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The GRE Calculator

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The GRE Calculator [#permalink] New post 29 May 2014, 09:21
Expert's post
Sometimes the computations you need to do in order to answer a question in the Quantitative Reasoning measure are somewhat time-consuming, like long division, or involve square roots. For such computations, you can use the calculator provided with your test.
Though one might expect the writers of the test to try to thwart you at every turn, the on-screen calculator is surprisingly easy to use. A good way to get a hang of it is to practice using PowerPrep II.

Tips on how to use the Calculator

1)Most of the questions don't require difficult computations, so don't use the calculator just because it's available.

2)Use it for calculations that you know are tedious, such as long division; square roots; and addition, subtraction or multiplication of numbers that have several digits.

3)Avoid using it for simple computations that are quicker to do mentally, such as \sqrt{25}, 4*70, 20^2 etc.

4)Avoid using it to introduce decimals if you are asked to give an answer as a fraction.

5)Some questions can be answered more quickly by reasoning and estimating than by using the calculator.

6)If you use the calculator, estimate the answer beforehand so you can determine whether the calculator's answer is "in the ballpark." This may help you avoid key-entry errors.


Calculator.JPG [ 23.72 KiB | Viewed 2255 times ]

Transfer Display

The Transfer Display button can be used on Numeric Entry questions with a single answer box. This button will transfer the calculator display to the answer box. You should check that the transferred number has the correct form to answer the question. For example, if a question requires you to round your answer or convert your answer to a percent, make sure that you adjust the transferred number accordingly.


Lets you store numbers in memory for later retrieval.


Lets you recall the number stored in memory.


Lets your clear memory.

When the M+ button is first used, the number in the calculator display is stored in memory and an M appears to the left of the display to show that the memory function is in use. Each subsequent use of the M+ button adds the number in the current display to the number stored in memory and replaces the number stored in memory by the sum. When the MR button is pressed in the computation above, the current value in memory, for example 5,860, is displayed. To clear the memory, use the MC button, and the M next to the display disappears.


A mathematical convention called order of operations establishes which operations are performed before others in a mathematical expression that has more than one operation. The order is as follows: parentheses, exponentiation (including square roots), multiplications and divisions (from left to right), additions and subtractions (from left to right).
GRE Calculator : 1 + 2 * 4 = 9
Normal Calculator: 1 + 2 * 4 = 12 (calculate in the order they are typed in)

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Use of keyboard shortcuts on the GRE Calculator [#permalink] New post 17 May 2017, 12:28
I'm about 2 months into my studying and have much of the math down solid. I understand that for most problems knowing you math is much more important than using the calculator. But I've been told there are keyboard shortcuts for every key on the calculator except the clear button. I'm wondering whether it's safe to assume if someone is a fast typer the calculator can be used slightly more often. For example two questions below:

1. Say the question leads you to find x in a proportion:
44 / 120 = x / 180

One could simplify using mental math, or one could type in with keyboard shortcuts: 44*180/120 and hit the enter key. This would yield an answer in 3 seconds vs the 15-20 seconds to calculate vs mental math.

2. You are told that 19 students take a test and average a score of 70. John takes the test and changes the total average to 72. What his the score?
You formulate the equation: (70(19) + x) / 20 = 72
You could use keyboard shortcuts to type: 70*19, then set that aside. And do 72*20-1330=
This seems to yield an answer more quickly than doing the mental math.

This approach seems to yield not just a quick approach but is fast enough to do twice in the time it takes to do the mental math. Is this safe? Is there a downside I'm not seeing?

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Re: Use of keyboard shortcuts on the GRE Calculator [#permalink] New post 18 May 2017, 08:18
Expert's post
Hi Sonder23,
I f you are good at go for the mental option. Nothing is faster than mental mathmatics the problem is accuracy. If you screw up a calculation you loose all points for the question.

Usually GRE test is short enough to finish within the given time limit. If you have extremely high accuracy with mental arithmatic then you have a huge tactical advantage.


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Re: The GRE Calculator [#permalink] New post 16 Nov 2017, 12:53
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Here are 4 great tips to maximize your use of the GRE calculator:

1. Solve Problems Without the Calculator When You Can

Don’t use the GRE calculator for simple math that would be quicker to solve without a calculator. Not only is it simpler to solve things like (4*8) or (2400/3) without going through the calculator, but it also cuts down on entry errors (i.e. accidentally typing in 2400/4) that could affect your answer.

2. Use the Computer Keyboard When Possible

Use the keyboard of the computer, rather than clicking each number/function, to save time. You should be able to use numbers on the keyboard to enter in numbers to the calculator (although you may not be able to use the num pad).

Similarly, you may be able to use other common shortcuts like *, -, /, +, =, and the return/enter key instead of having to click the functions on the calculator individually (and go back and forth between keyboard and mouse). The one limitation is that you can’t use the backspace, delete, or C on the keyboard to clear the calculator display.

3. Be Careful of Order of Operations

Keep order of operations straight by using parentheses and the equal sign. If all else fails, you can solve for one part of an equation at a time, write what that answer is on scratch paper, solve for the next part, write that down, and so on. But using parentheses and the “equals” function speeds up the process tremendously.

4. Pay Attention to Error Messages

If you find you’re reaching the limits of the calculator’s capabilities (for example, too many digits for the screen), you’re probably making an error in your approach to the question. No question will ask you to go beyond the limits of the calculator’s abilities. For example, if a question has exponents in it, you’ll be expected to use your knowledge of the rules of dividing, adding, multiplying, raising to a power, and factoring exponents, rather than brute force approaches of multiplying everything out.

So be sure to keep these tips in mind. Please check out this FREE blog post going into more details about the GRE calculator.

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Re: The GRE Calculator [#permalink] New post 25 Jan 2018, 06:32
Hi guys, I was just wondering if its possible to download the official calculator somehow?

I've tried google but it doesn't seem to be out there, maybe one of you knows where to get a GRE-calculator to use for practice questions and tests.

Thank you very much.
Re: The GRE Calculator   [#permalink] 25 Jan 2018, 06:32
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