Articles published in Life Hacks

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

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

I Have a Perfect GRE Score, and My Cousin Just Asked Me How to Prep for the Test. Here’s What I Told Him.

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Manhattan Prep GRE Blog - I Have a Perfect GRE Score, and My Cousin Just Asked Me How to Prep for the Test. Here's What I Told Him. by Jonathan Schneider

I got an email from my cousin the other day—he told me that he’s interested in taking the GRE. Since I’m a GRE instructor with a perfect score on the test, he’d come to the right place. He wanted to know the basics: what first steps should he take? How much should he prep? How does the GRE even work? I gave him some pretty comprehensive advice, and my cousin found it so useful that I wanted to share it with you all. Read on below.


What is the GRE?

So, the GRE (Graduate Record Examination) is administered by ETS (Educational Testing Service), the same organization that administers the TOEFL and some other exams. The GRE is used by a lot of master’s programs, mostly in the sciences and humanities but also more recently for business school as well. It’s worth reading the overview here and here. While it costs $205 each time, I recommend planning to take the exam at least twice. Read more

Troubleshooting Your Unsuccessful MBA Application

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Manhattan Prep GRE Blog - Troubleshooting Your Unsuccessful MBA Application by mbaMission

Taking the GRE for your business school application? You’re in luck. Each month, we are featuring a series of MBA admission tips from our exclusive admissions consulting partner, mbaMission.


As the MBA application season nears its end, candidates find themselves in one of two positions. Either they were successful in their efforts and must now choose where (or whether) to enroll, or they are left wondering why they were not offered admission to their target program(s). To help those applicants who find themselves in the latter category, we will pinpoint some of the areas where many unsuccessful applicants tend to have fallen short. Read more

Managing GRE Anxiety Before Test Day

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Manhattan Prep GRE Blog - Managing GRE Anxiety Before Test Day 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.


I am an incredibly anxious person. Like all of us, I worry about the big things (work, money, relationships, illness), but I also descend into fear when confronted with absurdly small things (the weird look the Dunkin’ Donuts cashier gives me when I ask for six sugars, the ominous clicking sound my toaster makes—WILL IT BLOW UP AND KILL ME???). Learning to manage my many anxieties is one of my main challenges on a day-to-day basis.

So I relate, strongly, to the students I work with who struggle with GRE anxiety. This anxiety manifests in a few common ways: Read more

Your Attention, Please!

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Manhattan Prep GRE Blog - Your Attention, Please! by Neil Thornton

Can’t get enough of Neil’s GRE wisdom? Few can. Fortunately, you can join him twice monthly for a free hour and a half study session in Mondays with Neil.


The GRE is a loooong test. Sure, it’s broken up into 20 and 30 minute chunks, but you’re going to be sitting in front of that computer for more than 4 hours. Honestly, that’s too much time for any of us to focus effectively.

When was the last time you focused on one thing for 4 hours? I mean, besides Netflix or your Xbox? Has your ability to pay attention gotten better or worse lately? If email is a part of your life, if you have Facebook or Twitter, if you watch cable news (if you’re a human being who lives in the modern world) then chances are, your ability to concentrate on one task is nowhere near what it could be. Recent studies show that our attention span has dwindled to about 8 seconds before our minds start to wander. Read more

Navigating Proper MBA Interview Etiquette

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Manhattan Prep GRE Blog - Navigating Proper MBA Interview Etiquette by mbaMission

Taking the GRE for your business school application? You’re in luck. Each month, we are featuring a series of MBA admission tips from the leading business school admissions consulting firm mbaMission.


Making a good impression on your MBA admissions interviewer goes beyond simply answering questions well. Knowing how to dress properly and how to navigate certain etiquette issues is also crucial. You want to leave your interviewer confident that you have the maturity and professionalism necessary to succeed after graduation. The following are our answers to four questions that often bedevil applicants with respect to proper interview etiquette. 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

10 Podcasts to Make You Smarter and More Productive

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Manhattan Prep GRE Blog - 10 Podcasts to Make You Smarter and More Productive by Neil ThorntonCan’t get enough of Neil’s GRE wisdom? Few can. Fortunately, you can join him twice monthly for a free hour and a half study session in Mondays with Neil.


When in doubt, if you’re not studying for the GRE, you should be reading a book (any book, seriously). However, while you’re walking around the city or doing dishes or commuting or shopping, reading isn’t an option if you don’t want to have an embarrassing accident. But you can put on some headphones and learn tons of great things for free. Read more

Potent Quotables: Ten Famous Quotes Full of GRE Vocab

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gre-word-quotesI’m always on the search for fun and new ways to learn GRE Vocab. Well, “fun” might not be the right word, but learning vocabulary is easier when it is tied to things you already know and integrated into your daily life. If you can tie vocabulary to movie clips, song lyrics, other words you already know, or anything else that’s already stored in your memory, you can often remember the definition forever in a quick and easy way.

Here are ten famous quotes, either that you may already know or that you may find easy to remember, that can help you remember GRE Vocab words.

  1. Alacrity. Ambrose Bierce famously said, “He who thinks with difficulty believes with alacrity.” It’s an astute observation, concisely put, and makes quite a beautiful and poetic insult. It also helps you understand that alacrity means “brisk and cheerful readiness.” Try recalling this quote to describe someone it fits, whether to yourself or to someone else. It might just stick.
  2. Prosaic. You probably know the phrase “poetry and prose”; where something poetic is beautiful and flowery, something prosaic is practical and direct. When Stendhal said, “It is better to have a prosaic husband and to take a romantic lover,” he was setting up a great GRE Vocab learning sentence that not only shows that “prosaic” and “romantic” are opposites, but helps us understand the nuanced meaning of each word.
  3. Loquacious. “Loquacious” is in the GRE’s rather large toolkit of words that mean “talkative.” Here’s a quote for reflection: Lucius Annaeus Seneca wrote, “Light griefs are loquacious, but the great are dumb.” Another great vocabulary learning sentence, as it clearly sets “loquacious” as the opposite of “dumb.”
  4. Veracity. Veracity means truth. “Truth in spirit, not truth to the letter, is the true veracity,” wrote Robert Louis Stevenson. This is a great quote to have on hand when you get in trouble for not-quite-following the rules. It’s also a good one for remembering the definition of “veracity.”
  5. Paucity. Because paucity isn’t a word we often use, it’s often hard to envision it in a sentence. Consider Norman Miller’s quote, “The horror of the twentieth century was the size of each new event and the paucity of its reverberation.” It’s a thoughtful point, and it helps us remember the structure “paucity of     (usually some good quality in noun form)  ”.
  6. Maintain. Sure, we encounter the word “maintain” pretty much every day. But as GRE Vocab is wont to do, it often tests the second definition of maintain, which is to assert. Think of Dostoyevsky’s words, “What is hell? I maintain that it is the suffering of being unable to love.” That statement was his assertion, and whether you maintain that it’s true, it might help you remember the definition of “maintain.”
  7. Contrition. Here’s a word that’s mostly used today in religious contexts, for it means a feeling of remorsefulness and penitence. Its adjectival form is “contrite,” which is tricky because it sounds like it might mean “not trite.” I find it easier to remember the noun form of contrition. Here’s a helpful quote: “To err is human; but contrition felt for the crime distinguishes the virtuous from the wicked,” said Vittorio Alfieri. This quote helps convey the seriousness and meaning of contrition.
  8. Extant. “Extant” is a GRE Vocab favorite that I think I can confidently say I’ve never heard a person actually use when speaking, except in GRE class. Extant means existent, which is the word most of us would use in its place. Thoreau famously said, “There is always a present and extant life, be it better or worse, which all combine to uphold.” I find that the phrase “present and extant” sticks with me to help me recall this definition without much work.
  9. Egregious. I’m going to let Kurt Vonnegut explain this one, as he did in Deadeye Dick. “Egregious. Most people think that word means terrible or unheard of or unforgivable. It has a much more interesting story than that to tell. It means ‘outside the herd.’ Imagine that—thousands of people, outside the herd.” He’s right on both fronts. While the word “egregious” technically means “outside the herd,” it has taken on a bad connotation—standing out for doing something wrong.
  10. Capricious. The definition of this word has been with me since my mother explained that Capricorns are born in January, named for the god of Janus, who has two faces. (Maybe we just figured out why I’m a GRE teacher.) Capricious means fickle or two-faced, of two minds at once. If your mom wasn’t quite so vocabulary inclined, consider this quote from Benjamin Disraeli: “A consistent man believes in destiny; a capricious man in chance.”

Unlike Disraeli, I don’t believe that a consistent man believes in destiny, necessarily; at least not when it comes to the GRE. The consistent among us, men and women alike, know that careful study can always improve your GRE score! For these, and other GRE Vocab words, download our free GRE flashcards. 📝


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