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I scored 315 on my first practice test.

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I scored 315 on my first practice test. [#permalink] New post 07 Feb 2019, 00:22
I scored 315 ( 152V,163Q) on my first practice test (ETS). I am planning to give GRE in July 2019. Is this a good score considering the fact that I started my preparation a month ago? My target score is 330+. Is it achievable in 5.5 months? What advice would you like to give me?
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Re: I scored 315 on my first practice test. [#permalink] New post 10 Feb 2019, 11:45
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Hey there!

Scores are mostly subjective. Some people would be thrilled with a 315, others would be gravely disappointed. Objectively speaking, a 163Q score is far above average, while a 152V score is below average. But those are for actual scores, not practice test scores. Any number of variables can affect your real score vs. your practice score.

5.5 months is a long time to prep. But 330+ is also an elite score that many people never achieve. You seem to have a solid quant foundation, but you'll need to be essentially perfect in quant to reach the 330 range. The verbal improvement is typically tougher, and so bringing that up into the 160s is going to be the bigger challenge.

There are many studying resources and suggestions available on this and other sites. Definitely pick up all of the official ETS material and work through it while brushing up on the concepts you are weak on. Keep an error log so you can track your mistakes and learn from them, while identifying patterns, common traps, and weak areas. Read high level books and articles, and download an app to work on expanding your vocabulary.

If you have any more specific questions or concerns, feel free to reach out! You got this!
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Re: I scored 315 on my first practice test. [#permalink] New post 16 Feb 2019, 18:18
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Hi smarchin77,

A 315 is a great start! Regarding how to move forward with your prep, to improve your quant and verbal skills, ensure that you follow a structured and linear study plan that allows you to individually learn each verbal and quant topic, starting with the foundations before moving to more advanced concepts. By studying in such a way, you can methodically improve your GRE quant and verbal skills and ensure that no stone is left unturned.

For example, if you are learning about Number Properties, you should develop as much conceptual knowledge about Number Properties as possible. In other words, your goal will be to completely understand properties of factorials, perfect squares, quadratic patterns, LCM, GCF, units digit patterns, divisibility, and remainders, to name a few concepts. After carefully reviewing the conceptual underpinnings of how to answer Number Properties questions, you will want to practice by answering 50 or more questions just from Number Properties. When you do dozens of questions of the same type one after the other, you learn just what it takes to get questions of that type correct consistently. If you aren't getting close to 90 percent of questions of a certain type correct, go back and seek to better understand how that type of question works, and then do more questions of that type until you get to around at least 90 percent accuracy in your training. If you get 100 percent of some sets correct, even better. Number Properties is just one example; follow this process for all quant topics.

When you are working on learning to answer questions of a particular type, start off taking your time, and then seek to speed up as you get more comfortable answering questions of that type. As you do such practice, do a thorough analysis of each question that you don't get right. If you got a remainder question wrong, ask yourself why. Did you make a careless mistake? Did you not properly apply the remainder formula? Was there a concept you did not understand in the question? By carefully analyzing your mistakes, you will be able to efficiently fix your weaknesses and in turn improve your GRE quant skills.

Each time you strengthen your understanding of a topic and your skill in answering questions of a particular type, you increase your odds of hitting your score goal. You know that there are types of questions that you are happy to see and types that you would rather not see, and types of questions that you take a long time to answer correctly. Learn to more effectively answer the types of questions that you would rather not see, and make them into your favorite types. Learn to correctly answer in one minute and 45 seconds or less questions that you currently take five minutes to answer. By finding, say, a dozen weaker quant areas and turning them into strong areas, you will make great progress toward hitting your quant score goal. If a dozen areas turn out not to be enough, strengthen some more areas.

When studying verbal, as your vocabulary improves, your GRE verbal score very likely will improve. With that said, vocabulary on the GRE is a beast, and learning such a vast number of GRE vocab words will take many hours. Thus, you will want to find a large, reputable vocab list and study the heck out of it. Yes, the process of memorizing thousands of words is tedious and boring, but if your competition is memorizing 2,000 to 3,000 vocab words, then you must do the same or more! However, memorizing vocab words is just a part of the battle.

After improving your vocab, you need to improve your skills at answering Text Completion and Sentence Equivalence questions. When answering a single-sentence Text Completion question, for instance, you need to understand what the sentence is trying to say. In other words, you need to understand the logic of the sentence, the important clues that indicate what word or words are needed to complete the sentence. In problems that involve two or three sentences, you also need to understand the relationships between the sentences. There are always important clues to guide you in the existing sentences. Understanding the context around the blanks is the most important thing you can do. Likewise when answering Sentence Equivalence questions, focus on the BIG PICTURE or context clues that are provided in the sentence. If you can accurately assess the context of what you are reading, you will have a better shot at selecting the appropriate vocab word to complete the sentence.

While learning to effectively answer completion questions, you must also improve your Reading Comprehension skills. In that case, your ability to understand the logic of what you are reading matters even more. All Reading Comprehension passages involve arguments, so you must strive to understand what the point of each argument is. You also should understand that the main parts of the argument in the multi-paragraph passages are the different paragraphs, while the main parts of the argument in the single-paragraph passages are the sentences. Understanding how the different parts fit together, in each instance, is one of your more important tasks. Furthermore, as you practice, focus on the exact types of questions with which you struggle: Find the Main Idea, Inference, Author’s Tone, etc. Analyze your incorrect answers, and try to understand why the answer you picked was wrong.

To correctly answer single-paragraph passages, as mentioned above, you will need to be able to analyze the relationship between sentences. Furthermore, you need to ensure that you you fully understand the essence of the various single-paragraph question types. Do you know the importance of an assumption within an argument? Can you easily spot a conclusion? Do you know how to resolve a paradox? Do you know how to properly evaluate cause and effect? Do you know how to properly weaken or strengthen an argument? These are just a few examples; you really need to take a deep dive into the individual topics to develop the necessary skills to properly attack these types of Reading Comprehension questions.

Finally, keep in mind that GRE Reading Comprehension passages are not meant to be easy to read, so to better prepare yourself to tackle such passages, read magazines with similar challenging content and style, such as the Economist, Scientific American, and Smithsonian.

In order to follow the path described above, you may need some quant materials, so take a look at the GRE Prep Club reviews for the best quant and verbal courses. You also may find it helpful to read this article about how to score a 330+ on your GRE.

Good luck!

Scott Woodbury-Stewart

Founder and CEO
TTP - Target Test Prep Logo
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Re: I scored 315 on my first practice test.   [#permalink] 16 Feb 2019, 18:18
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