Vous êtes sur la page 1sur 25

GRADUATE RECORD EXAMINATIONS

Mathematical Conventions
Copyriht ! "#$# %y E&'cational Testin Service( All
rihts reserve&( ETS) the ETS loo) GRADUATE RECORD
EXAMINATIONS) an& GRE are reistere& tra&emar*s o+
E&'cational Testin Service ,ETS- in the Unite& States an&
other co'ntries(
GRE Math Conventions 1
This is the accessible electronic format (Word) edition of Mathematical Conventions. A
downloadable large rint (!"#) version$ as well as a %arge !rint #ig&re s&lement is
available from the GRE' website. (ther downloadable ractice and test familiari)ation
materials in large rint and accessible electronic formats are also available. A tactile fig&re
s&lement for Mathematical Conventions$ along with additional accessible ractice and test
familiari)ation materials in other formats$ is available from E T * "isabilit+ *ervices Monda+
to #rida+ ,-./ a m to 0 m 1ew 2or3 time$ at 145 / 647 7 147 7 , /$ or 14, 5 54. , 74, 5 / 8
(toll free for test ta3ers in the 9nited *tates$ 9 * Territories and Canada)$ or via email at
stassd:ets.org.
The mathematical content covered in this edition of Mathematical Conventions is the same as
the content covered in the standard edition of Mathematical Conventions. ;owever$ there are
differences in the resentation of some of the material. These differences are the res&lt of
adatations made for resentation of the material in accessible formats. There are also slight
differences between the vario&s accessible formats$ also as a res&lt of secific adatations
made for each format.
Information for screen reader users:
This doc&ment has been created to be accessible to individ&als who &se screen readers. 2o&
ma+ wish to cons&lt the man&al or hel s+stem for +o&r screen reader to learn how best to
ta3e advantage of the feat&res imlemented in this doc&ment. !lease cons&lt the searate
doc&ment$ GRE *creen Reader <nstr&ctions.doc$ for imortant details.
Figures
This doc&ment incl&des fig&res. <n accessible electronic format (Word) editions$ fig&res
aear on screen. #ollowing each fig&re on screen is te=t describing that fig&re. Readers
&sing vis&al resentations of the fig&res ma+ choose to s3i arts of the te=t describing the
fig&re that begin with >?egin s3iable descrition of @A and end with >End @A
Mathematical Equations and Expressions
This doc&ment incl&des mathematical eB&ations and e=ressions. *ome of the mathematical
eB&ations and e=ressions are resented as grahics. <n cases where a mathematical eB&ation
or e=ression is resented as a grahic$ a verbal resentation is also given and the verbal
resentation comes directl+ after the grahic resentation. The verbal resentation is in green
font to assist readers in telling the two resentation modes aart. Readers &sing a&dio alone
can safel+ ignore the grahical resentations$ and readers &sing vis&al resentations ma+
ignore the verbal resentations.
GRE Math Conventions 8
Overview
1ote- *ome of the mathematical conventions disc&ssed in this doc&ment are conventions &sed
in rint editions of tests and ractice material. ?raille editions &se the 1emeth Code of
Mathematics and *cience 1otation.
The mathematical s+mbols and terminolog+ &sed in the C&antitative Reasoning meas&re of
the test are conventional at the high school level$ and most of these aear in the Math
Review. Whenever nonstandard or secial notation or terminolog+ is &sed in a test B&estion$ it
is e=licitl+ introd&ced in the B&estion. ;owever$ there are some ass&mtions abo&t n&mbers
and geometric fig&res that are artic&lar to the test. These ass&mtions aear in the test at
the beginning of the C&antitative Reasoning sections$ and the+ are elaborated below.
Also$ some notation and terminolog+$ while standard at the high school level in man+
co&ntries$ ma+ be different from those &sed in other co&ntries or from those &sed at higher or
lower levels of mathematics. *&ch notation and terminolog+ are clarified below. ?eca&se it is
imossible to ascertain which notation and terminolog+ sho&ld be clarified for an individ&al
test ta3er$ more material than necessar+ ma+ be incl&ded.
#inall+$ there are some g&idelines for how certain information given in test B&estions sho&ld
be interreted and &sed in the conte=t of answering the B&estionsDinformation s&ch as
certain words$ hrases$ B&antities$ mathematical e=ressions$ and disla+s of data. These
g&idelines aear at the end.
GRE Math Conventions .
Numbers and quantities
1. All n&mbers &sed in the test B&estions are real n&mbers. <n artic&lar$ integers and both
rational and irrational n&mbers are to be considered$ b&t imaginar+ n&mbers are not. This is
the main ass&mtion regarding n&mbers. Also$ all B&antities are real n&mbers$ altho&gh
B&antities ma+ involve &nits of meas&rement.
8. 1&mbers are e=ressed in base 1/ &nless otherwise noted$ &sing the 1/ digits / thro&gh 6
and a eriod to the right of the ones digit$ or &nits digit$ for the decimal oint. Also$ in
n&mbers that are 1$/// or greater$ commas are &sed to searate gro&s of three digits to the
left of the decimal oint.
.. When a ositive integer is described b+ the n&mber of its digits$ for e=amle$ a two digit
integer$ the digits that are co&nted incl&de the ones digit and all the digits f&rther to the left$
where the left most digit is not /. #or e=amle$ 0$/// is a fo&r digit integer$ whereas /.1 is
not considered to be a three digit integer.
E. *ome other conventions involving n&mbers-
one billion means 1 $ / / / $ / / / $ / / /$ or 1/ to the ninth ower (not 1/ to the
twelfth ower$ as in some co&ntries)F
one dozen means 18F
the Gree3 letter i reresents the ratio of the circ&mference of a circle to its diameter and
is aro=imatel+ ..1E.
0. When a ositive n&mber is to be ro&nded to a certain decimal lace and the n&mber is
halfwa+ between the two nearest ossibilities$ the n&mber sho&ld be ro&nded to the greater
ossibilit+.
E=amle- 8..0 ro&nded to the nearest integer is 8E$ and 18..6,0 ro&nded to the nearest
/./1 is 18..66.
When the n&mber to be ro&nded is negative$ the n&mber sho&ld be ro&nded to the lesser
ossibilit+.
E=amle- negative .5.0 ro&nded to the nearest integer is negative .7.
GRE Math Conventions E
5. Reeating decimals are sometimes written with a bar over the digits that reeat$ as in
80 over 18 G the decimal 8./,.$ with a bar over the digit . and 1
seventh G the decimal /.1E8,07$ with a bar over the digits 1$ E$ 8$ ,$ 0$ and 7.
7. <f r$ s$ and t are integers and rs = t$ then r and s are factors$ or divisors$ of tF also$ t is a
multiple of r (and of s) and t is divisible b+ r (and b+ s). The factors of an integer incl&de
ositive and negative integers.
E=amle 1- negative 7 is a factor of .0.
E=amle 8- , is a factor of negative E/.
E=amle .- The integer E has si= factors- negative E$ negative
8$ negative 1$ 1$ 8$ and E.
The terms factor$ divisor$ and divisible are &sed onl+ when r$ s$ and t are integers. ;owever$
the term m&ltile can be &sed with an+ real n&mbers s and t rovided r is an integer.
E=amle 1- 1.8 is a m&ltile of /.E.
E=amle 8- negative 8 i is a m&ltile of i.
,. The least common multiple of two non)ero integers a and b is the least ositive integer
that is a m&ltile of both a and b. The greatest common divisor (or greatest common
factor) of a and b is the greatest ositive integer that is a divisor of both a and b.
6. When an integer n is divided b+ a non)ero integer d res&lting in a B&otient q with
remainder r$ then n G qd H r$ where / is less than or eB&al to r$ which is less
than the absol&te val&e of d. #&rthermore$ r G / if and onl+ if n is a m&ltile of d.
E=amle 1- When 8/ is divided b+ 7$ the B&otient is 8 and the remainder is 5.
E=amle 8- When 81 is divided b+ 7$ the B&otient is . and the remainder is /.
E=amle .- When negative 17 is divided b+ 7$ the B&otient is negative . and the
remainder is E.
1/. A prime number is an integer greater than 1 that has onl+ two ositive divisors- 1 and
itself. The first five rime n&mbers are 8$ .$ 0$ 7$ and 11. A composite number is an integer
GRE Math Conventions 0
greater than 1 that is not a rime n&mber. The first five comosite n&mbers are E$ 5$ ,$ 6$ and
1/.
11. (dd and even integers are not necessaril+ ositive.
E=amle 1- negative 7 is odd$
E=amle 8- negative 1, and / are even.
18. The integer / is neither ositive nor negative.
Mathematical expressions, symbols, and variables
1. As is common in algebra$ italic letters li3e x are &sed to denote n&mbers$ constants$ and
variables. %etters are also &sed to label vario&s obIects$ s&ch as line l$ oint P$ f&nction f$
set S$ list T$ event E$ random variable X$ ?rand X$ Cit+ Y$ and Coman+ Z. The meaning of a
letter is determined b+ the conte=t.
8. When n&mbers$ constants$ or variables are given$ their ossible val&es are all real n&mbers
&nless otherwise restricted. <t is common to restrict the ossible val&es in vario&s wa+s. ;ere
are three e=amles.
E=amle 1- n is a non)ero integer.
E=amle 8- 1 is less than or eB&al to x$ which is less than i
E=amle .- T is the tens digits of a two digit ositive integer$ so T is an integer from 1 to
6.
.. *tandard mathematical s+mbols at the high school level are &sed. These incl&de the
standard s+mbols for the arithmetic oerations of addition$ s&btraction$ m&ltilication and
division$ tho&gh m&ltilication is &s&all+ denoted b+ I&=taosition$ often
with arentheses$ for e=amle$ 8y and oen arenthesis$ .$ close arenthesis$ oen
arenthesis$ E.0$ close arenthesis$ and division is &s&all+ denoted with a hori)ontal fraction
bar$ for e=amle$ the e=ression w over .$ written with a hori)ontal fraction bar.
GRE Math Conventions 5
*ometimes mi=ed n&mbers$ or mi=ed fractions$ are &sed$ li3e E and
. eighths and negative 1/ and one half. (The mi=ed n&mber E and . eighths is eB&al to
the fraction .0 over ,$ and the mi=ed n&mber negative 1/ and one half is eB&al to
the fraction negative 81 over 8). E=onents are also &sed$ for e=amle$
8 to the tenth ower G 1$/8E$ 1/ to the ower negative 8 G 1 over 1//$ and x to the ower / G
1 for all non)ero n&mbers x.
E. Mathematical e=ressions are to be interreted with resect to order of operations$ which
establishes which oerations are erformed before others in an e=ression. The order is as
follows- arenthesesF e=onentiationF negationF m&ltilication and division (from left to
right)F addition and s&btraction (from left to right).
E=amle 1- The val&e of the e=ression 1 l&s 8 times E is 6$ beca&se the
e=ression is eval&ated b+ first m&ltil+ing 8 and E and then adding 1 to the res&lt.
E=amle 8- negative . sB&ared$ witho&t arenthesis means >the negative of J.
sB&aredK A beca&se e=onentiation ta3es recedence over negation. Therefore$
negative . sB&ared$ witho&t arenthesis G negative 6$ b&t negative . sB&ared$
with arenthesis aro&nd negative . G 6 beca&se arentheses ta3e recedence over
e=onentiation.
0. ;ere are nine e=amles of other standard s+mbols with their meanings-
1ote- <n these nine e=amles the s+mbols are in mathematical e=ressions given as
grahics. *ince the meaning of each is given directl+ after the grahic$ a >green fontA
verbal descrition of these e=ressions is not incl&ded.
E=amle 1- x is less than or eB&al to y
E=amle 8- x is not eB&al to y
E=amle .- x is aro=imatel+ eB&al to y
E=amle E- the absol&te val&e of x
GRE Math Conventions 7
E=amle 0- the nonnegative sB&are root of x$ where x is greater than or
eB&al to /
E=amle 5- the nonositive sB&are root of x$ where x is greater than or
eB&al to /
E=amle 7- n factorial$ which is the rod&ct of all ositive integers less than
or eB&al to n$ where n is an+ ositive integer and$ as a secial
definition$ / factorial G 1.
E=amle ,- lines k and m are arallel
E=amle 6- lines k and m are erendic&lar
5. ?eca&se all n&mbers are ass&med to be real$ some e=ressions are not defined. ;ere are
three e=amles-
E=amle 1- #or ever+ n&mber x$ the e=ression x over / is not defined.
E=amle 8- <f x is less than /$ then the ositive sB&are root of x is not defined.
E=amle .- / to the ower / is not defined.
7. *ometimes secial s+mbols or notation are introd&ced in a B&estion. ;ere are two
e=amles-
E=amle 1- The oeration denoted b+ a diamond s+mbol is defined for all integers r
and s b+ r followed b+ the diamond s+mbol followed b+ s is eB&al to the
fraction with n&merator rs$ and denominator 1 H$ r sB&ared.
E=amle 8- The oeration denoted b+ a bo= s+mbol is defined for all non)ero n&mbers
x b+ the bo= s+mbol followed b+ x is eB&al to the negative of the fraction 1
over x.
,. *ometimes I&=taosition of letters does not denote m&ltilication$ as in >consider a three
digit integer denoted b+ BCD$ where B$ C$ and D are digitsA. Whether or not I&=taosition of
letters denotes m&ltilication deends on the conte=t in which the I&=taosition occ&rs.
GRE Math Conventions ,
6. *tandard f&nction notation is &sed in the test$ as shown in the following three e=amles.
E=amle 1- The f&nction g is defined for all
x greater than or eB&al to / b+ g of$ x G 8x$ H$ the ositive sB&are root of x.
E=amle 8- <f the domain of a f&nction f is not given e=licitl+$ it is ass&med to be the set
of all real n&mbers x for which f of$ x is a real n&mber.
E=amle .- <f f and g are two f&nctions$ then the composition of g with f is denoted b+
g of$ f of$ x.
Geometry
1. <n B&estions involving geometr+$ the conventions of lane (or E&clidean) geometr+ are
followed$ incl&ding the ass&mtion that the s&m of the meas&res of the interior angles of a
triangle is 1,/ degrees.
8. %ines are ass&med to be >straightA lines that e=tend in both directions witho&t end.
.. Angle meas&res are in degrees and are ass&med to be ositive and less than or eB&al to .5/
degrees.
E. When a sB&are$ circle$ ol+gon$ or other closed geometric fig&re is described in words b&t
not shown$ the obIect is ass&med to enclose a conve= region. <t is also ass&med that s&ch a
closed geometric fig&re is not I&st a single oint or a line segment. #or e=amle$ a descrition
of a B&adrilateral cannot refer to an+ of the fo&r sided geometric fig&res in Conventions
#ig&re 1 below.
GRE Math Conventions 6
Conventions Figure 1
Begin skippable description of onventions !igure "#
Convention #ig&re 1 consists of three geometric fig&res. <n the first geometric fig&re$ which
is labeled >1ot closedA$ the E sides are attached end to end li3e a B&adrilateral$ b&t &nli3e a
B&adrilateral$ the end of the fo&rth side is not attached to the beginning of the first side.
The second and third geometric fig&res are labeled >1ot conve=A. <n the second geometric
fig&re two of the fo&r sides cross each other. The fig&re loo3s li3e two triangles with a
common verte= at the oint where the two sides cross each other. The third geometric fig&re
is a B&adrilateral$ b&t it does not enclose a conve= region since the meas&re of one of the
interior angles is greater than 1,/L.
$nd skippable figure description#
0. The hrase area of a rectangle means the area of the region enclosed b+ the rectangle.
The same terminolog+ alies to circles$ triangles$ and other closed fig&res.
5. The distance between a point and a line is the length of the erendic&lar line segment
from the oint to the line$ which is the shortest distance between the oint and the line.
*imilarl+$ the distance between two parallel lines is the distance between a oint on one line
and the other line.
7. <n a geometric conte=t$ the hrase similar triangles (or other fig&res) means that the
fig&res have the same shae. *ee the Geometr+ chater of the Math Review for f&rther
e=lanation of the terms similar and congruent.
GRE Math Conventions 1/
Geometric figures
1. Geometric fig&res consist of oints$ lines$ line segments$ c&rves (s&ch as circles)$ angles$
and regionsF also incl&ded are labels$ and mar3ings or shadings that identif+ these obIects or
their si)es. A oint is indicated b+ a dot$ a label$ or the intersection of two or more lines or
c&rves. All fig&res are ass&med to lie in a lane &nless otherwise indicated.
8. <f oints A$ B$ and C do not lie on the same line$ then line segments AB and BC form two
angles with verte= B- one angle with meas&re less than 1,/L and the other with meas&re
greater than 1,/L as shown in Conventions #ig&re 8 below. 9nless otherwise indicated$ angle
ABC$ also denoted b+ angle B, refers to the smaller of the two angles.
Conventions Figure
.. The notation AB ma+ mean the line segment with endoints A and B$ or it ma+ mean the
length of the line segment. The meaning can be determined from the &sage.
E. Geometric fig&res are not necessaril+ drawn to scale. That is$ +o& sho&ld not ass&me that
B&antities s&ch as lengths and angle meas&res are as the+ aear in a fig&re. ;owever$ +o&
sho&ld ass&me that lines shown as straight are act&all+ straight$ and when c&rves are shown$
+o& sho&ld ass&me the+ are not straight. Also$ ass&me that oints on a line or a c&rve are in
the order shown$ oints shown to be on oosite sides of a line or c&rve are so oriented$ and
more generall+$ ass&me all geometric obIects are in the relative ositions shown. #or
B&estions with geometric fig&res$ +o& sho&ld base +o&r answers on geometric reasoning$ not
on estimating or comaring B&antities from how the+ are drawn in the geometric fig&re.
GRE Math Conventions 11
To ill&strate some of these conventions regarding geometric fig&res$ consider Conventions
#ig&re . below.
Conventions Figure !
Begin skippable description of how onventions !igure % is drawn#
This descrition reflects the wa+ the fig&re is drawn. #ollowing the descrition$ there is a list
of what can$ and what cannot$ be determined from the wa+ the fig&re is drawn.
The fig&re consists of large triangle ABC$ where side AC is hori)ontal$ verte= A is to the left
of verte= C$ and verte= B is above side AC.
!oint D lies on side AC and is closer to C than to A$ and line segment BD is drawn from
verte= B to oint D.
BD divides angle B into two angles ABD and DBC$ where angle ABD is bigger than angle
DBC.
BD also divides triangle ABC into two smaller triangles ABD and DBC.
Triangle ABD loo3s li3e an isosceles triangle$ with the length of side AB eB&al to the length
of side BDF and the area of triangle ABD is greater than the area of triangle DBC.
!oint E lies on line segment BD abo&t halfwa+ between oint B and oint D.
<n the fig&re fo&r meas&rements are given.
GRE Math Conventions 18
<n the large triangle ABC$ angle B is a right angle. (This is indicated b+ a small sB&are
s+mbol).
<n the smaller triangle DBC$ angle C meas&res .0L.
%ine segment DC is of length 5.
<n the smaller triangle ABD$ angle B meas&res xL.
$nd skippable description#
The following eight statements abo&t Conventions #ig&re . are consistent with the wa+ the
fig&re is drawn$ and$ according to the >not necessaril+ drawn to scaleA conventions$ +o& can
ass&me that the+ are in fact tr&e.
*tatement 1- ABC, ABD, and DBC are triangles.
*tatement 8- !oints A$ D$ and C lie on a straight line.
*tatement .- !oint D is a distinct oint between oints A and C.
*tatement E- !oint E lies on line segment BD.
*tatement 0- The length of AD is less than the length of AC.
*tatement 5- %ine segment DC is of length 5$ and the meas&re of angle C is .0 degrees.
*tatement 7- Angle ABC is a right angle$ as indicated b+ the small sB&are s+mbol at oint
B.
*tatement ,- The meas&re of angle ABD is x degrees$ and x is less than 6/.
The following fo&r statements abo&t Conventions #ig&re . are consistent with the wa+ the
fig&re is drawn$ however$ according to the >not necessaril+ drawn to scaleA conventions$ +o&
cannot ass&me that the+ are in fact tr&e.
*tatement 1- The length of line segment AD is greater than the length of line segment DC.
*tatement 8- The meas&res of angles B A D and BDA are eB&al.
*tatement .- The meas&re of angle DBC is less than xL.
*tatement E- The area of triangle ABD is greater than the area of triangle DBC.
#or another ill&stration$ consider Conventions #ig&re E below.
GRE Math Conventions 1.
Conventions Figure "
Begin skippable description of how onventions !igure & is drawn#
This descrition reflects the wa+ the fig&re is drawn.
<n the fig&re$ triangle RST is inscribed in an oval.
Mertices R$ S$ and T lie on the oval.
*ide RT lies on hori)ontal line m.
Merte= S is above side RT, and side SR is vertical.
Mertical side SR meets hori)ontal side RT at verte= R.
*ide ST lies on line k$ which starts in the &er left art of the fig&re and slants downward
and to the right.
The fig&re also shows oint U$ which is on the oval$ below hori)ontal line m.
The onl+ meas&rement given in the fig&re is that the length of line segment ST is eB&al to 6.
$nd skippable description#
The following five statements abo&t Conventions #ig&re E are consistent with the wa+ the
fig&re is drawn$ and according to the >not necessaril+ drawn to scaleA conventions +o& can
ass&me that the+ are in fact tr&e.
*tatement 1- !oints R$ S$ T$ and U lie on a closed c&rve.
*tatement 8- %ine k intersects the closed c&rve at oints S and T.
*tatement .- !oints S and U are on oosite sides of line m.
*tatement E- The length of side ST is 6.
*tatement 0- The area of the region enclosed b+ the c&rve is greater than the area of
triangle RST.
GRE Math Conventions 1E
The statement >angle SRT is a right angleA is consistent with the wa+ the fig&re is drawn$ b&t
according to the >not necessaril+ drawn to scaleA conventions$ +o& cannot ass&me that angle
SRT is a right angle.
oordinate systems
1. Coordinate s+stems$ s&ch as x y lanes and n&mber lines$ are drawn to scale. Therefore$
+o& can read$ estimate$ or comare B&antities in s&ch fig&res from how the+ are drawn in the
coordinate s+stem.
8. The ositive direction of a n&mber line is to the right.
.. As in geometr+$ distances in a coordinate s+stem are nonnegative.
E. The rectang&lar coordinate lane$ or rectang&lar coordinate s+stem$ commonl+ 3nown as
the x y lane$ is shown in Conventions #ig&re 0 below. The x a=is and y a=is intersect at the
origin $ and the+ artition the lane into fo&r B&adrants. C&adrant < is above the x a=is and
to the right of the y a=isF C&adrant << is above the x a=is and to the left of the y a=isF C&adrant
<<< is below the x a=is and to the left of the y a=isF and C&adrant <M is below the x a=is and to
the right of the y a=is. Each oint in the x y lane has coordinates x comma y that give
its location with resect to the a=esF for e=amle$ as shown in Conventions #ig&re 0 below$
the oint P 8 comma , is located 8 &nits to the right of the y a=is and , &nits below
the x a=is. The &nits on the x a=is have the same length as the &nits on the y a=is$ &nless
otherwise noted.
GRE Math Conventions 10
Conventions Figure #
0. <ntermediate grid lines or tic3 mar3s in a coordinate s+stem are evenl+ saced &nless
otherwise noted.
5. The term x intercept refers to the x coordinate of the oint at which a grah in the
x y lane intersects the x a=isF it does not refer to the oint itself. The term y intercept is &sed
analogo&sl+.
GRE Math Conventions 15
'ets, lists, and sequences
1. *ets of n&mbers or other elements aear in some B&estions. *ome sets are infinite$ s&ch
as the set of integersF other sets are finite and ma+ have all of their elements listed within
c&rl+ brac3ets$ s&ch as the set oen c&rl+ brac3et$ 8$ E$ 5$ ,$ close c&rl+ brac3et.
When the elements of a set are given$ reetitions are not co&nted as additional elements and
the order of the elements is not relevant. Elements are also called members. A set with one or
more members is called nonempt$F there is a set with no members$ called the empt$ set and
denoted b+ the emt+ set s+mbol. <f A and B are sets$ then the intersection of A and B$
denoted b+ A$ followed b+ the intersection s+mbol$ followed b+ B$ is the set of
elements that are in both A and B$ and the union of A and B$ denoted b+ A$ followed
b+ the &nion s+mbol$ followed b+ B$ is the set of elements that are in either A or B or both. <f
all of the elements in A are also in B$ then A is a subset of B. ?+ convention$ the emt+ set is
a s&bset of ever+ set. <f A and B have no elements in common$ the+ are called dis%oint sets or
mutuall$ exclusive sets.
8. %ists of n&mbers or other elements are also &sed in the test. When the elements of a list are
given$ reetitions are co&nted as additional elements and the order of the elements is relevant.
E=amle- The list .$ 1$ 8$ .$ . contains five n&mbers$ and the first$ fo&rth$ and fifth
n&mbers in the list are each ..
.. The terms data set and set of data are not sets in the mathematical sense given above.
Rather the+ refer to a list of data beca&se there ma+ be reetitions in the data$ and if there are
reetitions$ the+ wo&ld be relevant.
E. *eB&ences are lists that often have an infinite n&mber of elements$ or terms. The terms of a
seB&ence are often reresented b+ a fi=ed letter along with a s&bscrit that indicates the order
of a term in the seB&ence.
E=amle- a s&b 1$ a s&b 8$ a s&b .$ dot dot dot$ a s&b n$ dot dot dot
reresents an infinite seB&ence in which the first term is a s&b 1$ the second term is
a s&b 8$ and more generall+$ the nth term is a s&b n for ever+ ositive integer n.
*ometimes the nth term of a seB&ence is given b+ a form&la$ s&ch as b s&b n G 8
to the ower n$ H1. *ometimes the first few terms of a seB&ence are given e=licitl+$ as in the
GRE Math Conventions 17
following seB&ence of consec&tive even negative integers- negative
8$ negative E$ negative 5$ negative ,$ negative 1/$ dot dot dot.
0. *ets of consec&tive integers are sometimes described b+ indicating the first and last
integer$ as in >the integers from / to 6$ incl&sive.A This hrase refers to 1/ integers$ with or
witho&t >incl&siveA at the end. Th&s$ the hrase >d&ring the +ears from 16,0 to 8//0A refers
to 81 +ears.
(ata and statistics
1. 1&merical data are sometimes given in lists and sometimes disla+ed in other wa+s$ s&ch
as in tables$ bar grahs$ or circle grahs. Mario&s statistics$ or meas&res of data$ aear in
B&estions- meas&res of central tendenc+Dmean$ median$ and modeF meas&res of ositionD
B&artiles and ercentilesF and meas&res of disersionDstandard deviation$ range$ and
interB&artile range.
8. The term average is &sed in two wa+s$ with and witho&t the B&alification >(arithmetic
mean)A. #or a list of data$ the average &arithmetic mean' of the data is the s&m of the data
divided b+ the n&mber of data. The term average does not refer to either median or mode in
the test. Witho&t the B&alification of >arithmetic meanA$ average can refer to a rate or the ratio
of one B&antit+ to another$ as in >average n&mber of miles er ho&rA or >average weight er
tr&c3loadA.
.. When mean is &sed in the conte=t of data$ it means arithmetic mean.
E. The median of an odd n&mber of data is the middle n&mber when the data are listed in
increasing orderF the median of an even n&mber of data is the arithmetic mean of the two
middle n&mbers when the data are listed in increasing order.
0. #or a list of data$ the mode of the data is the most freB&entl+ occ&rring n&mber in the list.
Th&s$ there ma+ be more than one mode for a list of data.
5. #or data listed in increasing order$ the first quartile$ second quartile$ and third quartile
of the data are three n&mbers that divide the data into fo&r gro&s that are ro&ghl+ eB&al in
si)e. The first gro& of n&mbers is from the least n&mber & to the first B&artile. The second
gro& is from the first B&artile & to the second B&artile$ which is also the median of the data.
The third gro& is from the second B&artile & to the third B&artile$ and the fo&rth gro& is
GRE Math Conventions 1,
from the third B&artile & to the greatest n&mber. 1ote that the fo&r gro&s themselves are
sometimes referred to as B&artilesDfirst B&artile$ second B&artile$ third B&artile$ and fo&rth
B&artile. The latter &sage is clarified b+ the word >inA as in the hrase >the cowKs weight is in
the third B&artile of the herd.A
7. #or data listed in increasing order$ the percentiles of the data are 66 n&mbers that divide
the data into 1// gro&s that are ro&ghl+ eB&al in si)e. The 80th ercentile eB&als the first
B&artileF the 0/th ercentile eB&als the second B&artile$ or medianF and the 70th ercentile
eB&als the third B&artile.
,. #or a list of data$ where the arithmetic mean is denoted b+ m$ the standard deviation of
the data refers to the nonnegative sB&are root of the mean of the sB&ared differences between
m and each of the data. This statistic is also 3nown as the population standard deviation
and is not to be conf&sed with the sample standard deviation.
6. #or a list of data$ the range of the data is the greatest n&mber in the list min&s the least
n&mber. The interquartile range of the data is the third B&artile min&s the first B&artile.
(ata distributions and probability distributions
1. *ome B&estions disla+ data in frequenc$ distributions$ where discrete data val&es are
reeated with vario&s freB&encies$ or where reestablished intervals of ossible val&es are
assigned freB&encies corresonding to the n&mbers of data in the intervals.
E=amle- The lifetimes$ ro&nded to the nearest ho&r$ of .// lightb&lbs co&ld be in the
following 1/ intervals- 0/1 to 00/ ho&rs$ 001 to 5// ho&rs$ 5/1 to 50/ ho&rs$ and so on$
& to 601 to 1$/// ho&rsF conseB&entl+$ each of the intervals wo&ld have a n&mber$ or
freB&enc+$ of lifetimes$ and the s&m of the 1/ freB&encies is .//.
8. C&estions ma+ involve relative frequenc$ distributions$ where each freB&enc+ of a
freB&enc+ distrib&tion is divided b+ the total n&mber of data in the distrib&tion$ res&lting in a
relative freB&enc+. <n the e=amle above$ the 1/ freB&encies of the 1/ intervals wo&ld each be
divided b+ .//$ +ielding 1/ relative freB&encies.
.. *ome B&estions describe probabilit$ experiments$ or random experiments$ that have a
finite n&mber of ossible outcomes. <n a random e=eriment$ an+ artic&lar set of o&tcomes
is called an event$ and ever+ event E has a probabilit$$ denoted b+ P of$ E$ where
GRE Math Conventions 16
/ is less than or eB&al to P of$ E$ which is less than or eB&al to 1. <f each
o&tcome of an e=eriment is eB&all+ li3el+$ then the robabilit+ of an event E is defined as the
following ratio-
P of$ E G the n&mber of o&tcomes in the event E$ over$ the n&mber of ossible o&tcomes in
the e=eriment.
E. <f E and ! are two events in an e=eriment$ then >E and ! A is an event$ which is the set of
o&tcomes that are in the intersection of events E and !. Another event is >E or ! A$ which is
the set of o&tcomes that are in the &nion of events E and !.
0. <f E and ! are two events and E and ! are m&t&all+ e=cl&sive$ then P of$
E and !$ G /.
5. <f E and ! are two events s&ch that the occ&rrence of either event does not affect the
occ&rrence of the other$ then E and ! are said to be independent events. Events E and ! are
indeendent if and onl+ if P of$ E and !$ G$ P of$ E times P of$ !.
7. A random variable is a variable that reresents val&es res&lting from a random
e=eriment. The val&es of the random variable ma+ be the act&al o&tcomes of the e=eriment
if the o&tcomes are n&merical$ or the random variable ma+ be related to the o&tcomes more
indirectl+. <n either case$ random variables can be &sed to describe events in terms of
n&mbers.
,. A random variable from an e=eriment with onl+ a finite n&mber of ossible o&tcomes
also has onl+ a finite n&mber of val&es and is called a discrete random variable. When the
val&es of a random variable form a contin&o&s interval of real n&mbers$ s&ch as all of the
n&mbers between / and 8$ the random variable is called a continuous random variable.
6. Ever+ val&e of a discrete random variable X$ sa+ X G a has a robabilit+ denoted b+
P of$ a. A histogram (or a table) showing all of the val&es of X and their robabilities
P of$ X is called the probabilit$ distribution of X. The mean of the random variable ) is
the s&m of the rod&cts X times P of$ X for all val&es of X.
GRE Math Conventions 8/
1/. The mean of a random variable X is also called the expected value of X or the mean of
the probabilit$ distribution of X.
11. #or a contin&o&s random variable X$ ever+ interval of val&es$ sa+ a is less
than or eB&al to X$ which is less than or eB&al to b$ has a robabilit+$ which is denoted b+
P of$ a is less than or eB&al to X$ which is less than or eB&al to b. The
probabilit$ distribution of X can be described b+ a c&rve in the X y lane that mimics the
tos of the bars of a histogram$ onl+ smoother. The c&rve is the grah of a f&nction f whose
val&es are nonnegative and whose grah is therefore above the X a=is. The c&rve
y G f of$ X is related to the robabilit+ of each interval a is less than or eB&al to X$
which is less than or eB&al to b in the following wa+- the robabilit+ that a is
less than or eB&al to X$ which is less than or eB&al to b is eB&al to the area of the region that is
below the c&rve$ above the X a=is$ and between the vertical lines X G a and X G b. The area of
the entire region &nder the c&rve is 1.
18. The mean of a continuous random variable ) is the oint m on the X a=is at which the
region &nder the distrib&tion c&rve wo&ld erfectl+ balance if a f&lcr&m were laced at X G m
The median of X is the oint " on the X a=is at which the line X G " divides the region
&nder the distrib&tion c&rve into two regions of eB&al area. (1ote that a lower case m is &sed
to denote the mean$ and an &er case " is &sed to denote the median).
1.. The standard deviation of a random variable ) is a meas&re of disersion$ which
indicates how sread o&t the robabilit+ distrib&tion of X is from its mean. <t is also called the
standard deviation of the probabilit$ distribution of X.
1E. The most imortant robabilit+ distrib&tion is the normal distribution$ whose
distrib&tion c&rve is shaed li3e a bell. A random variable X with this distrib&tion is called
normall$ distributed. The c&rve is s+mmetric abo&t the line X G m$ where m is the mean as
well as the median. The right and left tails of the distrib&tion become closer and closer to the
X a=is b&t never to&ch it.
10. The standard normal distribution has mean / and standard deviation 1. Conventions
#ig&re 5 below shows the standard normal distrib&tion$ incl&ding aro=imate robabilities
corresonding to the si= intervals shown in the fig&re.
GRE Math Conventions 81
Conventions Figure (
Begin skippable description of onventions !igure *#
The fig&re consists of a bell shaed c&rve grahed above a n&mber line. Along the n&mber
line are eB&all+ saced n&mbers negative 8$ negative 1$ /$ 1$ and 8. The
grah reaches its greatest height at /. The grah is s+mmetric abo&t /.
The si= intervals shown$ along with the aro=imate robabilities are as follows.
The interval to the left of negative 8$ aro=imate robabilit+ /./8
The interval between negative 8 and negative 1$ aro=imate robabilit+ /.1E.
The interval between negative 1 and /$ aro=imate robabilit+ /..E.
The interval between / and 1$ aro=imate robabilit+ /..E.
The interval between 1 and 8$ aro=imate robabilit+ /.1E.
The interval to the right of 8$ aro=imate robabilit+ /./8.
$nd skippable figure description#
Graphical representations of data
1. Grahical data resentations$ s&ch as bar grahs$ circle grahs$ and line grahs$ are drawn
to scaleF therefore$ +o& can read$ estimate$ or comare data val&es from how the+ are drawn
in the grahical data resentation.
8. *tandard conventions al+ to grahs of data &nless otherwise indicated.
GRE Math Conventions 88
E=amle 1- A circle grah reresents 1// ercent of the data indicated in the grahKs title$
and the areas of the individ&al sectors are roortional to the ercents the+ reresent.
E=amle 8- *cales$ grid lines$ dots$ bars$ shadings$ solid and dashed lines$ legends$ etc.$
are &sed on grahs to indicate the data. *ometimes$ scales that do not begin at / are &sed$
and sometimes bro3en scales are &sed.
.. <n Menn diagrams$ vario&s sets of obIects are reresented b+ circ&lar regions and b+
regions formed b+ intersections of the circles. <n some Menn diagrams$ all of the circles are
inside a rectang&lar region that reresents a &niversal set. A n&mber laced in a region is the
n&mber of elements in the s&bset reresented b+ the smallest region containing the n&mber$
&nless otherwise noted. *ometimes a n&mber is laced above a circle to indicate the n&mber
of elements in the entire circle.
Miscellaneous Guidelines for +nterpreting and ,sing
+nformation in -est .uestions
1. 1&mbers given in a B&estion are to be &sed as e=act n&mbers$ even tho&gh in some real
life settings the+ are li3el+ to have been ro&nded.
E=amle- <f a B&estion states that >./ ercent of the coman+Ks rofit was from health
rod&ctsA$ then ./ is to be &sed as an e=act n&mberF it is not to be &sed as a ro&nded
n&mber obtained from$ sa+$ 86 or ./.1.
8. An integer that is given as the n&mber of certain obIects$ whether in a real life or &re
math setting$ is to be ta3en as the total n&mber of s&ch obIects.
E=amle- <f a B&estion states that >a bag contains 0/ marbles$ and 8. of the marbles are
redA$ then 0/ is to be ta3en as the total n&mber of marbles in the bag and 8. is to be ta3en
as the total n&mber of red marbles in the bag$ so that the other 87 marbles are not red.
#ractions and ercents are &nderstood in a similar wa+$ so >one fifth$ or 8/ ercent$ of the
0/ marbles in the bag are greenA means 1/ marbles in the bag are green and E/ marbles
are not green.
.. When a m&ltile choice B&estion as3s for an aro=imate B&antit+ witho&t sti&lating a
degree of aro=imation$ the correct answer is the choice that is closest in val&e to the
B&antit+ that can be com&ted from the information given.
GRE Math Conventions 8.
E. 9nless otherwise indicated$ the hrase >difference between two B&antitiesA is ass&med to
mean >ositive differenceA$ that is$ the greater B&antit+ min&s the lesser B&antit+.
E=amle- #or which two consec&tive +ears was the difference in ann&al rainfall leastN
means for which two consec&tive +ears was the absol&te val&e of the difference in ann&al
rainfall leastN
0. When the term profit is &sed in a B&estion$ it refers to gross rofit$ which is the sales
reven&e min&s the cost of rod&ction. The rofit does not involve an+ other amo&nts &nless
the+ are e=licitl+ given.
5. The common meaning of terms s&ch as months and +ears and other ever+da+ terms are
ass&med in B&estions where the terms aear.
7. <n B&estions involving real life scenarios in which a variable is given to reresent a
n&mber of e=isting obIects or another nonnegative amo&nt$ the conte=t imlies that the
variable is greater than /.
E=amle- Oane sold x r&gs and deosited her rofit of y dollars into her savings acco&nt
imlies that x and y are greater than /.
,. *ome B&antities ma+ involve &nits$ s&ch as inches$ o&nds$ and Celsi&s degrees$ while
other B&antities are &re n&mbers. An+ &nits of meas&rement$ s&ch as English &nits or metric
&nits$ ma+ be &sed. ;owever$ if an answer to a B&estion reB&ires converting one &nit of
meas&rement to another$ then the relationshi between the &nits is given in the B&estion$
&nless the relationshi is a common one$ s&ch as the relationshis between min&tes and ho&rs$
dollars and cents$ and metric &nits li3e centimeters and meters.
6. <n an+ B&estion$ there ma+ be some information that is not needed for obtaining the correct
answer.
1/. When reading B&estions$ do not introd&ce &nwarranted ass&mtions.
E=amle- <f a B&estion describes a tri that begins and ends at certain times$ the intended
answer will ass&me that the times are &naffected b+ crossing time )ones or b+ changes to
the local time for da+light savings$ &nless those matters are e=licitl+ mentioned. As
another e=amle$ do not consider sales ta=es on &rchases &nless e=licitl+ mentioned.
11. The disla+ of data in a "ata <nterretation set of B&estions is the same for each B&estion
in the set. Also$ the disla+ ma+ contain more than one grah or table. Each B&estion will
refer to some of the data$ b&t it ma+ haen that some art of the data will have no B&estion
that refers to it.
GRE Math Conventions 8E
18. <n a "ata <nterretation set of B&estions$ each B&estion sho&ld be considered searatel+
from the others. 1o information e=cet what is given in the disla+ of data sho&ld be carried
over from one B&estion to another.
1.. <n man+ B&estions$ mathematical e=ressions and words aear together in a hrase. <n
s&ch a hrase$ each mathematical e=ression sho&ld be interreted searatel+ from the words
before it is interreted along with the words. #or e=amle$ if n is an integer$ then the hrase
>the s&m of the first two consec&tive integers greater than n H 5A means
the n&mber n H 7$ H the n&mber n H ,F it does not mean >the s&m of the first two consec&tive
integers greater than nA l&s 5$ or the n&mber n H 1$ H the n&mber
n H 8$ l&s the n&mber 5. That is$ the e=ression n H 5 sho&ld be interreted first$ searatel+
from the words. ;owever$ in a hrase li3e >the f&nction g is defined for all x greater
than or eB&al to /$A$ the hrase >for all x greater than or eB&al to /A is a mathematical
shorthand for >for all n&mbers x s&ch that x is greater than or eB&al to /A.
GRE Math Conventions 80