Here’s Keith’s advice for preparation and test day, based on his exam experience. If you’d like to read others like these, or submit your own write-up after you take your exam, head over to our Student New GRE Experiences page. Enjoy!
“I’ve taken the new GRE twice now. My first test was in October, my second was December 15th, and both were in Colorado. I did not use Magoosh prior to my first test, primarily because I did not want to spend more money (which, as you will see, was a horrible mistake). I instead purchased a few inexpensive books (one McGraw Hill and two Princeton Review), and did all of my studying with those. I studied for about one month prior to my first exam, using only said books and their accompanying DVDs.
To cut to the chase, I did not get the scores that I needed on that attempt. I received a 152 quant and a 163 verbal. I needed a much higher quant score, and so left the exam having decided that my future was hopeless, and that I might as well become a hobo and embark on a bicycle ride of indefinite length toward Mexico. However, I gave that a few weeks to simmer down, registered to retake the test, and purchased access to Magoosh.
To cut to the next chase, Magoosh was a tremendous help! My quant score went from 152 to 165, which appears to be sufficient for the program I am applying to. I studied by setting up mock tests (quant only–20 questions in 35 minutes, on quiz mode). When I completed each section of 20 questions, I would inspect my results (on the “view results” screen) to see if I could determine any patterns in my mistakes. If I noticed that I was consistently getting bad results in a certain topic, then I would create a short set of problems consisting only of this topic. You can do this from the “practice” page, accessible from your dashboard. I would also watch the lessons on the problem topic, several times if need be, and closely examine the video solutions. If I could not find any patterns in my mistakes, I would just keep practicing.
I am sure that some of my improvement can be attributed to the fact that this was my second attempt, and that I was necessarily less nervous. I would recommend that everybody take the test twice (no I do not work for ETS). The second time around the whole thing was familiar and I was much more comfortable. It made more of a difference than I expected. However, comfort was not the only factor. Magoosh’s mock tests taught me how to budget time in a way that working off of paper books could not do. The video solutions and lessons also taught me plenty of shortcuts that saved time on exam day. I believe these time related strategies were the single most important factor in raising my score.
What would I have done differently? I would have used Magoosh the first time around! It would have saved me untold (and irrational) emotional anguish, $80 worth of books, and a $160 test fee.
Best of luck to you! Keep practicing!”