Here’s another write-up from Jordann, who scored 750-800 in both sections!
Read up to see which prep materials she recommends:
“Hi all! I’m Jordann, and I just got out of my first crack at the GRE a few hours ago. I wanted to share my experiences with you in the hopes that my experiences will aid you in your GRE endeavor!
A little background first: I graduated with a B.A. in Biology about two years ago, and spent a couple of years working part-time jobs before realizing that I what I really wanted to do (marine biology) entailed a PhD, so I hit the books again – hard! Writing has always been a strength of mine, but after a few years out in the wild I was none too confident about my math skills, so a large part of my test preparation was focused on rebuilding my math skills from scratch. This was my first time taking the test.
I began studying over the summer, but only studied intensively (at least 3-4 days a week) for the past two to three months or so. Here’s what I used:
- Online prep course from my local community college – Marginally helpful. I stopped using it once I realized how different the new revised GRE was going to be compared to the old one, which was what the online course was based on.
- ETS’s Practicing to Take the GRE General Test, Tenth Edition – Again, this was marginally helpful. I used this book mainly for the math review, but didn’t find it to be terribly comprehensive. I recommend the Barron’s book for general review, and the Kaplan one for advanced essay topics.
- Barron’s GRE 18th Edition – Fairly helpful. This was the book I used the most in the beginning. I devoted a lot of time to the math section, which I found to be the most useful review of basic concepts. It has lots of sets of practice questions to work through after each concept. This book was immensely helpful in brushing up on my basic math skills. I also found the vocabulary review to be quite good, though the revised GRE does away with antonyms and synonyms.
- Kaplan’s GRE Exam Advanced Math – Once I had a good grasp of basic math, I picked this book up for extra practice, and I could not recommend it more. If you manage to work your way through all the problems in this one, you won’t have any trouble with the quantitative sections of the GRE. This book is nothing but practice problems followed by thorough explanations on how to do each problem. In addition, the back of the book has a section on the most important concepts to know, and I found this section to be invaluable. If you need the math practice, get this book!
- ETS PowerPrep – I would definitely go through the timed practice test available through PowerPrep at least once. The software uses the exact same format as the actual test, so it’s a great way to familiarize yourself with the layout of the GRE, and to practice pacing yourself if you need it. The math review from ETS also seemed fairly good, though I found it rather late in the game and did not devote as much time to it as I’d wanted to.
- And, of course, Magoosh! I watched most of the math videos and found them to be extremely well thought out and clearly explained. I especially appreciated the step-by-step explanations. They were wonderfully thorough without being too tedious or slow. In the last two weeks before my test, Magoosh and the Kaplan Advanced Math were pretty much all I used.
You might notice that most of my books were older editions; this is because I briefly considered taking the test last fall, and so some of my review materials were purchased then. I found that there isn’t a whole lot of printed media out there on the new revised GRE, so Magoosh was a godsend in that regard. They brought me up to speed on the format changes and differences between the two tests in no time flat. I also found that the quantitative section was largely unchanged; if you study your math out of an older book, you’ll probably be all right. I also recommend writing at least a few timed practice essays using the ETS list of subjects, just to get the hang of it.
In addition to the two essays, I had two quantitative sections and three verbal (which I’d been hoping for, since I’m strong on verbal). I did not run into problems with the time limits on the verbal or the essays; I came close on the math, but doing timed practice tests taught me to keep an eye on the clock. Overall, my experience was very posistive; the material on the GRE was about on par with the more advanced study material. If you seek out the most difficult practice tests, you’ll probably be pleasantly surprised with the results of your test.
My projected scores were 750-800 verbal, 750-800 quantitative.
You can read more stories like Jordann’s or submit your own after you take your exam on our Student New GRE Experiences page!