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practice test scores vs real scores

child of 2

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I have read comments from people who got a lower verbal score on the real test than they did on the practice tests. Is this true? Is it just because you get more nervous on the real exam, or is the real exam actually harder on the verbal sections?

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Just took it yesterday. Of course, the practice tests are almost always taken under less stressful conditions. You should emulate realistic testing conditions as best you can, however: don't exceed the break limits, tackle the writing portions rather than skipping them, and complete the entire thing at once.

With regards to the verbal sections, I found it virtually the same in terms of difficulty. Still heavy on context and logic. You've got to maintain a solid sense of timing for the RC passages and questions, otherwise the long, detail-laden ones will dominate that particular section and disrupt your rhythm.

My practice test scores were as follows:

Manhattan: 166 V / 160 Q; 164 V / 164 Q; 164 V / 164 Q

PowerPrep II: 162 V / 163 Q

My actual scores were 166 V and 162 Q. So -- from my experience, at least -- the practice scores in verbal are a reasonable estimate of how you'll score on the real thing.

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  • 3 weeks later...

Regarding the Verbal section, I had a similar experience.

I got a 168 on my one Powerprep verbal test, and a 164 on my one Manhattan verbal test. Got a 170 today on the real GRE. However, I may have done a little better on the Manhattan pretest if I had reviewed a few of the harder questions before submitting. I corrected three or four on my second real GRE verbal section when I went back to review before submitting. When taking the practice tests, I just went through and answered everything and submitted without review.

My quant practice test scores were as follows:

155 (Manhattan)

161 (Manhattan)

158 (Manhattan)

156 (Manhattan)

164 (Manhattan)

161 (Powerprep)

164 (Manhattan)

163 (Powerprep)

Actual score: 159

For what it's worth, I thought the Manhattan quant questions were about 20% harder than the real GRE quant questions, while the Powerprep questions were about 10% to 20% easier than the real thing. Manhattan seems to like to throw a lot of difficult questions at you, but give you more credit for getting them right. I based a lot of my study on the explanation Manhattan provided with their tests, and I think it was very, very well worth the $30 I spent.

The Powerprep verbal questions seemed about equivalent in difficulty and in nature to the first real GRE section, and to the experimental section. The more difficult verbal section on the real GRE, which I earned by doing so well on the first one, was more similar to the Manhattan practice test. The Manhattan test focused less on context and more on obscure vocabulary. If you're aiming for anything but the very highest few verbal percentiles, I'd suggest you base your approach more on the Powerprep practice tests than on Manhattan.

I actually felt less nervous while taking the quant sections than I had during the practice tests, probably because the questions were easier. But I had to pee like a racehorse during about the last hour of the test. I swear, about two seconds after I hit the button to skip the ten-minute break and continue, my bladder suddenly went from feeling nothing to feeling like a Thanksgiving Day float balloon. Moral of the story: even if you peed before the test and haven't drank all day, use the break to pee again.

Edited by okProteus
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