training for putnam and math GRE

Forum for the GRE subject test in mathematics.
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Joined: Thu Mar 20, 2014 4:14 pm

training for putnam and math GRE

Post by weierstrass » Thu Mar 20, 2014 4:24 pm

Hi all,

I just found this website and have already been impressed with its wonderful efficacy in disseminating information useful for those applying to graduate school. I will be entering University in the US as a Freshman this fall, but I have already amassed a significant amount of college credit and therefore will likely graduate in three years. Also, when I speak of "training" for the Putnam please understand I really love solving problems and the pain/joy associated with the process; it is not training in the sense of an uncomfortable exercise.

Anyways, my question is as follows: it seems that for admission to top graduate schools the GRE is a very important barrier that needs to be overcome. Unfortunately, ETS has not released much study materials. Therefore I am wondering if training for the Putnam would be an effective form of "cross-training" for the math GRE?

My general plan for study for this summer has been to train for the Putnam. I am still reading AoPS Vol 2, but after that I plan on going to Problem Solving Through Problems by Larson, and then after that simply just working old Putnams (or reading Putnam and Beyond or something - that is a long ways in the future, I may be sick of solving problems then).

If this is not a good strategy for preparing for the Putnam, what is? It seems from stats people have posted doing well in algebra and analysis classes isn't correlated necessarily with the subject test, so I am counting that as a necessary but not sufficient condition for success.

Posts: 52
Joined: Sat Mar 17, 2012 9:58 am

Re: training for putnam and math GRE

Post by vonLipwig » Sat Mar 22, 2014 4:19 am

I suspect that such training will be mildly helpful in the way that doing any mathematics would be, but it doesn't seem particularly relevant, to me.

The mathematics subject GRE tests several things. You need to be very comfortable with basic calculus, as there will be many questions on it. The other topics are varied, but if you understand the content in your first couple of abstract mathematics classes (group theory, analysis, etc), you'll be fine. Finally, you need to work quickly and accurately while under time pressure, as in most standardised tests.

The past subject tests are a good guide, particularly the most recent one or two, and I found the Princeton review very useful.

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