GRE advice

My daughter will be graduating from college this summer, and plans to go to graduate school after a year off. So if any of you have any good study advice about the GRE, or recommendations for good study aids, she and I would appreciate it. I took a look at Amazon, but it looks like the books available are either verbal or math, not both. Is there such a thing as a comprehensive study help, or should we think about getting both? Or is there a better idea? Thanks for whatever help you can give me.

Get both, and more if you can find any. Umm…who does those, Princeton Review? The big thing about GREs is DRILLING. Lay hands on any old exams or practice exams available. IMHO, the logic part needs this the most, and is actually not bad once you figure out how to reduce word problems to equations and grids.
Verbal, just practice a few times to get the style. If you don’t know your vocab by now, a few days studying won’t help.
Math- SHOW YOUR WORK! Not for the benefit of the graders. They won’t even see it. The GRE is loaded with trick questions that involve several different approaches that SEEM like they can be casually combined. Not so. Do them step by step.

Best Wishes for the baby grad student! :slight_smile:

The Princeton Review helped me immensely.

On those puzzle questions, in which there’s one setup and several questions about that one setup – such as if A is next to B, then where is F? – ALWAYS draw a little diagram of the setup on your scratch paper.

Also, the instructions at the beginning of each section remain the same. Read them for the practice sessions, know them, then DO NOT waste valuable time reading them during the actual test session.

I just bought a shitload of workbooks and familiarized myself with the test and the standard “tricks.” IMO, there’s really not much else you can do, since the test really isn’t about how much you know. I just spent a month going through a bunch of practice tests and stuff and managed to get a good score. The Princeton Review and Baron were both quite helpful.

I found the GRE to be comparable to an IQ test. If she’s highly intelligent, she’ll do well and really shouldn’t worry about it.

Thanks for all your help and suggestions. We’ll probably order a couple of things for her, hoping they’ll get here before her spring break is over.

She’ll actually be walking the stage in May, but then she has two more classes to take in the summer. And this is only her third year of school and she’s only twenty. So the year off will likely be a good thing. But she’ll have to start the process in the meantime.

The GRE verbal is much, much more difficult than the math section. My lab partners and I all did very well on math and pretty crappy on verbal (I had almost a 200 point difference). My brother got and 800 on verbal on the SATs and only at 630 or so on the GREs. I was the same way. However, the good news is grad schools seem to know this.

I honestly didn’t find studying helped. The math was basic (no calculus) and all the studying of vocabulary didn’t help. The test is computerized, by the way, and the first few questions are very important and they determine what range you are in and the others just modify it slowly.

Depending on her field and the grad schools she applies to, she may need to take a subject test. I didn’t find the chemistry one to be that bad, but there was a lot of chemistry trivia on it, which I didn’t really care for.

I took the GRE in November. The last time I took an honest-to-god math class was in high school - I’m now 29. I couldn’t even remember how to add fractions, let alone the formulas to figure out the volume of variously shaped objects. In July I took a practice test on the internet and had to give up after three questions on the math side because I had absolutely no freaking idea. Panicking, I bought one of the math review books for the GRE and the general Barrons prep book and pored over them frantically for months.

Without this book, I am not exaggerating when I say it’s possible I would have not have gotten a single right answer on the math section. I got a 600, which is actually quite a bit better than I did on the math part of the SATs, at a time when I was actually taking a math class. I know, 600 isn’t all that amazing, but it was pretty amazing for me. I didn’t have to write an explanation for my math retardation in my personal statement. So I don’t buy that studying doesn’t help, at least for the math. But if your daughter hasn’t been avoiding math for ten years, she’ll probably do fine.

On the verbal, I don’t know how any of that studying could help. I memorized about seventy new obscure words, and none of them were on my test. I got a 720, but I doubt it can be attributed to the studying. It’s just 'cause I’m awesome.

The counseling or testing center at her current college may have practice tests. I found these to be helpful. They familiarize one the real test format & help with planning what to study.

IME, the verbal is less about memorizing new words and more about cultivating the ability to make an educated guess about them. Familiarizing yourself with Latin/Greek roots helps, as well as developing a sense of whether a word is “positive” or “negative.” I didn’t try to memorize anything while I studied for the Verbal and managed to score in the 99th percentile. The standard is different for each department (and each school), though - I was applying to English programs so anything below 97% was considered iffy. (Luck also plays a factor, of course - the test may happen to have the words you mananged to memorized, or it may not.)

The GRE is basically the SAT when it comes to the math but is indeed more difficult in the verbal. The best way, other than standard test-taking strategies, that I’ve found to study the verbal is to simply read a lot. I’ve never been able to memorize lists of words; instead, I need some context. So when I took the general GRE I actually scored higher on it (well, the verbal was 30 points lower but the math was 130 points higher) than I did the SAT but with practically no studying (I ran through some software the night before so that I knew what the current test looked like and how it’s calibrated and scored.)

A poor child I, I checked a prep book out from the public library and, knowing that the math section would be hopeless but I was going into the humanities (sorry to disagree, gfloyd), looked at their list of ‘1,000 words that appear most frequently on the vocab section’ and copied down all of those I didn’t know (a couple of hundred?) and studied them on my bus commute for a few weeks. And then I destroyed the verbal (770) thus making grad school much cheaper. This was when it still on paper, though.

Bear in mind that I am old. I know that the GRE and SAT have changed quite a bit since I took them (I didn’t take the computer-based versions, just for one example). My memories might be a bit faulty, too…

I didn’t study much for either- drills and flash cards are Not My Thing.

The only prep book I read was The GRE for Dummies. I liked it because it was actually able to hold my interest, unlike most of the prep books.

When I was taking the SATs, my mom bought all kinds of prep books for me. I spent most of my time trying to figure out from them what the average score on the math and verbal sections was. You can lead a horse to water, and all that…

The math section of the GRE is way easier than the math section of the SAT.

I read a lot, and found the verbal section pretty easy.

People will give you all kinds of advice about the GREs, a lot of which isn’t necessarily true. I was told by one person that you had to do crossword puzzles to have any hope of doing well on the verbal part of the GRE. I don’t do crossword puzzles, never have, and I did quite well for a science major on the verbal part of the GRE. I think I did better than the guy who told me I should do crossword puzzles… I think my verbal score was about as good as my verbal score on the SAT, as well, or at least the number was (I can remember those, but not the percentiles).

Okay, here’s a kind of odd one.

For the verbal, go to and use that as one of many tools for studying. It gives a decent idea of how a computer adaptive test works, may well put up words she doesn’t know, and does some good while she’s at it.

I do think studying for the verbal helps, but it needs to happen relatively in advance. I checked “Cracking the GRE” or something very similar to that out of the library, as well as “SmartWords for the GRE” (again, or similar title), and made up flash cards and did the quizzes and so on. I’d say I had a decent vocabulary before I did this and was much better after. And quickly forgot a lot of the less useful words right after the GRE. I got a 730 on the verbal, so I honestly think studying helped.

The analytical writing part was a bunch of suck, and I don’t know how to suggest someone to study for it. I did well, but I like to write anyway. The cracking the gre book has some advice, and it’s probably good.

I got what I consider a dismal score, for me, on the math section. If I had given myself more than a month and a half or so, and focused more on the math than I had, I might have done better. I think the best idea is to not get so concerned about one topic than another, and make sure she’s studying in a well rounded way.

Finally, and I think this matters too, the book I used suggests that it’s just as important to not overstudy as it is to understudy. I believe they suggested between one and three months of study time. I wish I’d gone for about three months, but I think it would have been too frustrating and stressful to do much more than that.

Good luck to her!

When my daughter got out of college she worked for Princeton Review for a while, teaching LSAT classes. She managed to get their vocab list for the GREs, and studied that - and she got whatever the modern equivalent of a 1600 is. (Much better than I did.) I don’t think she had much problem with the math, but she used it a lot in college.

Get one of those computer training discs. It helps practice for the test in the format it will be given. I used one of those and did quite well.

Intelligence helps, but so does drilling. For those of us who aren’t in math or the sciences, practicing on the math questions can increase test scores greatly. When I last took it (2005), the math wasn’t really hard at all. It was mostly just basic algebra and geometry typical of first-year high school courses, but the drilling helped enormously in refamiliarizing myself with the mechanics of the mathematical operations.

Yep, this is what I did. There’s no way to really “study”; rather, what you have to do is to get acustomed to the test and the types of questions.

How much to study? That depends. If your daughter has kick-ass grades in her soon-to-be grad major subject, she just needs to do reasonably well. If her grades are so-so, then I’d invest in a review course. They are absurdly expensive, but it will give her the edge she needs. In my own case, I just studied on my own, since I had already been “accepted” by my professor, so taking the GRE was really a formality - all I had to do was get a reasonably good score. If she is going into an especially competitive field, (e.g., MBA school), then she should take a review course, because there’s a ridiculous number of applicants per seat.

BTW, the year off? - could be a mistake. It’s tough to come back to Schoolville after a year of making money and having fun. I just kept going, because I knew if I got out and started down the path of $$$ I’d never come back to school and the ensuing poverty. just my $0.02

It’s correct that you cannot really study for the test. But it helps to feel at ease with it. That’s where drilling comes in handy. Becoming familiar with the format and types of questions, the instructions etc.

Also, don’t keep taking the test if you do reasonably well. I believe the agency sends all of your scores for someting like the past five years. Doing good once or after the second time will look better than taking it several times with scores going up and down. I don’t mean to brag, but I did so well on it the first time that I didn’t dare take it again for fear I’d get a lower score.

She’s making all A’s in her college courses, and most of them have been in her major (and now her minor), since she had enough credits to skip the GenEd stuff. But she hasn’t had a math course since high school. I think her GPA is about 3.9.

Part of the reason she’s taking the year off is that she decided to change from major to minor in her second subject so she really doesn’t need to do another whole year in undergrad, but she’s too late to apply for grad school this year. So she doesn’t have a lot of choice. And her career advisor says she’s pretty young for grad school anyway.