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The Preparation for the GRE Mathematics Subject Test

by Fitzalan Gorman, Demand Media

    The GRE Mathematics Subject Test is designed to test your understanding of mathematical concepts and ability to solve problems. The level of math of this GRE subject test combines both undergraduate and high school level math. The main difficulty arises in how the questions are presented. Familiarizing yourself with what you will see on testing day can help improve your score.

    GRE Mathematics Subject Test Overview

    On the GRE Mathematics Subject Test, you are primarily tested on calculus, elementary algebra, abstract algebra and number theory. You can also expect to see a few questions dealing with arithmetic, algebra, geometry and data analysis. There are 66 multiple-choice questions on the test and you have two hours and 50 minutes to complete it. No notes, books or calculators are permitted.

    Calculus Preparation

    Fifty percent of the GRE Mathematics Subject Test is calculus-related. When studying, start relearning your calculus in the same sequence that is was taught in your first calculus course. If you have access to your old calculus book, go back and review the material. Begin with differential and integral calculus with one or more variables and then expand into coordinate geometry, trigonometry and differential equations. When you are studying these topics, familiarize yourself with definitions and theorems. This can help you understand the techniques for solving most of these problems.

    Algebra Preparation

    Twenty-five percent of the GRE Mathematics Subject Test involves algebra. Most of the algebra tested is what you learned in high school. If you have taken math in college, it is most likely that you have continued to use this type of mathematics. These questions cover topics such as linear algebra, abstract algebra and number theory. If you have forgotten any of these definitions or theories, start by freshening up on their meaning and then practice answering questions. For any questions that you answer incorrectly, go back and rework the question. Understanding why and where you made an error can help you avoid it on future problems.

    Additional Topics

    The GRE Mathematics Subject Test is designed to measure the mathematical skills and knowledge you have gained over several years. The remaining 25 percent of the GRE Mathematics Subject Test is a mix of other mathematical topics you have been exposed to, such as set theory, probability and statistics, combinations, real analysis, topology and complex variables. These questions are not testing your ability to recall information, but to assess your understanding of fundamental concepts and the ability to apply those concepts in various situations. Reworking practice problems on these topics is a solid way to prepare for the test.

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    About the Author

    Fitzalan Gorman has more than 10 years of academic and commercial experience in research and writing. She has written speeches and text for CEOs, company presidents and leaders of major nonprofit organizations. Gorman has published for professional cycling teams and various health and fitness websites. She has a Master of Arts from Virginia Tech in political science and is a NASM certified personal trainer.

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