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Poor standardized test taker...advice greatly needed.


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I just took my first practice GRE. I did horrible, to say the least. Q149, V145.

 

I know that I am a poor standardized test taker. I did very poorly on the SAT and ACT in high school. I did poorly on the standardized tests throughout middle and high school.

 

Despite this, I've managed one Bachelor's from a very good university, and I'm currently in the process of earning my second one. I have good grades, and my cumGPA is 3.56, majorGPA is 3.97. I can write papers of all sorts, and can take exams in classes, but standardized tests seem to do me in.

 

I have 3 months to study for this test, as well as the Psych subject GRE.

 

I have the Kaplan Premier book, and I'm going to purchase the individual verbal and quant books, as well. Are the Kaplan ones worth it, or are there others? I don't have a lot of money to put into this, like a course.

 

I feel so discouraged right now. I'm always being complimented by professors on my writing abilities, so I know I'll do fine on the AW. I work as a writing consultant at my school, so I would have hoped to do better on verbal, as my everyday vocabulary is quite expansive.

 

Any advice would be appreciated.

 

Thank you!

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I don't know if this is effective for others, but it did work for me. For me, the GRE wasn't about knowing the things I needed to know to answer the question correctly, but knowing how to beat the test. The GRE is mostly fail as a test, in my opinion. It does not measure what it purports to measure. It's basically just a handy metric used to thing the application pile down to something more manageable. I did have to know the words and math to succeed in the test, but I also had to know the logic behind the test. The first time I took it, I was so discouraged that I thought I might as well get a job flipping burgers because that was all I was good for. I got a GRE book, Kaplan, and read it. I started with the definitions of words and the explanations of formulae. Big mistake. I should have started with the logic of the question. The only thing the GRE really measures is your ability to take the GRE. That means that the focus of my preparations was on taking the GRE. I read the "how to take the GRE" section in every guide I could get my hands on. My local university's library stocks most of them and my public library did and inter-library loan for one of them for me. Yeah, I did some word games focused on GRE vocab and I did some math flash card, but most of my effort was studying how to take the test. It worked because I finally rocked it.

 

It also helped me to think of the GRE properly. That it doesn't measure my knowledge or intelligence, and that a not-quite-up-to-snuff score can be overcome by a statement of purpose, writing sample, and letters of recommendation. I declawed it by putting it in its place.

 

What will work for you, or others, I couldn't say. Everyone's brain is different!

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It's clear that your GRE scores do not reflect your verbal ability and academic standing. As DanieleWrites noted a lot about scoring well on the GRE comes down to understanding how the test goes about trying to trick you. That's one of the many departments in which Kaplan lacks. Princeton Review does a much better job of breaking down the test, and standardized tests in general. Go through the strategies in that book and apply them to actual ETS test questions, or Manhattan GRE or Magoosh questions. Keep sedulous notes of the questions you missed. Try to figure out what went wrong, i.e., what thought processes led you to the wrong answer. Try to anticipate these errors so you can avoid them in the future.

 

Once you pick up on how the test writers create the wrong answers and what makes the right answer right, you should be able to score well above 150 on both sections. That said, working on some fundamentals (vocab, math concepts, etc.) will help as well. Here is a 2-3 month plan -- including suggested materials -- that should help you improve on both sections: http://magoosh.com/gre/2011/2-3-month-gre-study-guide/

 

Good luck!

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