Unless you’re a math major, chances are that when you start preparing for the GRE, it’s been a while since you took a math class. Your algebra skills, once sharp and shiny, are rusty. Formulas you once knew are getting mixed up and mixed around. Your times tables have been tabled indefinitely. If you are to regain your mathematical form, you must begin by surveying the range of content to be (re)learned.

Thankfully, the GRE quantitative sections are built entirely from concepts and topics that you probably learned in high school at some point, even if your exposure to them was brief. Very few, if any, of the concepts will be completely new.

Below is a categorized list of topics you should expect to encounter. Think of this as the table of contents to a rather thorough GRE math syllabus.

Categorised List of Topics for GRE Math


  • Basic operations / order of operations
  • Exponents and radicals / powers and roots
  • Units digit cycles
  • Fractions, decimals, percents, ratios
  • Absolute Value
  • Place value
  • Estimation/approximation


Number Properties 

  • Even and odd properties
  • Integers
  • Factors / Divisors
  • Divisibility
  • Least Common Multiple (LCM) and Greatest Common Factor (GCF)
  • Remainders
  • Prime numbers / prime factors / prime factorization
  • Arithmetic series properties



  • Linear (first-degree) equations
  • Quadratic (second-degree) equations
  • FOILing and factoring quadratics
  • Inequalities
  • Functions
  • Sequences and series


Applied Problems

  • Probability
  • Combinatorics (combinations and permutations)
  • Percentage change and profit/loss
  • Interest
  • Age problems
  • Averages / mixtures
  • Rate / work / time
  • Speed / distance / time



  • Polygons and sum of interior angles: 180(n – 2)
  • Quadrilateral types (parallelogram, trapezoid, rectangle, square) and area formulas
  • Triangles types (equilateral, isosceles, scalene, right) and area formulas
  • Pythagorean theorem
  • Special right triangles and pythagorean triples
  • Circles and formulas for area and circumference
  • Arcs and sectors
  • Cylinders
  • Rectangular prisms
  • Area and perimeter
  • Volume and surface area
  • Similarity and congruence
  • Angles at intersections of lines


Coordinate Geometry

  • Slope
  • X and Y intercepts
  • Line equations and slope-intercept form (y = mx + b)
  • Graphs of functions
  • Midpoint and distance between points



  • Mean, median, and mode
  • Standard deviation
  • Range
  • Quartiles and interquartile range
  • Normal distributions


You can use this list as a starting point to gauge how much learning (and relearning) you’ll have to do on the quantitative side of your GRE preparation. If many of these topics are only half-remembered or only vaguely familiar, you’ll have to do a fair bit of studying. If you are still well-versed in the majority of these topics, you may have a good head start on GRE quant. But note that this is simply a list of topics, not an exhaustive list of terms and formulas you must know.

A cheat-sheet of formulas – without accompanying explanations – is actually less helpful than you might think, and the explanations of all the formulas you should know for GRE quant are too lengthy for these articles. If you need this kind of help, sign up for a free consultation call with one of our expert instructors.

However, in our next article, we’ll provide you with a handy glossary of terms to know as you begin your preparation for the GRE quantitative sections.

Contributor: Elijah Mize (Apex Focus Tutoring Instructor)

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