GRE geometry can sometimes seem like a formula fest. Formulas matter, for sure, but simply memorizing them isn't enough. You also need to know how to use them  efficiently. For practice, try this Quantitative Comparison question that requires you to apply the volume formula for a cylinder.

Topics: GRE prep, Quantitative

GRE arithmetic questions can challenge you to think abstractly about simple concepts such as squaring or subtracting numbers. Meeting this challenge often becomes easier when you replace any variables with specific values. See for yourself with this arithmetic problem that only about half of test takers would get right.

Topics: GRE prep, Quantitative

GRE algebra questions will occasionally hit you with a quadratic equation. To solve it, you won't need the quadratic formula. You probably won't even need the FOIL method. GRE Quant permits—and often rewards—problem solving methods that buck the conventions taught in high school math classes. To see what I mean, try these two algebra problems that most test takers would likely miss.

Topics: GRE prep, Quantitative

When you think of the LSAT, you probably think of law school, not graduate or business school. Yet an LSAT score can be used when applying to certain Master's programs, including some that award an MBA.

GRE word problems sometimes use "real-life settings," says ETS, to test your quantitative problem solving skills. Talk of salary ranges, fabric purchases, population densities, or similar topics will prompt you to do some algebra or other standard GRE math. Figuring out the math can be tough, given that word problems can be a bit convoluted. For practice, try this word problem that's likely to stump 4 in 5 test takers.

Topics: GRE prep, Quantitative

Data analysis problems make up about one-quarter of GRE Quant, and most of them will bemuse and beguile the majority of test takers. In The Official Guide to the GRE, Practice Test 1 includes a probability question that only 15% of examinees got right when it was on a real exam. Think you can solve a very similar problem?

Topics: GRE prep, Quantitative

ScoreItNow! is an online writing practice service from ETS, maker of the GRE. For US\$20, you can write two responses to real Analytical Writing prompts and have them scored by e-rater, the automated essay scoring software used to check GRE essay scores assigned by human raters.

I signed up and wrote an Argument essay. The score e-rater returned fell within the range I expected—5 to 6—and the feedback I got covered grammar, mechanics, usage, and style, as well as development and organization. My essay's content wasn't evaluated, but sample essays were presented that gave me an idea of what constitutes a top-scoring analysis.

Topics: GRE prep, Analytical Writing

Every year more than a million GRE essays cross the desks of ETS essay raters. These same submissions slide through the subroutines of e-rater, an automated scoring program developed by ETS. With a scoring speed of 800 essays per second, e-rater could evaluate every GRE essay from 2013–2014 (about 1.1 million submissions) in under 25 minutes. In that same time, a human rater will usually score around 10 essays.

This feat of education-automation raises certain questions. Do humans still read and score essays? When e-rater and a human score the same essay, do they give the same score? Do they even look at all the same features—from the grammar, vocabulary, and organization to the logic, evidence, and creativity? The answers may surprise you.

Topics: GRE prep, Analytical Writing

Right after you take the computer-based GRE, unofficial scores are available for Quant and Verbal but not Analytical Writing. You won't learn how you did on the GRE's essay section until your official scores come out about two weeks later.

Yet a mere two milliseconds is enough time to score your essays with e-rater, the essay evaluation software used by ETS. So why doesn't ETS automatically calculate an unofficial score for Analytical Writing just as it does for Quant and Verbal? The answer likely has to do with the role e-rater plays in your official GRE writing score.