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New GRE Webinar Q&A

Hi, all! On behalf of all of the webinar presenters, I’d like to say thanks to everyone who participated– we really enjoyed getting to hear your questions and (hopefully) help you feel a little less anxious about the new exam.  If you weren’t able to attend, fear not: we recorded the whole thing, and you can watch it here.

We had an overwhelming number of questions during the designated Q&A period, and, because we weren’t able to answer all of them live due to time constraints, here are all of the answers, as promised!

Whether you were specifically the one who may have asked a particular question or not, we hope you find these answers helpful, as we discovered many of these are topics students are commonly curious about.

Q: With 3 months of personal prep, will I do better in the new GRE than the old GRE?/How should I schedule prep for the GRE test? My test date is September 29.

A: This really depends on your skill level. Even then, the answer is not 100% clear. On one hand, you do not need to spend hundreds of hours memorizing obscure words. That extra free time, though, is not necessarily a blessing. First off, there just isn’t much practice material (at least decent practice material) for the new GRE. Text Completions, especially, are a rare breed. Kaplan and Princeton Review – and, obviously, I am going to be somewhat biased – are lacking in this department. We offer hundreds of practice questions, and then there is ETS. What I’ve found with my students prepping for this test is that we’ve run out of material relatively quickly. For the math section and the writing section I would say it is, more or less, business as usual and three months prep time would amount to approximately the same percentile ranking.

Q: You mentioned a book of 1500 words, what was it?

A: The book is Princeton Review’s Word Smart. In addition to defining these high-frequency words, Word Smart provides a few example sentences for each word to help you better remember that word.

Q: My worst sections are the data interpretation and comprehension, what are your candid strategies?

A: Well, I would practice as much as possible. The good news is, there is plenty of material out there. Simply put, there really won’t be too much difference between the new GRE and the old GRE in this regard. The old ETS book, a Barron’s book, a Nova book – the list goes on and on. As for basic strategies to apply to the copious material, I would recommend getting the big picture of the graph before diving into the questions. Notice what each different axis stands for, whether numbers are in the thousands, millions, etc. One area on which to focus more prep is statistics. If need be, pick up an elementary statistics book to refamiliarize yourself with the bell-curve/standard deviation, quartile rankings, mean/media/mode, etc.

Q: For an average student, generally how much time is needed for preparation?

A: Wow, a very difficult question to answer, as there are so many variables. First off – are you studying with a tutor? Next, which practice material will you use? How much time will and can you devote each day? What is your target score? I have had students go up by as much as 300 points in less than a month. They considered themselves average, but were very driven and focused. Other students needed more time, for a variety of reasons, to achieve that same score increase. One student of mine went up nearly 500 points. However, she spent a year studying for the test. So, is there any easy, all-encompassing answer? Not really. But I would say 6 to 8 weeks of intense studying should help you get to a 1200 if you are starting out at 1000.

Q: Which type of reading material would be best to focus on for RC?

A: Great question, and one I wish more students would ask! Though, contrary to the popular notion, I would not recommend rolling up your sleeves and slogging through hundreds of pages of obscure academic journals. Besides the fact that doing so will make for exceedingly dull reading, the new GRE will have very few academic passages. Indeed, you can shore up this skill by simply reading through the old ETS book. As for actual reading material, I highly recommend the Best of Series by Harper Collins. There is a Best of Science, Best of Essays, and even Best of Travel Writing. Released annually, each of these books culls articles from the most venerable publications in the U.S. – Atlantic Monthly, New York Times, New Yorker, Harper’s, etc. Erudite, witty, and engaging, these pieces will not only allow your brain practice with complex syntactical structures and new GRE-level vocabulary, but you’ll learn about issues and affairs that are both intriguing and timely. Or, you can go directly to the sources themselves and read these publications, most of which offer articles for free on-line.

Q: Can you delete the old videos on the Magoosh YouTube channel, and upload new ones which do not have old question types, so that if you go through you know which ones to study?

A: After August 1st, all of the videos related to old question types (antonyms, analogies, etc.) will be deleted, but for now, you should just ignore the videos about question types that aren’t relevant to the revised exam.

Q: Any special discount?

A: We sent all webinar attendees a coupon code in the webinar follow-up e-mail, so you should check your inboxes!

Q: I think, due to the calculator, the questions may be more difficult? What do you think?

A: If the questions on the math end up being more difficult, I do not think this will have anything to do with the calculator. Or phrased another way, difficult problems won’t be difficult because they require complex calculations. ETS is most likely favoring those people who have excellent logical and critical thinking skills, but who, often times, flub the mental math, as opposed to those who struggle with both the problems as well as the calculations.

Q: How many questions will there be from geometry, coordinate geometry, mensuration?

A: It’s hard to say exactly at this point, but, for the most part, there will be less geometry, maybe more coordinate geometry, and definitely more data interpretation (or mensuration).

Q: Will the ETS forward our GRE scores to our desired universities by themselves?

A: The old GRE allowed you to do this, so I am almost 100% positive that the new GRE will be no different. The question of when those scores get to the university – the GRE will be busily scaling your scores–is more nebulous. For instance, those taking the test in August will not receive their scores until November, which, I assume, is the same time when universities will first be receiving them.

Q: Is it possible for your team to send me an email of the data about the new GRE given here…?

A: While we won’t be able to send you all of the information covered here in an e-mail, you can check back at the blog to see the recorded version of the webinar, which will include all of the presentations and slides.

Q: Do they give scores of both formats of the exam in the score reports?

A: ETS is planning to release a conversion chart once they’ve scaled the scores in November. However, I’m not sure whether it will include that chart with each score report.

Q: Generally what types of issues/arguments are asked about in the AWA Section?

A: Go to the website. There, they have a whole bank of issue and arguments tasks. You can scroll through them to get a flavor for the types of essay questions ETS asks on the AWA section.

Q: Can you repeat how to enter negative numbers [on the calculator]?

A: Use the button that looks like this symbol: pm, on the lower left of the calculator, pictured here exactly the way it will show on your exam:

Q: In general, this new test seems more difficult. Do you recommend taking the old test quickly before it goes away?

A: The answer to your question depends on how prepared you are for the current test. If you’ve been prepping for some time, you should be all means take the test before it changes. If, on the other hand, you’ve simply been mulling the idea over, I wouldn’t start prepping now. Wait for the new test.

Q: Will it be indicated how many answers are correct in the Multiple Answer Questions?

A: No, they won’t be indicated, which is what makes it pretty difficult, unfortunately!

Q: Is there negative marking (scoring) in the new gre?

A: At the moment, nobody knows exactly how ETS tabulates scores on the GRE; or, for that matter, how they will do so for the new GRE.

Q: What about the word list for new GRE, is it the same as the older one?

A: There was no such thing as an official GRE word list for the last test. Many people used Barron’s 3500 word list (which, in many cases, had poor, misleading definitions). While you don’t have to learn so many words with the new GRE, I’d still recommend purchasing Princeton Review’s Word Smart, an excellent source of 1500+ vocabulary words.

Q: Which book can I use to prepare for the new GRE?

A: Use ETS’ materials for questions. For tips and strategies, try a few books out on the market and choose the one that works best for you. Often, you’ll find yourself picking strategies from across the books that work best for you.

Q: What about GMAT math prep materials?

A: GMAT prep materials are definitely good, but they also have their limits. First off, there is no quantitative comparison (GMAT has Data Sufficiency, which is not going to help you on the new GRE). Secondly, they do not have the multiple answer questions. Nonetheless, GMAT materials will be a good place to hone your math skills.

Most of these were answered by Chris (kudos!), so feel free to let either of us know if you need any clarification on any of the answers!

By the way, students who use Magoosh GRE improve their scores by an average of 8 points on the new scale (150 points on the old scale.) Click here to learn more.

2 Responses to New GRE Webinar Q&A

  1. ARIF July 28, 2011 at 2:08 pm #

    Another helpful and informative post by Margarette!

    Thank you!

    • Margarette Jung
      Margarette July 28, 2011 at 2:49 pm #

      Haha thanks, Arif!

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