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Planning to take GRE in 5 weeks - need some help


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New member here in need of some advice

 

I am applying to the Masters of Taxation program at my local school I really want to go to but I'm worried I'll be held back with my test scores. I say that because historically I have done bad on standardized tests. I had to take the SAT three times just to get a 1800.

 

Here is the stuff I have been using in the past month:

 

Magoosh online flashcards

 

Manhattan prep - Word problems

 

Manhattan prep - Geometry

 

Manhattan prep- 5 lb. of problems

 

Princeton Review GRE - general book

 

ETS official book

 

strengths: basic vocabulary, algebra, geometry

 

weaknesses: reading comprehension, some of the word problems, advanced vocabulary

 

Can anyone give me any advice on what to do for the next 5 weeks. I was aiming for 60th-65th percentile.

 

Any advice would be appreciated. Thanks in advance.

 

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Since your weakness is in verbal, and that's where I did well (97th), I'm going to address that.  I took the test twice, five years apart, and was able to bump my verbal from 89 to 97 (percentile).  My math score stayed about the same at just above the 50th each time (practice geometry).

 

I used a couple of vocabulary apps for the GRE, but I honestly don't think they made a difference.  What I feel DID work, and I wish I had done it more than the apps, was writing the words and definitions.  I took the list that ETS gives you for vocabulary.  I can't remember exactly, but I believe it's online.  (You can definitely find GRE vocab word lists all over!) 

 

I would go through them,  and ANY word I wasn't 1000% on I would write out old style.  Just like in elementary.  Write the word, then the definition...THEN I would put it in a sentence (didn't write these).  I wrote 25 words at a time for a few days, making a new sentence every time.  At the end of the day, usually while cooking dinner, I would have somebody quiz me on my list.  At the end of the week, I would revisit the previous week list and see what needed help, and added it to my daily list.  I don't think I had more than a handful of words make it longer than two weeks.

 

Doing this, I learned more words and could use them appropriately MUCH FASTER than any other method I tried.  I did well on the apps, but the words weren't sticking.  If I went back a week later I couldn't recall the exact definition.

 

I would add, take practice tests.  But in small chunks.  It will help get a feel for the test itself.  Don't burn yourself out on taking the full length practice tests, but do take a couple.  Maybe one at the beginning to get a feel for where you need to focus, and one closer to your date.  Take the free practice tests ETS gives you so you can get an idea of how the computer software works.  You don't want the first time you see the test software to be on the day you take the test.  You want to be able to navigate in each section, be able to skip questions, go back, check answers, and submit answers (when you are REALLY done) and not have ANY of that be new. 

 

Employ test taking strategies.  My advisor (who teaches the GRE Princeton Review prep class) said remember: this test hates you.  It tries to be tricky.  Once you take a few practice chunks, you will start to see how they try to trip you up.  Watch for those kinds of questions.  Time is not your friend, you can go back and answer questions later, so skip ones that will take you longer.  Answer EVERY question.  Keep an eye on your time, when it gets close...fill in the blanks.  Just pick your favorite letter.   Take the test at the time of day you are best.  If you are a morning person, take it in the morning.  If you don't function until later in the day, take it then.  If you know that you'll stress out so bad you'll make yourself crazy, maybe a morning time would work better so you get it done.  Eat if you usually at that time.  You don't want to eat a big meal if you don't usually.  Likewise, you don't want to skip a meal if it is when you usually eat.  The test is long, and you can't leave to go to the bathroom in the middle of it...plan accordingly. Spicy buffalo wings the night before, might be a bad choice. ;)

 

Sorry this is so long, but good test taking has so much more to it than just the test (and the test is bad enough)!  Best of luck!  You have a ton of prep stuff, find the ones that seem to help you best, and stick with those. 

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thank you very much for the response. No worries that the post is long, very helpful read indeed. Do you happen to have the link for the ETS vocabulary words online? I cannot seem to find it anywhere on the ETS/GRE official website?

 

Any advice for reading comprehension? I dont hate reading passages (some are pretty interesting) but I seem to have difficulty in answering the question, I never to seem to fully get it what they are asking, other than the fact finding questions.

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"For reading comp, you need to practice looking for CLUES inside of the text. Also note that one RC question is worth as many points as a vocab question despite the difference in difficulty."

 

This!  Depending on how fast you read, it is sometimes faster to start with the question and look backwards for the clues in the text.  You don't necessarily need to read the whole passage.  ALSO, because each question counts the same, look at answers themselves before dedicating the time.  For example:  If the answers are "A and B" or "C and D"...you, in effect, have to know two answers.  Those take more time than a simple A, B, C, or D but are NOT worth more points. There are some answers that will have THREE or FOUR combinations ("A, B, and C" or "B, C and D") these are not worth the time to do them right away.  I skip them and only come back to them if I have extra time. 

So, in short, look for ways to earn the most points as fast as you can.  Don't burn up time, where you don't have to.

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Verbal was my weak point and I just got a 165V(95th percentile), 169Q(97th percentile). I studied for 8 weeks total(while working full time AND maintaining a limited social life). During those 8 weeks I REGULARLY skimmed Magoosh's vocab cards. For the first 6 weeks I focused on doing math problems and for the last 1.5 weeks I did verbal. For the last half week I did mixed review. I did a total of roughly 2500 practice questions plus flash cards.

Go hardcore on the magoosh flash cards from the very start(the ones which give a word and a set synonyms). Do that first. Go through beginning, intermediate and advanced(quickly for familiarity and not for mastery) during 1 or 2 days. After this, you'll have some sort of a foundation on vocab. Keep on cycling through these. If you're ever standing in line or waiting, go here.

Similarly, download Math Workout(or something similar). It's a  flashcard app for basic arithmetic. IT HELPS. Also learn your prime numbers up to 100... do these exercises during breaks at work or between classes

For reading comp, you need to practice looking for CLUES inside of the text. Also note that one RC question is worth as many points as a vocab question despite the difference in difficulty. 

Look into meditation. I feel it helped me a little. Warning, it might make you a bit sensitive to other's emotions for a while.  http://magoosh.com/gre/2013/the-secret-weapon-to-success-on-the-gre/

I was skeptical and derided it as new age BS but felt that it helped. It's basically practicing NOT letting your thoughts wonder. That matters during RC questions.

 

 

thanks for the advice. I have about 4 weeks left and I've gone through half of the magoosh flashcards. Currently I'm unemployed with a lot of free time, do you think I can be able to get around 60th percentile in 4 weeks study time. I've been doing well on most of the math except for the difficult ones but the reading comprehension is still giving me issues. I just dont seem to answer the question despite reading the passages to the best of my knowledge.

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also given my short amount of time now, I was thinking which one of these materials should I abandon to focus on the other materials

 

Magoosh online flashcards

 

Manhattan prep - Word problems

 

Manhattan prep - Geometry

 

Manhattan prep- 5 lb. of problems

 

Princeton Review GRE - general book

 

ETS official book

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If reading comprehension is your weak area, gre verbal grail can be pretty useful. It's rc section is very exhaustive and useful. SE and TC are okayish but it's pretty good for improving RC. Apart from that, reading The Economist and NYT op-ed can be pretty helpful in improving your comprehension, speed and accuracy on the actual test. 

Apart from that analysis of the mistakes that I make has also helped me immensely

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  • 5 weeks later...

So I've followed some of the advice mentioned and based on the first practice test through Powerprep I got the following scores

 

158 on Verbal

161 on Quant

 

The good news is that I think I've mastered the magoosh vocabulary words enough that I'm just stop the last 200 and focus on other parts of improvement

The bad news is that I am 50/50 on reading comprehension, I dont hate reading in particular but I just seem to have difficulty in getting the right answer the question asks

 

Also I feel the math was too easy (even though my scores are nothing too impressive), is it a general consensus for the actual GRE quant to be much tougher than the quant in the Powerprep?

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Hi skycop, I'm in a similar boat as you, but lately I've been killing it on RC so I wanted to chime in. I started prepping with the GRE official guide, doing those questions, and sample tests, and also Power Prep. I think it was a mistake to use both Power Prep MSTs so soon since that's all we've got. So if I were you, save the other one until closer to your test, and buy the Manhattan GRE tests for like $30.

 

I also had the same relationship with RC too, and given that it's about half of my verbal score, I bought two online courses: Magoosh and Empower because I don't have the funds for Kaplan or Princeton. I think Magoosh was sweet for the vocab stuff, and Empower is particularly awesome for RC. It breaks down the questions in to three types: purpose, inference, and detail, and goes into the nuances of each. Do the free trial if you're on the fence about it. It's been a game changer for me. I've been in the high 160s on my last two Manhattan tests.

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Powerprep and the actual GRE are practically identical(not only in difficulty, also in style). Powerprep is the actual test.

 

What might happen is that, if you didn't do well on the first quant, the second quant will be easier(but due to the equalization process you might still not score that high).

 

To increase the quant, I suggest training with HARDER material: IE, Manhattan Prep.

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Powerprep and the actual GRE are practically identical(not only in difficulty, also in style). Powerprep is the actual test.

 

What might happen is that, if you didn't do well on the first quant, the second quant will be easier(but due to the equalization process you might still not score that high).

 

To increase the quant, I suggest training with HARDER material: IE, Manhattan Prep.

 

I see. I understand that the difficult problems on the GRE are usually not shown on the practice tests (otherwise they wouldnt be difficult if everyone figured it out). But I guess looking at the magoosh GRE forum, it seems as if the GRE quant is harder than the Powerprep.

 

Other than the Mannhattan Prep 5 pound book I've gone through most of the Manhattan prep books. Do you think this is a good investment to review up on problems

 

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/official-gre-quantitative-reasoning-practice-questions-educational-testing-service/1117307690?r=1&ean=9780071834322&kpid=9780071834322&cm_mmc=GooglePLA-_-Book_Under5-_-Q000000633-_-9780071834322

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