Doing well on the GRE is tough, even for those fresh from the halls of academia. Compounding the difficulty of GRE prep is the fact that the test is probably very unlike others tests you’ve taken. Below are five important points to keep in mind on how to crack the GRE.
1. Use multiple resources
If you want to “crack the GRE”, don’t limit yourself to just one book. Some books excel in one area, while falling woefully short in others. Picking and choosing is important, since you don’t just want the best strategies, you also want the best practice questions. And by best, I mean those that faithfully simulate what you’ll see test day.
2. Quiz yourself often
It’s easy to fall into a rut of just opening a book and doing a few problems here and there. Or another typical rut you can fall in is to read vocabulary lists, yet never quiz yourself.
Quizzing yourself often—whether by randomly selecting twenty flashcards or by constructing a problem set out of a mix of verbal and quant questions—will keep you on your feet.
3. Don’t over focus
Oftentimes I find students trying to become a master at one topic. There are those who have learned to solve just about every variation of a combination problem but are unable to deal with easy rate questions.
At the same time make sure you do focus on only a few question types per week. After all, you need to build up some skill in a certain area. But remember to always come back to topics you learned in previous weeks. Review will not only refresh, but will also help instill concepts. All of which is unlikely to happen if you burrow into the integer properties tunnel.
4. Pinpoint your weak spots
This point flows into the last one. Do not continue working at what you are already good at, putting off those sections that you either dread of struggle at. Success on the GRE depends on being adept at the same level. Let me explain: the GRE throws a bunch of different concepts at you. By only being good at a few things, you will never be able to get beyond the medium section to even encounter the difficult questions (so if you are the combinations wizard, you are unlikely to get to use any of your magic).
5. Analyze the questions—learn the traps!
Both the math and the verbal section are full of traps. Luckily, they are also filled with shortcuts, meaning that if you know how to eliminate you will be able to save yourself a lot of time.
Becoming better at anticipating traps comes with plenty of practice. Remember, of course, if you really want to know how to crack the new GRE, you’ve got to use the best practice material. Such material will lay traps very similar to that found on the real test.