I'm a prospective graduate student in mathematics, I intend on applying this upcoming Fall so I only have two shots at this exam. My goal is to get into a top institution, so from what I have heard it is imperative that I do well on this exam. I'm aiming for a score of >75%.

I have done a ton of reading on how to prepare for this exam, and have found great information both on this website and others, however I'm still a bit in the dark as to how to go about preparing for it. So far I have so far gone over the bulk of the courses that appear on the exam. I feel strong in most subjects, but vector/multivariable calculus seems to be my weak point. With the test being only two months away, what would you guys recommend be the best study method? Taking numerous practice exams? Consulting textbooks? The textbooks I have been using so far are Stewart's Calculus - Early Transcendentals, Schaum's Outline in Linear Algebra, and Rudin's Principles of Mathematical Analysis, and the Princeton Review Guide for the exam.

I'm very curious to what you all have to say, especially those who have already took the exam and have done well. Sorry if I rambled on a bit, thank you for your time!

  • Have you done practice tests? How you do in the practice tests should be the best guide in terms of what to work on.
    – Thomas
    Commented Jul 11, 2018 at 17:37

1 Answer 1


I am a student at a "Top 10" applied math program in the US. For us it was not the case that we needed top scores of the math gre for admission/fellowships (thought this was not the case for my pure math cohorts). So maybe this will help with the stress of the exam.

To answer, since you say that you are the weakest on vector calculus, I would spend the most time reviewing this materiel. Calculus makes up a majority of the questions and from my experience these questions were either you knew the "trick" or you were going to lose a lot of time doing it from the fundamentals.

Since you say that you are going to take it twice, here is my biggest advice. Try your best to remember the questions from the first exam. Especially if you don't know how to answer them. I also took the exam twice and ended up getting a couple of questions that were identical. So when you are done I would try to write down as many questions as you can remember to learn how to do for the next one.

  • Thank you for the reply, that certainly helps ease the weight of the exam a bit. I come from a very unknown institution, so I was hoping this exam could "prove" that I am on par with students from top universities. Do you have any other advice regarding preparation? Would it be smarter to focus on practice tests or learning/strengthening concepts?
    – WBSS
    Commented Jul 11, 2018 at 23:10
  • For the weight of the exam, for pure it definitely carries more weight. But that doesn't mean that all schools do not care about it for applied programs, but there are a handful of programs that don't even ask for it. For the actual exam, I would suggest doing some practice tests as real tests (time yourself). Then use the results to help further narrow your studying. You'll start to get a feel for what you actually know and hopefully see whether that particular topic is highly represented in the exam.
    – werdho
    Commented Jul 12, 2018 at 14:35

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