Understanding the GRE Quantitative Comparison!

Understanding the GRE Quantitative Comparison!

Quantitative Comparison is a unique concept to the GRE exam. You won’t find this topic generally in other exams and hence aspirants get confused as to how to approach this question type. GRE Quantitative Comparison also forms around 40% of the Quantitative Reasoning and can significantly alter your GRE exam total marks. It is thus a very important topic that you can’t afford to miss, and must prepare yourself likewise. The options given in this question format are not like other question types. So, this section needs not only practice but also a clear understanding as to how the questions work.

Also Read: Quantitative Reasoning – GRE Mathematics Section

Quantitative Comparison or QC are not like the usual math problems that are given in any other competitive exam or entrance tests. It is the fact that they are so unique, makes them all the scarier to the aspirants.  Out of the 20 questions in a GRE exam, around 8-9 are QC questions. So you understand the relevance. The good thing about QC is they take much less time to solve than other math problems. Most of the Quantitative comparison questions can be solved under one minute and even the toughest ones will not take more than 1.5 minute. This is a smart strategy you can employ, where you choose to do the Quantitative Comparison question first and in the process save time for the harder questions later.

While QC questions on an average takes much less time to solve than other math problems, they are not always very easy, and some questions may be hard to understand. The basic rule in the GRE exam is to be well versed with your fundamentals. This is the strategy that will help you in QC questions also.  Which brings us to the question,

What skills are needed for acing the Quantitative Comparison questions?

The basic thing you need to do in QC is to compare the relative sizes of the two quantities given, and figure out whether the information given is sufficient for your judgement. In other words, you have to come to decide whether the criteria on which you are judging is reasonable enough to come to a conclusion.

  • Be good in data analysis
  • Have clear concepts of the math fundamentals
  • Knack for understanding complex question and figuring out the main information from other data
  • Quick thinking capability

These are the major skills you need to hone for scoring well in the Quantitative comparison questions.

QC Question Format

Besides understanding the skills you need for answering these questions, you need to know the question format for QC also.

It helps you set your expectations right in the main GRE examination.

In GRE, you will be asked to compare two quantities (A & B) and find out the relationship between them. The questions begin with one/ two lines of information followed by the quantities- Quantity A, and Quantity B. You need to compare and determine which one of them is greater, or if they are equal or if there is no way to determine their relationship. That is, the information provided is not sufficient.

Understanding the GRE Quantitative Comparison!

The pattern will be similar for all questions. Two quantities- A& B followed by four options:

  1. Quantity A is greater.
  2. Quantity B is greater.
  3. The two quantities are equal.
  4. The relationship cannot be determined from the information given

The sequence of the options as well as the name of the quantities is constant and remains the same in all the GRE exam papers.

Let us look at some examples to understand how Quantitative comparison questions can be approached.

Ace your GRE Prep: @ GREKing


A book with 80,000 words costs $24 and a short story has 1,000 words and costs $1.

Quantity A                                                                     Quantity B

Price per word of the book                               Price per word of the short story

In Quantity A, 24/80,000 = 0.0003, or 0.03 cents per word. In Quantity B, 1/1,000 = 0.001, or 0.1 cents per word. Quantity B is much larger. Note that your calculation was not strictly necessary — it would have been more efficient to notice that the book costs 24 times the story but has 80 times the words. (Then remember to choose the larger amount!)


1,200x + 6,000 = 13,200

12y + 60 = 132

Quantity A   Quantity B

x                      y

First, solve for x:

1,200x + 6,000 = 13,200

1,200x = 7,200

x = 6

Now, solve for y:

12y + 60 = 132

12y = 72

y = 6

The quantities are equal. Alternatively, you could have noticed that dividing both sides of the first equation by 100 would yield an equation identical to the second one, except with x in place of y. Thus, without solving the equations, you could note that the two quantities must be the same.

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