GRE Quantitative Reasoning: Where to Begin

Posted by Jonathan Evans on


There's an aphorism attributed to Laozi, father of Taoism: "A journey of a thousand miles starts under one's feet."

I could certainly apply this wisdom to doing my dishes, cleaning my house, filing my taxes, or writing a blog post. However, while this dusty old saw might strike you as clichéd, it is clichéd by dint of its truth and is applicable to preparation for the GRE.

Now that you're enthusiastic about embarking on this journey, cracking the books, and putting in the effort to succeed at the GRE, your next question might be: "So how exactly am I supposed to begin?"

Assuming that you've taken a practice test and have a pretty good gauge of where you are and where you want to be, many might suggest borrowing a prep book from the library, hiring a tutor, or registering for a course. All these are reasonable strategies depending on your personality and learning style, but especially if you intend to pursue a GRE class or private tutoring, I would like to emphasize one strategy for ensuring you get the most out of this structured instruction.  

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Topics: GRE prep, Quantitative

No Vocab No Cry

Posted by Jonathan Evans on


Let's be honest: No one can memorize all the vocabulary you might encounter on the GRE. There are lists of words everywhere, so much so that it's become a cliché, "SAT words." Most of the lists of "GRE words" are just "SAT words" on steroids, and prep books frequently instruct students to keep a vocabulary diary, make flash cards, or do a lot of reading to expand your working vocabulary and familiarity with the scholarly or academic jargon and style of the GRE. All that is great advice! By all means, read more and keep track of words you learn. It will serve you well on the GRE, in grad school, and in life in general. 

Fortunately for those of us who struggle with difficult vocabulary, the GRE has become less vocabulary intensive than it used to be. When I first started teaching GRE preparation, the test included Antonyms and Analogies problems, both of which were pretty much make-or-break vocab questions. If you didn't know the definition of the words, you could employ some ingenious strategies and logical deduction to improve your odds of getting the answers right, but you could never really be sure.

While the test now includes fewer problems that are outright vocabulary questions, Sentence Completion and Sentence Equivalence problems still require a strong working vocabulary. So does Reading Comprehension but in more of a passive sense. A great knowledge of the definitions of difficult words still helps a lot, but let's discuss what to do when you're stuck on unfamiliar language.

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Topics: Verbal, GRE prep, SAT Prep, GRE Challenge

Everything Counts

Posted by Jonathan Evans on


Have you ever seen this formula?What about this one?These are combinatorial formulas, used to solve counting problems, and if you’ve been preparing for the GRE, you might be familiar with them as the formulas for permutations and combinations, two of the most misunderstood and most fun concepts tested in the Quantitative Reasoning section.

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Topics: Grad School Admissions, GRE prep, Quantitative, GMAT

The Increasingly Versatile GRE

Posted by Jonathan Evans on


In September, I spoke at an LSAT clinic at a North Texas law school. Before my presentation, the Dean of Admissions addressed the attendees and spoke about her own experience with the LSAT and her desire to emphasize the importance of well-rounded students. She downplayed the significance of the LSAT, suggesting that while an excellent LSAT score is important, a low score should not prevent otherwise qualified candidates from applying.

Truth be told, the LSAT is the gold standard in law school admissions, and a high LSAT score correlates with good performance in law school. Law schools are also invested in ensuring that their students have high average LSAT scores because, along with high average undergraduate GPAs, these averages are an important factor in determining law school rankings.

Therefore if you are an applicant considering only law school, I wholeheartedly recommend that you focus your attention exclusively on preparing for the LSAT. However, if you are a student who is considering other options, including grad school, business school, or a dual degree program, the GRE may be worth your consideration as well.  

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Topics: Grad School Admissions, GRE prep, Law School Admissions, lsat, GMAT

How do "Implicit Associations" Affect Your Performance on the GRE?

Posted by Jonathan Evans on

Two students are identical in most respects. They have identical SAT scores, identical GPAs, and are both preparing to take the GRE. They both say they're very motivated to get a top score. Which of them is likely to earn a higher score? 

A fascinating new article by Melissa J. Ferguson, Professor of Psychology at Cornell, and Clayton R. Critcher, Assoc. Professor of Marketing, Cognitive Science, & Psychology at UC Berkeley, describes significant research they conducted into "implicit associations" and how measurements of these automatic associations can predict success or failure at a variety of important tasks, including the GRE.

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Topics: Grad School Admissions, GRE prep

GRE vs. MAT: Which test is for you?

Posted by Ryan Born on

Exam acronyms and grad school admissions go hand-in-hand. 'GRE' comes up a lot, of course. But there's also 'MAT', which stands for Miller Analogies Test. A program you're applying to may accept scores from either exam. If you have the choice, which test should you take?

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Topics: Grad School Admissions

GRE Verbal Scores for Top Education Programs

Posted by Ryan Born on

Education is a popular field of graduate study in the US. It's the number one discipline for doctoral degrees (MD and JD excluded) and a close second to Business for master's degrees. Hoping to get into a top program? A strong GRE Verbal score may help. Take a look at the Verbal scores for Education programs ranked in the top 25 from the latest U.S. News Best Grad Schools.

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Topics: Verbal, Grad School Admissions

GRE Math Scores for Top Education Programs

Posted by Ryan Born on

Educators are communicators, so top Education schools tend to see a lot of strong GRE Verbal scores. What about Quant scores? Take a look at the Math scores for Education programs ranked in the top 25 from the latest U.S. News Best Grad Schools.

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Topics: Grad School Admissions, Quantitative

GRE Math Scores for Top Engineering Programs

Posted by Ryan Born on

Engineering is a math-heavy discipline. Unsurprisingly, high GRE Quant scores abound among Engineering grad students. Take a look at the scores for Engineering programs ranked in the top 25 in the latest U.S. News Best Grad Schools.

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Topics: Grad School Admissions, Quantitative

Making Sense of Symbolic Functions in GRE Algebra

Posted by Ryan Born on

GRE algebra can get weird sometimes. Strange markings like    or    will appear in equations that otherwise use ordinary operators like  +  and  . Unusual symbols in GRE Quant are the hallmark of symbolic functions—pairings of inputs and outputs that, as it turns out, are connected by some pretty standard math.

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Topics: GRE prep, Quantitative