GRE Math

GRE Math Section Explained!

Graduate Record Examination (GRE) is one of the basic requirements for admission into many of the graduate schools across the world. The test consists of 6 sections. Analytical Writing section is the first section. It involves timed issue and argument writing tasks. The rest of the 5 sections consist of 2 Verbal Reasoning, 2 Quantitative Reasoning and a research or experimental section. The research or experimental section is not scored. Experimental section is unidentified and the research section is usually the last section. The 2 quantitative sections make the math section of the test..

The math section evaluates the examinee's mathematical knowledge at the high school level. The different abilities tested are,

  1. Understanding the provided quantitative information
  2. Interpretation and analyses of the provided quantitative information
  3. Problem solving of mathematical models
  4. Mathematical concepts of arithmetic, algebra, geometry, probability and statistics application.

For the computer based math test, an onscreen calculator is available and for the paper based test, calculator is provided at the center. This is to reduce the importance of computing.

Question Types

There are 4 types of questions in the math section.

1. Multiple-choice Questions with one correct answer

Here for the questions asked, there is only one correct answer. The correct answer has to be selected.

2. Multiple-choice Questions with one or more correct answers

For these questions the right answer may be just one or as many as all the given choices. You have to select all the correct answers from the choices. The number of correct choices may be given or not.

3. Numeric entry questions

The answers to these questions of the math test have to be entered as an integer or a decimal in a single answer box. A fraction may also be the answer. In such a case, one box is provided for the numerator and one for the denominator.

4. Quantitative Comparison Questions

In this question type, 2 quantities A & B have to be compared and the statement that determines the comparison has to be selected. These questions may be asked as independent questions or a part of a set of questions. When it is in a set, it is called the Data Interpretation set.

Data Interpretation Set

A table or graph is given and all the questions are asked based on the data in the table. The questions may be in the Numeric Entry type or in the Multiple-choice type. There are approximately 25 questions in each section. Calculus and its application form 50% of the questions. Algebra and number theory form 25% of the questions and the rest 25% questions are from other areas of mathematics. The areas of mathematics given above are just an indicator of the topics tested. Any mathematics topic at the undergraduate level may be tested.


The math section is scored on a 130 - 170 score range, with an increment of 1 point. The scores are based on the number of correct answers in the two sections. The second section is selected by the computer based on your performance in the first section. All questions within a section carry equal scores. A raw score is given based on the performance in the two sections. A process called equating converts the raw score to a scaled score. This equating is done to negate the minor variations in the difficulty level of the various editions of the test.


The total time for the test is four and half hours. The quantitative sections are for 1 hour and 10 minutes with 35 minutes allotted for each of the 2 sections.


The above details are about the new revised GRE effective from August 2011. The test administered before this is a little different from the current format.