Whether you’ve been prepping for a month or have yet to peel open those glossy prep books, you should know the following basics for the GRE. So if you’ve been focusing on probability problems or a 5,000-word list, make sure you first have a solid grasp of the basics.
Integers, ratios, fractions, decimals and percents: This list is the bedrock of the quant section. If your understanding in any of the areas is deficient you will struggle on every quant problem, from geometry to work rates.
Geometry: You may not need to be able to whip out the ratio of a 30-60-90 triangle or the formula for the area of a trapezoid. However you should know the properties of lines. You should also feel comfortable with the coordinate plane. Know where certain points lie and be able to derive the slope.
Factoring: Know how to find the factors for integers. Also understand the difference between multiples and integers.
Exponents: Know your basic exponents – there will be a question on the test reviewing this concept. So if you don’t know whether to multiply or add when multiplying exponents then learn now.
Algebra: Be able to solve a simple equation, an inequality and an absolute value. Also feel comfortable with the foil method and make sure you are able to find the roots of the equation.
Text Completions: You should be able to work through easy and medium text completions by coming up with your own word for the text. Don’t rely on plugging and chugging to see which word sounds or feels the best.
Reading Comprehension: Know how to attack the passage (you can read about it here) and practice this skill until it becomes second nature. It doesn’t help to learn a skill, only to ditch it during the test.
Vocabulary: Pick up almost any list that bills itself as the source for ‘top GRE words’ (the lists are always pretty similar). If you understand less than half of these essential words, you should diligently work at vocabulary until you know as much as 75% of the words.
Practice and Review!
This goes for both Quant and Verbal. Don’t just read about how to do practice questions. Actually do practice questions. If you’ve just learned a new concept, then make sure you practice that concept by finding a relevant concept. Otherwise, it will be difficult to ever get beyond the basics.