A Resolution You Can Keep!
At times the hardest part of preparing for the GRE can be just knowing how to get started. Which book is right for me? Should I take a class? Would tutoring be better? Does preparation even work?
On our GRE Free Help Area, we provide answers to the most common student questions as well as excellent resources and study guides.
In this post, I'd like to highlight two of the best self-study tools you can use to get your GRE preparation off to a great start.
On the GRE General Test, you earn three scores: Analytical Writing Measure, Verbal Reasoning, and Quantitative Reasoning. The Verbal and Quant sections make up the majority of the test and are the focus of most GRE preparation.
Most test prep for GRE Quant and Verbal balances between teaching strategies and covering essential, core content knowledge. However, many strategies are most effective if and only if you've got a handle on the core concepts. If you're looking for a way to spend some time over the holidays making headway on your GRE preparation, I highly recommend getting a head start on this content knowledge:
- Quantitative: Study and master basic math facts.
- Verbal: Memorize and practice GRE vocabulary.
What can you do to get going on these GRE basics? We provide two dynamite resources for free:
The ABCs of Vocab
Before you get started with a vocab word list, you need answers to two questions:
- Which words do I need to study?
- How do I know whether I have mastered a vocab word?
While our Repeat Offenders Vocabulary Word List contains the most commonly tested words on the GRE, you likely will not need to study all of these words because undoubtedly you already know some of them. How do you know whether you have mastered a vocab word?
For each word on the list, ask yourself these questions:
- Can I make a short, precise definition of this word?
- Can I use this word in a sentence to illustrate its meaning?
On the vocab list, we have provided definitions and example sentences, but before you consult our information, attempt to answer the questions above on your own. This way you can rate each word and separate them into three categories:
- ALREADY KNOWN – "A" Word – This is a word that you can define yourself and use in your own sentence. You own this word.
- BORDERLINE – "B" Word – If you maybe can't exactly come up with your own definition or if you struggle to make your own sentence, you might still recognize the word. Maybe you've seen it before. Maybe you sorta know what it means. Rate this word a B word. It's borderline.
- CHALLENGING – "C" Word – If you don't have a clue what a word means, if you're totally stumped, that's okay! Rate this word a C word.
When you're done with this process, now you can begin to sort. Ready for the good news? You can dispense with all the "A" words. You already know these words, so there's no need to study them!
Your top priority should be to master the "B" words. You're halfway there with these words. Master them and knock them off your list. Continue to check and quiz yourself. As you master these "B" words, start moving on to the "C" words. Mix your studying up. Return to words you have mastered intermittently to ensure that you have a firm knowledge of these words and their definitions.
Will vocab in and of itself ensure a great score on GRE Verbal? No, but it will move you a long way towards your goal. In consideration of the importance of vocabulary on Text Completion and Sentence Equivalence questions, direct mastery of words' definitions can make the difference between a right answer and a wrong answer, or between getting stuck for minutes on one question or answering it quickly and confidently and moving on.
It's Been a While!
Haven't thought too hard about quadratics since sophomore year in high school? Me neither! (Well actually I have because I teach GRE prep for a living).
All the math that is tested on the GRE comes from one of the four subject areas above.
The good news is you have likely seen everything on this test before and probably even done much more complicated math in high school or college.
The bad news is sometimes we can get rusty on the basics and struggle to recall essential facts.
That's where the GRE Quant Reasoning Flash Cards come in. I instruct students that there are two essential skills for Quant success:
- Know the relevant math facts being tested.
- Know how to implement effective, time-saving problem-solving strategies.
Just as studying vocab can give you a leg up on GRE Verbal, studying math facts can supercharge your Quant preparation. Once you know the basics, you will find it far easier to recognize which strategies to use on different questions. Knowledge of math basics unlocks your potential to solve questions in multiple ways, increasing your confidence and completing the sections with time to spare.
Make a Schedule and Stick to It
The holidays can be a stressful, busy time, but they can also give us an opportunity to change up our routine, to make new resolutions, and to get into good habits. If you're ready to prepare for the GRE, consider using the next few weeks to get started with some of these GRE fundamentals. Mix them up. Don't overwhelm yourself. Set aside fifteen minutes a day for Verbal and fifteen minutes for Quant. You will be surprised how quickly you progress.
As always, our Free GRE Forums remain a terrific resource for getting expert answers to all your GRE and grad school admissions questions. Have a question? Join us there!
On behalf of everyone at PowerScore, happy holidays! Now let's get to work!