The Blog Guide

A student recently had a great idea for an article: how to use the blog as a study guide. There are so many articles “ where should you start and what should you do? This article contains a lot of practical advice along with many links to additional resources. Follow the links!

Just Starting Out

Start with a practice test, taken under 100% official conditions (in other words, don’t skip those essays). You can take your first practice test with us for free; then, use the score report feature to analyze your strengths and weaknesses.

Pay attention not just to percentage correct but also to timing. If you’re having timing problems, it’s possible that some question types or content areas will show a lower percentage correct simply because you ran out of time before you could fully address those particular questions.

If you have any timing problems at all (and almost everyone does), dig into our Time Management article series. You may finish a section on time and yet still have serious “ even severe “ timing problems. Check the time for each question “ on vocab questions, you shouldn’t have very many that are faster than about 30 seconds or slower than 2 minutes. For passages, the timeframe should be about 1 minute minimum to 2.5 minutes maximum (note: for longer passages with multiple questions, the up-front reading time can be allocated across all questions for that passage). On quant, you shouldn’t have many that are faster than about 45 seconds or slower than about 2.5 minutes.

Get Into the Right Mindset

Read this: In It To Win It. Start doing what it says, today.

Also, check out these ideas for conducting a productive study session.

Put a Plan Together

Okay, you’ve taken the practice test, you’ve got the right mindset, you’re ready to go! Now what? You’ve got a few decisions to make

  1. Do you want to study on your own, with a friend, in a classroom, or with a tutor?
  2. What’s your goal score?
  3. How much time do you have?

I can’t answer those questions for you, but I can tell you what to think about in order to answer the questions for yourself.

Are you strongly motivated? Do you set schedules for yourself and stick to them? Are you able to analyze your own progress or performance and figure out where to go from there? Does the idea of constructing your own GRE study plan sound like a challenge, but a feasible one? Do you know others who are preparing for the GRE? If so, then working on your own might be the best decision for you.

Do you learn better in a group setting? Does setting up your own study plan sound like a chore, an added responsibility that you don’t need right now in your busy life? Do you know that you’ll likely procrastinate if no one’s checking to see whether you’ve completed your homework or asking you questions to see whether you’ve learned the material you were supposed to be studying? Would you like to have access to an instructor in order to ask questions and get help with problematic areas? If so, then taking a class or working with a tutor might be the best decision for you.

What about your goal score? If you’re not sure, start researching. Most graduate schools publish the average incoming GRE scores for the students admitted to their programs. Check out the web sites of the schools to which you’d like to apply. Ideally, you’d like to be at or above the average.

Finally, if you have a particular deadline, then that tells you how long you have to study and you’re stuck with that timeframe. If you have the flexibility to set your own schedule, keep in mind that most people study for 2 to 4 months, and the farther you are from your goal score, the longer you’ll need to get there.

How to Learn

First, you’ll need a couple of different kinds of study resources:

  • Practice problems. The best source is the Official Guide, which contains real past test questions.
  • Study materials. These will help you to get better at the material tested on the GRE. The practice problems themselves will not teach you how to get better. In general, study materials are published by test prep companies.
  • Practice tests. The best source once again is the official practice test software (note: Macs are not supported), but most people want more than the 2 tests contained in this software. You can get additional tests from a test prep company.

Next, it’s crucially important to make sure that you are actually learning from every single problem that you do. You do not learn much while you are actually trying the problem. Most of what you learn comes afterwards, while you’re reviewing and analyzing both the problem itself and your own thinking.

Next, you’re going to make mistakes. This is good. (After all, if you’re not making any mistakes, then you’re not going to learn anything!) Here’s an article that will help you learn from your errors.

Finally, here are some additional ideas for studying from your Strategy Guides (if you use our GRE books).

Continue Reading…

Occasionally, we’ll get an algebra problem in which a pre-defined formula is given for some phenomenon, and then we’re told to manipulate that formula in some way. People often find these quite tough because we typically didn’t see questions like this in school.

Let’s try this problem first (© Manhattan Prep) from our GRE Algebra Strategy Guide.

 Life expectancy is defined by the formula 2SB/G, where S = shoe size, B = average monthly electric bill in dollars, and G = GRE score. If Melvin’s GRE score is twice his monthly electric bill, and his life expectancy is 50, what is his shoe size?

(There are no multiple choice answers for this one. Also, yes, we’re being a little silly with this problem.

GRE formulas But don’t the big story problems feel like this sometimes? Just having a little fun while we learn : ) )

Many students will tell me, It doesn’t seem like we can solve this one at all. There are four variables and they only give us the value for one of them. How can we possibly figure out his shoe size?

Continue Reading…

Math BeastEach week, we post a new Challenge Problem for you to attempt. If you submit the correct answer, you will be entered into that week’s drawing for two free Manhattan Prep GRE Strategy Guides.

y > 9
z > 2

Quantity A
x2yz “ 8x2z + 3yz “ 24z

Quantity B

Continue Reading…

This amazing math wedding cake is from Pink Cake Box.

This past week, I was attempting to plan a wedding, and came across yet another “GRE math in real life” situation. (When you’re a GRE instructor, you tend to spot these quite often!)

I’m going to give you three different GRE math problems using the same real-life wedding scenario. Here goes!

Question 1: To hold a wedding at NYC Private Club costs $130 per person, including food and open bar. There is also a $500 ceremony fee and a 20% service charge, as well as 8.875% NYC tax on the entire bill. Which of the following represents the total cost C of a wedding at NYC Private Club as a function of the number of people, p?

A. C(p) = (130p + 500)(0.8)(91.125)
B. C(p) = (130p)(0.2)(1.08875) + 500
C. C(p) = (130p)(1.2)(0.08875) + 500
D. C(p) = 130p + 1.2p + 1.08875p + 500
E. C(p) = (130p + 500)(1.2)(1.08875)

Question 2: To hold a wedding at NYC Private Club costs $130 per person, including food and open bar. There is also a $500 ceremony fee and a 20% service charge, as well as 8.875% NYC tax on the entire bill. If a wedding at NYC Private Club cost, to the nearest dollar, $10,334, how many guests attended the wedding?


Question 3:

To hold a wedding at NYC Private Club costs $130 per person, including food and open bar. There is also a $500 ceremony fee and a 20% service charge, as well as 8.875% NYC tax on the entire bill.

Quantity A
The overall cost per person, including all fees, charges, and taxes, of a wedding at NYC Private Club with 100 guests
       Quantity B
The overall cost per person, including all fees, charges, and taxes, of a wedding at NYC Private Club with 150 guests

A. Quantity A is greater.
B. Quantity B is greater.
C. The two quantities are equal.
D. The relationship cannot be determined from the information given.

Select your answers before reading any further! Continue Reading…

Enjoy the weekend with some of the top articles about the GRE and graduate school!

patriotic dog

Happy Fourth of July!

6 Reasons Why Graduate School Pays Off (U.S. News Education)

Read up on how an advanced degree can make a big difference un your career and earning potential.

ScoreSelect Option for the GRE Tests Now Available to Test Takers Worldwide (PR Newswire)

This past Tuesday, July 3, 2012, the ScoreSelect option became available to test takers worldwide. The new option allows GRE test takers to decide which test scores to send to institutions. Be sure to check out our blog post for more info on ScoreSelect.

Continue Reading…