Awhile back I posted about how if you're aiming for a 160+ in the quantitative section, you will likely want to avoid the terrible calculator for most simple mathematic calculations and for certain topics entirely. This post is going to address what skills to focus on and how to improve them efficiently, and for free!
Practice manual calculations at math-aids.comThere is a wonderful free resource of dynamically produced calculation practice worksheets,
math-aids.com. There will be pop-ups, and the organization leaves a bit to be desired, but with a couple of areas to focus on as well as some overall navigation tips, you can find all of the manual calculation practice you'll ever need at this decades-old website!
If you've decided to aim for that 160+ quantitative score, best practice will be to use math-aids.com as a daily warmup before beginning any new GRE quantitative practice questions or content review. Pick 2-4 worksheets to either print out or view on your computer or phone to work through to stretch your brain and get ready for some math practice. You can always do the same topic over an over too, since if you just click back and resubmit the form using the big "Create It" button toward the bottom of any topic, you'll get a brand new set of practice problems with the answers provided immediately following.
Navigating math-aids.comThe first time you go to math-aids.com you will be prompted to select your grade from grade 1 through 8, but you can just "x" out of that pop-up. After this cold reminder that the GRE doesn't test much beyond middle school math, you'll see a bunch of text, and a few more pop-ups that you can just ignore. Instead, focus your attention on the left hand navigation and the search bar on the top right.
Your first stop should be the left hand navigation, where you you will focus on the following topics to start:
- Multiplication
- Division
- Fractions
- Percent
- Exponents
- Radicals
- Word Problems
In Multiplication & Division, focus on the old times tables up to 12 or 15 squared, so that you can avoid the calculator for these simple, and frequently, memorable operations that are innumerable on the exam.
In Fractions, you'll want to become familiar with the four basic operations for fractions, so that you do not need to waste time converting any fractions you encounter on the exam into decimals or risk miscalculating with the terrible calculator's rudimentary parentheses functions.
In Percent, you should become familiar with simple percentage to fraction and decimal conversions, as well as some of the basic percentage calculation worksheets. Also, pop over to the Word Problems left hand tab to practice the most pertinent part of percentages on the GRE - Percentage Word Problems!
In Exponents, be sure to become familiar with all of the different methods of combining bases, since obviously the terrible calculator won't be helpful in combining any of these question types.
In Radicals, focus on the simplifying radicals worksheet, because you'll always want to keep track of what format your choices are in on the GRE, and that \sqrt{} button is significantly less helpful than it might appear to be if your choices include radical notation!
In Word Problems, you can address any of the most familiar question formats from the exam including applying many of the manual calculation concepts we've already discussed!
Searching math-aids.comThe good thing about math-aids.com is that it covers every topic included on the GRE, so you can always add to our list by seeking topics you simply know you personally need to work on. The bad thing is that it includes way more topics than the exam does! So, you'll need to stay away from any topics beyond the test to avoid getting overwhelmed. That means, avoid all subjects that are more advanced than geometry, but you can always use the search bar to find specific concepts that aren't listed above - even things like negatives, absolute values, or rates!
Also, keep in mind that many of the problems on math-aids.com are a bit harder than the GRE, (for no reason other than that they aren't multiple choice!) so make sure not to make math-aids a primary practice resource, but instead just something to supplement your primary texts, whatever they may be. Lastly, if the navigation tips here aren't enough, feel free to post any questions about your math-aids.com adventures and we'll do our best to point you in the right direction to surpass that 160 mark in the quantitative section!