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New GRE Tips

Tip #1: Learn in Context

Most of us have learned vocabulary by reading a list or, perhaps a little more efficiently, by using flashcards. For the Revised GRE, you will want to learn vocabulary through reading. While that may strike you as terribly inefficient, remember the revised GRE is testing your understanding of vocabulary in context.

But don’t completely forget about your GRE flashcards. They are still powerful tools and should supplement your in-context reading.

As for reading, don’t indiscriminately pick up any magazine, or you’ll end up learning more about Kim Kardashian then you probably wanted to. The New Yorker, the Economist, and the Atlantic Monthly are greater sources of vocabulary (you’ll also learn a little bit about current affairs – beyond celebrities’ shrinking – or expanding – waistlines).

Make sure to diligently look up words you do not know – and either write them on a list or turn them into virtual flashcards (try!).


Tip #2: Become a Generalist

All too often students become overly fixated on a concept. This tendency typically manifests itself in the math portion. Combinations/permutations or probability questions are notorious in this regard. A student may be able to master these relatively esoteric concepts but at the expense of prepping other areas.

Instead, prep the range of concepts while always keeping your level in mind. For instance, if you practice rate problems so that you are able to answer medium-level difficulty ones, do not try to become an expert in this area unless you can answer medium-level questions for other concepts. After all, you may only get one rate problem on the test. If you struggle on a more popular concept, say coordinate geometry, then this Achilles heel will definitely hurt you test day.


Tip #3: Take Practice New GRE Tests

Most of us aren’t used to sitting in front of a computer for three hours answering standardized test questions. The strained eyes, the frayed nerves, the intensifying headache are all things you don’t want to learn about test day. Instead, prepare yourself for the grueling experience of the new GRE by taking full-length practice tests. It’s now 4 hours long instead of 3! The Powerprep test from ETS is the best test. Don’t waste your time with Princeton Review or Kaplan. Customized Magoosh and Manhattan GRE on-line tests are highly recommended.


Tip #4: Use a Variety of Resources for the New GRE

There is no prep GRE bible. At Magoosh that is our ultimate goal – to be the 100%-complete-prep-no-need-to-go-anywhere-else. It is a difficult goal to achieve not only because the revised GRE tests a vast range of concepts, but also because some students require hundreds upon hundreds of quality practice questions to maximize their potential.

Sadly, save for Manhattan GRE, the other books on the market are seriously lacking. So do not find yourself using just one prep book – it will haunt you test day. In fact you may want to avoid Kaplan, Princeton Review, and Barron’s altogether.

My recommendation is to use ETS material (it is the organization that writes the test), Magoosh (esp. if you like video learning) and Manhattan GRE (best for those who like book learning).


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.

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