Manhattan Prep GRE Blog

Here’s what the best students do to study for the GRE


Blog-BestGREWhenever you do practice GRE problems, you should spend significantly more time reviewing each problem than you spent doing it. Many students have asked me this very reasonable question, though: “What am I supposed to actually do when I review?” Here’s the answer. This review process will help you squeeze more out of every problem you do. Read more

This simple approach will help you avoid mistakes on GRE algebra


Blog-SimpleApproachGRE high-scorers might not be smarter than everyone else, but they do think about the test differently. One key difference is in how high-scorers do algebra. They make far fewer algebraic mistakes, because, either consciously or subconsciously, they use mathematical rules to check their work as they simplify. Here’s how to develop that habit yourself. Read more

Build your GRE vocabulary with science: spaced retrieval


Blog-Spaced RetrievalThere’s a better way to learn GRE vocabulary, and it’s based on scientific principles that have been demonstrated by researchers since the 1800s. It’s called spaced retrieval, and the basic idea is this: Read more

GMAT or GRE for b-school? Business Insider consults Manhattan Prep

GMAT vs GRE Article Photo - Business Insider-Manhattan Prep

Whether it’s the GMAT or the GRE, let Manhattan Prep be your guide.

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!


“GMAT vs. GRE” decision tree. Credit: Business Insider

The GRE’s not a math test – it’s a foreign language test!


Blog-GRE-LanguageImagine that you asked a friend of yours what she got on the Quant section of the GRE. Instead of answering you directly, she said “let’s just say that 4 times my score is a multiple of 44, and 3 times my score is a multiple of 45.”

Could you tell what score she got? If not… you may need to work on your GRE translation skills!  Read more

Boost your GRE score with Crunch Time



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!

Manhattan Prep’s Social Venture Scholars Program Deadline: July 6th


free-gmat-classDo you work for a non-profit? How about promote positive social change? Manhattan Prep is honored to offer special full tuition scholarships for up to 16 individuals per year (4 per quarter) who will be selected as part of Manhattan Prep’s Social Venture Scholars program. The SVS program provides selected scholars with free admission into one of Manhattan Prep’s Live Online Complete Courses (a $1299 value).

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.



New Edition of the 5 lb Book of GRE Practice Problems: Even Better Practice!


5lb-book-2nd-ed-coverToday the second edition of our 5 lb. Book of GRE Practice Problems comes out. Oodles of hours of hard work have gone into this edition, and we’re proud to share it with you.

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.

How to “Read” Your Practice Tests


So, you’ve taken a practice test!  Maybe you’re closing in on the score you want, or maybe you still have some distance left to travel.  Regardless of which scenario applies to you, “reading” your practice test data is an incredibly crucial element to GRE progress!

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.

GRE 1 edited

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

GRE 2 edited

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!!!

Manhattan Prep Instructor Wows With Record-Setting Jeopardy Win


3-24-Jeopardy-GREYesterday, the whole wide internet was shocked by the Jeopardy dominance of “This dude Michael”, but here at Manhattan Prep we weren’t surprised at all. We already knew that dude was smart and we knew that dude had the mathematical wherewithal to bet $7,000 without batting an eyelash.

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!