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Make sure you study a range of problems. Many of the practice problems in books will sound fairly easy, but if you're doing well they get harder in the next block of questions (unlike the old GRE where they got harder each question you completed). I was thrown when I realized it had gotten a lot more complex, and the books don't really tell you this will happen and they don't provide you with more challenging questions. Do a lot of practice, over and over again, on a range of problems in algebra, geometry, etc. Especially when you are a little rusty on math after being out of school for a year or two, or haven't used anything but stats problems and software... it might take a little longer to familiarize yourself with the subject matter. Even though it's "simple" stuff, they try to make it harder. I used Barrons and Kaplan, and they were good for the easier problems, but again..based on what I wrote above, it doesn't prepare you for the more complex ones.

Also, make sure you work on your timing. I remember for both sections I wasn't even able to make it through, and had several questions left over at the end that I hadn't gotten to simply because I didn't realize it would be as challenging as it turned out to be.

This was true for both Q and writing for me - I did well on the writing, not so hot on Q, and again... not so hot on V either, but I didn't get to complete my essays! Also, make sure you give yourself enough time to receive your scores, evaluate and retake the test if necessary. If I could go back this time around before applying to grad schools, I would have given myself at least 5 months between the first GRE and applications, instead I only gave myself 2.

Additionally, I didn't study all that much because of a last minute publishing opportunity that arose, but if you want to do well and aren't sure you will, give yourself the time to study and the time to retake them if necessary. If you do that, you are bound to hit at least your lower mark in accomplishing whatever scores you need for the programs to which you want to apply.

Good luck!

Edited by mixedpsych
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get good at recognizing the tricks in the questions and learning shortcuts- this is where I found the books to be helpful. The math is not difficult, but figuring out how to get from the question to the answer within the time limit is. good luck!

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I took the old GRE so I'm not sure how the new GRE will look. Anyways, I studied with 5 books (Kaplan, Princeton, Barrons, Arco, & Nova's), solved all the practice questions under time constraint, and managed to get almost a perfect score on the actual GRE. I think it is important that you figure out the tricks and techniques in solving the problems. Also, make sure you time yourself when solving the practice questions!

Good luck!

Edited by socpsyc127
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It's a bit pricy, but Magoosh.com was a huge help for me when I took the GRE in the summer. Their math problems are a lot harder then the actual problems that appear on the GRE (but they will walk you through the logic of each problem with a video), so when you take the actual exam, it will seem unbelievably easy.

Edited by naizan
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It's a bit pricy, but Magoosh.com was a huge help for me when I took the GRE in the summer. Their math problems are a lot harder then the actual problems that appear on the GRE (but they will walk you through the logic of each problem with a video), so when you take the actual exam, it will seem unbelievably easy.

I will probably try this, thank you!

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  • 4 weeks later...

yea timing is huge, but I think it helped me a lot to start off NOT worrying about the timing. so, doing practice problems and just making sure I understood how to arrive at the answer. In addition, this let me break down my own strategies to see if I was really being most effective or not for different sections/types of problems. Then when I was pretty confident in my ability to answer most of the questions correctly if untimed, I started doing timed practice tests to make sure I knew exactly how long I had on each section. I think from about two months before the test to the week before I was doing two timed tests a week

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For the GRE, the key is to practice taking it. When I took it, I bought a prep book (Kaplan b/c they have a cd-rom with tests so that you can get used to taking it on the computer). I studied the strategies and whatnot out of the prep book, then I went to Barnes and Noble every single day for a month and a half and took practice tests out of the books there. I just brought a notebook, grabbed a book, and took the practice test in that book in the cafe. This is a much cheaper option than anything else, I think. And it's really effective if you do it everyday. The key is to do it everyday (at least one practice test a day).

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I took the old test in August 2010, and I practiced a lot for the GRE. I got a 790 (91st percentile). I checked my stats using the GRE question checker (do this online when you get your grades! It tells you which questions you got right/wrong after you take the GRE). I got every question right until the last 3 where I got all 3 of the last ones wrong. The questions were:

-Equation of a circle (did not study this at all)

-Reading a bar graph where there were NO numbers. It involved having to figure out which percentiles each level of the IV was in.

-A weird probability question where a teacher was picking names out of a hat and there was a probability of 1/6 that the name contained 3 vowels and I had to pick the most likely name that got picked out of the hat. I only remember Harry, Lynette, and Carlos, but the issue for me was that it was the last question and I had to fucking count all the damn vowels. Harry has 1 vowel and Lynette has 2 vowels, so I had/still have no idea how to answer that question.

Edited by maath805
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For the GRE, the key is to practice taking it. When I took it, I bought a prep book (Kaplan b/c they have a cd-rom with tests so that you can get used to taking it on the computer). I studied the strategies and whatnot out of the prep book, then I went to Barnes and Noble every single day for a month and a half and took practice tests out of the books there. I just brought a notebook, grabbed a book, and took the practice test in that book in the cafe. This is a much cheaper option than anything else, I think. And it's really effective if you do it everyday. The key is to do it everyday (at least one practice test a day).

This is a really awesome idea I hadn't thought of, thanks!

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  • 2 weeks later...

The quant GRE was the bane of my existence. My verbal and writing scores are quite good, but I have always struggled with math. I raised my score a lot, mostly because I had so much pressure from my advisor and friends. For about two weeks before the test, I was reprimanded for sleeping more than a few hours a night, because that was time that could be spent studying. If you're hardcore about studying, you will get better. Use the Kaplan review CD. You can start with un-timed practice tests and move on to timed tests when you're ready. Using the computer is totally different from pencil and paper, even when they're the same problems. Make sure you get some computerized experience.

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Make sure your guides and study materials reflect the latest GRE as there were major changes. Note too that ETS will show the "range" usually of what your new score looks like on the old score scale. That said, I took the new GREs and technically did better on all sections but I talked to others who took the new GREs and there are grumblings that ETS's scaling and percentage ranking system for the sections is messed up as it's still new.

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The quant GRE was the bane of my existence. My verbal and writing scores are quite good, but I have always struggled with math. I raised my score a lot, mostly because I had so much pressure from my advisor and friends. For about two weeks before the test, I was reprimanded for sleeping more than a few hours a night, because that was time that could be spent studying. If you're hardcore about studying, you will get better. Use the Kaplan review CD. You can start with un-timed practice tests and move on to timed tests when you're ready. Using the computer is totally different from pencil and paper, even when they're the same problems. Make sure you get some computerized experience.

I totally agree. I always get a 5 or higher on writing, and I'm always 87% or above percentile ranking on Verbal. Quant. not so much and it frustrates me to no end that so many Psych programs put so much emphasis on math ability. Haven't they realized that programs like SPSS do the math, if they want quality research assistants they should test them on the relevant stuff. It's frustrating to see near perfect Quant. scores and people getting into programs because of their math scoring and they almost always have lower than average verbal and writing scores when schools show mean and median scores. What gives? Good GRE math scores are not the only predictor of PhD success...if they were than 60% of PhD students wouldn't be failing to get their degree and remain in ABD status...hmmm I wonder if writing and verbal has anything to do with that critical part of education?

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I totally agree. I always get a 5 or higher on writing, and I'm always 87% or above percentile ranking on Verbal. Quant. not so much and it frustrates me to no end that so many Psych programs put so much emphasis on math ability. Haven't they realized that programs like SPSS do the math, if they want quality research assistants they should test them on the relevant stuff. It's frustrating to see near perfect Quant. scores and people getting into programs because of their math scoring and they almost always have lower than average verbal and writing scores when schools show mean and median scores. What gives? Good GRE math scores are not the only predictor of PhD success...if they were than 60% of PhD students wouldn't be failing to get their degree and remain in ABD status...hmmm I wonder if writing and verbal has anything to do with that critical part of education?

Thank you!!! I'm actually good at stats, so it's really frustrating to be tested on algebra and geometry when the relevant math comes so naturally to me. I did go from 36th percentile to 61st in Quant, so I consider it an accomplishment. I'll never be good at math, but I did learn how to persist when I'm terrible at something and how to take pride in personal achievement.

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