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What Is Included on the GRE® Math Test?

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  • Written By: Angela Farrer
  • Edited By: W. Everett
  • Last Modified Date: 22 November 2016
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The graduate record examination (GRE®) math test includes a question set that measures candidates' skills in elementary to advanced algebra, data analysis, and calculus. Many undergraduate college students take this test for graduate school admission if they plan to pursue advanced degrees in areas such as mathematics, physics, computer science, or engineering. Graduate school admissions committees often closely examine GRE® math test scores to determine applicants' potential for success in these fields of study at a higher level. The GRE® math section contains questions that are designed to measure students' abilities to solve problems beginning at the high school level and ending at the college senior undergraduate level.

GRE® mathematics tests measure candidates' understanding of fundamental concepts as well as their ability to apply these concepts to different kinds of problems. Although some students score well in their college mathematics courses, they often find that a thorough review is necessary when some time has passed between these classes and their scheduled exam date. The GRE® math test is a subject-specific exam, not to be confused with the quantitative reasoning section on the GRE® general test.

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The algebra questions on the GRE® math test generally begin with elementary problems that cover topics such as the order of operations, the use of exponents, and correct polynomial manipulation. Linear algebra problems test candidates' understanding of matrices, vectors, and systems of equations. Abstract algebra topics on this GRE® test usually include questions on module and ring theories. The GRE® math section on algebra can also include various problems on number theory.

Elementary calculus makes up approximately 50% of the GRE® math test. These problems usually test knowledge of integral and differential equations as well as advanced applications of calculus to trigonometry and geometry. This subject matter typically follows the curriculum taught in a first-year college calculus course. Many graduate school applicants find that additional coursework or tutoring sessions in calculus can help their GRE® math scores.

In addition to algebra and calculus problems, a portion of the GRE® math test can cover various topics such as analytic geometry, probability, statistical analysis, and applications of topology. These questions can sometimes change from one year to the next as the GRE® test writers see fit. New mathematics material can often be added according to trends in student scores. Periodic revisions are often considered necessary for the exam to measure advanced mathematics scores across an accurate range.

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