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Testing Math GRE practice exams

  1. Nov 6, 2011 #1
    I've been doing practice exams today for fun (I'm only in 3rd year, go to school in Canada, and have no real intent on going to graduate school in the USA; so there really isn't a reason to be practicing them considering I don't think I'm going to be required to take them). Each time giving myself 170 Minutes to complete all of the questions given.

    And I'm wondering if these practice exams are up to par to what the actual exam is like?

    I don't mean to sound cocky or conceited, but is this really all that is being asked if you are taking the Math GRE?

    I've done 2 today that I've found and got in the 98th percentile on the first and 99th on the second (my girlfriend marked them for me).

    the two being http://www.ets.org/Media/Tests/GRE/pdf/gre_0809_math_practice_book.pdf" [Broken].

    I wasn't going to take it because I wasn't required to, but now I am considering it to maybe cushion my grad school applications next year.

    Note that I'm not saying they are easy, and under a much more high-pressure situation of actually taking it I wouldn't expect to get the same marks.

    I'm just in a confused state because I have heard horror stories over the Physics GRE and Mathematics GRE and can recall many TAs warning of the difficulty of the tests.

    Should I think about taking them now, even though I'm in no way required to?
    Last edited by a moderator: May 5, 2017
  2. jcsd
  3. Nov 6, 2011 #2
    Why dont you try marking them yourself? I would be very very surprised if you actually did that well.
  4. Nov 7, 2011 #3
    I don't doubt my girlfriend's capability to mark a scantron sheet, even if she is in business :tongue2:

    I don't really think it should be the improbable. If there's one thing I've learned from mathematics its that the answers to questions maybe accessible more often than not; whether it be through intuition or just lucky guessing. However, its your ability to show the 'path' and rationalization of that answer, usually independent of that intuition, that matters.

    The Math GRE, in the format I have seen in the practice exams, is multiple choice. Its not asking me to prove anything. So I have found it much simpler than any of the assignments or exams as found in any of my current courses.

    But this is all beside the point.

    I would just like to know if these practice exams are a true representation of what one should expect on the real exam. And also if it would be worth it to take it (even if it is not mandatory as in my case); that is to fork over the 160$ and take it.
  5. Nov 7, 2011 #4
    If anyone took the math GRE a few weeks ago can they please compare the exam to those practice exams.
  6. Nov 7, 2011 #5
    Don't know what you mean by this. You are asked to prove things all over the place (e.g., find the cardinality of a set, find the limit of a sequence, etc.)

    Regardless, I can attest from experience that the practice exams are far easier then the real exam... I took the most recent one, and I would argue the easier questions were about the difficulty of the middle level questions on the practice exam.

    That being said, if you scored in the 99th percentile, you should take the math GRE regardless because that score is amazing (though you really should double check that).
  7. Nov 7, 2011 #6
    I just mean that you're not required to show your work. Its often the case in my studies, and I assume in most of everyone's, that I know the answer to a question given. But what is special about math is that it wants every little detail as to exactly why that answer is correct.

    The Math GRE in the way it is structured doesn't want the meaty rationalization my usual pure math course wants to me show, it just wants a multiple choice answer. It doesn't require me to prove that [itex]f[/itex] is a morphism of rings, it just wants me to discern between which functions given are morphisms of rings or not.

    I hope that clarifies what I meant before.

    It just seems that a well-rounded education in calculus, algebra, number theory, analysis, etc. (a usual education into 3rd or 4th year of university, i.e., a familiarity with the content at hand) would be more than sufficient to score highly on the Math GRE without intensive preparation. What I'm trying to say is that I'm no prodigy, I just love what I do.

    I'll be a little freaked out if people disagree with me. Also, am I missing a part to the exam? or is it just the 66 MC questions? Because if there is a part that requires writing that I am completely missing, then excuse my ignorance.
  8. Nov 7, 2011 #7
    It's just 66 MC questions. But, consider that fact that really the only people who take this test are PhD students. I'm not sure if even a lot of masters math programs require this test. I'm currently auditing classes at a 10-15ish ranked school in America and none of the TAs I talked to who divulged their score got over 80 percentile, and this was with studying for it. It sounds like you didn't do any studying for it, and the fact you're not applying for American grad school leads me to believe you're not a superstar who's been kicking butt in competitions since he was a kid. You don't really seem like a troll, but if I had to guess, I would say there's a big chance your girlfriend graded it wrong, a small chance you're a troll, and a almost 0% chance you actually did that well.
  9. Nov 7, 2011 #8
    Practice tests were cake compared to the real thing. ETS practice test is easiest, princeton was harder but still not representative. I didn't take any others.
  10. Nov 7, 2011 #9
    The real thing was significantly more difficult. I gather that the consensus was that the test this October was actually significantly more difficult than the test last year as well.
  11. Nov 8, 2011 #10
    That makes me feel much better. I know I'm not some kind of all-star mathematician and though there's a possibility it was fluke that I did well on the practice exams, it feels good to know that the real thing is more difficult than those given practice tests.

    At the same time, I also feel good to know that the exam isn't made of entirely difficult questions. I was expecting the math GRE to be ridden with 4th year+ content and not be multiple choice. I guess I should have put forth the effort to look into its structure.

    Thank you all for your help! Its good to know the GRE is not as easy as the practice exams but not as difficult as my preconceived notions of it.
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