The GRE Math Study Guide
Practicing to Conquer Your Exam

Last Updated On: March 5, 2021

It’s not unusual to hear students complain about math. Numbers arranged into different equations seem frightening, but unfortunately, you do not graduate from mathematics and quantitative reasoning after university.

If you plan to get a Master's degree, you need your necessary math foundations for the GRE quantitative reasoning section, specifically GRE math. Hence we prepared a concise study guide for your GRE prep to facilitate your GRE math review.

GRE Math Test Coverage

Magnifying glass, math problems

The GRE Math test covers mainly Calculus, elementary algebra, and some additional questions. The percentage of each portion differs every year, but generally, the test is 50% calculus, 25% algebra, and 25% other topics (e.g., data interpretation).

It has 66 multiple choice questions under the GRE quantitative reasoning section. The calculus questions cover integrals and differentials, including using these concepts in another mathematical field.

Elementary algebra questions are about word problems using algebraic techniques learned from high school (e.g., linear algebra, abstract algebra, number theory).

Also covered are high school numeric entry questions like series and sequences, discrete mathematics like logic and set theory, and a section on geometry problem solving, probability & statistics, and data analysis. [1]

3 Steps to Follow When Studying GRE Math

1. Take a practice test.

The first step is answering a practice test with answer choices to save time by working on those you do not know yet. You need to know your weaknesses first by computing your score through a screen calculator so you can plan your improvement.

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2. Know the basics.

After knowing which skill-level your score is, you have to get your essential topics cemented. You cannot expect yourself to immediately conquer the GRE-level menu without first mastering the basic techniques behind each one.

Make sure that you already have a good mastery of the foundations before moving forward. That way, you will not be going around in circles in your preparations. For additional resources feel free to check out our guide to the hardest GRE math questions.

3. Draft a study schedule

You can then draft a schedule that will help tackle the rest of the GRE math coverage portions. Having a plan to follow helps you not get side-tracked when you are trying to improve your score.

Remember to dedicate a small piece of your day to practice solving actual problems rather than reading textbooks. The key to excelling is through practice, so get your paper and pen and start answering free practice tests.

How Long Should You Study

Woman writing outdoors

You should generally do your GRE practice for at least three to four months before test day to get good GRE scores.

And you cannot dedicate just the weekends to studying; you have to set aside some time every day to answer questions.

Your GRE study test prep also has to cover the two other portions (analytical writing and verbal reasoning) to make it an inclusive study plan.

In particular, the GRE quantitative reasoning, especially your GRE math review, demands everyday practice questions to break down higher-level problems you might encounter in the exam.

It takes a lot of dedication to ace quantitative comparison, but it is also perhaps the surest subtest you can improve as the subject scores depend on how much you have practiced rather than on inherent skills (unlike the essay portion).

Satisfaction lies in the effort, not in the attainment.


- Mahatma Gandhi, Indian lawyer, anti-colonial nationalist, and political ethicist

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What Resources Are Needed

Although you are the one to decide which materials you need to study for an examination, we give you a comprehensive list of things that had helped our team personally when we took our GRE.

  • Review class from a reputable prep center that gives you access to answer choices and guide lectures. You can also take a guide book. Whichever course you choose, remember to be on the lookout for data resources that help in every question you need for the exam.
  • Study space where you can do all your studying, separate from the rest of the household because you need to set your boundaries.
  • Take multiple choice practice questions in free practice tests from the Educational Testing Service (ETS) for your every day one answer questions. Practicing hard is essential in your math review, but you will not be ready for the GRE math menu if you stick to undergraduate math problems. Instead, work towards answering higher-level questions to prepare yourself better for the graduate exam.
  • Study buddies/ guides who can help if you have a question you might not understand. Answering GRE math practice questions can be downright intimidating and confusing, but if you have people to walk with you, it can be better. You may set aside a weekly study session with two friends or classmates who are also preparing for the GRE.
  • Formula sheet that you can use as a summary for the essential formulas you have to be familiar with for the exam.

GRE Math Studying Tips

Reading notebooks

Now that you are ready to start studying, we present some simple tips you can subscribe to so your review can be smart rather than hard.

  • Practice, practice, and more practice as math is really about harnessing your foundations and combining them when tackling an advanced question.
  • Finish answering all your reviewers, and make sure to note the techniques and formulas used to answer each question. Then, if you still have enough time, answer them again to drill the skills better.
  • Do not be afraid to ask for clarification. Always seek a math instructor’s guidance so you can be sure about the technique you are learning.
  • Have confidence in yourself even when there is a question you cannot answer. It's okay to feel dejected, but do not wallow in self-pity and instead use the lack of skill as motivation to improve.

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Final Thoughts

The GRE Math subtest is perhaps one of the most dreaded parts of the graduate exams. After all, many have negative feelings about the subject. But, there is a way to secure breezing through those 66 math questions. The key is in preparing well and not getting intimidated by the reputation that the subtest has.

Remember, Math is all about how much you practice. You can work your way through any problem if you prepare enough. So get that pen and paper and start solving to develop your inner math whiz and pass the GRE with good math scores.


  1. https://www.ets.org/gre/subject/about/content/mathematics/#:~:text=Mathematics%20Test&text=About%2025%20percent%20of%20the,by%20undergraduates%20in%20many%20institutions.

About the author

Jordan Coleman

Jordan Coleman

Jordan is a teacher who is in love with English literature and quality content. He uses his teaching experience to help both his own students and others around the world to improve their knowledge and self-confidence.

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