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Is three weeks enough time to see an improvement?


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Hi, all.


Thanks for helping me get through a difficult night. Your messages meant a lot to me. Thank you.


My GRE was an epic failure, and I never have felt so defeated. I contemplated not applying to grad school this year because of my low Verbal score. 


I graduated with my MA from Columbia back in May, and I was set to go to Syracuse for my PhD in anthropology, but it was an unfunded offer. Also, as you can tell, my health is not exactly in the best position. I have severe anxiety that left me hospitalized twice. That's why I decided to take a year off school and reapply. 


Back in July, I signed up for an online Manhattan Prep course. It was an EXPENSIVE gift from my grandparents, but I felt that it would be worth it. I read each book from cover to cover, practiced some problems on Magoosh, and took some practice tests. My practice verbal score was a 157, and I wanted to get it higher. My goal was a 162. 


Well, I took the GRE on October 16th, and I bombed miserably. I had three panic attacks the night before, I had a death in the family the week of the test, and every section left me in tears. I scored a 152 on the verbal, and I never felt so defeated.


I set another test date for November 6th, which is roughly three weeks from now. I don't know if I should take it, and if I will see an improvement. I NEED to get that score up, otherwise I can say goodbye to this application cycle. My first application due date is December 17th.


If I don't score high enough, should I just reapply next year and get some GRE therapy? :) What other study tools besides Magoosh should I use? How can I devise a strict study schedule for myself? 


Thanks in advance, all. 

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 I studied off and on for 3 weeks and raised my verbal 5 points and my math 1 point. That was with Magoosh which I like. That dang math was sooo boring.  I really believe this, and in your case even more so, a big variable is taking the test with the right attitude.  You need to stay calm - remember you can take the test as many times as you like (until ETS has the contents of your bank account anyway).  So just make sure you have the time set aside for the exam, get there a half hour early, and just do your best.  I'm betting you get that high score.

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I agree with eyepod! Try some relaxation techniques and positive self-talk. Practice a breathing exercise that you can whip out during the test if you need to. I think you got the bad part out of the way and now that you know what to expect you can forget that first attempt ever happened and focus on your new scores, which will be better. Still review materials -- I'm also retaking with similar timeframes to you and have found Magoosh's 30-day study guide to be plenty of work. But make sure you are consistently getting enough sleep, especially the week of your exam! It allows you to actually store what you learned in long term memory. All in all, balance studying with self-care and you have a recipe for success!


Edit - if your first deadline is Dec 17, you actually have plenty more time if you don't mind paying whatever fee to push that test date back. It only takes 10-15 days to send scores. For example: I tested on Oct 11, rescheduled for Nov 11, and my deadline is Dec 1.

Edited by VulpesZerda
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Three week is enough to see an improvement. Beyond study, a relaxed and focused attitude helped me a lot in raising my quant score 3 points without studying too much. 

This is what I did using Magoosh (for the quant section):


- Practicing, I divided my sheet in a grid and I did the problems in a ordered way, numbering them. This made me feel focused and organized. On test day I did the same. This way, if I felt I needed to skip a question after trying for a bit, I could easily go back later to what I had done. The first time I took the GRE I just wrote all over and that did not help me.


- Finally, during the actual exam, before starting the math section, I wrote a few formulas on the front sheet to give myself a tiny formula sheet. I did so in particular for formulas that I tend to forget (like interest and compound interest). I figured out that trying to remember those formulas during the actual test, under time pressure, I would have been more prone to mistakes.


Also, taking the test the second time around I was naturally much more relaxed because I knew the process already.

Just study and focus on the process, and get plenty of sleep. If you are relaxed and rested, you will feel naturally less anxious.

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Hey, dont worry. Three weeks are just more than sufficient.

The key to feel normal during the test is to take as many practice tests as possible. I spent 2 weeks and took about 15 to 20 practice tests. Gre became an everyday task and there was not a single 'panicky' pulse on the day of actual test.

But I had got tense multiple times during several practice tests and had lost a large chunk of my marks by messing up entire reading comp sections. But I was inured to gre's panick inducing questions and sections, by the time i gave gre.


Just go through magoosh and manhattan verbals (again); take up kaplan and manhattan tests or any other practice tests you have access to (at least 15 timed tests, to reduce anxiety on the test day). That will for sure harden you.


BTW my first practice score was 142, in two months my avg practice scores reached 158 and got 160 in gre. So three weeks are sufficient, to reach beyond 160 from 152. Dedicate last 10 days for practice tests and their detailed reviews.

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It sounds like the test psyched you out and that you're not predisposed to dealing with that stress well. Unless you really, really feel like your knowledge base is lacking, I'd do whatever the hell it takes to relax over the next few weeks and get yourself in the right mindset. I can feel the stress oozing out of your pores just reading that first post. Get your hands on some ganja, get a Xanax prescription, take up meditation, just do whatever it takes to get to a serviceable state of mind by Nov. 6.

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I definitely think you can see an improvement in 3 weeks.  I raised my both my quant and verbal scores 3 points in one week and like 5 in two weeks by doing nothing more than practice tests and practice questions.  I would definitely recommend buying Manhatten Prep's 5 lb book of practice problems.  I just did 10-20 practice problems whenever I had time during the week and did practice tests on the weekends and it helped so much.  It made it so that the question types didn't give me anxiety and I felt comfortable with what was ahead of me.  I wish you the best of luck and I hope you can get a handle on your anxiety so that your true abilities can shine through!  My family has a history of anxiety and we have all had to find what works best for us- medication for my mom, a healthy relationship for myself- but it is something you can conquer!   

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You can definitely improve in three weeks - that's when I did most of my studying (apart from the re-learning math).  I found the strategy information in the Manhattan Prep guides to be most helpful in raising my scores.  And I agree with everyone else - it sounds like the main thing you need is to figure out how to get your anxiety under control.  Good luck!

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