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Careless Mistakes on the GRE: Go Slow to Go Fast

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Manhattan Prep GRE Blog - Careless Mistakes on the GRE: Go Slow to Go Fast 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.


It’s okay to make mistakes on the GRE. You can miss plenty of problems and still get a great score. However, it matters why you make those mistakes. Miss a problem because you don’t know how to solve it? That’s totally okay (as long as you don’t waste too much time). Miss a problem because you added two and three and got six? That’s a problem, and here’s how to fix it: stop trying to go fast. Read more

The Last Week before Your GRE: What to Do

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Manhattan Prep GRE Blog - The Last Week before Your GRE: What to Do 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.


It’s the last week before your GRE! What should you do this week to maximize your odds of a great score? Read more

Your GRE Problem Log and the Myth of “Practice Makes Perfect”

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Manhattan Prep GRE Blog - Your GRE Problem Log and the Myth of

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.


If you’ve ever played a sport, learned a language, or played a musical instrument, you’ve heard the old saying: “practice makes perfect.” Unfortunately, that saying is misleading. It’s possible to practice something for years and never get any better. (Just ask my childhood piano teacher!) What actually matters, what actually makes you improve, is one specific thing that happens during practice: how you react to your mistakes. Read more

Two GRE Math Terms to Banish from Your Lexicon

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Manhattan Prep GRE Blog - Two GRE Math Terms to Banish from Your Lexicon 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 a few math terms that are banned from my GRE classroom. “I’m not a math person” is a big one. So is “You either know it, or you don’t.” Both of those sentences are untrue—they don’t describe how the human brain really works—and they’re also dangerous.

The words that we choose are important. If we want to succeed on the GRE, we should talk about our learning in a way that reflects that. And if we want to do GRE Quant problems clearly and methodically, we should also talk about them clearly and methodically. That’s why, in addition to the “dangerous” math terms up there, there are a couple of other “dirty words” that I’ve banned from my classroom. If you cut these words and phrases out of your GRE Quant vocabulary, I promise that you’ll make fewer careless errors, understand problems more clearly, and feel more confident about your solutions. Read more

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 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