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More Fun with GRE Variables

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Manhattan Prep GRE Blog - More Fun with GRE Variables by Chelsey Cooley

You can attend the first session of any of our online or in-person GRE courses absolutely free. Crazy, right? Check out our upcoming courses here.


In my last blog post, we practiced using GRE variables to solve Quant word problems—and we solved some problems without using variables, too. The big takeaway: you don’t have to start every word problem with a tidy little list of variables and equations! It’s okay to focus on the numbers in the problem first. However, variables are sometimes the key ingredient to getting a GRE problem right. In this article, we’ll try using variables to solve some tougher GRE Quant word problems.

Here’s one of my favorite problems from the 5lb. Book of GRE Practice Problems. Give it a try before you keep reading: Read more

GRE Math for People Who Hate Math: Absolute Value

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Manhattan Prep GRE Blog - GRE Math for People Who Hate Math: Absolute Value by Chelsey Cooley

You can attend the first session of any of our online or in-person GRE courses absolutely free. Ready to take the plunge? Check out our upcoming courses here.


Think of an absolute value as a simple machine that looks like this: ||. You put a value into it, and the machine answers a single question for you: how far away from zero was the value that you put in?

The basic operation of the machine is simple. Take any number, put it into the machine, and find out how far from zero that number is. The absolute value of 12, |12|, is equal to 12. The absolute value of -10, |-10|, is equal to 10. That’s because -10 is 10 units away from zero.

It starts to get complicated when the GRE asks you to put things into the machine that are more complex than simple numbers. Imagine that somebody else is operating the machine. She puts values in, but she doesn’t tell you what those values are. All you can see is the answer that the machine gives when it receives those values. Read more

GRE Math for People Who Hate Math: What Is a Variable, Really?

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Manhattan Prep GRE Blog - GRE Math for People Who Hate Math: What is a Variable, Really? by Chelsey Cooley

You can attend the first session of any of our online or in-person GRE courses absolutely free. Crazy, right? Check out our upcoming courses here.


Imagine a world where every conversation went like this:

Student: When is our final project due?

Professor: Three days after the first Wednesday after your rough draft is due.

Student: What?

Professor: The rough draft is due 15 days after the date 6 days before May 14.

Solving a GRE math word problem is a little bit like having this kind of conversation. That’s why word problems can be so infuriating. The problem isn’t lying to you. It’s just telling you the truth in a really annoying, backwards way. (Reading Comprehension problems do that too—it’s not just a Quant thing.)

In the conversation above, how would you work out the due date of the final project? Personally, I’d start by getting out my calendar. I’d start at May 14, then count 6 days backwards. Then, I’d count 15 days forwards, put a star on the calendar, and mark it ‘rough draft.’ Then I’d find the first Wednesday after that date, and finally, I’d count three days forward from there. That would give me my answer. Read more

GRE Sentence Equivalence: Theme Traps

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Manhattan Prep GRE Blog - GRE Sentence Equivalence: Theme Traps by Chelsey Cooley

You can attend the first session of any of our online or in-person GRE courses absolutely free. Crazy, right? Check out our upcoming courses here.


There are four reasons to miss a GRE Sentence Equivalence problem. Here are three of them:

  • You misread the sentence.
  • You didn’t know all of the vocabulary words (or remembered a word incorrectly).
  • You were short on time and the problem looked tough, so you guessed and got unlucky.

These are all things that you can address with practice. (Check out our Text Completion & Sentence Equivalence Strategy Guide for ideas!) However, we won’t be talking about them here. Instead, let’s look at a fourth reason to miss a GRE Sentence Equivalence problem:

  • You fell for a trap.

Read more

How to Really Remember a GRE Vocabulary Word

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Manhattan Prep GRE Blog - How to Really Remember a GRE Vocabulary Word by Chelsey CooleyYou can attend the first session of any of our online or in-person GRE courses absolutely free. Crazy, right? Check out our upcoming courses here.


Think about your least favorite GRE vocabulary word. You know the one—every time you see it in your flashcards, you get that sinking feeling of dread. You always get this one wrong. You know it’s important, but for some reason, it just won’t stick in your head.

Okay, do you have a word in mind? Let’s conquer it—right here and now. Read more

How Much Do I Have to Learn to Beat the GRE?

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Manhattan Prep GRE Blog - How Much Do I Have to Learn to Beat the GRE? by Chelsey Cooley

Did you know that you can attend the first session of any of our online or in-person GRE courses absolutely free? We’re not kidding! Check out our upcoming courses here.


Not as much as you might think. However, it’ll still take time, hard work, and a change in mindset. A lot of the learning you have to do to beat the GRE won’t look like what you’re used to. Sure, you’ll spend some time reading books and taking notes. But you’ll also need to study and think in ways that go against what you may have learned in school.

The GRE isn’t a perfect test. For instance, the research is split on whether it predicts how well you’ll do in graduate school. However, people who say that the GRE “doesn’t test anything” or “only tests how well you take tests” aren’t quite right, either. There are certain skills that, if developed, will consistently help you do well on the GRE. And these skills are learnable. One of them is the ability to use your content knowledge under pressure. Read more

GRE Math for People Who Hate Math: Backsolving

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Manhattan Prep GRE Blog - GRE Math for People Who Hate Math: Backsolving by Chelsey Cooley

Did you know that you can attend the first session of any of our online or in-person GRE courses absolutely free? We’re not kidding! Check out our upcoming courses here.


You know what I love about GRE Discrete Quant problems? Specifically, multiple-choice Discrete Quant? The answer choices. Think about it: out of the infinite number of numbers in the universe, the GRE has already narrowed it down to just five possibilities. They’ve done almost all of the work for you. And that makes Discrete Quant a huge opportunity for People Who Hate Math. Read more

GRE Vocab Words You Think You Know…But Don’t

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Manhattan Prep GRE Blog - GRE Vocab Words You Think You Know...But Don't by Chelsey Cooley

Did you know that you can attend the first session of any of our online or in-person GRE courses absolutely free? We’re not kidding! Check out our upcoming courses here.


Some researchers estimate that there are as many as a million words in the English language. However, you won’t see words like mylohyoid, ekphrasis, or cotyledon on the GRE. In fact, even though English has a huge number of extremely rare words, the GRE almost never tests them. Instead, it focuses on a set of words we’ll call rare but reasonable. Read more

Lessons from Learning Science: The Testing Effect

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Manhattan Prep GRE Blog - Lessons from Learning Science: The Testing Effect by Chelsey Cooley

Did you know that you can attend the first session of any of our online or in-person GRE courses absolutely free? We’re not kidding! Check out our upcoming courses here.


Here’s one surprising way to speed up your GRE studies: quiz yourself. Now, that doesn’t mean that you have to take a lot of practice tests. Think smaller. To reap the benefits of the “testing effect,” give yourself frequent, small quizzes on whichever topics you’ve studied lately. Here’s how and why it works. Read more

Are GRE Verbal Questions Subjective?

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Manhattan Prep GRE Blog - Are GRE Verbal Questions Subjective? by Chelsey Cooley

Did you know that you can attend the first session of any of our online or in-person GRE courses absolutely free? We’re not kidding! Check out our upcoming courses here.


A lot of people think that GRE Verbal questions can have more than one right answer. The GRE itself doesn’t do anything to dispel this myth, since Verbal questions often include wording like which of the following is best supported? or with which statement would the author most likely agree?. These questions make it sound as if you’re supposed to read five pretty good answers and pick the best one, even if the other ones are okay, too. However, this mindset will hurt you on test day. Read more