The Secret Weapon to Success on the GRE

Over the years, I’ve expatiated on a number of techniques to help you improve your GRE score—from the most granular (three-blank, one sentence Text Completions) to the general (improve your reading brain). But there may be a very effective means to boost your GRE score that I’ve yet to mention: meditation.

For some folks, meditation may seem too rarefied and spiritual to have anything to do with test prep. Getting ready for the GRE involves a lot of learning, but few would describe it as a deeply enlightening process. But before you navigate to another page, you might want to take a look at the results of a recent study on meditation and performance on the verbal section of the GRE exam.

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This study took a group of undergraduates at the University of Santa Barbara and had them take the verbal section of the GRE (I’m sure a few demurred and fled at the first triple-blank Text Completion). Next, the subjects were randomly assigned to one of two groups: the nutrition group or the mediation group.

The nutrition group learned about the importance of healthy eating and was encouraged to keep a food journal, in which they wrote down what they consumed daily. This was to make sure both groups spent about the same amount of time doing something and ensures that just taking a bit of time each day to better yourself isn’t what made the difference.

The results are actually shocking: the average score before the interventions was 460. Participants in the meditation group saw their average score increase to 520. This is with zero GRE prep! (I should mention this score is based on the old testing score, but that increase is similar to an increase from a 151 to a 154). On the other hand, participants in the nutrition group saw no change on their GRE verbal section score.

In case you’re tempted to forever close your web browser on Magoosh in favor of meditation, remember that GRE prep is still key to achieving your goal score. Meditation, on the other hand, is something that we are learning can make a huge difference. I would encourage you to pursue meditation and mindfulness exercises, in conjunction with your GRE study plan. There are plenty of books on Amazon, and I am sure there are quite a few Youtube videos on the how-to.

Next time you feel you’ve hit a wall on GRE prep, or are just stressing out, relax. Get into a meditation posture and be practice being mindful of the present. That ability to ground yourself will definitely be important come test day.

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5 Responses to The Secret Weapon to Success on the GRE

  1. Carly September 23, 2020 at 8:31 am #

    There are several guided meditation apps that can help with this, no need to read books on meditation. I recommend the Ten Percent Happier app, or the Insight Timer app. Both have lots of free meditation teachings that are 15 mins or less a day to listen to a teaching on how to meditate and then complete the meditation.
    Additionally, all that’s really necessary is to spend 5-10 minutes a day trying to focus your attention on your breathing, and simply beginning again when you realized your mind has wandered off.
    Easy and invaluable with many benefits extending wayyyyy beyond improving your GRE score. 🙂

  2. taru April 22, 2013 at 2:38 am #

    Hello Chris

    U mentioned something really important here.ur absolutely right that meditation helps keeps focus and keeps thoughts away that can work in a great way to shoot up the gre excellent website is by osho which teaches a variety of meditation exercises that are tailored for the modern man.


    • Chris Lele
      Chris Lele April 22, 2013 at 12:27 pm #

      Thanks for the recommendation, Taru! I’ve never heard of this particular brand of meditation, but I intend to learn more :).

      • Chris October 13, 2015 at 10:10 am #

        As an FYI, study participants wouldn’t have fled at the first triple blank – the exam was modified to only show RC questions.

        I found mindfulness meditation helpful. My mind still wandered during the exam but it was manageable, unlike during my ACT days.

      • Tarun August 9, 2016 at 4:21 am #

        There are many Indian yoga guru’s that can help you in meditation, which can be very economical !! 🙂

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