Question Types
Question Types
As mentioned, we treat each question type in depth in chapters 3–5, but it pays to introduce them now so they’ll be lurking in the back of your mind as you make your way through the subject areas and concepts of Math 101. Statistically, your Math section will break down approximately like this:
Question Type Number of Questions Percent of Section
1. Problem Solving (PS) 10 36%
2. Quantitative Comparisons (QC) 14 50%
3. Data Interpretation (DI) 4 14%
Total 28 100%
To confuse matters, the question types are interspersed throughout the section; that is, you won’t see all ten PS questions first, followed by fourteen QCs and then the four DIs. Instead, you may get a PS question to start the section, followed by two QCs, another few PS questions, a bloc of DI, another PS question, and so on until all 28 questions are present and accounted for. The DI questions will appear consecutively, since each question in a DI set relates to a particular chart or graph, but the order of the other questions will be fairly random. Each question type has a unique look, and after working through chapters 3–5 you’ll have no trouble recognizing what kind of question you’re up against.
Here’s a brief glimpse of each question type.
1. Problem Solving
Problem Solving tests your understanding of basic mathematical concepts, including arithmetic, algebra, geometry, and data analysis. The questions appear in standard multiple-choice format: a question, followed by five answer choices. However, unlike those found on traditional paper-and-pencil tests, the choices will not be labeled A through E but rather will each come with a bubble to the left of it for you to click. For the questions we present in this book, we use the bubble format to get you used to what questions will actually look like on a GRE computer screen. For the sake of convenience and clarity, however, we’ll stick to the A through E convention in our explanations, with A corresponding to the first choice, B the second, and so on.
2. Quantitative Comparisons
QC questions present a quantity in Column A and a quantity in Column B and ask you to ascertain the relationship between them. Any concept that we cover in Math 101 could theoretically be the basis of a QC question, but rather than answering a specific question, you’ll need to compare the size of the two quantities presented. QCs have four—not five—answer choices:
  • The quantity in Column A is greater.
  • The quantity in Column B is greater.
  • The two quantities are equal.
  • The relationship cannot be determined from the information given.
As the fourth choice indicates, an important skill tested by this question type is the ability to recognize when not enough information is available to figure out how the two quantities stack up.
3. Data Interpretation
Each DI question set contains one or two graphs or charts, followed typically by two questions in standard five-choice, multiple-choice format. You’ll see two of these sets on the Math section, for a total of four DI questions. These are presented in a split-screen layout, with the figure or figures on the left and the questions, presented one at a time, on the right. The two DI questions in each set come up consecutively, since they’re both based on the same information on the left side of the screen. The chart or graph on the left and its accompanying description may not fit entirely on the screen, in which case you’ll need to scroll, much like you will on some Reading Comprehension passages in the Verbal section.
The simplest DI questions merely test whether you understand the information presented and can eyeball relationships suggested by it. Most DI questions, however, also require that you perform some basic mathematical calculations, sometimes involving approximation when calculating a precise value is cumbersome and unnecessary. While all math concepts are fair game in PS and QC questions, due to their nature DI questions tend to favor certain concepts over others. For example, arithmetic concepts like percentages are common, while geometry concepts like lines and angles have no place. In chapter 5, we’ll show you how to interpret the data in various kinds of charts and graphs and answer the questions based on them.
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