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How Many Rate Questions on the GRE?

For all the fear that they inspire, rate questions are a relatively rare breed on the GRE. At most, you will probably see three such questions out of the 40 total questions.

Rate questions can be broken down into work rate questions and distance problems. Each test will probably have one of each, and maybe two of the one questions. That is, it is very unlikely that you will see three work rate problems.

Below is an example of each of these question types.

1. Mike, Steve, and Daryl take turns driving on a road trip. Mike drives at an average of 60 mph, Steve drives at an average of 5o mph, and Daryl, the daredevil, drives at 80 mph. If Mike drives for 4 hours, Steve drives for 3 hours, and Daryl drives for 90 minutes, approximately what percent of the total miles does Daryl drive?

  1. 15%
  2. 18%
  3. 20%
  4. 24%
  5. 32%

2. Jason can stack two shelves in 3 hours and Maria can stack three shelves in 2 hours. How long will it take them together, working at a constant rate, to stack thirteen shelves?

  1. 5 hours
  2. 6 hours
  3. 6.5 hours
  4. 11 hours
  5. 12 hours

These questions are of medium difficulty. You’d likely seem them in the middle section, though they could show up in either the easier or the harder section. At least to the best of my knowledge, there is not a greater likelihood that any question type is more common at lower or higher levels.


Answers and explanations

1. First we have to find the total distance the three traveled: 60×4 = 240; 50×3 = 150; 80×3/2 = 120. 240 + 120 + 150 = 510. Daryl drove a total of 120 miles. Therefore, he drove 120/510 or the total distance. For a quick way to convert to percent, make 120/510 and make it 120/500 = 12/50 or 24%. Answer: (D).

2. A good way to attack this problem is to determine how many shelves per hour each one stacks. Jason stacks 2/3 shelves per hour; Maria stacks 3/2 shelves per hour. Together they stack 2/3 + 3/2 =  13/6 shelves per hour. To stack thirteen shelves they would need 6 hours. Answer: (B).



Like many of the tough word problem question types—probability, combinations/permutations—rate questions intimidate many. Remember, that the question isn’t that common. Also remember that you don’t have to practice with the hardest rate questions, unless you are getting the easier questions correct. As long as you solved the questions above you are doing well on rate problems and, most likely, they shouldn’t pose too much of a difficulty test day.


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5 Responses to How Many Rate Questions on the GRE?

  1. Gaurav June 21, 2016 at 12:35 pm #

    I also need harder problems for this topic. As i am good with medium level problems in maths and verbal but hard or very hard is difficult to crack sometimes. So can you provide harder questions for this topic and verbal also?

    • Magoosh Test Prep Expert
      Magoosh Test Prep Expert June 29, 2016 at 6:39 am #

      Hi Gaurav,

      Unfortunately, we don’t have any specific suggestions for more challenging rate problems. However, for more advanced math problems in general, we recommend Nova’s GRE Prep Course.

      Additionally, we recommend the New Official Verbal and Quantitative Guides from GRE. The two sets of practice questions are from the test-makers at ETS, so they’re a great resource for realistic practice questions for both the Quant and the Verbal sections!

      I hope you find these resources useful 😀

  2. Soz September 17, 2015 at 7:48 am #

    Is there more practice for harder level questions? I got these with ease but I am struggling with harder questions

    • Jessica Wan
      Jessica Wan September 17, 2015 at 2:29 pm #

      Hello Soz!

      Thanks for posting! I’ve forwarded on your request to our remote tutor team. They’ll respond directly by email to you about harder level rate problems within the Magoosh product.

      All best,

  3. Chiraag April 1, 2013 at 10:18 pm #


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