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#GRE Math: US Population Reaches 100 Million Pi


According to the Huffington Post:

The U.S. population has reached a nerdy and delightful milestone.

Shortly after 2:29 p.m. on Tuesday, August 14, 2012, the U.S. population was exactly 314,159,265, or pi (Ï€) times 100 million, the U.S. Census Bureau reports.

Here’s a little GRE question about this nerdtastic matter!

If the US population is equivalent to 100 million π (rounded to the nearest person), the average member of the population is 5.5 feet tall, and every member of the US population is arranged, head-to-foot, to form a circle, which is closest to the radius of this circle, in feet?

A. 2,750,000
B. 2,750,000π
C. 275,000,000
D. 275,000,000π
E. 550,000,000

Choose an answer before proceeding!

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Is Mariah Carey’s GRE Vocabulary Better Than Yours?


Mariah Carey

This incredible post on Gawker catalogues the rather prodigious vocabulary displayed in Mariah Carey’s oeuvre.

The post does seem to be making fun of Carey a bit:

Her lyrics are littered with, as she might say, peculiar words that suggest she is a vocabulary booster enthusiast. She loves her some adverbs. The result is a body of words that are rarely, if ever, heard in pop music.

(What’s a “booster enthusiast”? Considering that one definition of booster — and the only definition that really applies to a person — is “enthusiast,” I think “booster enthusiast” is a bit redundant.)

In any case, I read over the entire list of lyrics, lyrics like:

“I can’t be elusive with you honey / ‘Cause it’s blatant that I’m feeling you”

“Do you care for me beyond idolization?”

“I had a crush on you / Painstakingly I would conceal the truth”

“Keep pressing on steadfastly”

“Thoughts run wild as I sit and rhapsodize”

“After so much suffering I finally found unvarnished truth”

“My defenses start to wane”

… and Mariah Carey is basically using those words correctly.

We think she’d do pretty well on the GRE! At least the verbal part.

Check out the entire list here.

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Pop Quiz: GRE Sentence Equivalence Problem “Team America: World Police”


Try this GRE Sentence Equivalence problem! After the jump, you’ll see an explanation from one of our instructors.

The theme song from the film Team America: World Police is meant as a parody, sending up the _________ slogans and anthems that have recently become a disconcertingly ubiquitous aspect of American life.

Select two correct answers.


(Note: When you see six answer choices and square checkboxes, that’s a clue that this is a GRE Sentence Equivalence problem, to which there will always be two correct answers.)

Make your selections before reading any further!

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DailyMail Vocab Fail: That Pit Bull is “Viscous”!


Check out the last sentence of this article about a pit bull attack:


Note that, in the top sentence captured above, the pit bull is “vicious.”

In the last line, it is “viscous.” NOT THE SAME WORD.

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GRE Data Interpretation: Humor from XKCD


If you’ve been feeling frustrated with the abstruse, opaque, even occult charts and tables on the GRE’s Data Interpretation section, you might find this amusing.

Click to enlarge.

To practice GRE charts and tables for real, see:

Adorbs! Vocab and Cute Animals from

by claims to be the world’s most accurate online grammar checker. Interesting!

Fortunately, grammar is not tested on the GRE (as it is on the SAT and GMAT). However, Grammarly’s Facebook page is full of (that is, replete with) vocab learning and other word fun.

Do you know the meanings of agog, voracious, loquacious, frolicsome, tortuousness, and indelicate? Check out these explanations, then try a GRE problem at the bottom of the post.

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Functions in Real Life: Wedding Planning Math


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! Read more

GRE Reading Comp: OMG, Help!


A common question regarding the GRE is how to improve on Reading Comp. Whether our problem is speed, comprehending the passages, or — a common complaint — narrowing the choices down to two and then picking the wrong one, RC difficulties are widespread (that is, ubiquitous).

Here’s my advice to a student’s question in the Forums:

The first thing to say is: You really do just have to read and think very fast to get a top score on the verbal GRE. To truly learn to read and process complex information more quickly could take a person years. Obviously, we don’t usually have that kind of time to prepare for the GRE. But for whatever reason, speed-comprehension is a skill being tested on this exam.

So, if speed is a serious problem, you might have to accept that you won’t really get to REALLY answer all the questions — you might want to answer all the vocab questions first, since they’re faster, and then go back and do all the shorter reading passages, leaving the longer passages for last. If you skip something, use the “mark” button, and pick a random answer just in case you don’t get a chance to come back.

(See also: Everything You Need to Know About GRE Time Management Part I and Part II.)

As for taking notes, personally I do not take notes when the passage is on a topic with which I am familiar. But if the passage is complex (usually science passages are, to me), I diagram, and even draw certain processes (for instance, I did a lovely sketch of spiral galaxy formation on one passage, with words and arrows indicating the meaning of that part of the passage). I also always diagram is a contrast is being presented so i can make a T-chart to help me keep track of which historians/scientists/etc. are on which “side.”

I also find that reading many, many GRE passages (you can also practice on books for the old GRE — the Reading Comp is basically the same — or on materials for the LSAT or GMAT) familiarizes you with certain topics and structures. I now know more about astronomy than I ever thought I would, and when I begin reading something about history, I’m always expecting the same evidence to get reinterpreted in a new light (I’d say I’ve become very familiar with the idea that historical and anthropological evidence is often interpreted by historians and anthropologists through the lens of their own time and culture).

An example — I was recently working with a student on a long, hard RC passage about a particular type of fish, and how it had evolved to have both its eyes on the same side of its head (and then there was a long description of the twisting of the optic nerves), and how these fish in some parts of the ocean have their eyes on the left side of their heads, and in other parts, on the right side. The passage investigated what the evolutionary advantage could be to having both of one’s eyes on the left side versus the right side. (A good question! What on earth COULD be the advantage to such an adaptation? Do sharks always attack from the left or something? Ha.)
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Flashcard Sneak Peek: What Does “Metaphysical” Really Mean?


Take a sneak peek into Manhattan Prep’s 500 Essential Words and 500 Advanced Words GRE flashcard sets!

Turns out, metaphysical doesn’t just mean “really deep, man.” And let’s not even talk about ontological and empirical. Check it out:

Want to adopt 1,000 new flashcards? Visit our store here.

Cheesy Mnemonics for GRE Vocab: Disingenuous


Mnemonics or mnemonic devices are memory tricks to help us remember things like vocabulary words. However, many mnemonics are pretty cheesy — often involving the kind of jokes some people call “groaners.” For instance…

Disingenuous means, “insincere; lacking in frankness or candor; falsely or hypocritically ingenuous.”

Here’s the mnemonic:

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