How Many Statistics Questions are on the GRE?

Back in the days of the old GRE, there was only one book out on the market written by ETS (the creators of the test): the hoary 1991 tome Practicing to Take the GRE. At that point, there were few, if any questions, relating to statistics (probably a straightforward median and mode question).

Of course many students would come out of the test reporting how many questions they’d seen on standard deviations or weighted averages. There was a clear discrepancy between what the GRE led students to believe was on the test, and what was actually on the test.


Statistics on the GRE today

Surprisingly not that much has changed. Sure, the new Official Guide has an entire section on Statistics but only a few questions are actually scattered throughout the book, leaving students unsure how many statistics questions are on the GRE. Kaplan and the other usual suspects also give short shrift to this concept, so I still hear the refrain: there were lots of standard deviation questions.

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Just how common is statistics on the test?

Don’t get me wrong – the GRE hasn’t become one big test on statistics. But if we were to take all the median/mode, averages/weighted averages, and standard deviation questions on a GRE, there could be as many as eight questions, or roughly 20% of the test. Imagine doing only a few practice problems, only to miss six out of those eight questions. You are already close to 160 out of 170.


How can I study for statistics?

My advice is to not only go through the section in the Official Guide to the GRE, but to also do as many statistics practice questions as possible. The thing is statistics looks deceptively simple when the books cover the usual mean, median, mode business. Questions on the GRE take this relatively straightforward knowledge and concoct these fiendishly difficult questions.

By practicing such questions the hope is they won’t become so fiendish. The 5 lb book has plenty of statistics questions. For even tougher questions, Magoosh has quite a few.


Don’t overdo it

At the same time, you should not be ferreting through your college textbook on statistics, trying to find the standard deviation to the nearest thousandth on a set of a hundred numbers.

The statistics on the GRE is more of a big picture, more conceptual than it is about crunching numbers. This fact will become evident once you start doing a few questions. To give you a foretaste: solving a standard deviation question is less about using the cumbersome formula and more about getting a sense of the standard deviation based on the numbers. Doing so will allow you to eliminate most, if not all, of the incorrect answer choices.


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6 Responses to How Many Statistics Questions are on the GRE?

  1. sayeed alvi October 8, 2015 at 9:19 pm #

    On the other head every 4 question was stats in my gre last month 😛

  2. Sunny December 21, 2013 at 11:24 am #

    Dear Chris,

    I did not get any statistics question on the GRE I agre about a month back (my experimental section was also math). Do you think it is becoming less frequent and I should consider myself unlucky (given I did practice it alot) or I should redouble my pratice of stats form the 5 pound book (already done Magoosh) and consider it a freak accident, I did not get any? 🙂



    • Chris Lele
      Chris Lele January 2, 2014 at 5:08 pm #

      Hi Sunny,

      Hmm…that is an interesting point. I’m not sure if that is the case…I’ve heard from another student that they didn’t see any either, but besides that person I haven’t heard anyone else mention it. I’d be surprised if the GRE suddenly decided to include far fewer statistics questions. Most likely, there is a range of questions any one student can see on the test, and Statistics questions are maybe 0-5.

      Nonetheless, thanks for the heads up–I’ll keep an ear out for anything :).

      • Serena December 14, 2014 at 9:40 am #

        I took the GREs in November 2014 and there were quite a bunch of standard deviation questions that were a bit complicated – beyond the basics. I was really surprised. And also at a loss as I had only studied the basics.

  3. A Chrisanto August 26, 2013 at 5:51 am #

    Hi Chris ! The content is really awesome and helped me a lot! Well to be precise, there is a link in “How can i study statistics ?” section of this article above, where you have put a wrong link for Magoosh’s homepage ! Check it!

    • Chris Lele
      Chris Lele August 26, 2013 at 11:50 am #

      Thanks for pointing that out! Will change immediately :).

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