I am going to take the math subject GRE, and after looking at the main topics (calculus, diff eqns, linear algebra, prob, and algebra), I got to wondering if Apostol's text on Calculus might not be a bad book to work from (since it contains calc, prob theory, linear algebra and diff eqns). I am not sure if this text has the depth I would need, but past posts suggest that working problems from Stewart is good practice for the calc part and I can't imagine Stewart would be more advanced than Apostol (although the former might have more problems).

Was wondering if anyone having experience with the tests could confirm my notions.

Thanks, Matt


I recently took the Math GRE subject test and found it quite challenging. My recommendation is that you do as many problems as you can, as quickly as you can. I recommend placing emphasis on calculus first, as it takes up 50% of the exam, then linear algebra/abstract algebra and then the other topics.

I have never used Apostol's book but here are my first impressions (bare in mind I started looking at it 5 minutes ago). It contains the standard material that is assessed in the GRE, this makes it useful for brushing up on any things you may have forgotten or misunderstood. It also seems like there are quite a lot of exercises but a lot look like standard computational exercises.

You need to be able to do these type of questions, but don't expect them to come up the GRE. The questions in the GRE are more complicated and require a deeper familiarity with the material than basic calculations. I would recommend taking a selection of exercises from a variety of sources: do some basic computations from Apostol and make sure you can do them quickly and accurately.

Then try to find harder exercises, maybe some of these can be found in Apostol or try a different calculus textbook like Stewart or Spivak. Then try to look at some hard problems; aside from previous GRE's, the best sources I can come up with right now are the "Berkley Problems in Mathematics" books but they are definitely above the level of the GRE (but hey, who doesnt like looking at hard math problems!).

  • $\begingroup$ Thanks for the info! This was pretty much my take on things. I am not sure though why a large number of people talk about Stewart, since I have never thought the exercises in Stewart are that hard. Is it just maybe b/c Stewart has a lot of exercises? $\endgroup$ Oct 17 '13 at 17:55
  • $\begingroup$ @MattBrenneman: I think Stewart is a pretty common textbook that many people use in their first years of calculus (including me), so a lot of people got are familiar with it. I would also recommend the Princeton review book for the Math GRE, it summarizes the required material and has quite a lot of exercises. Though the questions that came up on the exam were harder. $\endgroup$
    – Moss
    Oct 18 '13 at 1:23

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