Can You Use a Calculator on the GRE?

Instructor: Shelby Golden
Check out the rules for using calculators on the GRE Revised General Test as well as GRE subject tests. You can also get tips on preparing for these exams.

Calculators and the GRE

The Quantitative Reasoning section of the GRE Revised General Test allows students to use a calculator while solving various computations. However, you will only be allowed to use the calculator provided by the testing center.

If you take the paper-based version of the exam, you will be given a standard calculator to use. The computer-based version of the test requires you to use an on-screen calculator instead.

Subject Tests

The GRE Mathematics and Chemistry subject tests require you to solve mathematical computations but do not allow you to use a calculator. You will have to discover the solutions to these problems without aid.

Calculator Suggestions

Sometimes having a calculator available can make it tempting to use it for every problem, but this can actually be counterproductive. A majority of the Quantitative Reasoning questions you face aren't going to actually require the calculator. Keep it in reserve for problems that look time consuming; try to solve the rest on your own.

Additionally, you should make sure you're reading the questions all the way through and using the calculator properly. Don't try to find the decimal answer to a problem if the question asks for a fraction.

If you're unfamiliar with on-screen calculators, you can check out the Electronic Testing Service website ( for a brief overview of the functions and commands available on this tool.

Additional Study Tips

Going over the types of computations you'll be expected to perform on the GRE exams can help you get more comfortable solving them, with or without a calculator.

You can use this online GRE Study Guide to review math topics covered on the Revised General Test, or check out this GRE Math Subject Test Study Guide to brush up on the skills you'll need in order to do well on this exam.

Both courses break difficult computations down into easy-to-understand steps over the course of several self-paced video lessons. You'll also be able to practice solving the types of problems found on your exam via interactive quizzes and tests. You can work through these resources as many times as you'd like and even print off worksheets to get additional practice with these math problems. Both of these courses are supported by subject matter experts who are available to offer you the help you need as you get ready for test day.

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