goal is to make the test an accurate indicator of your ability to apply given information, think logically, and draw conclusions. These are skills you will need at the graduate level of study.

In this section of the book, we’ll take you through all the types of Quantitative Reasoning questions you’ll see on the GRE and give you the strategies you need to answer them quickly and correctly. Also, all of the mathematical concepts you’ll encounter on the test are included in the “Math Reference” Appendix at the back of this book. Think of the examples there as building blocks for the questions you will see on the test.

Quantitative Reasoning Question Types

The GRE contains two Quantitative Reasoning sections with 20 questions each. Each section will last 35 minutes and be composed of a selection of the following question types:

·        Quantitative Comparison

·        Problem Solving

·        Data Interpretation

The Quantitative Reasoning portion of the GRE draws heavily upon your ability to combine your knowledge of mathematical concepts with your reasoning powers. Specifically, it evaluates your ability to do the following:

·        Compare quantities using reasoning

·        Solve word problems

·        Interpret data presented in charts and graphs

Within each Quantitative Reasoning section on the GRE, you will see an assortment of question types.

Pacing Strategy

As a multi-stage test, the GRE allows you to move freely backward and forward within each section, which can be a big advantage on Test Day. If you get stuck on a particular question, you can mark it and come back to it later when you have time. You only score points for correct answers, so you don’t want to get bogged down on one problem and lose time you could have used to answer several other questions correctly.

You will have 35 minutes to work on each Quantitative Reasoning section. The 20 questions in each section will be an assortment of Quantitative Comparison, Problem Solving, and Data Interpretation items. However, these types are not distributed equally. The chart below shows how many questions you can expect of each question type, as well as the average amount of time you should spend per question type.


Quantitative Comparison

Problem Solving

Data Interpretation

Number of Questions

approx. 7–8

approx. 9–10

approx. 3

Time per Question

1.5 minutes

1.5–2 minutes

2 minutes

Try to keep these time estimates in mind as you prepare for the test. If you use them as you practice, you will be comfortable keeping to the same amounts of time on Test Day. Additionally, you will be prepared to use the Mark and Review buttons to your advantage while taking the actual test.


An onscreen calculator will be available during the GRE. Numbers can be entered either by clicking on the numbers on the calculator with your mouse or by entering numbers from the keyboard. There are several points to consider about using the calculator on Test Day. A calculator can be a time-saver, and time is immensely important on a standardized test. But while calculators can speed up computations, they can also foster dependence, making it hard for you to spot the shortcuts in GRE questions. Using the calculator for a long, involved computation to answer a question will gobble up your allotted time for that question—and perhaps for several more. You may even make a mistake in your computation, leading to an incorrect answer. Remember, this is a reasoning test. The quantitative questions on the GRE are not designed to require lengthy computations.

If that is the case, why is a calculator provided? A calculator can be an asset for the occasional computation that a few questions require. It may prevent an error caused by a freehand calculation. The onscreen calculator provided is a simple four-function calculator. An image of the calculator is provided below, showing the function keys, including the square root key and change-of-sign key.

By not relying on the calculator, you will be free to focus on interpreting numbers and data and using your critical thinking skills. This is the intention of the writers of the test. For example, Problem Solving questions will likely involve more algebra than calculating, and Quantitative Comparison questions will require more reasoning than calculating.

Navigating the Quantitative Reasoning Section of This Book

The chapter immediately following this one concerns Math Foundations and Content Review and will review the classic math concepts and topics that you may encounter on the GRE. This section of the book also includes individual chapters on Quantitative Comparison, Problem Solving, and Data Interpretation questions. Each chapter includes an introduction to the relevant question types and then a review with strategies you can follow to answer those questions quickly and correctly. In addition, you’ll find a practice set of questions with answers and explanations for each of the question types you’ll encounter on the GRE.

Finally, at the end of this section, you’ll find the Quantitative Reasoning Practice Sets, three sets of 20 Quantitative Reasoning questions with answers and explanations. Use the Practice Sets to test your skills and pinpoint areas for more focused study. When you are finished with this section of the book, you should be thoroughly prepared for any question you might encounter on the Quantitative Reasoning section of the GRE.