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Tupamaros

GRE Quant Success Stories - A Jump of 35%?

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Hey folks,

 

So I've finished what has been an unsuccessful cycle, with no admits. Having received some feedback, one of the major flaws in my application is a low GRE score (in the 50s %). The top programmes in my field (Pol Sci) typically admit students with a Q score around the 85th-90th percentile.

 

I feel like achieving this jump in a re-take is a daunting task, so would love to hear from other posters who made a big improvement in their quant scores.

 

For my first test I bought two books: PR and Barron's. I found PR to be pretty useless for people who need to score high in quant, and only good for the very basics. Barron's was a little better. I went through Barron's Math review twice, did the questions after each section twice, and did their two model tests. I also took the Powerprep II online tests twice. This was my preparation, on the back of not having taken a math class in 6-7 years. I ended up with a 153 on test day.

 

Has anyone (outside of former math majors etc) had a really successful second go at the quant section, is it possible to make the jump I require, and what is the best way to go about it? I have ordered Manhatten on the back of reviews I have read of the content, and purchased the ETS book for the extra 2 practice tests, and I plan to begin study now :) I should also mention that due to geographical location, having a GRE class/tutor isn't feasible.

 

 

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It's definitely possible to improve that much, especially since you were really rusty your first try and didn't review much. I would recommend against a GRE prep class even if it were feasible; they're overpriced and only marginally helpful.

 

Manhattan is supposedly great for Q practice, so you're mostly set. I see you've already used one Barron's book, but I really like and highly recommend another one called Barron's Six Practice Tests (the tests are very similar to the real GRE in content and difficulty--and it's cheap!). Oh, and Magoosh has some great free PDFs on their site.

Edited by midnight streetlight

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I didn't have quite that large a jump, but I was able to raise my quant score to one I could be reasonably satisfied with (went from 152 before serious studying to 160). A friend of mine had a Kaplan disc with practice sets (it came with a book), which I found to be easier than the actual test but helped me work on time-management during the test. This was really important for me, because I had a tendency to spend too long on certain problems and run out of time. The timed, computerized practice tests helped me stay aware of that timer without it freaking me out and distracting me.

 

I also got a CliffsNotes book called "Math Review for Standardized Tests" and worked my way through the sections that relate to the GRE. I think it was helpful because it starts with arithmetic rules, which gave me a better foundation for the rest of the math. At first I felt silly going over concepts I was taught in 6th grade, but I think it really helped me, because we tend to just memorize those concepts when we're younger without really understanding them.

 

I also studied for 6-12 hours each day the two weeks before the test... I was crunched on time, and wouldn't recommend this strategy! If I had had an extra few weeks I think I could have raised my score another 3-5 points. If you take free practice tests through Kaplan (often offered online) you can see which types of problems are giving you trouble and then target them. Or you can just analyze your practice tests. I had just started targeting the week or so before my test; with a little more time I think I could have gotten the hang of those problems to the point I could solve them quickly and move on, instead of taking forever to get the right answer.

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It's definitely possible to improve that much, especially since you were really rusty your first try and didn't review much. I would recommend against a GRE prep class even if it were feasible; they're overpriced and only marginally helpful.

 

Manhattan is supposedly great for Q practice, so you're mostly set. I see you've already used one Barron's book, but I really like and highly recommend another one called Barron's Six Practice Tests (the tests are very similar to the real GRE in content and difficulty--and it's cheap!). Oh, and Magoosh has some great free PDFs on their site.

 

Thanks for that :) Yeah, I studied for just under 4 weeks, and allocated about 35% of my time to Verbal and learning test structure, on the back of not having done a math problem in a long time. This time out, I'll allocate about 90% of my time to math, as I just need to retain my verbal. I'll look into the 6 Practice Tests book (I also have bought Manhatten 5lb book of problems). I did find the Barron's I used better than PR, but it still leaves one unprepared on its own merits in my view.

 

I've also read some blog posts on Magoosh (considered signing up, not sure yet!). Their book reviews were very helpful too. :)

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I didn't have quite that large a jump, but I was able to raise my quant score to one I could be reasonably satisfied with (went from 152 before serious studying to 160). A friend of mine had a Kaplan disc with practice sets (it came with a book), which I found to be easier than the actual test but helped me work on time-management during the test. This was really important for me, because I had a tendency to spend too long on certain problems and run out of time. The timed, computerized practice tests helped me stay aware of that timer without it freaking me out and distracting me.

 

I also got a CliffsNotes book called "Math Review for Standardized Tests" and worked my way through the sections that relate to the GRE. I think it was helpful because it starts with arithmetic rules, which gave me a better foundation for the rest of the math. At first I felt silly going over concepts I was taught in 6th grade, but I think it really helped me, because we tend to just memorize those concepts when we're younger without really understanding them.

 

I also studied for 6-12 hours each day the two weeks before the test... I was crunched on time, and wouldn't recommend this strategy! If I had had an extra few weeks I think I could have raised my score another 3-5 points. If you take free practice tests through Kaplan (often offered online) you can see which types of problems are giving you trouble and then target them. Or you can just analyze your practice tests. I had just started targeting the week or so before my test; with a little more time I think I could have gotten the hang of those problems to the point I could solve them quickly and move on, instead of taking forever to get the right answer.

 

That's very interesting, thanks for your reply :)

 

Yeah, cramming can have its positives and negatives. Do you mind me asking what was your standard of math before study began, how long you studied for your first test, and for your second test? I have about 10 relatively clear weeks ahead which I can dedicate a decent portion to the GRE. So I'm thinking about aiming for 30-35 hrs a week. Congrats on the improvement, nice to know it can be done!

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I'm pretty much on the exact same situation as you, but I did really bad on my first GRE (Q: 145). Because of such a low score, I decided not to apply last year and postpone my applications for this year's fall. I wasn't ready for the test, since the material I used was quite poor on math.

 

Besides the Manhattan prep books, I have also signed up for Magoosh, mostly because of the drills and four practice tests. I like the Magoosh videos, although I don't believe they're essential for a study plan. I think you should try to take as many practice tests as you can, even if they don't exactly reflect the difficulty of the real GRE (at least that's the advice of a friend of mine who was admitted a couple of years ago).  

 

I'm also planning to retake the test within the next 10 weeks or so. Which programs are you aiming for? 

Edited by Imago

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I'm pretty much on the exact same situation as you, but I did really bad on my first GRE (Q: 145). Because of such a low score, I decided not to apply last year and postpone my applications for this year's fall. I wasn't ready for the test, since the material I used was quite poor on math.

 

Besides the Manhattan prep books, I have also signed up for Magoosh, mostly because of the drills and four practice tests. I like the Magoosh videos, although I don't believe they're essential for a study plan. I think you should try to take as many practice tests as you can, even if they don't exactly reflect the difficulty of the real GRE (at least that's the advice of a friend of mine who was admitted a couple of years ago).  

 

I'm also planning to retake the test within the next 10 weeks or so. Which programs are you aiming for? 

 

I'm aiming at all top 20 schools basically, maybe one or two "safeties" (if there's such a thing), and some european schools which don't require the GRE. It seems the top 10 area looking for a 162+ Q score. What schools you gonna try for, and what is your quant goal?

Edited by Tupamaros

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I improved my Q section by 29 percentile points. I was starting at a lower point, but still. I studied like crazy (not as much as some) and it really paid off.

 

You can definitely do it. I would just suggest throwing everything you have at it- including getting tutoring or buying one of those expensive prep classes (I did Barron's, which was reasonable). I also would highly suggest this book:  

 

http://www.amazon.com/GRE-GMAT-Math-Systematic-Approach/dp/1453633987

 

You won't find it in stores, and it isn't just for the GRE, it is also for the GMAT, but the principle behind it is that if you go back and review almost ALL of basic math, starting with the number line, you won't have to rely on tricks to just get by on test day. Buying that book was the single best thing I did to improve my Q score. 

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I was able to pull mine from 61st percentile to 84th in 3.5 weeks. I studied A LOT. I used the Kaplan math workbook and every free online test I could find. The biggest help was taking practice tests that provided feedback on what I needed to work on. The workbook is much easier than the real test but is helpful to build a foundation. I also didn't write in the book so I could go back and do the questions again later. The free tests on ETS site are the most important in my opinion because they are closer in difficulty to the actual test. After studying for a while, you can take one to get a real idea of where you stand before you continue. I think they only offer 2 or 3, so be careful when you use them. Good luck!

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I improved my Q section by 29 percentile points. I was starting at a lower point, but still. I studied like crazy (not as much as some) and it really paid off.

 

You can definitely do it. I would just suggest throwing everything you have at it- including getting tutoring or buying one of those expensive prep classes (I did Barron's, which was reasonable). I also would highly suggest this book:  

 

http://www.amazon.com/GRE-GMAT-Math-Systematic-Approach/dp/1453633987

 

You won't find it in stores, and it isn't just for the GRE, it is also for the GMAT, but the principle behind it is that if you go back and review almost ALL of basic math, starting with the number line, you won't have to rely on tricks to just get by on test day. Buying that book was the single best thing I did to improve my Q score. 

 

Thanks for that :) May I ask, had you much of a math background, and how long did you study for each exam?

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I was able to pull mine from 61st percentile to 84th in 3.5 weeks. I studied A LOT. I used the Kaplan math workbook and every free online test I could find. The biggest help was taking practice tests that provided feedback on what I needed to work on. The workbook is much easier than the real test but is helpful to build a foundation. I also didn't write in the book so I could go back and do the questions again later. The free tests on ETS site are the most important in my opinion because they are closer in difficulty to the actual test. After studying for a while, you can take one to get a real idea of where you stand before you continue. I think they only offer 2 or 3, so be careful when you use them. Good luck!

 

Thanks, and congrats on that, that's a serious rise in 3 and a half weeks :D

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I'm aiming at all top 20 schools basically, maybe one or two "safeties" (if there's such a thing), and some european schools which don't require the GRE. It seems the top 10 area looking for a 162+ Q score. What schools you gonna try for, and what is your quant goal?

Same here, but I'm also considering a couple of schools at the top 30. I guess it all depends on your area of research. For example, I study public opinion and political behavior, so I'll be applying to the Stony Brook program, which has an excellent department on the field. Besides the american schools, I also intend to apply for a couple of programs in Canada. 

As for my scores, I'm aiming for a 160 on math and 165 on Verbal (my previous verbal score was 160). 

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Same here, but I'm also considering a couple of schools at the top 30. I guess it all depends on your area of research. For example, I study public opinion and political behavior, so I'll be applying to the Stony Brook program, which has an excellent department on the field. Besides the american schools, I also intend to apply for a couple of programs in Canada. 

As for my scores, I'm aiming for a 160 on math and 165 on Verbal (my previous verbal score was 160). 

 

Good luck :) We should check-in with our progress!

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Good luck :) We should check-in with our progress!

Good luck for you too. :)

 

We should definitely check-in with our progress. I have just signed up to the forum, so I'll make sure to be posting frequently. 

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Good luck for you too. :)

 

We should definitely check-in with our progress. I have just signed up to the forum, so I'll make sure to be posting frequently. 

 

Cool! I'm starting my study seriously from Monday. Talk to you soon ;)

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Thanks for that :) May I ask, had you much of a math background, and how long did you study for each exam?

 

I hadn't had any math since trig in high school (well, I took stats freshman year, but that is different). The next time, I had just completed calc I, which had forced me to go back and learn algebra in a way I never had before. The amazing thing to me is just how basic most of the math on the GRE is.

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