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:
Number of Questions
Percent of Section
1. Problem Solving (PS)
2. Quantitative Comparisons (QC)
3. Data Interpretation (DI)
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
- 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
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