“It has been almost three years since I last had a math class!” In such a way do many worried conversations start with students being tutored for the GRE. Indeed, for some adult students, a formal mathematics class lies so far in the past that half their lives separate them from the pristine fields of mathematical abstraction and computation. While this is the foundation for a real concern, it should not be the foundation for an insuperable one! Varsity Tutors offers resources like free GRE Quantitative flashcards to help with your self-paced study, or you may want to consider a GRE Quantitative tutor.

For the most part, the GRE mathematics section really is no more difficult than was the SAT mathematics section. There are several types of problems that are an exception to this rule; however, it remains true on the whole; therefore, you are looking at a high-school-level examination. If this is not completely encouraging, it should settle you long enough to listen to the rest of the general advice for facing the initial fears noted above.

Even if it has been years since you have taken a formal mathematics course, there are a number of excellent resources that will help you to work through materials; however, your case truly is one for which tutoring will be a great help. There are excellent test preparation materials that provide many different classes of problems, gathering together problems by type. You will find these for free in the online problem sets that are offered by Varsity Tutors. Such “grouped mathematics” sources will provide comprehensive coverage of all of those dreaded topics that you recall hazily from the distant past. Whether you need top GRE tutors in New York, GRE tutors in Chicago, or top GRE tutors in Los Angeles, working with a pro may take your studies to the next level.

As noted above, tutoring is really key to making this process work well. Unless you experience great difficulty in doing math, you almost certainly have not forgotten everything that you once covered in high school and college mathematics. A tutor will be able to sort through the problem sections, providing you with an appropriate order to cover the material. This often differs from student to student, and much time can be saved by having an able guide.

Likewise, even though specialized texts attempt to isolate every topic, this is really only possible for the simplest topics. For example, all of the sudden, ratio and rate problems become types of word problems, and the word problem sections suddenly include percentage problems. The two “types” really are not hermetically sealed off from each other. (For good or for ill, reality is not as cut and clean as would appear to abstract thought). When this occurs, you can end up spending precious time attempting to recall how to do the unknown type of problem. At this point, an able tutor is capable of supplementing your work, showing you exactly what you need to finish covering the specific topic that you are working on. (Likewise, this will help you see exactly what “holes” still need to be filled—all with an able guide at your side. Many hours and a river of tears are thus saved by the kind and steering hand of your tutor.)

In short, although the quantitative section will indeed require you to do quite a bit of review work if you have not had a math class for some time, this can be done in a systematic manner. It will be necessary for you to be very diligent in doing a wide array of problem types. The math section does require quite an extensive “toolkit” in order to understand the problems of “medium” and “advanced” difficulty; however, with an able guide and a comprehensive set of resources, you can work through these step-by-step, and at the end of this “mathematical walking,” you will find that the experience—though requiring much devotion—is not so bad after all! Old, overused truisms—though perhaps a bit trite—are true: A (mathematical) journey of a thousand problems begins with a single, well-planned step.

A good first step to start with is using Varsity Tutors’ free GRE Quantitative Practice Tests to figure out which topic areas you have mastered and which you need to brush up on before taking the GRE. Each Practice Test is taken like a twelve-problem quiz and contains problems drawn from numerous topics tested on the Quantitative section of the GRE. A complete answer also accompanies each Practice Test question, so if you miss one, you can figure out exactly where you erred and learn from your mistake in the future. If you identify a particular area of mathematics that you need to focus on practicing, Varsity Tutors’ Practice Tests can continue to be helpful, because their questions are also organized by concept. So, you can elect to answer questions only from a single concept until you have mastered it completely. In addition to the GRE Quantitative help section and GRE tutoring, you may also want to consider taking some of our free GRE Quantitative Diagnostic Tests. Having these free resources at your fingertips makes preparing for the GRE’s Quantitative section easy, even if you’ve taken a long hiatus from math classes.