Topics that you must study for the GRE – Part 1
I have 30 days to the test and what should I do?
GRE aspirants dread if they have little time left to take their exam because of the large number of topics that are tested on the exam. Selective preparation though is not recommended for GRE but it is the last resort. The reason I discourage students from doing selective prep for GRE is because the GRE exam is a little unpredictable – on the same day one might see a lot of questions on arithmetic while another test taker might see a lot of geometry. However, if you have less than a month to take the test, then it will be futile to thoroughly go through all the tens of topics tested on the GRE exam. In this case I would advise you to be wise with your prep and instead of rushing and skimming through all topics, it would be better to simply work in-depth on a few most tested topics.
Here are some topics that you must study for your GRE quantitative section.
- Statistics with a lot of emphasis on Standard deviation: Over the last one year statistics has consistently been the most tested question on the exam. Some students have seen as much as 12 questions out of 40 on stats – but generally the frequency has been around 6-8 with more questions on the standard deviation.
- Data Interpretation and Analysis: Perhaps the most time consuming question on the GRE exam, the data analysis questions requires one to read, interpret and analyse data from a bunch of visual aid. Each section of the quantitative portion includes 2-3 such questions.
- Coordinate Geometry: Geometry is a vast topic and covers a lot of areas such as triangles, polygons, circles, 3-D etc. But coordinate geometry is tested most frequently from geometry and one must be familiar with the concepts of intercepts, equations of lines and gradients. Sometimes geometry questions combine polygons, circles and coordinate concepts into a single question. 4-5 questions are definitely a must.
- Inequalities and Absolute Values: These questions show up a lot on the GRE in the form of quantitative comparison questions. You should expect to see 4-6 such questions on the GRE test out of a total of 40 questions.
Nearly 65-70% of the GRE exam will be from the topics discussed above. An approach of spending sleepless nights by studying the above topics and everything else will be counterproductive to your GRE score. The reason is that instead of studying for all the topics, you must focus your efforts on the above if you want to make quick gains—in a short period of time.
Moreover do not study for probability because it is a frustrating topic and usually doesn’t show up much on the exam – however there have been extremely rare occasions when 2-3 questions on probability have shown up.
Probability is the kind of a topic that one can work on if they have more time and studying for only formulas on probability will not help much. Even if you do get 3 questions on this area it is not going to affect you much given that you are already in a quandary of limited time. Same is my concern with other areas such as number properties, arithmetic, word problems involving speed, distance, time and work rate – just skim through them and do a few practise questions but do not fret over them.