Articles published in Current Studiers

Recommended Reading for the GRE

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Manhattan Prep GRE Blog - Recommended Reading for the GRE by Cat Powell

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.


When I was a kid, my mom read Don Quixote to me as a kind of cautionary tale: look at the crazy things you end up doing if you read too much fiction. I did read too much fiction—and I still do—and this probably does explain some of my major personality flaws. But it also turns out that one of the crazy things you can do if you read too much is answer most GRE vocabulary questions, because one great gift of reading is that you learn a lot of interesting words.  

The GRE favors words that are used broadly, across many disciplines, and that are appropriate for academic writing. This means that many of the words that show up on the GRE are rarely used in our everyday conversations, and I find that a lot of them I’ve seen used primarily in 19th-century fiction.

My colleagues have written some great posts about how to learn words effectively with flashcards and other toolsand so today I want offer an alternate strategy: read great fiction, preferably older stuff, but maybe some 20th-century books as well. It’s a fun antidote to study fatigue and a great way to find new words in their natural habitat. Here’s some recommended reading for picking up lots of GRE vocab. Read more

Taking Distance from the GRE

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Manhattan Prep GRE Blog - Taking Distance from the GRE by Daniel Yudkin

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.


Studying for the GRE can be challenging—both at an intellectual and a personal level. As you study, it’s easy to feel like your whole value as a person is on the line.

But taking the test too personally can be a bad thing—both for emotional and practical reasons.

On an emotional level, taking the results of the test personally can lead you to high levels of stress and anxiety. And it’s just not worth it to beat yourself up about it.

The GRE is only one factor in the whole picture of you as a grad school applicant. Admissions committees know this and keep this in mind as they evaluate candidates. They also look at your background, your interests, your grades, your recommendations, and your personal essay. A strong personal essay—one that reflects your unique personality and tells a convincing story about why you’re interested in graduate school—is often enough to put you at the top of the pile. A good essay counts for more than any GRE score.

But there are practical reasons to keep a good emotional distance from the GRE, too. Read more

MBA Admissions Myths Destroyed: No One Takes the GRE Seriously!

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Manhattan Prep GRE Blog - MBA Admissions Myths Destroyed: No One Takes the GRE Seriously! by mbaMission

What have you been told about applying to business school? With the advent of chat rooms, blogs and forums, armchair “experts” often unintentionally propagate MBA admissions myths, which can linger and undermine an applicant’s confidence. Some applicants are led to believe that schools want a specific “type” of candidate and expect certain GMAT scores and GPAs, for example. Others are led to believe that they need to know alumni from their target schools and/or get a letter of reference from the CEO of their firm in order to get in. In this series, mbaMission debunks these and other myths and strives to take the anxiety out of the admissions process.


A common theme in our MBA Admissions Myths Destroyed series is that applicants should not assume that admissions officers have “right” and “wrong” answers in mind and are trying to trick candidates in some way. Applicants often worry that admissions officers say one thing but really mean another. As a result, many assume that their interviews are worthless—that they essentially “do not count”—unless they are conducted by someone from the Admissions Office, or that they need to have a connection with a particularly successful or well-known alumnus/alumna from their target school to be admitted, or that they need to pander to a school’s stereotypes to get in. These days, an emerging myth—which assumes that admissions officers are up to their old (and candidates’ entirely imagined) tricks—asserts that the GMAT is taken far more seriously than the GRE and that the GRE is therefore of dubious value to applicants. 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 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

Solving GRE Problems in Multiple Ways to Build Flexibility

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Manhattan Prep GRE Blog - Solving GRE Problems in Multiple Ways to Build Flexibility by Cat Powell

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.


Recently, my colleague Tom and I decided that, since we were teaching in adjacent classrooms, it might be fun to combine our classes and co-teach a lesson. Tom and I have very different strengths, both as test-takers and teachers. I love algebra, and I’ll always seek out an algebraic solution to a problem (even when this might not be the most efficient method—my strength is also a weakness). Tom prefers non-algebraic methods, like drawing diagrams or picking numbers. And our strengths inform what we emphasize in class.

So, for our joint lesson, we chose a number of GRE problems that could be solved in more than one way, and then took turns demonstrating each method. First, we each used the method we preferred (algebra for me, picking numbers for Tom), and then we switched and demonstrated the method we were less comfortable with. Here’s one of the GRE problems we used: Read more

Look Before You Leap When Studying for the GRE

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Manhattan Prep GRE Blog - Look Before You Leap When Studying for the GRE by Daniel Yudkin

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.


People study for the GRE in different ways. Some people spread their studying out over time, taking 10-15 minutes every few days and studying for several months or more. Others condense their studying into a more limited amount of time.

When I was first studying for the GRE, I was lucky enough to get to doing it during six weeks I had off over a summer. During this time, I mainly spent my time doing two things: learning vocabulary (using flashcards) and taking practice tests.

I spent so much time studying for the GRE during this time that I began to have dreams about exponents, ratios, and number properties! Sometimes they were nightmares, in which I imagined myself confronted with an unsolvable problem, filled with a growing sense of dread as the clock counted down to 0.

Other times, however, I had dreams that filled me with a sense of confidence. In these dreams, I was confronted with a problem, and, even before I knew what the answer to the problem was, I knew something even more important: I understood what the problem was asking me to show. 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

GRE Percent Change Questions

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Manhattan Prep GRE Blog - GRE Percent Change Problems by Neil Thornton

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.


One of the most common mistakes many students make on the Quant section of the GRE is to misread percent questions, especially ones that ask you to calculate percent change (i.e. increase, decrease, more, less, greater, discount, or profit). You can fix this issue with a bit of practice, but it requires some careful reading on your part. Read more