So, you’ve followed the study guides, you’ve done hundreds of practice problems, but, you are still preventing yourself from reaching your potential if you ignore the strategies below:
Go with Your Gut and Flag
Oftentimes, our first instincts are correct. An effective strategy is to guess, flag, and move on. Because the Revised GRE always allows you to scroll through the section, take advantage of this and do not waste too much time on one question.
By flagging a question, you can always return to it later. If you run out of time, don’t worry—since you have at least answered the question (going with your gut instinct), you won’t lose the opportunity to answer the question later. On the other hand, if you leave the question blank, then you miss the chance of receiving a point for that question. Remember, there is no penalty for guessing. So, always go with your gut and guess.
Go for the Low-Hanging Fruit
On the new GRE, every question is weighted the same. That’s right, the math question with a sphere embedded in a cube embedded in a cylinder is worth the same amount as the question that asks you for x, in 2x = 10. So, don’t waste your time on difficult problems, but find the easier ones.
In essence, you can think of the GRE section as a tree filled with identical apples, each apple corresponding to one point. You will want to grab those apples that are easiest to get to, instead of spending all your time climbing to the very top of the tree to pick an apple that is an arm’s length away.
Another important point to remember is that the new GRE randomly peppers the section with the difficult problems. So, the sphere problem above could be the first question, the last question, or anywhere in between. If you come to a cluster of difficult problems, skip over them and look for the easy questions. Go for the low hanging fruit.
Don’t Become Skip Happy
This third point is related to the first two points. If you only go for the low-hanging fruit, i.e. the easy problems, and flag every other question, then you are most likely hurting your score. So, do not start skipping every problem just because you feel it is somewhat difficult (this is the GRE, after all). Be judicious, and make sure that you skip only the hardest problems or passages.
Know Your Strengths and Weaknesses
If you loathe long science-based reading passages, then you may want to leave such a passage to the end. On the other hand, just because a passage is really long and forbidding does not mean you should automatically skip it. If you are stronger at science, then this is your moment to shine, even if the passage is more difficult. An easier passage on Virginia Woolf’s use of implicit characterization in her heroines may actually be much easier. But, if the topic matter has you eyeing the nearest exit with a feverish intensity, well, then maybe you should come back to it later.
Do Not Let the Clock Bother You
This last piece of advice clearly falls under that hackneyed phrase: easier said then done. A good way to become less frazzled by the timer is to practice using the Powerprep software or Magoosh, in which you will always a timer ticking away each time you do a question. Not prepping in this fashion can hurt you on test day, when the clock suddenly begins to singe itself into your retinas, making it difficult to focus on the material at hand.