How to Score a Perfect 170 in GRE’s Quant Section


The Graduate Record Examination (GRE) is a standardised test taken by prospective graduate and business school applicants from all over the world who want to pursue Masters, MBA, Business Masters, or Doctoral degrees in the US, Canada, and other countries. GRE preparation is the first step toward studying abroad. Educational Testing Services owns and administers the GRE exam (ETS).

The GRE Quantitative Reasoning exam assesses a student’s understanding of basic mathematical concepts taught in high school. The questions in this section are asked from four different math concept areas. Below are some examples:

(i) Algebra
(ii) Arithmetic
(iii) Geometry
(iv) Data Analysis


Is the Score of 170 on the GRE Quantitative Possible?

Yes, 170 on the GRE quants corresponds to the 97th percentile. According to a Report, 3 in 100 students who take the GRE, score this mark. The average GRE Quant score is around 152.

How to Score 170 in GRE Quant? To score 170 in the GRE Quant section, we need to know the GRE exam syllabus and also the question types that appear on the test. The verbal section on the GRE tests the students’ reading and vocabulary skills.

The GRE quant syllabus includes topics that you would have studied up to your 10th grade – Algebra, Arithmetic, Geometry, and Data Analysis and Interpretation. The GRE subject test though has complex topics involved.


Why Don’t Many Students Achieve a GRE Quant Score of 170?

One reason is the way the topics are tested on the GRE Exam. So, the first step is to know the different question types on the GRE.

  • The four different question types that you can see on the test are GRE Quantitative Comparison, Numeric Entry, Multiple choice questions (select one answer), and Multiple-choice questions (select one or more answers).
  • You should understand clearly how these GRE quantitative question types work. Also, the test is section adaptive, as how you perform in the first section decides the difficulty of the next section.
  • One way of familiarizing yourself with the quant section and also the entire GRE syllabus is to take a free GRE mock test.

The second reason for not reaching a GRE max score of 170 in quant is because of the complacent nature of these students towards math. They think that they are very good at it and hardly prepare for this section. But there is no replacement for hard work and the right GRE quantitative practice.


Common Mistakes that Students Make During the GRE Quant Preparation

Many people claim that they make stupid mistakes in GRE Quant even though they have plenty of time. So, below are some of the common mistakes made by the students during the preparation:

  • Calculation Errors – These errors can result from not reading or understanding the GRE Quant questions properly. As a result, the student might end up calculating things that are not asked in the question. Sometimes the students may end up marking the wrong answers in spite of solving correctly.
  • Conceptual Errors – These include not knowing the right formula. Geometry, Probability, and Permutation and Combination are some of the areas where these errors are common.

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6 Expert Tips to Ace the GRE Quant Section

The thing about the GRE quant section is that you can not just rely on back solving and picking numbers. It requires you to know the fundamental math concepts and how to approach them in an innovative way.

Test takers would be very relieved to know that the GRE tests high school math concepts only. However, the questions in the GRE Quant section are very different from the questions on a high school Math test. The GRE tests not just your Math knowledge but also your ability to interpret data and perform under time pressure. The GRE Quantitative Reasoning section covers four main topics – Algebra, Arithmetic, Geometry, and Data Interpretation.

The most important tip to solve the quant section is to read the questions carefully to avoid silly mistakes. Make sure that you are calculating the value of X that has been asked in the question and not the value of Y just to realize that you have been doing it wrong all along. These things can really take up your time and in the end, your hardwork will go in vain. Here are some tips for GRE test takers to ace the Quantitative Reasoning section.


1. Understand the GRE Test Pattern

It is important to understand the test structure and the concepts tested on the GRE. Knowing the test structure will help you figure out an appropriate strategy for the test. The GRE exam has 2 Quant sections with 12 and 15 questions each. You have 47 minutes to complete  both sections.

Multiple Choice Questions with One Answer

The GRE includes multiple-choice questions. Some questions will require you to select only one answer option.

Multiple Choice Questions with at least One Answer

In a few other multiple-choice questions, you must select at least one correct answer that fits the context.

Take note of whether the question asks you to indicate a specific number of options or to select all that apply. In the latter case, go over all of the options and decide which ones are correct.

Quantitative Comparison

Each math section will begin with 7-8 quantitative comparison questions. These questions require you to compare two quantities and determine which of the statements best fits.

Numeric Entry

Numerical Entry questions require you to enter your answers as a decimal or an integer in one box, or as a fraction in two separate boxes. Because there are no answer options to choose from, you must carefully read the question and enter the appropriate type of answer.


2. Build Endurance and Stay Focused

The GRE is a long exam and you need to be able to concentrate for about 4 hours. Train your brain to be attentive and work consistently for 4 hours. Work on your concentration so that you can be patient and attentive till the end of the test.

Test makers are adept at creating trap answers. If you make a simple calculation mistake or misread a word in the question, you may end up selecting an incorrect answer. Read the question carefully and understand what the question is asking you to find out. Double-check your answers always.

Most students miss the units on graphs and charts. Check the units carefully even when the information is presented in the form of a table, graph, or pie chart. For numeric entry questions, check how the answer needs to be given. For example, you may need to give the answer as a decimal value rather than rounding it off to a whole number.


3. Use Elimination Strategy

On the GRE, there are no negative marks for wrong answers. This means that you should not leave any questions unanswered. Use the “Review” button on the screen to check if there are any unanswered questions. Make sure that you mark an answer for all unanswered questions in the final 2 minutes.

If you are unable to solve a question or are stuck at a point in the question, you should use elimination to guess an answer. Elimination is a simple strategy where you look for answers that are clearly incorrect and eliminate them. Pick an answer from the remaining answer choices and move on.

In some cases, the process of elimination might give you one answer. However, in other cases, elimination will only better the chances of your guess being correct. For example, when you are trying to guess the one correct answer out of five answer choices, the probability of your answer being right is 20%.

However, when you are choosing one out of two answer choices, the probability of your guess being correct increases to 50%. Even if the guess is incorrect you are not going to lose anything. On the other hand, if your guess is correct, you would be scoring for that question also. Thus elimination is a very useful strategy to answer questions in a quick way.


4. Time Management

The GRE Quant section consists of 20 Questions that need to be answered in 35 minutes. Thus on average, you have 1.75 min for each question. Do you think every question takes 1.75min? For easy questions, you may take less than a minute, for medium-level questions you may take 1 to 1.5 minutes, and for the harder questions, you may take 2 minutes. Take the test in 2 phases.

This means that you should answer the easy questions in the first phase and then do the harder/more time-consuming questions. Do not take more than 1 to 1.5 minutes for a question while answering a question on the first try. Try to answer at least 13 to 14 questions on the first phase (say in 20 min). Try to complete the remaining 6 to 7 questions in 13 minutes. These are hard-level questions and you have approximately 2 min for each question.

To get used to the timer, even while practicing, set a timer and note down how much time it takes to attempt 20 questions. Also, there is a “Mark” button on the GRE test screen. Use this button effectively. When you realize that a question needs more time or when you get stuck in a question, click on the Mark button. The questions that have been “marked” are clearly identifiable on the review screen. You can visit the marked questions later after answering the easier questions.


5. Make a Study Plan

Acing the GRE test is not something you can achieve overnight. Make a study plan for preparation and start your preparation as soon as you can. Make sure your study plan has time for reviewing basic math concepts and also for taking full-length online tests at regular intervals.

As GRE is an online test/computer-based test, practice your drills online. GRE full-length practice tests help you to work in a timed environment and improve your stamina to be attentive and sit through the entire test.

Taking the tests or doing GRE quantitative practice questions without analyzing your mistakes is like blindly going into war without a plan or strategy to win. Analyze each test to identify your strengths and weaknesses. Maintain a list of errors that you made in the tests and the practice for improvement. You can also go through the list of errors before taking the next test and avoid repeating the errors.

Further practice should be based on the analysis of any test that you take. Be watchful on the time you take for answering a question based on difficulty level and the concept tested. Review the fundamentals when you get easy questions wrong. Practice harder level questions for the concepts in which you excel.

Don’t waste your time answering questions on random websites or going through random study materials. Follow one reliable source for study materials and GRE practice tests.


6. Use Scratch Paper Effectively

It is very common to hear students saying that they would have got the answer right, had they avoided a simple calculation mistake. GRE allows you to scribble on the scratch paper provided by the test center. Students should use scratch paper to organize the information while answering a GRE Quant question. Organizing the information will help you eliminate mistakes.

Even during practice, make it a habit to write down relevant information from the question and to do your calculations on paper. You can also use your scratch paper to analyze your test and identify where you went wrong in a question.

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How Can I Get A 170 On The GRE Quant?

For most of you, understanding how the test works and the tricks that are involved and identifying the strategies that work for you will yield the desired results.

  1. Learn to manage time – A simple MCQ can take you much less time than a GRE quant comp or a chart based question. While practicing, ensure that your timings are within these specified limits. Do not miss out on GRE Quant questions because of time constraints. Rather complete the test by guessing the questions if need be.
  2. Buy the Best Materials for Preparation – The books should contain all the concepts that GRE tests you on. The questions should be comparable to that of the actual GRE. The must include materials for practice are the Official Guide for GRE practice and a book from a good GRE prep company.
  3. Attempt Practice Tests – It is necessary to practice quality materials rather than a large number of problems. The students tend to download a lot of free materials from the internet in vain, Most of these materials are of inferior quality and may not mimic the real GRE test.
  4. Opt for the GRE Online Coaching – If you plan to attend GRE online coaching to improve your score, then look for the ones that will not just teach you concepts but also the right strategies to tackle GRE type questions. The trainers should not only teach you but help you identify the areas of weakness and work through them.
  5. Avoid Distractions While Preparing You may spend two or three hours every day for the GRE preparation. But a part of this time might be wasted on social media and daydreaming. Have a quiet room with an exam-like ambience while practicing.
  6. Schedule Planning – Plan a schedule and stick to it. Your schedule should include time for classes, practice, tests, and reviews.
  7. Work on Your Weak Subject Areas – Do not restrict your practice to areas that you are very good at, this will end up feeding your ego and may result in a lesser GRE score. Work on the harder areas such as probability and try to master them.
  8. Try Computer Based Model Papers – Your learning should be accompanied by practice and regular tests. These tests have to be computer based with quality questions. You can use GRE model papers for practice too.
  9. Rectify Your Mistakes – Ruthlessly work on your mistakes to figure out if it is a calculation or a conceptual mistake. Learn the new concepts and remain agile to eliminate the silly mistakes in the upcoming tests. Maintaining an error log will help you in this regard.


Let Us Look into Some Math Specific Strategies

Make yourself familiar with the GRE math syllabus and brush up or learn all the concepts necessary for this test. This list of specific strategies also help an aspirant on how to get 170 in GRE quant.

  1. Use the calculator optimally on the GRE quant test. Simple calculations could be done using processes like factorization.
  2. If the answer options are widespread, then try to ballpark the answers rather than solving for the exact values.
  3. Back solve in case of questions that number in the answer option and the question asks for a specific value. You know that one of the five answers has to be correct. Start with the middle number and work through the steps in the question and see which answer matches the conditions given in the GRE quant questions.
  4. In case of algebra GRE quant questions try to substitute numbers rather than working with alphabets/variables. The only criterion is you have to choose numbers that are generic like 2, 3, or 5 and not specific like 0 or 1, or weird like 0.0127.
  5. In GRE quantitative comparison, the substitution comes in really handy. Use all the weird numbers to eliminate all possible options. Choose the one that you are still left with.
  6. In case of longer word problems, break them into small sized pieces and work through them.
  7. In case of chart questions, don’t memorize the numbers. Read the headings, the axes, units, and the keys. Come back to charts based on the values you need. The chart questions test you on very basic arithmetic concepts and are conquerable through meticulous practice.

So are these steps to be followed only by those who want to score a GRE Quant 170. Not at all, anyone who wants to boost his or her score on the GRE can incorporate these steps in your preparation.


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Is 170 GRE score good?

A score of 170 is considered the highest in the verbal and quantitative ability sections. The quantitative section of the GRE tests candidates’ knowledge of high school level mathematics, which includes algebra, geometry, arithmetic, and data analysis.

How hard is it to get 170 in GRE Quant?

Yes, 170 on the quants equals the 97th percentile. This means that 3 out of every 100 students who take the GRE receive this score. The average GRE Quant score is approximately 152. To score 170 on the GRE Quant section, we must understand the GRE exam syllabus as well as the question types that will appear on the test.

Can I use a calculator on the GRE Quantitative section? 

As part of the testing software, you will have access to a digital calculator. This cuts down on the time it takes to compute, giving you more time to check your understanding of mathematical concepts.

What does the GRE Quantitative Test include?

GRE Quantitative test includes topics from high school mathematics. There are two math sections present on the GRE test. Each section consists of 20 questions to be solved in 35 minutes. If the experimental section turns out to be quant, test-takers will have to face a total of three math sections(only two sections will be scored). Topics in the quant section include problems from Algebra, Geometry, Rates, Word Problems, Ratios, and Data Analysis(Chart problems).

How many questions can you get wrong on GRE to get 170?

A near-perfect score for the verbal section can be obtained by answering 5-6 questions incorrectly. So, to get a perfect quant score, you can only get two questions wrong; for verbal, you can get three questions wrong and still get a perfect score.

How many questions are under GRE Quantitative Reasoning?

There are two quant sections on the GRE test. Both these sections have 20 questions each to be completed in 35 minutes duration.

How to improve GRE quant score from 160 to 170?

You must learn the basic concepts, question formats, make an effective study plan, work on your weak points, take mock tests, and practice alot to understand how well you are preparing to improve your GRE quant score.

How to score 170 in GRE quant in 10 days?

If you are thinking of preparing for the GRE quant section in 10 days and expecting to score 170 then you should forget everything and focus on preparing for the GRE quant section. You have to give a minimum 7-8 hours of yours everyday and surely you will be able to get the results. Understand the pattern, question types and start practicing them. Take mock tests which will further help you have an actual experience of how the Quant section of GRE will be.

Is 170 a good score in the GRE quant section?

In the GRE quantitative and verbal section, a score of 170 is considered as the top score. The GRE quantitative section assesses the student’s knowledge about high school level mathematics which comprises data analysis, arithmetic, algebra and geometry.

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