Happy 2016! This is the year you get an awesome GRE score and are accepted to the graduate school of your dreams. Even if you’re reading this well into the year, or you’re half-way through your GRE prep, you could probably use some guidance, motivation and focus. Here are some New Year’s resolutions to get you started or re-started on your journey to a great GRE score. Read more
When you take the GRE, you need a strategy for percentage problems that works every time. Here’s that strategy, in four easy steps.
GRE high-scorers might not be smarter than everyone else, but they do think about the test differently. One key difference is in how high-scorers do algebra. They make far fewer algebraic mistakes, because, either consciously or subconsciously, they use mathematical rules to check their work as they simplify. Here’s how to develop that habit yourself. Read more
There’s a better way to learn GRE vocabulary, and it’s based on scientific principles that have been demonstrated by researchers since the 1800s. It’s called spaced retrieval, and the basic idea is this: Read more
Imagine that you asked a friend of yours what she got on the Quant section of the GRE. Instead of answering you directly, she said “let’s just say that 4 times my score is a multiple of 44, and 3 times my score is a multiple of 45.”
Could you tell what score she got? If not… you may need to work on your GRE translation skills! Read more
A lot of GRE students choose to study on their own but need a bit of extra help to feel ready for test day. A full prep course may not be the right fit. Continuing to study alone isn’t going to cut it, either.
If this sounds like you (or a GRE studier you know), check out Crunch Time!
Crunch Time is a new kind of prep program we developed specifically for students who have already learned most of the GRE content, but don’t feel confident enough to take the test yet. This 2-hour online workshop will focus on game day strategies and quant practice questions to help you apply your GRE knowledge under pressure.
Some workshop highlights include:
- Timed and proctored GRE problem sets to simulate the real exam experience
- Guided review on the most effective ways to analyze your practice work, led by our GRE experts
- Open Q&A session to address your concerns
- Post-workshop email support
We’ve had this program in the lab for while, and we’re really excited to finally bring it to you! The first of these workshops will be offered on Tuesday July 14th. If you think some time with a GRE master would help push you to your final goal score, you should definitely give it a try. Learn more and sign up right here.
See you there!
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.
So, at the risk of boring you with some personal information, my girlfriend is planning on taking the GRE this spring. And, of course, she wants my advice. While thinking about how to best help her, it occurred to me that many of the things I’m telling her apply to everyone who is beginning their GRE prep. Read more
Of course, I certainly was NOT trying to discourage them. I used that statement to illustrate that geometry questions are often a type of quantitative question that can feel immensely frustrating! You know what shape you have, you know what quantity the question wants, but you have no idea how to solve for that quantity.
This is what I meant when I said you’ll never know how to answer these questions. That “leap” to the correct answer is impossible. You can’t get to the answer in one step, but that’s all right: you’re not supposed to!
(An important aside: if you’ve read my post regarding calculation v. principle on the GRE, you should be aware that I am discussing the calculation heavy geometry questions in this post.)
The efficient, effective approach to a calculation-based geometry question is NOT to try and jump to the final answer, but instead to simply move to the next “piece”. For example, let’s say a geometry question gives me an isosceles triangle with two angles equaling x. I don’t know what x is, and I don’t know how to use it to find the answer to the question. But I DO know that the third angle is 180-2x.
That’s the game. Find the next little piece. And the piece after that. And the piece after that. Let’s see an example.
The correct response to this problem is “Bu-whah??? I know nothing about the large circle!”
But you do know the area of the smaller circle. What piece will that give you? Ok, you say, area gives me the radius. A = pi*r^2, so pi = pi*r^2, so r^2 = 1, so r = 1. Done, and let’s put that in the diagram.
You’ve been prepping for the GRE for a while (or maybe you’ve just started), and you’re trying to gather as much information as possible. But because no one knows exactly what will be on the GRE until you sit down to take it, there’s a lot of misinformation out there!
Some of this misinformation is left over from the old GRE (pre-2011), which was very different in structure and somewhat different in content from the current form. Not everything that was true about the old GRE is true about the new one. Some misinformation, though, is just the product of assumptions made from very little data.
So let’s dispel some of those myths here…
1. You have to memorize a ton of big, fancy vocabulary.
False! The old GRE tested a lot more of these million-dollar words – words like pusillanimous, flagitious, or escutcheon. For this reason, lots of lists of “GRE words” on the internet still contain mostly these ultra-fancy words that no one actually uses. (The old GRE also had a question type called “antonyms” in which you had to pick the opposite of a word without any sentence context whatsoever! The new GRE only uses vocab in context.)
On the current GRE, almost all of the vocabulary you’ll see on Text Completion and Sentence Equivalence (TC and SE) will be words that you probably already know. These are the medium-difficulty words that you’d be likely to read in the New York Times or The Economist – words like impartiality, debilitating, or superfluous* .
These TC and SE questions are in part testing your vocabulary knowledge, but far more importantly, they’re testing your ability to parse the logic of a sentence. You’ll see many sentences with simple vocabulary, but with complex structures, including transitions, contrasts, or flips. Your ability to follow the logic of clues like “however,” “rather than,” “would not have been,” etc, and make inferences from them will affect your verbal score more than the impressiveness of your vocabulary will.
So to do well on TC and SE, you don’t need to memorize the dictionary! You probably already know more than three quarters of the words you’ll encounter (although you’ll want a moderate dose of studying for those words that you don’t already know). You should spend a good amount of time understanding and analyzing those complex sentence structures, in addition to just memorizing words.
2. You don’t really need the calculator.
This is another misconception leftover from the old GRE, which didn’t let you use a calculator. Many of the practice questions that you’ll find in online searches or in prep guides are leftovers from the old test, because the topics (algebra, geometry, word problems) have not changed from the old test to the new. These older questions are all doable without a calculator, which leads some students to believe that they’ll never need it.
You’ll certainly see questions on the new GRE that are doable without a calculator (and many that are easier to do without a calculator). However, a lot of students are surprised at how many questions on the test require good calculator use. You’re likely to see at least a handful of questions that ask you to multiply or divide “messy” numbers – something like 62 x 83. Sure, you could do that by hand, but when the clock is ticking it’s much more effective to use the calculator.
You’ll still see many problems on which common sense, concept knowledge, and/or mental math are more effective than the calculator. And if you find that you’re using the calculator on more than half of problems, you’re relying on it too much! But you should take the time to practice with the onscreen calculator to make sure that you’re comfortable with using it effectively.
3. Just learning the rules is enough.
Not true! Knowing the rules and concepts is of course necessary to do well, but you also need good time management and stamina to do well.
Taking a 4 hour test is a very grueling experience, and if you’re not used to being under that much mental pressure for that long, you’ll get exhausted! That can take a big toll on your score for the last few sections. Make sure you take several timed practice tests before the real event, and do them under the same time constraints as the real test (no extra breaks, no pauses). Train yourself like you would train for a marathon!
And of course, make sure to get a good night’s sleep – not just the night before the test, but for at least 3 nights before the test – and eat a good meal an hour or two before the test.
Make sure you’re pacing yourself well in each section. If time runs out, you lose points on the questions you didn’t get to. Don’t be afraid to skip the ones you don’t know, to get to the ones that you can solve.
There’s nothing I can tell you that will actually make the test fun to take, but knowing what you’re up against can certainly make the experience less intimidating!
Studying for the GRE? Take a free GRE practice exam, or try out one of our upcoming free Manhattan GRE trial classes, running all the time near you, or online. And, be sure to find us on Facebook, LinkedIn, and follow us on Twitter!
I thought I might share my GRE experience and the lessons it taught me about the GRE prep process.
I’ve always been a test girl. My favorite two days of first grade were taking the IOWA exams, which I used to try to write at home to administer to my class of stuffed animals. I wish that were a joke. I got into a car crash on the way to the LSAT, pulled myself out a ditch, hitchhiked to the exam, and still scored in the 98th percentile. I left the bar exam for a few hours in the middle to go shopping for a sweater because I was cold. I love tests. I own them. That is, until I took the GRE.
I was pretty cocky rolling into the GRE. I bought a pack of vocab flashcards and looked them over for a few weeks. I took a few practice tests. I read over the math. I showed up feeling like a boss. And then I got my score. And then I cried.
I did badly. What the heck? Tests are basically the one thing I can do!
Lesson one: The GRE must be studied.
The GRE really benefits from familiarity with the test. If you want to max out your score, you can’t just know the underlying material “ you have to be familiar with how it shows up and the best methods for handling it when it does.
I was daunted for a while, but I decided the GRE wouldn’t beat me. So after hiding from the exam for a few months, I got some study materials and got back on the horse.
Lesson two: The vocab must be learned.