Regardless of the discipline, every GRE test takers always aim to crack the GRE quant section. If anyone have a look at the GRE quantitative question set, the first impression would come to one’s mind is that s/he can easily crack it with a few months of practice. Not a big deal! Yes, we all have that initial feeling at the very beginning. Perhaps, you have just solved couple of math questions from a random book within 10-15 minutes, and you are thinking that with proper practice you can do everything in the designated time frame. As a test taker you should always aim for high, but the question what it takes to score 170 in GRE quant?
Cracking GRE quant:
The GRE math problems are not designed in hard way, they are designed in a trickier way. Basic concept knowledge and practice alone is not enough to crack this section. ETS designs the math problems with a lot of cognitive traps, and you will fall for them easily if you do not know them. That’s actually makes the GRE hard. This is even true for the verbal section as well.
A lot of math problems in GRE quant is designed in such a way that solving them using traditional methods will require more time. There are a lot of shortcuts available for solving such type of problems. You need to master them well so that you can finish answering all the questions before timeout.
How easy to score 170 in GRE quant?
According to the data of 2020-21, published by ETS, getting 160 in quant puts you in the 70th percentile and 165 will bring you at 84th percentile. The perfect score will put you at 96th percentile, and only a very few test takers belong to that range. Though it seems easy to improve your raw score, but in real it actually gets difficult. There is a huge difference between a test taker who is scoring 160 and the one who cracked the test at 165+.
The average GRE quant score is not that high, it is just 154. This tells that a huge number of test takers struggles to get a good score in the quant section even though they have completed a 4 years degree. Do you think it is hard? Or is there anything that you have not studied? Well, the basic concepts of the GRE quant is equivalent to high school math. But the actual issue hinders the chance of getting high scores lies elsewhere.
Once Socrates said “To know Thyself is the beginning of wisdom”. And knowing both of your capabilities and limitations is the only way to get a good score in any standardized test. For example, you might have a very good foundations over the required mathematical concepts, but you are very poor at time management. Some of you can clearly think, but often end up with doing minor mistakes. May be you are good at math, but you find it difficult to read and understand any verbose questions. Some of you might have the tendency to rush to any problem that you see which often lead you to wrong thinking. Plenty of reasons out there that can influence bombing the test.
Start working on basics:
Regardless how good at math you are, you should always start revisiting your basics. To clarify the fundamental concepts, you can watch the videos from Khan Academy. Those are actually good. If you do not feel it to review, then at least start compiling notes. Your brain is fatigued very easily when you force it to re-learn the things that it knows already very well. So to avoid that just start making notes.
Also work on making a cheat sheet that compiles all the formula or short cut techniques. Please do them while you practicing, but arrange them as per the topics. You might give them a reference number and when you are solving a particular problem you can refer to them as well. Later, you can revisit them to see whether you can discover any alternate or fastest route to solve the same problems. Seems a lot of task, but trust me it will help you down the road.
Focus on quality over quantity:
The most rookie mistake that any test takers do is that they think solving e.g. 2000 questions, would make them ready to score 170 in GRE quant. Yes, it is good to solve as many as questions as possible, but without working on your basics or revisiting your errors will not help you much. The GRE quant section comes with both easy math and hard questions. First, you need to identify which type of questions you are really good at. List those first. Now focus on your weakness. For every single mistake you did, carefully review why you made those mistakes. Is it because you did not understand the underlying concepts? Did you misread the questions? Or you made silly mistakes? Did it take long time than expected to solve it? Ask yourself such questions. Then keep a record of your mistakes in an excel sheet according to the topics. This is called root cause analysis and you need to do it. Finding the root cause of your mistakes is very critical to get a good score. Because if you do not do so, you will just end up repeating the same mistakes and never improve.
Avoid common mistakes:
There are some common mistakes that you can easily get rid of that will help to boost your scores by 2-3. First, work on your mental math, and hand calculation. Often students do silly mistakes while doing calculation. Though now a days ETS provides an on screen calculator, but in 99% cases you will not need it. That’s actually a trap. If you feel that for certain problem only using calculator is the right way to do, then you are wrong. Using calculator will just kill your time. Remember, GRE math problems are designed to evaluate your critical reasoning skills, not to evaluate your ability to do complex calculations. If you are seeing there lies a complex calculation, then you are not actually seeing the problem in the right way.
Also, learn to read the questions properly. For there is any geometrical figure, diagram or chart then properly read them. Do not assume anything. For example, if you see a rectangle and there is not enough information whether it’s 4 sides are perpendicular to each other, then do not assume it to be a rectangle or square. Same for data interpretation questions also. Pay close attention to the details of such questions and write down everything that is asked. This will help you understand how to approach these questions.
Learn short cuts:
For every GRE math problem, there are two approaches to solve: (i) traditional method, will require long time and (ii) short cut method. If you are good at critical reasoning, then even you can solve a problem by just eliminating answer choices. This is trick is well known as process of elimination. Learn to identify patterns or read between the words, most of the time the clue is there. We just do not see it. Mastering this process of elimination will definitely help you to crack GRE quant.
Practice from the right source of materials:
You always should practice from official test materials. But the problem is ETS provides very limited sources of official test materials. That’s why people often resort to third party sources. As test prep industry is a multi billion dollar business, a lot of third party sources claim that they have ETS competitive materials. Not everyone is right for the claim. ETS have a separate R&D for the material development, and it takes millions of dollars to run that division. The third party source that is claiming that they have ETS standard math questions, perhaps just hired a bunch of math graduate and asked them to make questions for them. Here, in this article we have recommended some third party sources.
Do i actually need to score 170 in GRE quant?
Well you do not. If you are getting GRE score above 85th percentile, you should be good. Yes, for some top schools cracking the perfect GRE score in quant, will put you a miles ahead. However, a new debate has to come to the scene on the correlation of your GRE score with your success as a graduate student. Our suggestion is that when you prepare for such kind of tests, you should always aim for the high rather targeting for the minimum. The more you will be ready, the less mistakes you will do in the actual exam. Yet, despite of having a good preparation some test takers bomb the test because of the apprehension of the exam. That’s a different story, and if you have such kind of issue then you need to work on your mental strength as well.
To summarize, in this article we neither focused on quant sources nor laid down a day to day plan to score 170 in GRE quant. We believe finding the right sources and planning for the preparation is your job. Because everyone is different. Rather we focused on some common points that are being overlooked at the first place by many test takers. If you follow these simple guidelines and do accordingly, you should be able to at least boost your score by 3-5 from what you are getting now.
Disclaimer: No A.I. was used to generate any portion of this content.