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Will the New GRE Math be Easier?

In a previous post, I dealt with the question of whether the new GRE will easier in terms of the verbal section. The answer to that question differs for the math section. Hence, this post will address whether the new GRE is easier in terms of the math section.

As far as the actual questions on the test, I can answer pretty confidently that the new GRE will not be easier than the current one. To validate this point, we can look at raw score to actual score conversion in ETS’s revised GRE book. You can still miss many questions and receive a perfect score. From this score chart, we can deduce that some questions will be so difficult that you can get a few of them incorrect and still get a perfect score.

The variety of question types—multiple answer questions, Numeric Entry—also mean that the new GRE will not be easier than the old one. With the former, any number of the answer choices can be correct. In some cases, you may have as many as 10 different possibilities. To guess correctly, at random, would translate to 1 in 1,023 odds. Such an outcome is not much different from entering your answer into a blank box, which is essentially what Numeric Entry amounts to.

In addition to a variety of question types, the slightly greater range of concepts means that the new GRE will not be easier. Coordinate geometry is given greater emphasis, so now you will have to be able to handle questions relating to parabolas. In some cases, you may even have to use the quadratic equation to solve for x and y-intercepts of a parabola. Throw in absolute value questions, and you will definitely have to spend a lot of time studying them to ensure that the GRE is, if not easier, at least not that much more difficult.

So, the answer to whether the new GRE will be easier seems pretty clear. However, I could answer that the GRE may not be easier or more difficult. The reason is that you are still competing against the same pool of students, and your final score is only a measure of how you do compared to other students.

Yet, even this answer cannot escape a qualification: the applicant pool may very well change over the year, as more business school students plan to take the test. The only reason more business school hopefuls would take the test is if more business schools begin accepting the GRE as a valid score for admission. Yet, an increased number of business school applicants taking the new GRE is ultimately contingent upon the belief amongst future business school students that taking the new GRE vs. the GMAT will not diminish their chances of getting into a b-school. These students may come to believe that the new GRE is easier than the GMAT (even if the new GRE is not easier than the old one).

Finally, there is the subjective factor. If having to provide an exact answer without the succor of answer choices is nerve wracking, then clearly the new GRE will not be easier. If, on the other hand, answer choices distract you and/or tempt you to disregard your own math, even if that math is correct, then the new GRE may be easier (or at least not more difficult).

Overall, I would say the new GRE will not be easier, but the absolute should not make much of a difference, at least in the short term, on how you stack up against other students.

By the way, students who use Magoosh GRE improve their scores by an average of 8 points on the new scale (150 points on the old scale.) Click here to learn more.

5 Responses to Will the New GRE Math be Easier?

  1. Farhan December 11, 2011 at 7:42 am #

    Hi Chris,

    Your suggestions are very useful and your presentation very good. I like it.
    I am going to appear at GRE at 15th December 2011. I wish to post my experience on this.
    If I would be able to remember some of the question of the test day can I post?
    I have just 1 month of preparation for GRE. Scared but hope keeps the pace. 🙂


    • Chris Lele
      Chris December 12, 2011 at 1:17 pm #


      When you sit to take the test you will be asked to sign a form in which you agree to not discuss any of the content you saw on the test. So…were you to post any question you see testday online and ETS catches you…well, it’s not going to be good. And by extension, we would be implicated too.

      Nonetheless, we would definitely love to hear about your experience taking the test. We have a special section in the blog that details students’ experiences taking the test.

      Good luck!

      • Farhan December 14, 2011 at 10:39 am #

        Thank you Chris..

  2. nazeer November 11, 2011 at 6:39 pm #

    I did my undergraduate 18 years ago, and now I am interested in getting my MBA. I am an average student and would like to know, whether the gre or gmat would be easier for me?

    • Chris Lele
      Chris November 13, 2011 at 10:54 am #

      Hi Nazeer,

      That’s a great question! And one that nobody has asked thus far. With the New GRE attempting to be more GMAT-esque, the difference between the two tests is far less than it was before.

      For the verbal, if you are stronger at vocab than you are at grammar, take the New GRE. For math, if you really struggle with Data Sufficiency on the GMAT, perhaps the New GRE would be better.

      I recommend perusing Official Guide material for each test, getting a feel for which one plays to your strengths. If you want to be even more meticulous, download a practice test for each exam to determine which one you score better on, in terms of percentile ranking.

      Hope that helps!

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