The post Here’s what the best students do to study for the GRE appeared first on GRE.

]]>Once you’ve finished a timed problem set, don’t check your answers immediately. Instead, revisit each problem and your own solution. Are you satisfied with your answer, and with how quickly you arrived there? If not, redo the problem, spending as much time as you need. Try solving it in different ways, until you find one that feels right.

If you still just can’t figure it out, then before you do anything else, decide what you’d need to know in order to come up with a solution. Is there a vocabulary word you can’t define? A geometry rule you can’t remember? In that case, feel free to look up the facts you need and keep trying. Are you struggling to translate the words into equations, or to identify the conclusion of the argument? Make a note of any skills you need to improve.

If you *do* understand the problem after a second attempt, ask yourself two questions:

- Why did you get it wrong the first time?
- How would you approach the problem if you saw it again? Generalize from your failure on this problem, to success on different problems you’ll see in the future.

Now it’s time to look at the official answer. Don’t read the explanation, though — just peek at the answer itself. If it fits what you’ve come up with, you can move on to the next step. If it doesn’t match, or if you didn’t come up with a satisfying solution on your own, you’ve got more work to do.

Redo the problem *again*, looking for a solution path that would lead you to the correct answer. If you find yourself saying “Oh, that makes sense,” you’ve taught yourself how to do that problem correctly next time! If you’re still flummoxed, read on…

This is the step where you check the official explanation for the first time. If you found a solution on your own, you’re looking for different perspectives on the problem, or clever ways to save time while solving it. If you didn’t, then read just enough of the explanation to give yourself a hint. Reading the whole explanation is a last resort — if you have to do this, the problem is probably too tough to bother with right now!

If the explanation doesn’t help you, Google the first few words of the problem. Many problems have been thoroughly discussed by instructors and students online.

Take notes about GRE problems as you review them. These notes can be as simple or as elaborate as you like, but here’s what really matters:

- Are you going to do the problem again later?
- What can you take from this problem that would help you on other problems?

When you’re answering that second question, be as general as you can. Great takeaways are ones that tell you how to react to a specific clue in the problem: “When I see this, I’ll do this.” Suppose that you missed a two-blank Text Completion problem because you didn’t notice that the phrase “instead of” reversed the meaning of part of the sentence. Don’t just write down “look for ‘instead of'” in your notes. Instead, record a general lesson like this: “When I see a two-blank Text Completion problem, look for words and phrases that tell me whether the blanks are similar, or opposites.” You might even go on from there to brainstorm a list of those critical words and phrases.

You’ll learn more from each problem by reviewing like this, and you’ll stay more engaged as you study. You’ll strengthen your ability to figure out a tough problem from scratch, which is a skill that had better be razor sharp on test day! You’ll also start noticing patterns after a few study sessions. Which problems do you most often miss, and what behaviors cause you to miss them? That’s how you’ll know what to study next. Try it yourself for a few study sessions, and then test yourself by revisiting some of the problems that challenged you. If you’re able to blast through them the second time, be confident that you’ve studied well.

**Chelsey Cooley is a Manhattan Prep instructor based in Seattle, Washington.** Chelsey always followed her heart when it came to her education. Luckily, her heart led her straight to the perfect background for GMAT and GRE teaching: she has undergraduate degrees in mathematics and history, a master’s degree in linguistics, a 790 on the GMAT, and a perfect 170/170 on the GRE. Check out Chelsey’s upcoming GRE prep offerings here.

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]]>The post This simple approach will help you avoid mistakes on GRE algebra appeared first on GRE.

]]>*x* – 6 = *y* + 6

*a* – 10 = *b* – 10

In the second one, you can ‘cancel out’ the two “-10” terms, leaving *a* and *b* equal. In the first, you can’t cancel at all. Instead, you might think about ‘moving over’ a 6, and combining it with the other one. Have you ever accidentally ‘canceled out’ an equation like the first one, though, leaving the equation below?

*x* = *y*

Or have you ever ‘moved over’ a term in an equation like the second one, leaving something like this?

*a* – 20 = *b*

If you have, you’re in excellent company. I’ve seen almost every one of my tutoring students make this mistake at least once. It’s an easy one to make, and even worse, the GRE is designed with it in mind. That means that making this particular mistake will lead you directly to a trap answer.

The situation is even worse when it comes to simplifying fractions. Suppose you have one equation that looks like this:

*a* / *b* = *b* / *c*

And another like this:

*a* / *b* = *c* / *b*

Even if you can cite the rule, you may still be vulnerable to making a mistake when under pressure. (By the way, you can ‘cancel’ in the second equation, but not the first.)

To avoid these mistakes and many other similar ones, start thinking about math instead of shortcuts. Forget everything except for the golden rule of simplifying equations, which is: *you can do the same math to both sides*. Decide what mathematical operation would simplify one side of the equation, then perform it on both sides.

In the first equation, add 6 to both sides:

*x* – 6 + 6 = *y* + 6 + 6

*x* = *y* + 12

In the second, add 10 to both sides:

*a* – 10 + 10 = *b* – 10 + 10

*a* = *b*

In the third, multiply both sides by *b* to simplify the left side, and then multiply by *c *to simplify the right side:

*ab */ *b* = *b²* / *c*

*a *= *b²* / *c*

*ac* = *b²*c / *c*

*ac* = *b²*

And in the fourth, multiply both sides by *b*:

*ab */ *b* = c*b* / *b*

*a* = *c*

You’ll get the same result you would with a well-executed shortcut, but writing out the mathematical steps reduces your risk of making careless simplification errors.

You don’t have to write out every single step on your paper when you actually take the GRE — although I often do, and many of my highest-scoring students do as well! But I *will* ask you to try two things, if careless algebra errors have ever troubled you:

- While you practice and review GRE problems, write out the math you’re doing on both sides of the equation every time you simplify. Forcing yourself to write out the math when you practice means you’ll get in the habit of thinking through it, even if you eventually stop writing as much down to save time.
- Every time you simplify or reduce, think through exactly what you’re doing and why it works. Weak test-takers often say to themselves “I’m canceling out.” Stronger test-takers often say “I’m adding 10 to both sides, and here’s what happens.”

These are small changes to make, but they go a long way. Try them out as you practice GRE Quant problems, and watch your consistency improve.

**Chelsey Cooley is a Manhattan Prep instructor based in Seattle, Washington.** Chelsey always followed her heart when it came to her education. Luckily, her heart led her straight to the perfect background for GMAT and GRE teaching: she has undergraduate degrees in mathematics and history, a master’s degree in linguistics, a 790 on the GMAT, and a perfect 170/170 on the GRE. Check out Chelsey’s upcoming GRE prep offerings here.

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]]>The post Build your GRE vocabulary with science: spaced retrieval appeared first on GRE.

]]>In the spaced retrieval method, students are first given some information to learn, such as a set of vocabulary words. Then, at intervals spaced anywhere from a few minutes to a few days apart, they’re tested on their ability to recall what they’ve learned. Students are given feedback on their answers, then tested again after another interval of time. These intervals can either all be of the same length, or, more commonly, expand in length in a technique called “expanding retrieval”. (Imagine trying to remember a phone number by first repeating it every minute, then every ten minutes, then every hour, until you have it down.) Either way, students who use this method show far better test performance than students who only attempt to recall the information once, or students who simply repeat the information over and over until they feel they’ve memorized it.

One theory suggests that retrieving old information from memory is a skill that can be improved with practice. If you wait to “forget” a fact before challenging yourself to remember it again, you’ll get better at remembering it each time. Another explanation relates spaced retrieval to the effect of context on studying. Research shows that you’ll retain more information if you learn it in a variety of contexts — that’s why you shouldn’t always study in the same place, contrary to popular belief! Waiting a while before testing yourself on material, and testing yourself on it repeatedly, means you’ll naturally end up studying it in a lot of different contexts. This will help you when you try to recall the information on test day.

One approach is to use a high-tech flashcard program that automatically tests you on words at spaced intervals. My favorite of these programs is Anki, which is free, open-source, and highly customizable. Users can share their card decks online, and there are dozens of GRE vocabulary decks already available. But don’t just pick the deck with the most cards! Even with spaced retrieval, you’ll benefit more from learning a smaller set of higher-impact words.

If you prefer a lower-tech solution, sort your paper flashcards into a series of three to five boxes. Whenever you make a new card, put it into Box 1. Test yourself on the cards in Box 1 several times a day, test yourself on Box 2 once a day, and test yourself on Box 3 every few days. If you have more boxes, you might wait even longer before studying them. Whenever you correctly define a card in one box, move it over to the next, less-frequently-studied box. Whenever you miss a definition, move that card back to Box 1 and study it more frequently for a while. Don’t be tempted to study the less-frequent boxes more often, though. This method’s success relies on the gradual forgetting that happens when you take a break from studying. As with all study methods, it’s better to do a little every day than a lot all at once!

**Chelsey Cooley is a Manhattan Prep instructor based in Seattle, Washington.** Chelsey always followed her heart when it came to her education. Luckily, her heart led her straight to the perfect background for GMAT and GRE teaching: she has undergraduate degrees in mathematics and history, a master’s degree in linguistics, a 790 on the GMAT, and a perfect 170/170 on the GRE. Check out Chelsey’s upcoming GRE prep offerings here.

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]]>The post GMAT or GRE for b-school? Business Insider consults Manhattan Prep appeared first on GRE.

]]>Business Insider sat in on our “GMAT vs. GRE: Which is right for you?” workshop recently in order to glean expert advice from Manhattan Prep’s very own Stacey Koprince.

They found the course to be so informative that they published a nifty piece featuring a decision tree for prospective b-school students grappling with the age-old (or 2-years old, as it were) GMAT vs. GRE quandary; check it out below!

Interested in further reading on the “GMAT or GRE?” question? We’ve made a special page just for you. Want expert advice straight from the source at Stacey’s next workshop? Click here!

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]]>The post The GRE’s not a math test – it’s a foreign language test! appeared first on GRE.

]]>Could you tell what score she got? If not… you may need to work on your GRE translation skills! Most people expect math on the GRE to be like math in high school, when memorizing formulas and applying them correctly – rigorous memorization and meticulous application – was all you needed to get an A. That’s not nearly enough on the GRE, though!

Because the math content of GRE is relatively simple (middle school and basic high school math), the only way to make the test challenging is to make the structure complex. Test writers encode simple concepts in complicated language. Instead of saying “n is odd,” for example, they’ll say “the remainder when n is divided by 2 is 1.” That way, we have to do the extra work of translating: if a number has a remainder when divided by 2, it can’t be even. It must be odd!

To move through the test quickly and efficiently without getting stuck, you’ll need to quickly decode complex GRE language to find the simple underlying concept.

See if you can translate these coded messages:

- the remainder when
*x*is divided by 10 is 3. *p*=*n*^{3}*– n*, where*n*is an integer- integer
*y*has an odd number of distinct factors - |
*b*| = –*b* - the positive integer
*q*does not have a factor*r*such that 1<*r*<*q* *n*= 2*k*+ 1, where*k*is a positive integer*a*^{2}*b*^{3}*c*^{4 }> 0*x*and*y*are integers, and*y*< 0^{x }- what is the greatest integer
*n*for which 2is a factor of 96?^{n}

When you come across this kind of coded language, ask yourself, “what is the underlying concept here? What are the clues?” Then, create flashcards – coded message on the front, translation and explanation on the back.

Then, push yourself further: try to think of different iterations of the same idea (e.g. a/b > 0, or pqr < 0) and make flashcards for those.

Here are the translated versions of the codes above (but make sure you try to translate them yourself before you look at these answers!):

- The units digit of
*x*is 3 (the remainder when divided by 10 is always the same as the units digit). *p*is the product of 3 consecutive integers. Factor out*n*first:*n*(*n*^{2}– 1). Then, factor the difference of squares:*n*(*n*+ 1)(*n*– 1). A number × one greater × one smaller = the product of 3 consecutives.*y*is a perfect square (like 9, whose factors are 1, 3, & 9). Any non-square integer will have an even number of distinct factors (e.g. 5: 1 & 5, or 18: 1, 2, 3, 6, 9, & 18).*b*must be negative. If the absolute value of*b*is equal to -1 times*b*, then*b*cannot be positive or 0; it must be negative.*q*must be prime. If*q*were a non-prime integer, it would have at least one factor between 1 and itself.*n*is odd. 2*k*must be even (regardless of what*k*is), so adding 1 to an even will give us an odd.*b*must be positive. The even exponents hide the sign of*a*and*c*, but*a*^{2}and*c*^{4}must be positive, so*b*^{3}– and therefore*b*– must be positive.*y*must be negative, because only a negative base would yield a negative term. And*x*must be odd, because an even exponent would make the term positive.- How many factors of 2 are there in 96? If we break 96 down, we get a prime factorization of 2×2×2×2×2×3, so 2
^{5}will be a factor of 96, but 2^{6}won’t.

A lot of the coded language on the GRE comes from Number Properties concepts (perhaps because “even & odds” and “positives & negatives” seem elementary until we disguise them). You probably already know the basic rules: even + odd = odd, even × odd = even, etc. Don’t just make flashcards for the basic rules – look for the coded language, and be ready to translate.

By the way, that student that I mentioned at the beginning…were you able to figure out her score?

*4 times my score is a multiple of 44* – translation: the score is a multiple of 11.

*3 times my score is a multiple of 45* – translation: the score is a multiple of 15, and therefore 5 and 3.

A multiple of 11, 3, and 5? It must be a 165.

A score like that takes serious translation skills!

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]]>The post Boost your GRE score with Crunch Time appeared first on GRE.

]]>A lot of GRE students choose to study on their own but need a bit of extra help to feel ready for test day. A full prep course may not be the right fit. Continuing to study alone isn’t going to cut it, either.

If this sounds like you (or a GRE studier you know), check out **Crunch Time!**

Crunch Time is a new kind of prep program we developed specifically for students who have already learned most of the GRE content, but don’t feel confident enough to take the test yet. This 2-hour online workshop will focus on game day strategies and quant practice questions to help you apply your GRE knowledge under pressure.

Some workshop highlights include:

- Timed and proctored GRE problem sets to simulate the real exam experience
- Guided review on the most effective ways to analyze your practice work, led by our GRE experts
- Open Q&A session to address your concerns
- Post-workshop email support

We’ve had this program in the lab for while, and we’re really excited to finally bring it to you! The first of these workshops will be offered on Tuesday July 14th. If you think some time with a GRE master would help push you to your final goal score, you should definitely give it a try. Learn more and sign up right here.

See you there!

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]]>The post Manhattan Prep’s Social Venture Scholars Program Deadline: July 6th appeared first on GRE.

]]>These competitive scholarships are offered to individuals who (1) currently work full-time in an organization that promotes positive social change, (2) plan to use their degree to work in a public, not-for-profit, or other venture with a social-change oriented mission, and (3) demonstrate clear financial need. The Social Venture Scholars will all enroll in a special online preparation course taught by two of Manhattan Prep’s expert instructors within one year of winning the scholarship.

The deadline is fast approaching:** July 6th, 2015! **

**Learn more about the SVS program and apply to be one of our Social Venture Scholars here**.

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]]>The post New Edition of the 5 lb Book of GRE Practice Problems: Even Better Practice! appeared first on GRE.

]]>You’re getting more problems—over 2,000—in a slightly lighter package (still over 5 lbs, of course). How?

Technology! We’ve put close to 500 of these problems online. Almost two hundred of these beauties are brand-new, so register your book and check them out.

In the physical package, you’ll still get your fill of solid problems, both new and re-written. We closely examined every first-edition problem for its GRE-likeness. Problems that needed an overhaul got one. In verbal, for instance, you’ll still find tough vocabulary—just as you will on the GRE itself. But you’ll find a better balance of tough sentence structures and fact patterns—just as the GRE presents.

In small ways and large, we’ve labored to make the look and feel of every problem ever more GRE-like. We replaced slash fractions (such as 1/2) with horizontal-line versions. We slid the numbering of QC questions so that the given information is actually above the number, because that’s how the Official Guide does it. We scrubbed and buffed the text of questions to a fine shine, in order to reflect the tiniest nuances of GRE style.

We also thoroughly edited our explanations. Where things were a little unclear before, we clarified them. The “voice of the teacher” comes through even better now.

In all of this work, we listened to you. We studied what you liked—and didn’t—about the first edition. Our endeavor has been to correct deficiencies and build upon strengths. We hope you find the second edition an even better resource than the first.

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]]>The post How to “Read” Your Practice Tests appeared first on GRE.

]]>I write this assuming I don’t need to discuss looking at your score, comparing overall quantitative to overall verbal, etc. Everyone looks at the ‘big’ numbers. The question is, what eureka moments can we gain from a deeper analysis?

There are three components to analyzing a practice test: analyzing timing, analyzing accuracy by question type, and analyzing accuracy by topic tested.

**Analyzing Timing**

You can’t analyze your timing until you know what your timing should look like.

Does anything stand out to you in image above? Why do some questions take you less than one minute, while some take more than three? We expect some variation across different questions – Reading Comprehension should take longer than Text Completion or Sentence Equivalence, and Data Interpretation questions (especially the first DI question) will usually take longer than Quantitative Comparison. But why are there such wide swings in question time within the QC question? And I can’t help but notice that the two Discrete Quantity questions both took less time than the vast majority of the QC questions. Perhaps this is someone who is skilled in math, but doesn’t yet truly grasp the logic underlying the QC questions.

A review of QC as a question type is probably called for from this practice test.

Another element of timing is more fundamental (and the above image captures this concept also). Do you know when to let a question go, guess, and move on to the next question? Any time you spent three minutes on a question, you had a problem letting go. Right or wrong, that question hurt you.

Bottom line, when you analyze timing in a practice test, you want to see two things: 1) question by question timing – were you able to let a question go when needed, and 2) question type timing – do you have the desired timing for each question type?

Now it’s time to Generate an Assessment Report!!! (It’s exciting because it’s got three exclamation points )

**Analyzing Accuracy by Question Type**

Take a few moments and see what you can find in the image above. Don’t worry, I’ll wait

Seriously, there’s a lot you should consider here. If you haven’t been looking for at least 5 minutes, you haven’t spent enough time. And although I *said* this is the Accuracy analysis portion of this post, we’re not done with timing.

First, let’s talk good decisions vs poor decisions. Good decisions – on TC, you know when to get out of a question. Look at the Average Time Wrong vs Average Time right for the Harder and Devilish TC questions. That’s what we want to see! This indicates you recognize when more time will/won’t pay off. (Maybe… more on this in a moment.)

So why aren’t you making the same decisions in SE?

Finally, why, why, why are you spending five minutes – on AVERAGE across three questions – in RC? What’s going on here? There’s some leeway in RC, because of the time needed to read and process a longer passage, but not five minutes leeway.

On the Easier RC question that you missed, you missed it in one minute. This indicates you were confident in your answer. Confident in the wrong answer – somewhere in this question is a trap that you fell for, and you need to figure out what that trap was!

Back to the TC timing: one possibility is you know when to get out of TC, and that’s why your wrong answers take less time than the right answers. Another, more disturbing possibility, is you’re cheating yourself on TC time. How do I know this? Look at the variation between TC and SE accuracy – it’s not huge, but the discrepancy is there. Why is TC accuracy lower?

Finally, the most obvious element of this analysis is that RC is your lowest accuracy. Time to go back and study!!!

**Analyzing Accuracy by Topic Tested**

This issue cannot be addressed by looking at one image – you will generate an assessment report, and view the Analysis by Content Area and Topic. There are a few things you’re looking for here.

First, and foremost, are you seeing accuracy and speed in topics you’ve studied? If you haven’t studied Geometry yet, who cares if your Geometry accuracy is 20%! But you’ve spent two full weeks reviewing algebra, so why are you missing 2 out of 3 function/formula questions? Bright side though, your accuracy in Quadratics is through the roof!!

Obviously that paragraph is a hypothetical, but notice two things: first, you need to decide which area(s) deserve your analysis; second, you need to look not just at the overall topic, but also at the subtopics.

You’re looking for improvements and discrepancies. Which areas are strong? Which are weak? Do you have a mix of strong and weak areas in one major topic? These are all question you need to ask yourself.

BUT you need to take this with a grain of salt – don’t neglect to consider the difficulty of the individual questions! Yes, maybe you missed 2 function questions. But they were both Devilish difficulty! You’re not weak in this area, you just got hit by some of the worst questions.

Finally, don’t neglect to examine timing in this area of analysis. Yes, you were accurate in Rates questions. But you spent 4 minutes on them. Time to study!!

**Final Thoughts**

I hope you’ve found this helpful. If you go back and look at my previous GRE blog posts, I think you’ll notice that this post contains many, many more rhetorical questions. That’s the point of practice test analysis. In the test, and when you’re studying, the computer, or the book, or whatever study source you’re using is asking you questions.

Analyzing your practice tests is the time for you to ask the questions. What are the weak areas? Strong areas? Why am I performing differently in Word Problems vs Geometry?

And there’s one question you must ask, which I haven’t addresses, simply because of how much space it would require – **Are you seeing improvement???**

Every time you take a practice test, from the second practice test on to the last, look at the most recent test, do all this analysis. Then look at the test prior – what’s changed? What has stayed the same? Have you improved in your weaknesses, and have strengths remained strong?

A practice test doesn’t teach you anything in and of itself – but it tells you where you are, and where you’re moving, and what you *should* be teaching yourself.

Good Luck!!!

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]]>The post Manhattan Prep Instructor Wows With Record-Setting Jeopardy Win appeared first on GRE.

]]>Here at MPrep we know that dude as Michael Bilow (one of those people who command such respect that he must always be talked about using his last name lest anyone in earshot mistakenly attribute an anecdote or joke to some less deserving Michael). On Jeopardy, he lived up to his legend taking home the fourth highest single-day winnings in Jeopardy history: $57,198.

Michael Bilow joined the Manhattan Prep family in 2011 using his perfect GRE score and spectacular teaching chops to secure a role as an LA-based GRE instructor. A few years later we realized we needed more Bilow in our business so we asked him to join the Marketing Department. He took a position as our Business Data Analyst, while continuing to teach GRE classes and pursue his PhD. After seeing him flawlessly juggle those responsibilities, we never had any doubt that he would take the Jeopardy world by fire.

By now the whole country knows of Bilow’s intellectual prowess, but we know so much more. Michael is a dedicated practitioner of improv, a delightful presence in Google Hangout meetings, and a stylish dresser. We can’t wait for his next trip to the New York City headquarters so he can buy us a drink with his winnings after he takes a quick a nap in a tutoring pod.

Congrats, Michael Bilow! Keep it up!

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]]>