Crush the GRE Quantitative with tips from a GRE tutor: Ace the GRE even if you’re bad at math

GRE Quantitative is often considered easy and many science students end up neglecting it.  But after taking the test, they find out that the GRE Quantitative is not as easy as people think.

Liberal arts students may wonder, “Everybody says that the GRE Quantitative is easy. Why am I struggling?”

This article will present the most common problems that students are likely to encounter and how to solve them. After reading this article, you will know how to prepare for the GRE Quantitative and adopt the right mindset. Let’s start your GRE preparation journey.

1. What is the GRE Quantitative?

The Graduate Record Examination, or GRE, is an important step in the graduate school application process in the States. The GRE is divided into two parts: Verbal Reasoning (language) and Quantitative Reasoning (math). This total guide to the GRE Quantitative will provide an overview of the GRE Quantitative section, go in-depth on each of the question types, offer advice on how to prepare, and give GRE math tips!

The content in the GRE Quantitative includes high school math and logical reasoning.

Total number of questions:20 questions

Test time: 35 minutes

Score: 130 to 170

The GRE uses an adaptive scoring algorithm that modifies the difficulty level of the second Quantitative Reasoning section based on the student’s performance in the first section. Students who perform well on their first Quantitative Reasoning section will “level up” to a more difficult test, and have the chance to earn a higher final score.

2. How to prepare for the GRE Quantitative? What are the differences in preparation for students who are good at math and those who are not?

The GRE Quantitative is relatively easy for science students. Many science students earned a score of 168. However, a perfect score in GRE Quantitative is quite difficult to achieve. The GRE tests your speed of responding. Answering 20 questions in 35 minutes gives you 1 minute and 45 seconds per question on average. Time is precious! A common problem on the GRE is that you run out of time to answer the questions.

GRE is an adaptive test. If you got almost all questions correct in the first section of Quantitative Reasoning, the second section will be much more difficult. All this means is that time difficulties are more pronounced on the second Quantitative section.

When science students encounter a lengthy question, they often find it hard to understand. These students can do the math. They just can’t read the words. Reading isn’t entirely separate from math. If you can’t read a math problem, you can’t solve it.

On the other hand, liberal arts students barely study math in college. Therefore, it is difficult to build a solid foundation systematically only with a few classes.

Liberal arts students often hear people say that the GRE Quantitative is easy. So when they encounter difficulties, they are embarrassed to ask questions. It is a vicious cycle. If you didn’t get a high GRE score, it’s not because you don’t have the potential or you’re dumb. As a liberal arts student, you simply have little opportunity to practice math compared to science students. So, it is very difficult to score above 160 without guidance from a patient tutor.

To understand more GRE math concepts, please read “GRE Quantitative – Solving remainder questions.”

3. What are the best GRE Quantitative prep materials? Does Candice have handouts for students?

By studying Candice’s handouts, students can build a solid foundation. Candice’s handouts are divided into four parts: arithmetic, algebra, geometry, and data analysis.

After establishing basic math concepts, students will be asked to do mock exams from the KMF and find out their weaknesses. Making mistakes and learning from them is fundamental.

Students will be asked to do practice questions from free online resources. They need to create an error log. They can do this in an Excel file to record their errors. Then, they can use the error log to learn from the mistakes! For example, if the student is weak in solving remainder questions, he or she has to improve this topic by practicing dozens of questions.

In terms of mock exams, Magoosh is an ideal option for students who want to get a high score. There are several popular GRE mock exams that you can find online but Magoosh provides one of the most comprehensive practice tests. Magoosh has almost the same level of difficulty as the GRE. Students can rest assured that it will adequately prepare them for the actual test’s difficulty. Magoosh predicted scores are fairly accurate or similar compared to students’ actual GRE scores.  Generally speaking, the official score that you earn on the test day is within +/- 3 points of Magoosh’s prediction.

Learning process:

Candice’s handouts→KMF mock exams→Free online resources→Magoosh + pacing training

4. Test day tips to ace the GRE Quantitative:

Most students perform well in mock exams. But on the test day, they often feel anxious and make silly mistakes. It’s a race against time in the real GRE exam. In other words, speed is very important. Even though the math questions on the GRE cover a wide array of topics, they actually test a lower level of math than many other standardized tests do. You must familiarize yourself with math concepts to ensure that you’re fully prepared to crush the GRE on test day.

If you encounter a tough question, it is easy to go blank under time pressure. Since mock exams are not adaptive, the difficulty level is the same for section one and section two. But the GRE is an adaptive test meaning that the questions you are given vary depending on your performance. If you answer more questions correctly early on, you’ll subsequently see harder questions. Remember, no matter how GRE test-writers try to throw complex questions at you, do not panic. Instead, take a deep breath and think of the strategies that you have practiced multiple times.

To better prepare yourself, you should practice tough questions more often. In this way, it can help you tackle your nerves for the big day. The more you prepare, the more comfortable you’ll get with tough questions. On the test day, you won’t get bogged down and frustrated by the most difficult questions.

Please read frequently asked GRE questions you should know. If you solve these frequently asked GRE questions, you’ll have no difficulty scoring in the exam.

5. How does Candice help students who scored poorly in the first and second attempts?

If you didn’t perform well in the first and second attempts, it is probably due to a lack of understanding of math concepts and time management.

For those students, Candice will strengthen their weaknesses. Most students aren’t going to be able to work through every question on the GRE in enough time, so adopting pacing strategies is crucial to test day success. If you are interested in pacing strategies, you can click on the two videos to get a better understanding.

Essential strategies to boost your GRE Quant score! Pacing is vital to ace the GRE!

How to beat the GRE: 2 pacing tips you need to know!

Let’s take a look at a real example. A previous student couldn’t get through all of the problems in time.

Candice asked him to practice 2 to 3 mock exams per week to develop a feel for the test’s mental and physical demands, which eventually allow him to work through the entire test confidently and effectively.

For those who scored poorly in the first and second attempts, Candice will help you:

1. Identify your weaknesses and reinforce math concepts

2. Provide a study plan and study guide

3. Offer you pacing strategies and training

Perfecting your timing on the GRE is a skill you need to hone. It is not possible to improve the speed of answering questions in a month. It takes time and effort.

6. Conclusion:

Here are a few reasons why students fail to score high in the GRE Quantitative.

1. Lack of a systematic approach
2. Lack of confidence
3. Lack of pace training and stress management

Let’s take a look at each reason in detail.

1.     Lack of a systematic approach

Some students find that they still don’t know a lot of concepts even after going to cram school.

The one-on-one tutor can find out the weaknesses and strengthen them. Candice will equip you with the knowledge base systematically to answer math questions.  Quant questions may appear impenetrable, but the math itself is often not as difficult as what you expect if you have a solid foundation.

2.     Lack of confidence

It is all too common for students to convince themselves that they are terrible at math or “just not math people”. Students are scared of looking stupid so they will not ask questions if they do not understand. Confidence and competence go hand in hand. Don’t be afraid to ask questions! If you are not good at math, you do not have to set a very high score for the GRE Quantitative. Aim for a Q165 and try to push your GRE verbal score as high as possible.

Ask yourself why you are taking the GRE. While the test is an application requirement, it’s important to remember that it’s just one part of the process. Many students mistake their GRE score as a representation of their abilities or talent. No, it is certainly not. You will have to understand that the GRE score merely reflects your performance on the test that you have just taken, and that’s it. You shouldn’t think of the score as a reflection of your intelligence or your abilities. Students who score higher on the GRE have done so only by understanding the exam better, honing their math and verbal skills and building their test endurance.

You can get there too if you can do all that.

3. Lack of pace training and stress management

If you’re going to survive the GRE, it’s important to remember one thing: pacing. Candice’s GRE pacing training will help make sure you’re on pace to complete each section on time for your dream GRE score.

The GRE is a competitive exam and you are required to prepare vigorously. You are required to go through a vast syllabus, and this could be very exhausting. If you are a professional, then working and studying could be all the more difficult.  Due to this, you could feel stressed out and pressurized. if you are feeling the GRE stress, worry not, we are here for you.  We will encourage you and provide as much support as possible. Remember you are not alone!

Blind spots when preparing for the GRE

When preparing for the GRE Quantitative, many students try to do as many mock exams as possible. As we talked about in the GMAT Quantitative, too much assessment can be dangerous. Practice tests do not help us to improve while taking the test.

The same principle applies to your GRE preparation.

Is more better? How many mock exams should I do?

Many hard-working students do mock exams every day. But this is not necessary. When you spend your time brushing up on the questions without reviewing mistakes, you can’t improve significantly.

What is the purpose of mock exams? Mock exams aim to let you know whether your pace is stable, whether you can finish within time, and whether you can exert your potential. So, doing more mock exams doesn’t mean you will get a better score.  Reviewing the mistakes is what really matters. You have to go to the questions you got wrong, read the correct answer, either understand the mistake made, or go back into the material and work on it. By doing this, the same mistakes are then not replicated in the real exam.

You need to create an error log. You can list all mistakes in an Excel file. For each problem, figure out why you made this error and write it down. Why did you pick the wrong answer? Is it a careless mistake? Or something about it made you think it was right. What was it? The more details you give the better.  Figure out why you made the errors in order to minimize the chances of making that particular mistake again.


Maths is not scary. You just need to get a right guide!

In a recent instance, one of our GRE students turns to Candice again. In fact, she was Candice’s student three years ago. Her GRE Q score was not bad, but she got a poor GRE Verbal score. Therefore, she didn’t go abroad to study.

Three years later, she couldn’t give up her dream of studying abroad. Although she is over 30 years old, it is never too late to pursue her dream. She has decided to quit her job to prepare for the exam.

She was afraid of math and often felt stressed. However, Candice’s engaging teaching style, and friendly and approachable personalities made her get over the fear of math. Finally, her math skills have improved significantly. A bright future awaits her!

GRE Quantitative is such a tricky test in terms of difficulty because different people have different preferences. Some students find the GRE Quantitative quite easy, and they aim at scoring a GRE Q168 or even a perfect score of 170. But some students are overwhelmed by it.

For students who are good at math, pacing strategies are important.

For students who are poor at math, it is better to start with basic math concepts. Gradually, you will gain confidence and make breakthroughs.


If you would like to learn more about our courses, please click the button below and leave a message to request a trial class. You can beat this test! Let’s work together to get you where you want to go!