Get the Percent Questions Cent Percent Right on the GRE

An Introduction

A percent is one of the most commonly tested topics on the GRE. At times, it is a direct question, such as the following.

Question 1. If there are 800 employees working in a cycle factory and 25% of employees were absent on a certain day, then how many employees were absent on that day?

At times, it is a complex word problem involving percents.

Question 2. John sold 27 pieces of Beat-O-Bo at $200 apiece at a profit of 20% above his purchase price. He sold the remaining 3 pieces of Beat-O-Bo to a scrap dealer at 50% of the purchase price. What was John’s overall profit percent for the 30 pieces of Beat-O-Bo?
(A) 6%
(B) 6.5%
(C) 7%
(D) 12.5%
(E) 13%
At times, you will find word problems asking for a percent increase or a percent decrease. However, the percentage of questions is all about basics!
By the way, GRE doesn’t use the term percentage. In India, however, we mostly use the term percentage. So be it!

It’s elementary, my dear Watson, quite elementary!

Related Blog: GRE: The Gateway to Higher Studies

Here are the Basics.

Let’s start by understanding what ‘Percent’ actually means. ‘Per’ means ‘out of, and ‘cent’ means ‘100’. So, percent means ‘out of 100’. Basically, it is a way to express the relationship, where ‘whole’ is 100. Thus, 45% equals or 0.45. Percents can thus be expressed in the form of fractions as well as decimals.


Converting Percents into Fractions and Vice-Versa



Translating English into Math

You will find a good number of questions involving percentages on the GRE. At Manya-The Princeton Review, we recommend that you just translate English into Math.

Here is a chart that will help you in translating English into Math:



Let’s Start with the Basic Question we Mentioned at the Beginning

Question 1. If there are 800 employees working in a cycle factory and 25% of employees were absent on a certain day, then how many employees were absent on that day?

Answer: Note: Essentially, we want to find out — what 25% of 800 is.
Let’s translate!
‘%’ means ‘over 100’, and ‘of’ means ‘multiplication’.
Thus, 25% of 800 means
Hence, the answer is 200.
We will look at the more complex Q. No. 2 later; before that let’s try a few easier questions.

Try to solve the following questions yourself, and then look at the following notes.


Question 4. What is 40% of 20% of 800?

Answer: Note: Translate.
X = 40/100 x 20/100 x 800
Percent Increase or Decrease
The questions on percent increase or decrease are the other types of percent questions that are frequently asked on the GRE, especially in the Chart questions. Let’s see how to deal with them.
First of all, you need to know the ‘Percent Change’ formula:

At Manya-The Princeton Review, we go by the following principle.

  • If the problem asks for a percent increase or what percent more, or what percent greater, then the original number is the smaller number out of the two.
  • If the problem asks for a percent decrease or what percent less or what percent smaller, then the original number is the larger number out of the two.

Let’s try a few questions:

Question 5. John’s video game collection contains 600 games. Samantha’s video game collection contains 500 games. Samantha’s video game collection is what percent smaller than John’s? Ignore the percent sign and round off your answer to the nearest tenth place.

Answer: Note: It’s important to note down the phrase ‘Percent smaller’ in this question, as this will help us decide the value for the original number. ‘Percent smaller’ indicates that the original number should be the bigger number out of the two. In this case, it is 600. Since the difference between the two numbers is 100, we get
Percentage decrease=100/600 × 100 = 50/3 = 16.7

The answer is 16.7

Question 6. A radio that sells for $200 is on sale for $160. Sherlock purchased the radio at the normal price, and Michael purchased the radio during the sale. By what percent was the price Sherlock paid more than the price paid by Michael?

Answer: Note: This is a percent question asking for ‘percent more, so recall the formula
Percentage change= Difference/original x 100.

Here, the difference is clearly $40. Now, picking up the right number for the original is the challenge. Most of us may be quick to pick $200. But, take a moment and recall that we learned that if the question is asking for “what percent more”, then the original number is the smaller number out of the two.
Assuming that the original number is always the first number appearing in the question is a big folly. Don’t fall into the trap. Let the phrases “percent increase/more/greater” and “percent decrease/less/smaller” help you decide what the original number is.

So, the right value for the original number in the above question is $160. Therefore,

Percentage increase= 40/160 × 100 = 25

Hence, the answer is 25%. Fill only 25 in the numeric entry box. Typing 0.25 will be incorrect and will not yield any credit.

Complex Word Problems Involving Percent



Before we end this Part I of our discussion about percent questions on the GRE, let’s revisit Q. No. 2.


How we were able to solve this question by doing very little calculation! While doing percent calculations, being number savvy helps!

In Part II of this article, we will see how being number savvy leads us to some very useful percent tricks on the GRE Exam.

Learn top experienced tips to ace the GRE: Download our FREE, Complete Study Guide to the GRE!


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How to solve the percentage problem in GRE?

To solve the percentage problems one needs to memorize the mathematical shortcut formulas like Addition, Subtractions, Division & Multiplication, and other methods like fast calculation. That’s how the GRE percentage problem can be solved.

What are the GRE percentage problems tips & tricks?

The tips and tricks are the mathematical shortcut formulas to solve the GRE percentage problem. Memorize the percentage’ table like 1 is the fraction of 100 percent, or ⅓ is the fraction of 33⅓ percent, etc.

How to solve percentage problems for GRE fast?

The tricks given here are indeed helpful, as the textbook format takes a lot of time to solve such percent problems. Instead, one should focus on maximum speed.

How is the GRE percentage calculated?

The score is grouped with other students to get the evaluation among others within a specific period. To calculate the GRE percentage.

How to convert GRE percentage in fractions?

Put the given number in the numerator and the given percentage number in the denominator, then multiply with 100 thus you will get to convert GRE percentage in fractions.

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