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from zero to 800 (gre quant)


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Hello everyone -

I'm applying to policy schools this year and hoping for the best GRE score possible. The math, while once familiar territory, is complete Greek to me now. Any suggestions (prep methods, books, classes, etc.) that helped you get a great (90th percentile) GRE math score?

Verbal is another beast altogether...

Thanks in advance!

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Where do you live? From your username, it looks like you might be in Virginia. I live in DC and had a really good group class that was very math-centric. It was also about half as expensive as Kaplan or Princeton Review group classes.

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I'm speaking from another perspective--that of a former tutor. (Never coached people for GRE, but def. have done SAT). It certainly helped me look at things differently when it was time to study for the GRE myself!!

I thought the Barron's book had the best layout for people trying to "start from scratch" so to speak. BUT--I would also recommend that you get the Princeton Review book for the little math tricks they teach. You may not have time to learn the algebra that you'll need to ace the quant section--but you can use little tricks like number substitution to get the right answer. (I could do most of the math in my head and I *still* used the tricks because they were so much faster.)

Really--get up to snuff on the tricks.

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I found The Ultimate Math Refresher for the GRE, GMAT and SAT excellent. However, my friend, who was not as strong in math found she needed something a bit more. If you used to know the stuff and just need a reminder/refresher, I haven't found a better book (and I tried a bunch of others).

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  • 2 weeks later...

I would most highly recommend the Nova GRE prep course by Jeff Kolby for both quant and verbal. I looked at the Kaplan, the Barron's, and a bunch of others, but they weren't anywhere near as thorough as the Nova. For the quant, there are tons of questions for every problem subset, strategies and tips, and a diagnostic test to help you focus in on your problem areas. It also has great resources for the verbal, in terms of practice questions and vocab lists.

I took the GRE after six years away from college coursework, and about fourteen years after taking any math course (last one was Calculus). I'm applying for Arabic lit, so the quant wasn't as important to me, but with the help of two weeks of intensive study with the Nova book I was able to pull up my score from a 680 on my first practice test to a 730 on the actual exam. The finer points of the verbal section helped me pull up from a 730 to an 800.

Jeff Kolby has also written another book for Nova called the GRE Math Bible. Since this focuses just on the math, it may have more depth for what you're looking for.

If you need a book for the analytical writing, I'd recommend GRE Answers to the Real Essay Questions by Mark Stewart. Step by step analyses of example answer essays by a GRE grader, and lots of tips and strategies for writing both the issue and the argument sections. Good luck, knock 'em dead :)

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