Unless you’re a math major, chances are that when you start preparing for the GRE, it’s been a while since you took a math class. Your algebra skills, once sharp and shiny, are rusty. Formulas you once knew are getting mixed up and mixed around. Your times tables have been tabled indefinitely. If you are to regain your mathematical form, you must begin by surveying the range of content to be (re)learned.
Thankfully, the GRE quantitative sections are built entirely from concepts and topics that you probably learned in high school at some point, even if your exposure to them was brief. Very few, if any, of the concepts will be completely new.
Below is a categorized list of topics you should expect to encounter. Think of this as the table of contents to a rather thorough GRE math syllabus.
GRE Math Topics
Basic operations/order of operations
Exponents and radicals/powers and roots
Units digit cycles
Fractions, decimals, percents, ratios
Even and odd properties
Least Common Multiple (LCM) and Greatest Common Factor (GCF)
Prime numbers/prime factors/prime factorization
Arithmetic series properties
Linear (first-degree) equations
Quadratic (second-degree) equations
Foiling and factoring quadratics
Sequences and series
Combinatorics (combinations and permutations)
Percentage change and profit/loss
Polygons and sum of interior angles: 180(n – 2)
Quadrilateral types (parallelogram, trapezoid, rectangle, square) and area formulas
Triangles types (equilateral, isosceles, scalene, right) and area formulas
Special right triangles and Pythagorean triples
Circles and formulas for area and circumference
Arcs and sectors
Area and perimeter
Volume and surface area
Similarity and congruence
Angles at intersections of lines
X and Y intercepts
Line equations and slope-intercept form (y = mx + b)
Graphs of functions
Midpoint and distance between points
Mean, median, and mode
Quartiles and interquartile range
You can use this list as a starting point to gauge how much learning (and relearning) you’ll have to do on the quantitative side of your GRE preparation. If any of these topics are only half-remembered or only vaguely familiar, you’ll have to do a fair bit of studying. If you are still well-versed in the majority of these topics, you may have a good head start on GRE quant. But note that this is simply a list of topics, not an exhaustive list of terms and formulas you must know.
A cheat sheet of formulas – without accompanying explanations – is actually less helpful than you might think, and the explanations of all the formulas you should know for GRE quant are too lengthy for these articles. We provide you with a handy glossary of terms to know as you begin your preparation for the GRE quantitative sections.
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Contributor: Elijah Mize (Apex GRE Instructor)