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In-Class Drills
Contents Page
Warm Up: Order of Operations 2
Solutions to Warm Up 3
Principles 4
Rules and Tips 5
Drills 6-7
Number Properties
Principles 7
Rules and Tips 8
Drills 9
Fractions, Decimals & Percents
Principles 10
Rules and Tips 11
Drills 12
Principles 13
Rules and Tips 14
Drills 15

Copyright 2010 MG Prep, Inc.


The order of operations helps us determine the order in which we should perform
computations that simplify a term. The six operations in the correct order are
Parentheses, Exponents, Multiplication/Division and Addition/Subtraction.

Parentheses Simplify anything inside parentheses first.

Exponents Apply exponents. For instance, you might square a number: 32
Multiplication Multiply or divide.
or Division Remember that multiplication can be written in several ways:
32 = 3(2) = (3)2 = 6.
Also, division can be represented by fractions: 6 3 = = 2.

There are hidden parentheses on the top and bottom of fractions:

Addition or Add or subtract numbers.

PEMDAS is a useful acronym you can use to remember the order in which operations
should be performed.

If you have two operations at the same level of importance, you should just do them in
left-to-right order: 3 2 + 3 = 1 + 3 = 4. To override this order, you need to have
parentheses: 3 (2 + 3) = -2.

Simplify the following expressions to a single number:

1. 7(3 + 2) 9 = 2. 25 5(3 1)2 =


3 1 9 3
3. 3(2.3 1.7) 4(2.3 1.3)
2 3 4.



1. 7(3 + 2) 9 = 2. 25 5(3 1)2 =

P 7(5) 9 P 25 5(2)2
E E 25 5(4)
M/D 35 9 M/D 25 - 20
A/S 26 A/S 5

7(3 + 2) 9 = 26 25 5(3 1)2 = 5

3 1 9 3
2 3 4. 3(2.3 1.7) 4(2.3 1.3)

P P 3(4.0) 4(1)
M/D 2+2 M/D 12 4

A/S 4 A/S 8

3 1 9 3 3(2.3 + 1.7) 4(2.3 1.3) = 8

2 3


Three basic skills serve as the foundation for successfully solving a variety of GRE
quantitative problems:
1) Solving for a variable
2) Combining equations together
3) Turning words into numerical relationships
In order to comprehend, compute, and solve challenging problems in two minutes or less,
these three skills should be automatic. Lets start from the ground up

Solving for a variable: In order to solve for a variable, simply isolate the variable on one
side of the equation. Get rid of numbers attached to the variable by reversing the original
operations (for example, in order to isolate x in x + 5 = 7, you should subtract 5).

In many ways, isolating a variable is similar to unraveling a problem. If you become

unsure of the order in which you should work, remember to go in reverse of the order of
operations, PEMDAS. First, get rid of numbers that are being Subtracted from or Added
to the variable. Then get rid of numbers that the variable is being Divided or Multiplied
by. Then get rid of Exponents. Finally, get rid of Parentheses.

Additionally, you should take three other steps whenever the opportunity presents itself:
simplify blocks of work within the equation, always combine like-terms, and always
try to get variables out of denominators.

Combining equations: Students new to the GRE often make the mistake of trying to
combine all the information in a long problem into one equation. Many problems are not
built to be solved this way. It is often much easier to create simple equations first,
because combining them later is generally not difficult.

There are two common methods for combining equations: substitution, which you will
use far more frequently, and elimination. The goal of both is the same: to end up with one
equation with one variable.

Turning words into numeric relationships: GRE problems are often worded in a way
that makes it difficult to translate them into numeric relationships. An important initial
step is to correctly identify and label the unknowns. The rest of the problem is there to
tell you something about the relationship between these unknowns. Be on the lookout for
two common relationships: two parts that equal one another (tip: look for all forms of the
word is), and two parts that add to a total.

Checking your work: Successful test takers have a variety of efficient and effective
methods for checking their work. These test takers know how to (1) estimate, (2)
recognize limiting number properties, (3) eliminate unreasonable answer choices, and (4)
plug in numbers. In addition, you should be comfortable walking back through a problem
with your solution to make sure everything makes sense. Performed properly, this step
will help you catch most simple computation errors.


Solving For A Variable Combining Equations

Isolate a variable by reversing the order of Tip: Always combine in the easiest way possible,
operations (PEMDAS). regardless of what variable you are asked to solve
5(x 1)3 30 10
If 3x + y = 10, and
A/S 3
5(x 1) = 40 y = x 2, y = ?
M/D (x 1)3 = 8
E (x 1) = 2 Substitute from one equation into the other:
P x=3 3x + (x 2) = 10

While simultaneously performing three other Solve:

actions whenever you can: 4x 2 = 10
4x = 12
(1) Simplify already-combined terms x = 3. If x = 3, y = (3) 2 = 1.
(2) Combine common variables
(3) Cross-multiply to eliminate denominators Sometimes it is necessary to first isolate a variable
before you substitute:

4x 3 3 1 If 3x + y = 10, and
2x 1 2 y 2x = - 5, x = ?

4x 3 Isolate: y = 2x- 5
(1) 2 5 Substitute: 3x + (2x 5) = 10
2x 1 Solve:
5x 5 = 10
4x 3 5x = 15
A/S 3 x=3
2x 1
Sometimes you can eliminate a variable by adding
(3) 4x 3 3(2x 1) or subtracting entire equations from one another.

(1) 4x 3 6x 3 3x + y = 10
+ 2x y = 5
(2) 3 2x 3
5x = 15
A/S 6 2x x=3

M/D 3 x

Turning Words Into Numeric Relationships

Common Terms:

is, was, were, will be, same = total, sum, add +

difference, less - y less than x x-y
of, times, product quotient, proportion x/y
average of x and y (x + y)/2 ratio of x to y x/y


1. h k 40, k h 18

30t 50
2. 25,q t 5

3. 7x 4y 43, y 8 2x

4. 3k 2z 16,2z 2k 12


Divisibility Questions require you to understand numbers in terms of their basic

multiplicative building blocks. Problems that include the words divisible by, factor,
and multiple are generally divisibility questions.

The most basic multiplicative building blocks of a number are known as prime factors.
The factors of that number are all the terms that divide into the number cleanly. Factors
can be created by multiplying any combination of prime factors together. If the question
asks for a total number of factors, you must always also count 1 as a factor.

GRE divisibility questions commonly work in reverse; instead of giving you a number,
they give you the factors, and ask what you can determine about the number from these
factors. In more difficult problems, factors often give overlapping information about the
building blocks of your number (the prime factors), because the same building blocks can
be used several times to create various factors.

Exponents are simply shorthand for multiplying or dividing the same number by itself
multiple times. Exponential terms consist of a base (the number being multiplied) and the
exponent (the number of times the number is being multiplied).

Exponential terms can only be combined if they have a common base or a common
exponent. Common base problems are, for the lack of a better word, more common on
the GRE. It is often necessary to change the base of a term in order to have the common
bases necessary to combine terms.

The rules for combining exponents, like the rules of other types of shorthand, are difficult
to comprehend and memorize unless you understand the logic behind them. When in
doubt, think about exponent rules by writing out the multiplication or division that is

The fundamental rules of exponents involve basic multiplication and division. When
multiplying exponential terms with common bases, you should add the exponents. When
dividing exponential terms with common bases, you should subtract the exponents. Most
other exponent rules are derived from these two.



Example: x = 45

Prime Factors (the basic multiplicative building blocks): 3 3 5

Factors (all the different numbers you can form by combining the prime factors):
1, 3, 5, 9, 15, 45

1 3 5 3 3=9 3 5 = 15 3 3 5 = 45

Dont forget that 1 is always a factor!

Note: A number that doesnt have any factors other than 1 and itself is a prime number.


a5 a3 = (aaaaa) (aaa) = a8 a5 aaaaa

a3 aaa

(a5)3 = aaaaa aaaaa aaaaa = a15 a0 = 1

1 1 1
a 2= a 2
aa a2

6a 3a = 18a 6a


1. List the prime factors and factors for the number 36.

Prime factors:


2. If x is divisible by 8 and 27, then x must be a multiple of

I. 12 II. 16 III. 36

(A) I only
(B) I and II only
(C) II and III only
(D) I and III only
(E) I, II and III

3. Combine the following into one exponential term.

A. 5 4 52 5 1
B. 4 3
(g )

C. 3295 = D. 58 28 =

4. If 103x = 1000y, x =

A. y

B. y/2

C. y/3

D. 3y

E. y - 3


Fraction, decimal and percent problems (FDPs) that only require computation generally
test just a few skills: your ability to add, subtract, multiply and divide fractions and
decimals, and your ability to compare the value of different fractions and decimals.

Word problems involving fractions and decimals generally work with this formula:
Part = Fraction (or decimal) Whole.
Advanced GRE word problems tend to deliver this information in a disorganized fashion,
and often you are required to perform multiple computations. However, the good news is
that very few of these GRE word problems go beyond this simple formula.

Fractions: Most fraction problems on the GRE require that you change the denominator
of at least one fraction involved in the question before you add, subtract, or compare
values. You can change the denominator of a fraction without changing the fractions
overall value by multiplying or dividing the top and bottom by a common term. In
general, you will need to divide the numerator and denominator by a common term in
order to simplify a fraction. Also, you will need to multiply the numerator and
denominator by a common term in order to get the common denominators necessary for
addition, subtraction, or comparison. Many problems require you to simplify your answer
to a lowest possible denominator, or to convert your answer into a decimal or percent.
You can convert a fraction to a decimal by dividing the top by the bottom (using long

Some fraction problems are about general principles, rather than computations. If the top
(numerator) of a fraction increases while the bottom (denominator) stays constant, the
number will get larger. If the top decreases while the bottom stays constant, the number
will get smaller. In contrast, if the top stays constant, but the bottom increases, the
number will get smaller. Likewise, if the top stays constant, but the bottom decreases, the
number will get larger.

Decimals and Percents: All percents should be converted into decimals before you
perform any computations. Many questions require that you then reconvert from a
decimal to a percent for the final answer. You can change a percent to a decimal by
moving the decimal point two spots to the left; you can convert a decimal into a percent
by moving the decimal point two spots to the right.

Many FDP word problems can be made simpler by plugging in numbers. For fraction
problems, pick numbers that are multiples of the denominators involved. For decimal
problems, try to pick 100 as your starting point.



Alteration: Change the denominator of a fraction without changing the fractions value by
multiplying or dividing both the numerator and denominator by a common term.
24 2412 2 1 1 1(2) 1 2 1 3
36 3612 3 2 4 2(2) 4 4 4 4
Addition / Only add or subtract terms that have a common denominator. Add or subtract the
Subtraction: numerators while leaving the denominators constant.
2 1 3 2 1 1
4 4 4 4 4 4
Multiplication: Multiply the numerators together and the denominators together.
2 1 2
4 4 16
Division: Flip the bottom fraction and multiply.
4 3 2 6 1
9 4 9 36 6

Decimals and Percents

Alteration: Convert percents into decimals for all calculations. Many questions require you to
reconvert your decimal into a percent for the answer. Convert a percent into a
decimal by shifting the decimal point two spots to the left; convert a decimal into a
percent by shifting the decimal point two spots to the right.

80% 0.8 0.06 6%

Addition / Line up decimal points before performing calculations.

Subtraction: 0.735

Multiplication: Ignore the decimals until you are done with the calculation. At that point, move the
decimal point to the left one spot for every digit that was initially behind the decimal
0.0003 5.3 (ignoring the decimals) becomes
3 53 = 159 but there were initially 5 digits behind the decimal points, so we move
the decimal five spots to the left

Division: To simplify a decimal division problem, move the decimal point in the same direction
for both the dividend and the divisor.
0.03 divided into 5.1
3 divided into 510 = 170


3 5 6
7 7 7 5. 0.6 120

3 1 1
2. 6. 15 0.05
4 2 3

3. 6 7. 0.001 0.0003

2 4 8. 1/10 of 25% of 200 =

4. 9 15
3 5


1. 25% of the students at a high school attended the pep rally. If there are 600 students
total, how many students did not attend the pep rally?

2. After taxes, Sally keeps 4/5 of her gross pay. If her monthly taxes are $1400, what is
her monthly gross pay?

3. Two jars that are both half full of liquid are poured into an empty bucket. If the bucket
has three times the capacity of each jar, what portion of the bucket is now full?


Circles: There are four main ways to measure a circle:

1) The radius represents the distance from the center of a circle to any point on
its edge.
2) The diameter is the distance across the widest part of the circle.
3) The circumference is the perimeter of the circle (the distance around).
4) The area represents the space within the circle.
All four of these measurements are related to one another and can be derived from one
another. Most GRE circle problems require that you derive information about one
measurement from another given measurement.

A sector is one pizza slice of the circle. In order to determine the area of a sector or its
arc length (the length of the sectors crust or curved outer edge), first calculate
circumference or area for the entire circle, and then multiply that by whatever proportion
the sector represents. Often, the proportion of the sector relative to the entire circle can be
determined by looking at the angle of the pizza slice that is, the angle the sector
makes with the center of the circle (also known as arc measure). If you compare this
angle to 360 , you will find the proportion of the sector.

Triangles: Triangles are the most common polynomials on the exam. Additionally,
problems that initially seem to be about other polynomials can often be solved using
triangles. In a triangle, the length of any two sides must always be greater than the third.
All angles must add up to 180 , and the longest sides will always be opposite the bigger
angles. In isosceles and equilateral triangles, equal sides are opposite equal angles. The
area of a triangle is half the product of the triangles base and height.

The most useful and commonly tested triangle is the right triangle. In a right triangle,
the three side lengths must fit into a formula known as the Pythagorean Theorem:
a2 + b2 = c2, where a and b represent the two smaller lengths and c represents the length
of the longest side, the hypotenuse. Using this formula, you can always derive one length
of the triangle from the other two.

Trigonometry is the study of the exact relationship between the sides and angles of a
triangle. The only trigonometry on this exam involves triangles with either angles of 30 ,
60 and 90 , or 45 , 45 and 90 . The ratio of side lengths in these triangles is constant;
therefore, if you know the length of one side, you can calculate the other two.

Rectangles: Rectangles are the most common quadrilaterals on the exam. In a rectangle
all angles are 90 , and opposite sides are equal in length. The area of a rectangle is l w,
and its perimeter is 2(l + w). The area formulas for other quadrilaterals on this exam
(square, trapezoid, parallelogram) can be derived from the formula for the rectangle.


If = 60 , the sector would

represent 60/360 = 1/6 of
r (radius) Diameter = 2r the entire circle. Then,
Circumference = 2r
Area = r2 Area of sector = (1/6) (r2)
Arc length = (1/6) (2r)


The sum of two sides of a triangle is a2 + b2 = c2

always greater than the length of the third
side. Common triples:

The longest sides are opposite the longest 3-4-5 5-12-13 8-15-17
angles. (Equal sides opposite equal
angles). Trigonometric Ratios:

All angles add up to 180 . 30 -60 -90 1: 3 :2

45 -45 -90 1: 1: 2
The area is .

w Area = lw
Perimeter = 2(l+w)

s b1
b1 b2
A = s2 A= h A = bh
s h 2 h

1. Fill in the missing values for the following circles:

Diameter Radius Area Circumference

Circle 1 12
Circle 2 5
Circle 3 16
Circle 4 20

2. Circle o has been split into eight equal pieces. If the

area of the circle is 16, what is the length of arc AB?

3. A certain rectangular backyard has an area of 48 sq. feet and a perimeter of 28 feet.
What is the distance from one corner of the yard to the opposite corner?

4. Which of the following could be the equation of the graph shown?

A. y = -1/4x + 3
B. y = 4x 2
C. y = 1/2x + 3
D. y = -3/2x + 3
E. y = -x - 2