SORTING IT ALL OUT
Some people find the GRE Math section to be an unmanageable mess because
they have trouble keeping its many components straight. Algebra,
triangles, data interpretation, Pythagorean theorem, factoring,
geometry . . . the list of things to know seems to go on and on.
Breaking down the components of the Math section into categories will help you
wrap your mind around your task. So the first thing we’ll do is sort out all
this math terminology to give you a better understanding of what you need to do
to raise your score.
The Math section can be broken down into three major elements: question
types, math concepts, and subject areas. We’ll introduce each one and tell you
where we’ll be discussing them.
- Question Types. Each GRE math question comes in one of
three basic varieties: Problem Solving (PS), Quantitative Comparisons (QC),
or Data Interpretation (DI). These represent how the test makers test your
math knowledge; that is, the formats that the questions take. We briefly
introduced you to these question types in the introduction. We discuss them
further in the next section of this chapter, and then revisit each one
individually and in great detail in chapters 3, 4, and 5.
- Math Concepts. Math concepts are the actual math facts
and formulas tested throughout the Math section. The formula for calculating
the probability of an event? The number of degrees in the angles of an
isosceles triangle? The factors of a quadratic equation? These and many
other essential concepts are the things you simply need to know to approach
the math questions on the GRE. We cover them all in the next chapter, Math
- Subject Areas. Many test takers get overwhelmed by the
sheer number of concepts they’re expected to know. And there
are a lot of them, no doubt. These concepts, however, don’t
just fall from outer space—they’re grouped into four main subject areas that
you learned in junior high and high school: arithmetic, algebra, geometry,
and data analysis. We group the essential concepts into these four
categories in the Math 101 chapter to help you to organize your math
knowledge. The order of the chapter is purposeful too, since algebra
requires arithmetic, and geometry and data analysis build on arithmetic and
algebra. The structure of the Math 101 chapter allows you to breeze by the
stuff you know and focus your efforts on the concepts that are most
difficult for you.
Hopefully the information above clarifies your conception of the Math
section as a whole and in doing so begins to allay your anxiety about it. Let’s
continue with an introduction of the question types.