Time is of the essence, they say. There are few areas in life in which this cliché is more pertinent than it is to the GRE.
Clever time saving strategies cannot fill in any deficits of knowledge the way learning a vocabulary list can. They can, however, help you perform much better on the anxiety-provoking GRE.
Skip the Long Passage
Each verbal section will have a long, difficult passage. You may be tempted to dive right in and give it your best. After all, tests are sequentially numbered. Shouldn’t you follow the order?
Not at all. You should attempt to answer the easier questions first, or at least those that aren’t time consuming. Determining the difficulty of a question, or how time-consuming it will be, is difficult. But when you are dealing with a 70-line passage based on the changing role of serfs in 14th Century England, you know for sure that the passage and the questions are going to take a long time.
So save time, and brainpower, by skipping the long passage and coming back to it at the end. Your mind will be fresher for other questions on the test, and perhaps, most importantly, you won’t have that dejected feeling that usually follows after slogging through four inference questions.
Skip the Tough Text Completions
With the GRE you want to attack the easy questions first, leaving the most time-consuming ones for later. For Text Completions the most time-consuming ones are the three-blank questions, which always come at the end. For instance, have a look at the PowerPrep test or the free on-line test. The eight-line, three-blank Text Completion comes at the very end.
Feel free to read it, and if you get it right away, great! If not, do not spend time stewing in the muddle of sentences. Later, if you have time to come back to it, your brain should be more likely to discern the paragraph’s meaning (after all, you have already read it once). If you don’t have time, don’t worry. That monster Text Completion is worth the same number of points of the easy one-blanker.
Come Back to a Tough Math Problem
Much like coming back to a long, tough Text Completion can help you save time so can returning to a tough math problem. What exactly constitutes tough differs for people. If you read and reread a question to no avail, then that is a tough question. If you keep looking at the answer choices but they do not match the answer you came up with, move on. If there is time you can have another go at it. Agonizing over one problem will only lead you to get frustrated. And there are few things more crippling than frustration on a standardized exam.