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GRE Student Post: Benjamin’s Perfect Verbal Score

Screen Shot 2013-06-27 at 4.07.09 PMThis Friday, we’re hearing from Benjamin, who scored a 169 on the math section, and a 170 on verbal. Amazing job, Benjamin! 🙂 Benjamin plans to pursue a JD/MBA. Read on to learn about the steps Benjamin took to get such a high score!


About me: My name is Benjamin–I am from China and I studied Statistics with Economics as a minor  at Duke University for my college degree. I am also an LSAT taker since I am planning to go to law school in the coming year. I have a heavy load on my major course, so besides studying in the library (some friends who know me well may claim that I am married to the library. Nah, not true) I love to jog and I love to travel. I once took a three month vacation via couchsurfing across America, from Key West up to Boston and all the way west until I reached LA and San Francisco. Then I flew to Hawaii and finally made it home to Beijing.


General Study Tips:


1. Be disciplined. During preparation, there are many distractions–I simply turned off my phone when I studied. And, always be optimistic–preparing for the GRE is a long shot, and it can be pretty demoralizing because of the nature of the test. Just be optimistic, and trust that you are making progress.


2. Follow a specific plan. I strongly urge you to create and follow a specific schedule. By the end of the time you’ve spent studying, it should feel so routine that the GRE is an integral part of your life.


3.  Take time to exercise. This is critical. You have to take some time to stretch your legs and re-fuel your brain. For me, I run 30 minutes everyday.


4. Always review your mistakes. Always spend a couple of hours to review your mistakes, write down why you chose the answers and  your logic and steps to get there. As for the correct answers, always be 100% sure it is correct and  refer to the context.


5. Take as many mock tests as possible. This is equally important. The GRE test is all about endurance, stamina, pace and repetition. You’ll able to build it up only with the mock test.


RC Tips: As both a GRE and an LSAT taker, I found reading comprehension to be the hardest part. One thing I did was to practice RC passages every morning when I woke up. As an LSAT taker, I purchased all the LSAT material and I practiced 4 LSAT passages everyday and then redid the four passages the next morning. My scores escalated fairly quick. Dare I say, in the first couple weeks, I couldn’t even manage to finish the RC passage within 50 minutes. But improvement came with persistence and consistently tracking my time. I timed my every step–my time on reading the passage, then on the questions. Basically, I had a perfect gauge on my pace and after the first two months, I managed to finish the RC within 35 minutes.


After you finish the passage and check the answers, here comes the most important step – it’s really essential and it’s a necessary step for students who aim to achieve a score higher than 160 – “blind review.” That means,  1) I have to be 100% confident about the answer choices; 2) and 100% sure why the wrong answers are wrong and why the correct ones are correct. When I did blind review, I just simply redid the passage and followed the principles of blind review. I’d jot down the lines under the questions to convince myself that it was indeed the correct answer. And for the wrong ones, I categorized it with either out of scope or narrow scope (unsupported) , contradiction, one word wrong (extreme word), and so forth. What’s more, the next morning I’d simply repeat this process and redo the passage again. This strategy has honed my skills and by the time I took the GRE tests, I was so confident that every answer choice I chose, it was correct.


Vocabulary Tips: Besides that, vocabulary can be an equally daunting task. So my plan was to review vocabularies after I finished the RC passages (these two things were really the most important part in my life – as least for the time I was preparing for the GRE ). I also read a lot, from Aldaily to The Browser, from The Atlantic to The New Yorker. And I read some non-fiction materials like A Short history of Nearly Everything (This is a fascinating book and very fun to read-basically it covers every possible topic you may see on the GRE test, and it’s dense and science-for-non-scientists, just like GRE passages.) I can’t emphasize enough the importance of reading dense materials and reading in context to learn GRE words. Also, remember to review the words frequently,  or you may follow the Hermann Ebbinghaus forgetting curve.


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.

18 Responses to GRE Student Post: Benjamin’s Perfect Verbal Score

  1. Nicole September 15, 2014 at 5:35 am #

    Hello! I’m really curious about what the writer called “blind review”! I have searched online but can’t find this technique referenced anywhere. However, it seems to be a really valuable review technique and I’d like to learn more details.

    Can anyone either add on to the explanation in this article or link me something related to this technique?

    Thanks in advance!

  2. Mireille June 14, 2014 at 9:00 pm #

    …man, this is an example of human who equally scares me and mesmerizes me. That is, a part of me longs to be just like them, the other part of me feels like running away in panic. These people do exist and they exist among us… listen to this “I did blind review, following the principles of blind review”…”then, next morning, I did it again”.

    Congratulations, Benjamin! Although, as I said, you kind of scare me, I feel a tremendous respect for you and people like you. Phew. You’re one of a kind, man! 🙂

    • Rachel Wisuri
      Rachel June 16, 2014 at 1:32 pm #

      We agree — he is one of kind. 🙂 With an amazing score!

  3. Musa Aman May 25, 2014 at 10:04 am #

    Congratulation.Great post. I gave gre two times and scored 146 and 145 respectively on verbal.My main problem is i cant understand the meaning of long sentences.Specially in SC where 2 to 3 blank appears, i often did not understand the full meaning.My understanding of RC passages is also poor because the passage is not written with simple 1 or 2 line sentences.In some RC passages i even noticed 3-4 line sentence with complex context which would always be a nightmare for me.Now i am planning to take gre on my 3rd attempt but i have only 2 months for preparation left.What should i do?During my last gre exams i practised passages from Bigbook and thay are very standard passage.Should i try magoosh?

    • Chris Lele
      Chris Lele May 28, 2014 at 9:37 am #

      Hi Musa,

      I think a good way for you to prepare is to take your time with TC paragraphs and long sentences. Really, try to understand difficult phrases and words, so that you get a better sense of what the sentence/paragraph is saying. This does take a lot of patience, and I think many feel they are wasting time, and should instead knock out question after question.

      So 2 months is long enough for you to start getting a better. But you must be sure to read. The New Yorker, aldaily,com, The Atlantic (try for long, fully-developed articles, not just one page tidbits). Apply the same strategy of trying to understand complex phrases by looking them up on google/dictionary.

      Finally, Magoosh would be a wise choice. With many of the tough three-blank TC, I always make sure to breakdown the tougher parts of the sentence and then describe how they inform the entire paragraph. That way you can see if your interpretation of the paragraph is consistent with the actual meaning.

      Hope that helps!

  4. Kat August 31, 2013 at 9:35 pm #

    I’m aiming for a perfect score on my verbal. I see that Benjamin had problems with the RC part, not sure about his TC and SE. I get almost a perfect score on RC practice but I’m half-way good for TC and SE. Do you have any advise, Rachel? Thanks…

    • Rachel Wisuri
      Rachel September 3, 2013 at 1:16 pm #

      Hey Kat!

      First off, it’s a great sign that you’re doing well on RC. 🙂 For TC/SEs, I’d urge you to think about what exactly you find so tough about these question types–is it a lack of vocabulary? Do you rush through problems? Do you have a hard time finding the clue in the sentence? Do you not fully understand what the sentence is saying? Reflecting on these questions will help you focus your studies. My guess is that the problem lies in the vocabulary words and finding the clue, so working on those 2 things should help. 🙂


      • Kat September 3, 2013 at 7:26 pm #

        Yes, the vocab is kind of hard. I’m working on my 20 per day vocab flashcards. So, that should help. Thanks for the advise on working on looking for the clue. It helps a lot. Thanks!!!!

        • Rachel Wisuri
          Rachel September 4, 2013 at 11:20 am #

          Sure, happy to help. Best of luck! 🙂

  5. Kadlow July 10, 2013 at 3:30 pm #

    I just began my GRE prep with hardly a month left. The drive to work for long hours is something I lack. Benjamin’s success story certainly motivates me. Congrats Benjamin!

  6. Eliza Karki July 9, 2013 at 10:12 am #

    Just wanted to know how long did you prepare for this stellar score Benjamin?
    Once again, Congratulations!

  7. Eliza Karki July 9, 2013 at 10:09 am #

    This shows that a non-native speaker deserves a perfect score on verbal too.
    Kudos Benjamin.

  8. Jelebu July 4, 2013 at 5:03 pm #

    So inspirational, Benjamin! Congratulations on your well-deserved success.

    Thanks for sharing, Magoosh. This is super motivating!

    • Rachel Wisuri
      Rachel July 5, 2013 at 1:29 pm #

      Glad you enjoyed the post! 🙂

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