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This week's GRE experience.

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This week's GRE experience. [#permalink] New post 19 Feb 2019, 07:06
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Dear GREPrepClub users, I would like to share my personal experience with GRE test, which I took this week on Monday (18th February) and ask for some assistance with possible ways to improve my score. This was actually my third test, with my first attempt 146V, 158Q, second attempt 147V, 157Q. Now, I took a long break between my second and third test to go through problems and practice tests to be able to improve my score. I ended up going through all of the math problems from the Manhattan 5lb practice book, as well as official practice tests from the ETS book and Powerprep tool. I was able to improve insignificantly to 154V, and 160Q, considering the amount of time that was put into the preparation. Many grad schools say that the average successful applicant got around 165Q, but it seems that I will not have enough time to take another test before the application period ends.

Regarding the test itself, honestly, I was caught off guard by the third quantitative section on the test, after feeling super confident by the first two Quantitative sections. After doing practice tests it completely slipped my mind that there was always another section in the end. I still don't have my scores available to check at what type of questions I did most mistakes, but I am willing to improve and crush this test once and for all.

Do you have any suggestions for me to proceed at this point? Be free to ask any questions, just not about the test contents:)
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Re: This week's GRE experience. [#permalink] New post 19 Feb 2019, 10:12
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Later I will address your question. I am at work now. :wink:

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Re: This week's GRE experience. [#permalink] New post 21 Feb 2019, 17:13
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Hi dolphinrider,

I’m glad you reached out, and I’m happy to help. First off, a 154V/160Q is not a bad score; however, I realize that you are not satisfied and need to improve your score. Looking at your previous study routine, I see that you employed a plan that I call “practice first and figure the rest out later.” In other words, you were doing practice problems before understanding the concepts on which those problems are based, and thus you were trying to learn solely from reading solutions to problems. Following such a method leads to disorganized studying and ultimately holds you back from improving your quant and verbal skills. Thus, in addition to using your current resources, you may consider using a resource that allows you FIRST to learn the concepts and strategies related to GRE quant and verbal and SECOND to practice with a large number of realistic questions. Furthermore, to ensure that you improve your quant and verbal skills this time around, I recommend following a linear and structured study plan in which you individually learn each GRE quant and verbal topic, and practice each topic until you’ve gained mastery.

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 new materials, so take a look at the GRE Prep Club reviews for the best GRE courses. You also may find it helpful to read this article about how to score a 330+ on your GRE.

Feel free to reach out with further questions. Good luck!
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Re: This week's GRE experience. [#permalink] New post 21 Feb 2019, 23:11
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Thank you, Scott, for addressing the question with your unique touch.

:yes
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Re: This week's GRE experience. [#permalink] New post 24 Feb 2019, 06:14
ScottTargetTestPrep wrote:
Hi dolphinrider,



Dear Mr. Woodbury-Stewart,

thank you for your time and input that you've put into the response. I appreciate it greatly. To start, I also think that the score is not bad, it is just that such score does not give me any advantage during the application process - it is just the lowest limit that I needed to get to in order to apply. Most of the grad schools that I will apply to are having their deadline at the end of March. The reason I would like to improve my score is that I would like to fulfill my lifelong dream to go to Japan and I could apply there later this year, which leaves me some time for additional preparation. Additionally, I have a strong desire to beat this test and prove that I can perfect my knowledge.

One of the firsts points that you've touched was about my preparation technique. You mentioned that I probably did many practice questions, without corresponding it with proper theoretical background. This is true in the case of my latest preparation, but before my first two tests I actually put maximum attention to the theory, without too much practice. I guess I went from one side of the spectrum to a completely different one, while the clever approach would be to combine them. I will definitely have to plan everything out much better and you have given me some valuable advice on how to actually do it.

Regarding the verbal and reading comprehension, I did not put much effort into preparing for this part. Honestly, I have no idea where such an improvement came from. This shows, however, that I can master it with some effort and vocabulary building, which I would have to plan properly as well. And the advice to read more literature with challenging content is great as well and I will be sure to figure out a way to do this.

I would also like to mention the fact that in the end mental fatigue played an important role for me, since I was "surprised" by the additional quantitative section of the test. I would need to take more practice tests with 6 (instead of 5) sections to build up my mental capabilities.

I believe that this is a solid ground to start further preparations and I really appreciate your input!
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Re: This week's GRE experience. [#permalink] New post 28 Feb 2019, 18:34
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My pleasure! So glad I could help.
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Re: This week's GRE experience.   [#permalink] 28 Feb 2019, 18:34
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