GRE Geometry - Use that Scratch Paper!

Finally, one of the best tools that you can use when working on the math section of the GRE is to use your paper to your advantage. Of course it's expected that you'll use the paper for scratch work, but when taking the GRE, which is timed, you'll want to be well organized and make sure that you don't waste any time.

At the end of the algebra tutorial we showed you how to portion off your scratch paper so as to minimize confusion. Yes, you'll want to do the same for geometry questions, but, in addition, you can use the paper as a ruler! How? Simple. Consider the following problem, where you are asked to find the distance of side a:

a triangle with an unknown side

You are not told much information at all, and most likely the answer choices that you would be given for such a problem would make the answer obvious. Assume that you've been able to narrow down to three answer choices, and now you are stuck. What can you do next? Use the scratch paper to measure the length of one of the sides, and then use your home-made ruler to measure the length of side a. Is this silly? No! Is this some whacky "secret"? No! Is this clever and smart? Yes! There is no single right way to arrive at the answer, and many people employ different tactics. So if using the paper as a ruler helps you out, then go ahead, use it. A single question, especially at the beginning of a section, can be worth 20 or even 30 points towards your final section score, so don't be bashful. Do whatever you have to.

Here is how you may want to use the edge of the paper as a ruler:

finding the length of the unknown side of the triangle