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SpYEsther

Anyone aced the GRE in one try?

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Hi everyone, 

Is there anyone who did really well on the GRE on the first try, and didn't need to take the test again? If you did, how did you study? Any tips? 

Thanks! 

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Umm I wouldn't say I aced it - I got V/Q scores of 157/154 - but I got into my PhD program with that, so... 

I studied with a GRE study book by Kaplan and with Magoosh for vocab. 

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Every year, there are a good amount of people who  'ace' the GRE; I was not one of them.

I came close though, with a 170/169/5.5. Getting this level of score is not going to make a vast difference (if any at all) above a 'good' store for your program of choice.

For verbal, I used the Magoosh flashcards app. Practice reading some passages and testing reading comprehension. Other than that, the verbal is very straightforward. I focused more on Q, since it is much more important in my field.

For quant, I used Magoosh to review some basic concepts. Magoosh is really helpful when it comes to solidifying what exactly you need  to know and will be tested. If you can take this in the summer or over a break, that's for the best. Forget all calculus, high-level stats, etc. Just become an absolute expert on the basics which will appear on the GRE. (You can find this information and should review it in the official ETS GRE Guide.)

In short, use the following:

Magoosh GRE Vocab Flashcard App, Magoosh subscription (find someone to split this with), Manhattan 5lb book (for math problems only) and all of the official guides from the ETS.

In all, I dropped a little under 100 bucks on materials, but it was worth it.

Edited by StatHopeful

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I only took the GRE once, on the old scoring system. Verbal 97th percentile, quant 80th, writing 6.0. This was before all the online jazz existed.  I studied the princeton and kaplan books for most of a summer, here and there, including doing lots of math practice questions and I took vocab flashcards with me on the bus. I also like to read smart writing--a great way to study that isn't for everybody is to read The New Yorker for a couple years. I scored 810 on the psychology test and that was studying an intro text for 2-3 weeks.

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Honestly, you shouldn’t aim to “ace” the GRE. It’s not a significant enough factor in grad admissions. Getting a “good” score is fine- put your time into other parts of the application. 

As a small selection of data, no one I met in grad school took it more than once, and most of my colleagues either studied minimally, or not at all. 

I used the free GRE practice tests from ETS, then took it. My score wasn’t amazing, but it was fine (similar to @lewin, like 94%V, 86%M) and I didn’t think twice about using it and moving on. 

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I did "well enough" on the GRE my first time...I used the 5 lb Manhattan Prep book of practice problems and basically just drilled math over and over again because I know it's my problem area...it was still my lowest score but passable. I know I'm strong on verbal and writing so I barely studied those and got 93rd percentile for both.

From all the professors and current grad students I've talked to, the GRE is not as significant a factor (at least for psych) as the people on GradCafe make it out to be.

Edited by ResilientDreams

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Yep, I got 170 on both the quantitative and verbal sections first time. 

I took the exam during spring break my junior year, and had the first week of spring break to study. In reality, I found that I didn't need to prepare for the quant section coming from a STEM major: once I knew what the question style was, the rest followed. I don't have a very good vocabulary though, so used the Magoosh flashcard app and that helped a lot. I also used the 5lb Manhattan Prep book to study for the verbal section. 

I had very limited income during my undergrad, so I was really hoping that I could pass first time around. 

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I managed above 90th percentiles for both verbal and quant (old test version). I felt this was pretty good for being a returning student (10+ years since undergrad). I used the practice books and a math refresher book, which I loved. I did some of the flashcards, but those were more for fun and casually.

I think the key is starting a few months ahead of time and being consistent--I did 30-90 minutes a night before bed for the math and practice tests and added the flashcards with friends/family every once and a while.

That said, I'm generally a good test taker, so ymmv.

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I don't know how you define "acing" it, but I got a perfect score on the verbal section, 82nd percentile on quant, and 98th percentile on writing. It was my first try, and I didn't retake it. I prepped on my own, with the Princeton Review prep book and the Magoosh 5 lb tome of practice problems. I started 2 months before the test date, studying just a little every night (around 40 min). Closer to the time, I did several full-length timed practice tests. I had been doing a little better on quant when I did the practice tests, so I wasn't thrilled with my score, but I'm really glad I didn't waste time and money retaking the GRE. I had no GRE-related trouble when applying to PhD programs.

Edited by brainlass

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This is very dependent on your personal background and the like.

I studied for about 3 weeks 5 days a week. I got 320 (88th verbal, 73d quant) and 4.5 (82nd). I used the 5 lb one and only studied maths as I got 45th percentile on my practice quant and already quite an OK sore on verbal at the time.

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