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Lola: Studying for the GRE for Only 3 Days

Thank you to everyone who continues to send in their student stories! You can submit one yourself or read what others have shared by going to Student New GRE Experiences.

This post features the latest submission, from Lola, who studied for just 3 days before taking her exam!

“Test date: October 30, 2011
Test location: New York
Projected score range (displayed at the end of your exam): 630-730 quantitative, 700-800 verbal
How long have you been studying for the GRE? 3 days!

Hi all! I just took the revised GRE this morning after a grueling period of intense preparation… one that lasted all of three days! I am in my senior year of undergrad, and I’m majoring in economics and political science. In spite of my major, I wouldn’t call myself a math person at all, while verbal has always been a breeze. I started considering grad school in sociology about two weeks ago but figured it was too late to attempt applying for the current admissions cycle. Then I looked at the deadlines for my target schools’ relevant programs, saw that I had a shot at making them, and even if I wouldn’t I thought it might be a good idea just to see where I stand so I would know which schools/programs I could realistically look into or what to work on for a retake. I was actually hoping for a test date in November because I would have a good 2-3 weeks after midterms to prepare, but the only date available before the December application deadlines at a test center within driving distance was today’s.

I had midterms and projects due until Wednesday of last week, so I really only had Thursday through Saturday to prepare. All I used were the official ETS book, Magoosh’s video explanations of the practice questions I got wrong and the relevant blog posts, and the practice test in the PowerPrep software. On Wednesday, I familiarized myself with the test format and question types from each section by reading through the ETS books and working through the 5-6 questions they include in the basic description of each section. I thought it would be best for me to focus entirely on math for all three days, so I finished all the practice questions in that chapter of the ETS book and went through Magoosh’s videos/posts on every topic I found difficult. They were extremely helpful and the tricks were easy to remember; I attribute anything I remembered for word problems and combinations to them. On Friday I took the Powerprep test and shocked myself with the results – 800 math, 640 verbal, the exact opposite of my SAT scores and the range within which I actually scored today. That gave me a false sense of security about the math and I spent most of Saturday practicing verbal questions, supplementing them with Magoosh again (which was especially helpful on text completion’s: thank you Chris!), and reading sample AWA essays along with their critiques.

I’m not sure whether my quant score is sufficient to get me into my top school choices just yet (any idea, anyone? That range for sosh at UPenn?), but given the ridiculous time constraint and lack of preparation, I guess I shouldn’t be too hard on myself. I will probably wait until after graduation to take the test again (if at all, depending on the new scoring scale), and I will definitely come back to Magoosh to brush up on the concepts I struggled with this time.”

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2 Responses to Lola: Studying for the GRE for Only 3 Days

  1. Claire November 9, 2011 at 9:04 pm #

    Just so you know, I was also looking at sociology at UPenn, and I got similar scores the first time I took the old GRE, last fall (630 quant, 700 verbal). My professors told me that wasn’t good enough for the top schools. You may want to consider taking it again, or not applying to top-tier schools. Hope everything works out for you!

  2. anon November 3, 2011 at 8:16 am #

    If you want to go to graduate school in econ, you need a 780+. I’d suggest retaking it. The math on the new gre was wayyyy harder than PowerPrep II prepared me for, too. I still got a range that maxed out at 800, but I was really surprised at the difficulty increase and I wish I’d known so I could have prepared accordingly.

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