The New Alternative: GRE Scores For MBA Programs

gre scores for mba
Reading Time: 8 minutes

If you’re thinking of applying to a top Business school for an MBA, then you probably know that you need to hit the books even before you get into a college. Yes, we are talking about the competitive exams that graduate colleges require, the most common being — GMAT and GRE. In this article, we will dive into what the GRE is, the GRE scoring system, the top business schools that accept the GRE, and GRE scores for MBA

If you want to take the GMAT exam but your busy schedule doesn’t permit you to attend classes, then you can opt for our GMAT online course. You can check out our article on how you can target a good GMAT score to help you prepare for this exam.

1. How is the GRE structured?

The Graduate Record Examination is a standardized test that measures your quantitative, verbal, and analytical skills.
This test is a requirement for admission to most of the top graduate schools in the United States, Canada, Europe, and Asia.

See All you need to know about the new GRE.

Below is the GRE Exam Pattern – the number of questions in each section and the time limit for the same.

GRE Exam Pattern

Here’s the basic test structure of the GRE:

GRE basic test structure

The GRE does not have any specific eligibility criteria. However, if you wish to get an MBA through GRE, then you have to meet the eligibility criteria of the particular program you want to pursue, such as work experience, a GRE score of 320, etc. You can learn more about how the GRE tests your vocabulary.

2. How is the GRE scored?

The GRE reports three scores:

Verbal Reasoning on a 130–170 score scale, with 1-point increments
Quantitative Reasoning also on a 130–170 score scale with 1-point increments
Analytical Writing score on a 0–6 score level, in half-point increments

How is Analytical Writing scored?

Each of the GRE essays, “Analyse an Issue” and “Analyse an Argument,” gets two raw scores. One score is from a specially trained reader who uses a six-point scale to judge the overall quality of the essay. The other score is from the GRE test maker, Educational Testing Service (ETS) that evaluates writing proficiency. While you are at it, why don’t you also take a quick look at how to write the two types of Analytical Essays on the GRE.

The two scores for each essay are averaged into one if they are close. If they aren’t close, then the ETS score is discarded, and a second human reader scores the essay. The average of the two human scores then become the individual essay score.

The final GRE Analytical Writing section score is the average of the two essay scores.

How Are Verbal and Quantitative Sections Scored?

Your score for both the Verbal and Quantitative sections is determined by the number of questions you get right. You do not lose points for wrong answers, so it’s better to take a guess even if you’re not 100% sure of the answer.

For each of these sections, ETS first calculates your raw score – that’s how many questions you answered correctly. Then, your raw score is converted to a scaled score using a conversion formula that takes the difficulty of each question into account (let’s not tire ourselves out, trying to understand THAT method). And finally, this converted score is your section score.

GRE Exam Pattern


The GRE Percentile Rank

You don’t just receive a scaled score. You also receive a percentile rank. This rank rates your performance against a large population of other GRE takers. They don’t call these competitive exams for nothing, right?

What does this percentile rank mean?

In the most simple terms, a percentile rank will tell you how well you did in comparison to others who took the same test. For example – if you scored in the 80th percentile, it means you did better than 80% of those who did the test.

The percentile rank will tell graduate schools what your scaled scores are worth. Let’s say all the applicants to a particular business school get very high scaled scores. The school will then be able to differentiate applicants according to their percentile ranking.

GRE Percentile Score For Verbal Reasoning

GRE percentile score for verbal reasoning

GRE Percentile Score for Quantitative Reasoning

GRE percentile score for quantitative reasoning

GRE Percentile Score for Analytical Writing

GRE percentile score for analytical writing


What is a good GRE score?

The score range for GRE is 260-340, meaning that even if you, unfortunately, get everything wrong, you would still get 130 in two sections (Verbal and Quantitative Reasoning), giving you a score of 260.

A score of 320, an 80+ percentile rank, will put you in a good position for most programs except the really top ones in the top schools.

A 330+ score is a 90+ percentile rank that will allow you to apply to any of the premier B-schools from around the world (including your dream school)

We’re just giving you an average of scores required.
Each institution has its GRE requirements and varies from country to country and from A grade to B grade schools.
To make it a little easier for you, we’ll go into detail the GRE requirements for the Top B-schools around the world in the next section.

3. What are the Top Indian Business Schools Accepting GRE for MBA?

There are a lot of great colleges in India that accept GRE scores too. Note this is for their executive MBA programs – not the regular two-year PGP for which you need to take the CAT. There currently 3 top schools that accept the GRE.

  1. ISB
  2. Let us look at what ISB has to say about GRE scores:

    GRE scores for ISB PGP

    And if you look at the class profile they seem to have some information on the average scores too:

    ISB class of 2020

    Check out GRE Scores for ISB

  3. IIM-Ahmedabad
  4. Again, remember this is for IIM-A’s executive MBA program called PGPX (Post Graduate Program for Executives). Let us see what their website has to say about GRE requirements:

    IIM Ahmedabad


  5. IIM-Bangalore
  6. Again remember this is for IIM-B’s executive MBA program called ePGP, and let us see what their website has to say about the GRE requirements:

    IIM Bangalore

    The other colleges that accept GRE but do not have a definite cut-off are:

    Top Business Schools accepting GRE

    Now, let’s take a look at some of the other B-schools that are accessible to GRE test-takers outside of India.

4. What are the Top Business Schools in the world accepting GRE scores?

Let’s take a took at some of the top business schools that accept GRE from USA, Canada, Europe, and Asia and the MBA GRE scores they require.

United States of America:

Harvard Business School – Ah, good ol’ US of A still happens to be every graduate’s dream destination for further education, with most of their co. America’s business schools are considered to be the best thanks to their excellent curriculum and amazing faculty. The Top US Business Schools that accept GRE and the GRE scores they require:

Top US Business Schools that accept GRE scores



Canada is very welcoming to international students, and over the years, an increasing number of Indian students are choosing to study in Canada. This is owing to their easy acceptance of international students when it comes to student visas, work visas, and PR permits. The students, of course, have to fit the eligibility criteria and all other requirements of the universities they wish to pursue their MBA.
The Top Canadian Business Schools that accept GRE and the GRE scores they require:

Canada institutes

While it is common knowledge that Europe is home to some of the greatest architecture, culture, and history, it is also home to some of the world’s finest business schools. All the top B-schools in Europe—with the exclusion of IE Business School in Spain—accept GRE. The Top European Business Schools that accept GRE and the GRE scores they require:

Top European Business Schools that accept GRE scores

Asian universities are known to traditionally accept scores of standardized tests like GMAT and IELTS, among others. Still, a few business schools have begun taking GRE scores, which includes our very own ISB – Indian School of Business. However, only two of the top business schools in the Asia Pacific that do accept GRE -INSEAD and CEIBS are either Europe based or are collaborative institutes with Europe. Both these schools have a one year MBA program.

The Top Asian Business Schools that accept GRE and the GRE scores they require:

Top Asian Business Schools that accept GRE scores



So, we have stated the components of GRE, how each section is scored, percentile ranks, what a good score is, and the top business schools accepting the GRE and GRE score requirements.

Do not be under the impression that a good GRE score is all you need to get into a top business school. A good GRE score is just one of the requirements you need to get into a top business school. You have to fit all the criteria put forth by the university of your choice to get in.

If you’re still uncertain of undertaking the GRE because a lot of the top business schools only require GMAT or if you’re finding it difficult to decide whether to take the GMAT or the GRE then check out our article on GMAT vs GRE which will help you figure out which exam you should take for your admissions.

We hope this article has helped you take your situation into account and choose an exam that will suit your purposes. If you have any questions or need help with your applications, simply drop a line in the comments section. We will be happy to help you out.

  • November, 11th, 2019
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GMAT vs. GRE: Which is better for Your MBA in 2019?

Reading Time: 7 minutes

Are you a prospective MBA student? Not sure if B-schools prefer the GMAT or the GRE?

Now that many B-schools accept both the GMAT and the GRE, you must be wondering which exam to take.

In this article, we will address all your concerns and help you figure out which test to take for your MBA admissions.

Here’s what we will discuss:

  1. What is the difference between the GMAT and the GRE?
  2. Should You Take the GMAT or GRE for Your Admissions?

Let’s get to it!

1. What is the difference between the GMAT and the GRE?

Let us break down both the tests and give you a detailed comparison. First, let us look at

A. Differences in the GMAT and GRE Test Structure

GMAT Exam pattern


GRE Exam Pattern

The Verbal sections on the GRE and GMAT test similar skills such as comprehension, grammar, and critical thinking.
For Quant, although the topics are somewhat similar, what GMAT expects from you is slightly different from what the GRE expects. We will get to that in a bit.

On the GMAT, your composite score can range from 200 – 800; on the GRE, your range is 130 – 170 per section.
The scores of the 3 sections on the GRE are reported separately, while the GMAT composite score takes only the Verbal and Quant scores into account.

B. Differences in the GMAT and GRE [General Points to Consider]

Take a look at this infographic to find out more specific details that are important to consider when making your decision.

GMAT vs GRE whats better

Now that you have a general overview of both the GMAT and the GRE, let us understand what these exams need from your end!

C. Differences in Preparation Needed for the GMAT and the GRE

Here’s a GMAT vs. GRE analysis of the Verbal section:

GMAT topics

The three question types in the GMAT Verbal section are designed to test specific skills.

a. Sentence Correction tests how well you operate within the parameters of given rules and context.

b. Critical Reasoning gives you some data to see how good you are at drawing appropriate inferences from it.

c. Reading Comprehension gives you a chunk of data and poses questions to test your skill of filtering out the information required to answer them.

Now, of course, you’ll need to have basic knowledge such as the rules of sentence construction to answer these questions correctly. But simply knowing the rules will not be enough — you have to be able to consider the context and know what’s expected in that context.

The overall common pattern between all three question types is that they are examining your reasoning skills.

In comparison, the GRE Verbal section is much more reliant on your vocabulary. Its Text Completion and Sentence Equivalence questions make up the majority of the section.

GRE topics

Both these question types are highly confusing unless you have a nuanced understanding of English vocabulary. In both these question types, the answer options are often nearly synonymous, which makes it highly tricky to find the right answers.

While the GRE Verbal section also has Reading Comprehension and Critical Reasoning questions, they make up a small part of the section. They are also marginally less challenging than their GMAT counterparts.

Now, let’s look at a GMAT vs. GRE analysis of the Quant section:

The objective of the different question types on GMAT Quant is similar to the objective of some GMAT Verbal question types. Here’s how:

a. Arithmetic and Geometry-based questions do with mathematics what Sentence Correction questions do with grammar. They check if you know basic rules and test how well you can apply your knowledge in a given context.

b. Data Sufficiency questions are like Critical Reasoning questions. They give you limited data and see if you can make valid inferences based on what you know.

Once you draw these parallels, you can see that GMAT Quant isn’t really about how good you are at math. It’s mainly about how sound your reasoning skills are, but you need to have a hold over the basics of math to do well. You need to be able to interpret data that is put across to you in different formats such as charts and tables.

GRE Quant is a whole different ball-game, in comparison. The main focus of GRE Quant is not on your ability to analyze information. It’s focused, instead, on your knowledge of the rules of mathematics and your ability to crunch numbers.

In short, the objective of the overall GMAT is to test your reasoning skills based on fundamental knowledge.

The objective of the GRE, on the other hand, is to test the strength and depth of your knowledge itself. These traits are seen in the Verbal as well as the Quant sections of both these exams.

Now, let’s address the critical question for you in the next section.

2. Which Test Should You Take?

The way we see it, if you are pondering this question, you must be in one of these three categories:

a. Fresh Graduates

As a fresh graduate, you have had this question on your mind a lot. You might be thinking of going the Master’s way or the MBA way. But you have no idea which test you should take.

In that case, we would suggest that you get a clear idea of what you want. If you think you want an MBA, you can narrow down the list of prospective Business schools you should apply to.

One factor that can help you decide which test you should take is to see which test your top schools prefer. If they require GMAT scores, then take the GMAT.

As a fresher, if you’re looking to go for an MBA due to its core courses and not the specializations, you may have another set of options. If you’re set on getting an MBA to help you enter managerial positions, then it makes sense for you to take the GMAT.

You will have two options if you take the GMAT:

  1. If you have less than one year of work experience, you can apply for MBA programs immediately through deferred admission programs.
  2. The other thing you can do is wait and gain work experience for a few years, and then apply to B-schools. Since your GMAT score will remain valid for five years, you can apply anytime within 5 years of taking the test.

But most B-schools require you to have work experience to get into an MBA program. So, if you don’t have the work experience for an MBA, consider getting a different degree in management instead.

For example, you could look into the MS in Information Management program at the W.P. Carey School of Business. MiM programs are designed specially to combine business and data management. These programs require GRE scores — not all of them accept GMAT scores. So, again, check out your options and see which scores your preferred programs accept.
b. Switching from the GMAT to the GRE

You are someone who took the GMAT, but you did not manage to get the best scores. Now you are wondering if you will be luckier with the GRE.

What we would want you to ask yourself is this:

Did you give GMAT your best shot?

If you didn’t, then you should realize that even with the GRE, you are tested on similar skills of logic, critical reasoning, time management, etc. The GRE is demanding and is going to put you under a lot of pressure. To put it simply: the GRE will not help you if your problems are the same as the problems you faced while taking the GMAT.


If you think you are more comfortable with English vocabulary rather than English grammar, the GRE could be your friend. So go ahead and take a practice test to see how well you do and find out if GRE can work out for you.
c. Switching from the GRE to the GMAT

If you’re looking to switch from GRE to GMAT, you need to consider how good your GRE scores are in the first place.

You probably took the GRE when you were in college, but you’re now considering an MBA from a top school like ISB.

Switching over to the GMAT is a great idea if you want to apply to B-schools because they tend to have a preference for GMAT scores. GRE scores are converted to their GMAT equivalents through the ETS score comparison tool when your application is being processed. This is because B-schools consider reasoning skills to be a critical trait, and that’s exactly what the GMAT measures.

Just keep in mind that a score of 326 on the GRE will convert to a GMAT 700. So, if you have a 326+ score on the GRE, you can go ahead and apply. But if you have a low GRE score, we recommend that you take a GMAT practice test to see how well you fare. If you do well, you can simply switch over to taking the actual GMAT test.

As mentioned before, the GRE tests the strength and depth of your knowledge more than your reasoning whereas the GMAT tests your reasoning abilities based on your knowledge. So, while preparing for the GRE, your main challenge is to expand your knowledge. But when you switch to the GMAT, your challenge will be to improve your question-solving techniques.


Although the number of schools accepting the GRE is rising, you must keep in mind that not all B-schools accept GRE for MBA. Make it a point to check if the schools you want to apply to accept GRE scores for MBA before you choose which test to take.

Overall, even though B-schools certainly have a preference for the GMAT, you can get in via the GRE as long as the schools you are interested in also accept the GRE.

We hope this article has helped you take your situation into account and choose an exam that will suit your purposes. If you have any questions or need help with your applications, simply drop a line in the comments section. We will be happy to help you out.

What You Need to Know About Retaking the GRE

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Reading Time: 12 minutes

Did you end up with a lower GRE score than you were hoping for?

Do you think you can actually do much better than you did on your last GRE attempt?

Well, you should know you’re not alone. Practically everyone who takes a competitive exam has that feeling at least a couple of times after getting their results. Unless they’ve scored a 325+ in their first attempt, that is; but those are the odd ones out. You’re safely within the majority zone, don’t worry.

Now, just because you have a ‘feeling’ that your score isn’t good enough doesn’t mean it actually is that way. It could easily be that you can still get what you’re after even with the score you have at present. But you might also be right – your present score may not be enough to help you get what you want.

So how do you decide what to do?

We’ve compiled this entire piece just to help you answer that question. Here’s what you’ll find in this article:

  1. Possible Reasons for a Low Score
  2. Will it Help to Retake the GRE?

We will start off by talking about the reasons that might have caused you to get a low score, followed by analyzing your latest score, and then we’ll advise you on whether you should retake the test. If you think about it, retaking the GRE will only help if you adequately address both, your flaws and your expectations.

Let’s begin.

Possible Reasons for a Low Score

It’s important to understand what went wrong so that you can address the issue at the root. Without this step, retaking the GRE would be an exercise in futility.

So, let’s take a look at five possible reasons that may be responsible for your low score.

  1. Faulty Basics

    faulty basics

    Unlike the GMAT, the GRE is typically taken soon after your undergraduate degree. Thanks to this, you may be tempted to skip studying basic concepts and jump directly to the tricky parts of your GRE prep.

    You may have had some overconfidence in your grasp over a given subject, be it math or grammar. It probably gave you a feeling that you’re better prepared for the test than you really were. So when you actually took the test, your lack of proper understanding of the basics could have completely tripped you up and ruined your score.

    The GRE is an adaptive test, so if you have a bad start, doing much better later doesn’t have much of an effect on your score. Luckily for you, though, the GRE is only section-adaptive and doesn’t change difficulty levels with every passing question like the GMAT does. So you do have some latitude for mistakes in the beginning but it is limited.

    If you believe that your low GRE score can be blamed on an inadequate understanding of some of the basics, then it might make sense for you to retake the GRE.

    Once you’ve identified the issue, you know what you need to work on, so your GRE retaking strategy is half-done anyway. Beyond this, it’s only a matter of grit and practice.

  3. Trouble Applying Concepts

    trouble applying concepts

    There are times when you feel like you’ve completely understood a given concept, but the moment you face a question that makes you apply that concept, you freak out.

    If this has happened to you, don’t beat yourself up over it.

    We often have students who go through this. It could take as little as a single session for them to really understand what a concept means. They can even explain the concept to someone else pretty well. But they struggle to apply it while solving questions.

    Now, this could happen because you don’t realize which concept the question needs you to apply, or because you’re just not sure how to apply it in the given situation.

    Clearly, this problem only arises out of a lack of practice. Once you solve enough questions that need you to apply this concept, you will know every way in which that can be done. In fact, if you solve enough GRE practice questions, you’ll likely have half the solution in your head as soon as you read the question itself.

    That’s actually what you need to aim for.

    If you believe that your low GRE score can be attributed to this problem, you should get a whole lot of practice done before you decide to retake the GRE. The important thing to remember is that this is a solvable issue, so it makes sense to retake the test after resolving it.

  5. Nervousness!


    The simplest explanation for a low GRE score could be that you just freaked out during your attempt.

    Especially with computer-adaptive exams like the GRE, the stress of performing well from the word ‘go’ is quite high. You could be so worried about doing well that you become far too nervous at the time of the exam.

    It doesn’t help that you have to face multiple choice questions while you’re in that frame of mind. If anything, they only confuse you further! You could click the wrong option because of silly reasons: you may be jumpy about how long it is taking you to solve a question, you could click by mistake – whatever it is, you should know it happens to a lot of people.

    Cut yourself some slack. Do not get worked up over what happened.

    Instead, calmly think about it and try to gauge why that happened to you. Addressing your nervousness will help you understand whether or not you have it in you to overcome it.

    It’s okay to accept if you cannot beat the intense nervousness exams bring up in you, but if you think you can get over that, then retaking the GRE could serve you quite well.

  7. Sectional Competence

    sectional competence

    Some of our students end up focusing too much on Quant and end up ignoring Verbal or vice versa. That’s how they end up with a lower score on something they could have done much better on.

    If you’re very good at math, you might decide to focus your GRE prep strategy on improving your Verbal skills. This makes sense, but not if you end up ignoring GRE Quant entirely.

    This brings us what we were saying on the first point in this section. You may have gotten overconfident about your skills in one section or under confident about your knowledge of the other. In either case, your prep must have become imbalanced, giving you a great score on one section but a very poor one on the other.

    You should seriously consider retaking the GRE if this is what you’re going through.

    Take a look at the GRE Syllabus, understand where you stand with which section. Work on your weaknesses and shore up your skills in both sections before you retake the test, and you should end up with a significantly better score.

  9. You Weren’t in the Right Frame of Mind

    right frame of mind

    Picture this: you set out for your test center fully prepared for the GRE but met with a small accident on the way. The accident threw you off your game and you ended up being completely unfocused while taking the test.

    The result? A GRE score far lower than your expectations and abilities.

    If this sounds familiar, you need to retake the GRE.

    Whether it was an accident or something else, it’s not uncommon for people to suddenly lose focus and become quite distracted on the day of the exam. This leads to lower scores than you’re capable of getting. So if this is what happened with you, for whatever reason, it makes perfect sense to reorient yourself and take another shot at it.

But this is only one of two perspectives you need to think about before deciding whether to retake the GRE or not. The second thing you need to consider before you make up your mind is the statistical chances of you improving your score through a retest. In the next section, that’s what we will discuss.

Should You Actually Retake the GRE?

The most important factor in whether or not you should retake the GRE is your score from your first attempt.

If you have an adequate score, you should be able to get into a fairly good university without much of a hassle. But sometimes, the universities you want to go to have higher expectations, so we understand if you want to retake the test for your own personal reasons.

However, there are a few score-related considerations that we think you should consider before making up your mind. We’ll divide our suggestion based on four score ranges:

  1. 325+ (Q165, V160 or higher)
  2. 315 to 325 (Q160-165, V155-160)
  3. 305 to 315 (Q155-160Q, V150-155)
  4. Less than 305
  5. Other Score Combinations

The GRE is a test in which your score split makes a difference, which is quite unlike other competitive tests such as the GMAT. Whether you should retake the GRE or not depends on what your split score looks like. That’s why our advice is based on your existing scores.

Let’s dig in, shall we?

  1. 325+ (Q165+, V160+)
    Honestly, with a 325 or anything higher than that, retaking the GRE doesn’t make much sense.

    Let’s start by taking a look at the percentile charts for GRE Quant and Verbal scores, respectively.


    Scaled Score

    Verbal Reasoning Percentile Rank

    Quantitative Reasoning Percentile Rank
























































































































    When it comes to Verbal, scoring higher than 160 won’t make much of a difference to your percentile rank. The same applies to Quant scores above 165. If you’re familiar with the concept of marginal utility, let us just say that the marginal utility of every additional point after Q165 and V160 is diminished.

    For those of you who don’t get what that means, let’s just say that the effort you’ll need to put in to raise your score beyond the mentioned limits is not worth the reward you stand to gain from doing so.

    Our advice? Just start applying. Work on your SOP and build a strong application, your score is good enough.

    325+ gre


  3. 315 to 325 (Q160-165, V155-160)
  4. If you’re in this score range, we think you should definitely give it another go.

    For every additional point on both Quant as well as Verbal, the percentile ranks rise quite significantly in this range. Further, if you’re already within this range of scores on either of the sections, getting your score to rise is not a particularly tough proposition.

    However, there are multiple factors involved here.

    To understand what went wrong, you will need a detailed diagnosis of your score. Sign up for the free GRE Diagnostic Service as soon as you can. In about 10 to 14 days, it will give you an analysis of your score – where you went wrong, how much time you took for each question, etc. Based on this, you can identify your weaknesses and create a 3- to 4-week plan to specifically target them.

    Getting a score improvement of 3-5 points on a Quant 160 and a Verbal 155 is not very tough. All you need is a Diagnostic Service Report and an expert study plan to target your weak areas.

    CrackVerbal’s GRE Personal Tutoring service is actually designed for exactly this kind of a scenario. Our mentors sit with you one-on-one to help you understand the nuances of your mistakes using your Diagnostic Service report, which we will refer to as the DSR in this article. They then guide you through the process of improving your hold over whatever areas you need to focus on, which will drastically improve your chances of scoring better on your next GRE attempt.

    315-325 gre

    Let’s now talk about the next lowest score bracket.

  5. 305 to 315 (Q155-160, V150-155)
  6. If your score is in this range on either of the sections of the GRE, you need a Diagnostic Service report (DSR), stat.

    DSR sample

    Let’s be frank, these scores don’t look good. Yet, all hope is not lost!

    What these scores indicate is a deep-seated problem with the way you approached your prep in the first place. To get such scores, you must have answered some low-value questions wrong, which means that some of your basic concepts are not in place. However, other problems like nervousness may have been responsible for this, as mentioned earlier in this article.

    So, the best way to deal with this situation is to analyze where things went wrong. Nothing can help you more than the free GRE Diagnostic Service to do this.

    We recommend that you take a call on whether or not you should retake the GRE based on what you find in your DSR. Chances are that the DSR will show problems that you were already aware of, or it will show problems that you didn’t know existed but you can work on them anyway. In this case, our suggestion is simple: assess how long it will take for you to resolve these issues and then retake the GRE.

    You will need to be realistic in this assessment, though. It’s too easy to underestimate how long it will take for you to achieve this feat. Give yourself sufficient time to revisit some basic concepts before studying the advanced ones because this score indicates that your basics are most likely to be faulty.

    In short, don’t rush into retaking the GRE.

    Consider taking a shot again next year if you’re already too close to the application season. If you do decide to give it another shot, make sure you pour everything you’ve got into your prep.

    Alternatively, you may find the issues in the DSR to be more extensive than what you’re willing to take on. In that case, you could probably start by doing your research on alternatives to the GRE.

    305 - 315 gre


  7. Less than 305
  8. When you get a composite score below 305, things become highly ambiguous.

    It goes without saying that you shouldn’t even think about anything related to your score without getting your DSR first.

    We can’t really give you a blanket suggestion as to what you should do because any advice in such a case will have to be highly subjective. If you’ve given the test your very best shot and still ended up with this score, seriously consider getting a professional opinion on whether you should retake the GRE.

    Chances are that you didn’t target the right concepts during your prep. A complete professional analysis of your DSR will help you figure out the nuances of the issues that may have caused this.

    However, if you are already aware that you didn’t really put your best foot forward, then retaking the test might make sense irrespective of what the DSR says. That doesn’t go to say that you can do without the DSR, of course.

    Your DSR will play the role of a boat’s rudder; it will give you the direction necessary for a retake to make any difference. Without it, you could retake the test and still end up with a mere 7-8 point increase, while using the report could help you boost your score by a lot more.

    We do realize that you could have a greater difference in your Quant and Verbal scores than the combinations we’ve written about so far. So, in the next section, we’re going to talk about any score combinations that don’t fit into the above brackets.

    Retaking GRE - less 305


  9. Other Score Combinations
  10. As a general rule of thumb, if your scores are consistent with what you got on your practice tests, it may not make much sense to retake the GRE. But if your score on either or both of the sections deviates by more than 2 points up or down, retaking could serve you well.

    For Quant, irrespective of your verbal score, if you score between 155 and 165, a significant amount of focused study should be enough to significantly improve your composite score.

    However, improving on a verbal score in the 150-160 range won’t be as easy as doing the same for a Quant score in the 155-165 range. The reason is that Verbal is more nuanced and less formulaic, making it tougher to identify exactly how you can improve your score.

    In the very specific case where you have a Quant score nearing 170 and a Verbal score in the 155-160 range, we would recommend that you consider your options carefully. Retaking the GRE might not even be necessary with these scores, depending on the type of program you want to apply to.

    When your GRE Quant score is outstanding, some universities might be willing to ignore a Verbal score in the late 150s and offer you an admit anyway. This is especially true for STEM programs such as those involving Data Science and Data Analytics, which are fields that require you to have a very strong hold over numbers and how they interact.

    As long as your Verbal score is passable (not below V155) and you can communicate your ideas effectively, you should be good to start applying to data-heavy, STEM-type programs around the world.

We hope that this article has helped you figure out whether you should retake the GRE or not.


Should You Use the GRE Calculator or Not?

GRE calculator
Reading Time: 8 minutes

Did you know that you get to use an on-screen GRE calculator while solving the test?

Countless GRE test-takers routinely rejoice over the fact that you can use a calculator during the test. Little do they know what a massive trap that really is!

If you’re one of the people celebrating the existence of this calculator, we’re sorry to burst your bubble, but for the most part, the GRE calculator is bad news. There are, of course, situations in which it comes in handy. But unless you’re careful, it will do you more harm than good!

In this blog, we will discuss:

  1. What is the GRE Calculator like?
  2. When Should You Use the GRE Calculator?
  3. Tips to Avoid Depending on the GRE Calculator

Let us answer each of these questions one at a time.

1. What is the GRE Calculator like?

It would be an understatement to call this calculator ‘basic’. Here, look for yourself:

GRE calculator

As you can see, this calculator can only perform five functions: addition, subtraction, multiplication, division, and finding square roots. Not what you hoped for?

Well, join the club of disappointed GRE test-takers.

You probably already understand that this limited-function calculator is not going to be of much help on the day of your test. Still, it is important to understand a couple of things about this tool before you make up your mind about whether or not you should use it.

The GRE calculator does not take inputs from your keyboard, you have to use the mouse to click the keys.

Further, depending on the sensitivity setting of the mouse you’ll be given at the test center, you will have to adjust the way you click on these buttons. You may end up getting multiple entries or no entries at all.

And no, you won’t have time before the test begins to familiarize yourself with this calculator and figure out how lightly or hard you need to click to get the result you want.

Now you’re probably wondering why the ETS would even bother providing a calculator if it is so badly designed, or why they can’t provide a better one. Worry not, there are perfectly reasonable explanations for all these things.

The ETS caters to students from all over the world, and in most countries, students are accustomed to using calculators during their math exams. Believe it or not, the Indian system of doing all the heavy lifting in your mind is not common. So, the ETS is obliged to allow you to use a calculator.

The calculator is provided instead of allowing you to bring your own to maintain uniformity among test-takers worldwide. It is deliberately rudimentary for various reasons, one of which is that the GRE wants to see if you will fall for it and end up wasting your time.

We will discuss the logic behind why this tool is so basic in the subsequent sections since it is a rather nuanced question.

2. When Should I Use the GRE Calculator?

Based on the previous section, you’re probably thinking you need to steer clear of this thing altogether. However, that’s not what we recommend.

There are specific benefits to using this calculator in spite of all its shortcomings.

  1. Numeric Entry
    This particular calculator comes with an option to ‘Transfer Display’. The Transfer Display option allows you to enter the displayed number as your answer in a Numeric Entry question.

    Transfer display option

    Since these are not multiple choice questions, you have to calculate and enter your answer manually. Often, misreading or mistyping could lead to you entering the wrong answer. This option helps avoid that.

  3. Specific Calculations
    Some questions on GRE Quant might be tricky because they involve non-whole numbers. For example, if you need to multiply 34.69 by 3.82, you may end up doing it faster using the calculator.

    However, if you have faith in your mental math abilities, you could probably do these calculations yourself as well.

The trick is to use the calculator once or twice as a test run before you decide to use or ignore it for the rest of the test. You could try using it to solve a question or to do some random calculations off the top of your head.

What you need to do is to get a feel of how it works, how fast or slow it is, and how comfortable you are with using it. After that, it’s up to you to decide whether it will be faster to use that calculator or to do the math on your own.

In any case, we recommend avoiding this calculator altogether. Here’s why:

This calculator comes as a part of a few traps that are put in place for you by the ETS. So, the reason we tell you to avoid using it is tied to why a badly designed calculator is provided on the GRE in the first place.

Trap #1: If you don’t do your research, you will assume that the GRE calculator is like any other virtual calculator you can find on the internet. Under this assumption, you will not practice doing basic calculations on your own as a part of your prep. You will depend on the calculator for that and end up getting massively slowed down because of it.

Trap #2: The GRE calculator makes you pick between speed and accuracy. Doing the math on your own boosts speed at the cost of accuracy. Using the calculator boosts accuracy at the cost of speed. Which option you choose to go with shows what you prioritize.

3. Tips to Avoid Depending on the GRE Calculator

The first thing we suggest is to start with your GRE prep strategy. You need to get accustomed to solving GRE-level questions without even thinking about using a calculator well before your test day.

Here are five things you can do to avoid using the calculator altogether:

  1. Practice Solving GRE Questions Without a Calculator

    Practice calculator

    Don’t use a calculator right from the moment you begin your GRE prep.

    You should be able to get through your entire prep period without using any calculator, virtual or physical. The more often you solve something without resorting to calculators, the faster your mind will get with numbers.

    Think of calculators the way you might think of drugs – it may get your job done for the moment, but in the long run, this is going to do you more harm than good. And honestly speaking, depending on calculators is quite addictive, too. It is convenient and quick when you can use your own calculator, but trust us, if you do this, you’ll be in trouble – because the GRE calculator is neither convenient nor quick.

    Solve simple arithmetic sums, irrespective of whether they’re related to the GRE or not. The idea is simply to get your brain into the rhythm of dealing with numbers without external help.

    The best thing to do is to ensure that you don’t wait till the last moment to practice solving without a calculator.

  3. Convert Percentages to Fractions

    convert percentages

    The two types of questions for which you’re likely to use the calculator are those involving percentages and those based on data interpretation. These questions will typically come with non-whole numbers.

    It’s tougher to calculate decimal points than it is to calculate whole numbers without calculators. So, when you see a percentage question, especially one with a decimal point, feel free to convert that into a fraction. That way, you have whole numbers to deal with.

    Doing this should make it much easier to handle than numbers with decimal points.

    However, you most probably won’t master this overnight. So take the time to practice converting percentages to fractions while solving, lest you make silly mistakes on your GRE.

  5. Learn the Art of Guesstimation


    Luckily for us all, the GRE mostly has multiple choice questions. Apart from Numeric Entry questions, all others come with options you have to pick from.

    Now, there may be some questions with answer options that are quite close to each other. It will be tougher to take guesses on these questions. However, most questions come with answer options that are spread wide apart. This is the type of question that you can handle without even having to do any real math.

    The art of guesstimation involves taking an educated guess.

    That basically means you don’t need to break your head over the arithmetic; you can simply gauge the answer options and eliminate the unlikely ones to single out the least unlikely one of them all.

    Say for example you have a question that needs you to find an answer which is 23% of a given number. You can divide the given number by 5 to find out what’s 20% of that number. Then you only need to find an answer option slightly higher than that, and you’re done!

    Once again, this is an art you will have to practice to perfection well before your test date!

  7. Limit the Number of Variables

    number of variables

    When it comes to algebraic questions, you can often be your own worst enemy.

    Let us demonstrate how with an example.

    Suppose you have a question that says, “Rajan is half as old as Aparna, who in turn is five times Chitra’s age. Rajan is two and a half times as old as Chitra. How old is Aparna?”

    Clearly, there are three people’s ages involved here. Now, you could either take a separate variable for each of them and end up confusing yourself, or you could simply take Chitra’s age to be ‘x’. With this, Aparna is 5x years old and Rajan is 2.5x years old.

    The idea is to find a common thread and replace that with a variable. That way you don’t have to deal with too many moving parts. Makes solving a breeze!

    Try solving many different word problems this way and alternatively with multiple variables, you will see the difference yourself!

  9. Practice Solving GRE Quant Questions

    Practice solving

    Earlier, we said you should practice arithmetic irrespective of whether it is at GRE level or not.

    That is only to be used like you’d use training wheels on a bicycle.

    Once you get the hang of things, you need to graduate to basic GRE arithmetic, followed by solving test-level questions, all without using a calculator. It will not be sufficient to just be good at dealing with numbers without resorting to the GRE calculator.

    Remember that the GRE is a test of your wit and intelligence more than your knowledge and understanding of math. You will need to be efficient, to know when you can skip doing the math and when you have no way but to solve a question mathematically.

    Nothing can help you achieve that level but tons of practice.

In conclusion, we hope that you have understood the exact nature of the GRE calculator, from the ETS’s reasons for providing it to how you can make optimum use of it.

So, what are you waiting for? Find yourself a bunch of GRE-level questions and get to work!

50 Must-Know Strategies to Make a Powerful GRE Study Plan

50 Strategies GRE
Reading Time: 25 minutes

Preparing a GRE study plan can be a daunting task, especially if you’re doing it all by yourself.

Many Indian students find the GRE quite intimidating because it requires a high level of verbal proficiency in English. So, they focus entirely on improving their GRE vocabulary and forget to prepare for the rest.

Here are fifty highly effective strategies you can use to boost your GRE prep!

To make reading easy, we’re dividing it into six categories:

I. Tips to Make a Great GRE Study Plan
II. How to Build GRE Vocabulary
III. Strategies for GRE Verbal
IV. Strategies for GRE Quant
V. Strategies for GRE AWA
VI. GRE Test Day Tips

Let’s begin!

I. Tips to Make a Great GRE Study Plan


GRE Study Plan

Here’s a look at the things you should keep in mind before making your GRE study plan. To be honest, it’s okay even if you’ve already started preparing. Just try to incorporate these strategies into your daily practice.

  1. Guesswork on the GRE
    So, you’re going to need to guess stuff on the GRE.


    Well, yeah. We’re serious.

    The thing is, you’re not going to know the right answers to all the questions. And you’re not always going to have ample time to solve the question and come to the right answer.

    Go in assuming that you will need to take guesses during your GRE attempt.

  3. Know What to Expect
    If you only just found out that you’ll need to guess on the GRE, you can rest assured that there’s other stuff about this exam that you don’t know yet.

    Knowing everything there is to know about an exam can make you get significantly better at taking it. Make it a point to study the GRE exam pattern and syllabus.

    Understand what the test is looking for and focus on learning those things specifically. Make your GRE study plan based on your personal strengths and weaknesses on topics relevant to the test.

  5. Think Laterally
    Unlike most other public exams, the GRE looks for creativity and your ability to think laterally.

    No matter where you come from, you’ve been through an education system that has taught you to think in a certain manner. On the GRE, you’ll do better if you stop thinking in those ways.

    Here’s how:

    In certain ways, the GRE allows you some freedom. For example, it allows you to answer questions in any order you like. It lets you mark answers to review later. What you need to look out for are ways in which you can really make use of the freedoms the test gives you.

    This is where lateral thinking comes into play.

    Conventional thought will tell you to just chip away at the test one question at a time. But lateral thinking will help you figure out things like how the ‘mark answers for review’ option can help boost your accuracy.

  7. Practice Guesstimation
    Speaking of boosting accuracy, did you know that guesstimation can help you be more accurate, too?

    If you know how to make educated guesses, you’ll be able to manage your time on the GRE much more easily.

    Guesstimation does not come intuitively to most people. That’s why we recommend that you learn techniques to take educated guesses well in advance. Eliminating answers sounds fairly straightforward but there are many pitfalls to it.
    If you rely on your gut, you’re likely to make silly mistakes.

    It’s important to practice this technique so you know where your weaknesses are.

  9. Understand the System
    Were you one of those kids in school who would figure out how much of which chapters to study for the exam?

    If yes, you’re going to do REALLY well whether you have a great GRE study plan or not.

    If not, it’s time to become that kid.

    When preparing for the GRE, you should ideally spend a fair amount of time understanding what the exam is looking for. Study the GRE exam pattern, look for exactly what the exam will test you on.

    Spend your prep period studying smart instead of hard. That’s what the GRE expects.

  11. Plan Your Time And Create A Practice Schedule
    The greatest mistake you can make while preparing for the GRE is to underestimate the amount of time you will need. Scores of articles on the internet offer advice on how to prepare for the GRE in one month.

    But here’s the thing:

    Good GRE preparation takes more than double that amount of time. Two to two-and-a-half months of consistent, hard work could be just about enough, but it is still an impractical timeline to set for yourself.

    Be realistic and give yourself at least three months to prepare properly. Most importantly, remember to maintain a natural schedule for your studies.

    Your body should get into a rhythm that is suitable for your exam day.

  13. New Best Friend: Scratch Paper
    You may or may not know this but you’re allowed to use a scratch paper while taking your GRE.

    scratch paper

    Whether you’re taking mock tests or just solving GRE questions for practice, learn to use a scratch paper. In essence, this means you have to start doing your thinking on paper. If you make mistakes while solving questions, you can see where you went wrong by referring to your scratch paper later.

    Thinking while you note down your thoughts is challenging for most people but we recommend that you do it.

    It helps massively.

  15. Solve Mock Tests
    This is a little on the obvious, needless-to-say side, but it is the most important step for your GRE study plan.

    Don’t underestimate the pressure of having to finish a particular number of questions with the clock ticking right in front of you. You may be surprised at how much that clock affects your ability to think straight and focus on the question.

    It’s definitely important to keep an eye on the clock to avoid running out of time.

    But the trick is to maintain that perfect balance between focusing on the questions and being aware of how much time you’re spending on each one. That’s not something you can learn overnight, though.

    It takes a lot of practice, which is all the more reason why we say you need to give yourself more than a month’s time to prepare for the GRE.

In the next section, we will give you the best strategies to build your English vocabulary for the GRE.

II. How to Build GRE Vocabulary


Build GRE Vocabulary


  1. Explore Your Interests
    One of the best ways to learn a language and get better at it is to consume more content in that language. It would be impractical to expect that you can read a large amount of academic work and learn what you are expected to learn from it.

    Try this instead:

    Pick up topics that you are naturally interested in.

    It could be anything – a sport, music, films, whatever you like. The idea is to read as much about it as you can. Get into specialized, nuanced literature about any topic of your choice.

    This will not only make it easier and more enjoyable for you, but it will also get your mind accustomed to reading and making sense of academic content, which is an important skill for GRE Reading Comprehension.

  3. Don’t Memorize Words
    Vocabulary building for the GRE is so widely talked about on the internet that it warrants a discussion on what NOT to do.

    One of the most popularly followed methods is to learn words and their definitions by heart. This is probably the worst way in which you can go about it.

    A fun fact about the GRE verbal section is that it does not test you on how well you know the definitions of words. That is why we tell our students not to waste their time learning stuff they’re not going to be using on the test.

    What the GRE does test you for is your understanding of words.

    You need to know the usage of words, not their definitions. So, don’t waste your time learning them!

  5. Context is Key
    As mentioned, the GRE is interested in how well you can use the words you know – that is nothing but an understanding of the appropriate context.

    Words have very little meaning independently. Their true implications are brought out by the sentences and setting in which they’re used.

    For example, the word ‘troublemaker’ can have a cute, innocent meaning when applied to a 5-year-old, but the same word can imply infamy and disrepute when applied to a criminal.

    Our point here is that you have to understand words in context to be aware of the things they imply.

    Learning words without context is pointless.

  7. DO NOT Use Word Lists
    Word lists should not be a part of your entire GRE study plan in any manner.

    thumbs down

    They’re so pointless, we can’t even begin to tell you how much.

    What you’re basically doing with word lists is giving yourself a bunch of words to learn in order to remember one word. Think about it – you try to learn entire definitions by heart just to try and remember the single word they define.

    How does that even make sense?!

    What’s worse is that knowing definitions by heart is not even going to help, since definitions are not tested on the GRE.

    Just do yourself a favor and skip those word lists.

  9. Pick Up Connotations
    We’ve recommended that you explore your interests, so here’s a follow-up GRE strategy to build on that.

    As you read more and more material, you’ll come across new words within context. This will give you an idea of what the word means, but more importantly, it will show the implications the word carries. Note those down.

    When you come across new words, take notes to help you remember them.

    Reading new words once won’t help expand your English vocabulary, but writing them down is likelier to. So, write down the word, its context, the meaning you understood from that, synonyms you know, and the connotation of the word.
    Connotations could be positive, neutral, or negative.

  11. Keep Your Interests Open
    Everything we know is nothing but words.

    It may be in different languages but all of knowledge is just a bunch of words. So basically, this means that you could learn new words from literally anywhere.

    Think of it like this: What would you do if you wanted to meet new people?

    You need to do the same kind of stuff to “meet” new words.

    Unfortunately, networking is unlikely to help with expanding your vocabulary unless you deliberately look to connect with people who habitually use a higher level of vocabulary than yours. Of course, though, that’s something you could always do.

    What we’re trying to say is that picking up new interests is a pretty great GRE strategy as far as building vocabulary is concerned.

  13. Use GRE Flashcards
    In sharp contrast, one of the most effective GRE strategies for vocabulary building is using mnemonics.

    Mnemonics are tools designed to aid human memory. They can be images, patterns, letters, acronyms, or a variety of things arranged in a way that helps us remember something better. There are special mnemonics designed to help build GRE vocabulary, called GRE Flashcards.

    At CrackVerbal, we understand how mnemonics can help you in building your vocabulary.

    We also know that humor is a great tool to make things memorable.

    That’s why we’ve made some extra-special GRE flashcards that incorporate both these facts! CrackVerbal’s GRE Flashcards are designed especially for Indian students. They incorporate hilarious cross-lingual puns and cultural references to the likes of Salman Khan.

    We’re fairly certain you’ll learn a lot of the 500 high-frequency GRE words through our flashcards!

  15. Study Word Roots
    Another super-useful technique to build your GRE vocabulary is using root words.

    Root words are words from other languages that have been incorporated into English. While some foreign-origin words are adopted as they are, some others end up becoming the basis for a bunch of words.

    For example, the Greek word ‘hemi’ and the Latin word ‘semi’, both meaning ‘half’, have become a part of the root for a large variety of English words.

    Similarly, there are many words from many languages that have become roots for a host of English words. Studying root words introduces you to a large variety of new words. It also makes it easier for you to recall them since they’re automatically bound to some words you already know.

    Word roots are just one of many ways to help you build GRE vocabulary.

  17. Use the Grouping Technique
    Another highly effective way to learn and remember new words is to sort them into context-based groups.

    Earlier, we advised you to note down the new words you learn while reading about topics that interest you. The grouping technique further builds on the material you collect through your reading.

    When you read about a certain topic, you’re likely to come across a lot of new words related to the same topic. Put them all into groups based on what they’re related to.

    For example, ‘words related to hospitals’ could be one group. ‘Words related to education’ could be another.

    Pretty sure you get what we mean.

  19. Maintain Consistency
    This may be the last strategy in this list but it definitely is not the least valuable one.

    Make sure that there’s some consistency in the frequency of your learning new words. Don’t wake up one fine day and note down fifty new words but then learn nothing new for the entire following week.

    This is critical because the longer the gap you leave between periods of learning, the more closed you’re likely to become by the time you get back to learning. That’s basically why getting another degree becomes tougher the longer you wait.

    Try to “meet” at least a couple of new words every day.

    That will help keep your mind in a constant state of learning, drastically increasing your ability to learn and remember as you go.

III. Strategies for GRE Verbal


Strategies GRE Verbal


  1. Prethink Your Own Answer
    Ideally, come up with an answer in your head before you look at the available answer options. This is to help avoid confusion as well as bias.

    If you’re entirely clueless about a given question and you look at the answer options immediately, you could get irrationally attached to one of the options. On the other hand, if you have a vague idea of what the answer should be and you read the options, you could get quite confused.

    So the best idea is to take a few seconds to come up with your own answer before you read the options.

  3. Finding the Point of Elimination
    For every GRE question, there will be at least one answer option that’s too outlandish.

    In both sections of the GRE, Quant as well as Verbal, every question carries an answer option that obviously can’t be right. That’s your lifeline when you’re totally lost.

    Every time you come across a question that you literally cannot make head or tail of, start looking for that outlandish answer option. Finding it helps boost your confidence by making you realize that you know something at least.

    Moreover, it is a good start. You can find the answer by eliminating more options the same way.

  5. Practice Passage Mapping
    One of the most time-consuming parts of GRE Verbal is the Reading Comprehension section.

    It mainly takes time because people end up spending too much time reading and re-reading the paragraph. Indians tend to do this more often because it was what was expected in most Indian schools when it came to reading comprehension.

    However, that’s far from what the GRE expects. Here’s how you can save time on GRE RC:

    Create a mental map of the passage the first time you’re reading it. Focus on the logical flow of it.

    That should give you all the info you need to answer the questions that follow.

  7. Understand the Author’s Perspective
    Unlike school-level reading comprehension passages, the passages on the GRE tend to focus on figuring out whether you’ve truly understood what you’ve read.

    Thanks to this, the questions will not be based on the content of the passage. Instead, they’ll be based on the thought process behind it. So, when you create your mental map of the passage, take note of how the thought flows.

    Focus on the reasoning behind the passage and take note of the changes or logical sequencing of the thought it represents. Pay attention to the author’s reasoning instead of her words.

    In short, look out for why the author is saying what she’s saying instead of focusing on what she’s saying.

  9. Answers Lie Within Questions
    Okay, we know that sounds like something Master Oogway would say.

    It’s really not philosophical, though.

    We literally mean that GRE RC passages always provide all the data you need to figure out the answer.

    If you map the paragraph well enough, you won’t need to go back and read it. But in any case, if you come across a question that confuses you, rest assured that the passage contains everything you need to know.

    Suppose you really get stuck and can’t find an answer, just read the relevant part of the passage.

  11. Complete Understanding is Unnecessary
    Having said that the question carries the answers, we must state that you don’t have to completely understand what the passage says in order to answer the questions based on it.

    You need to remember what the passage said. That’s not the same as understanding and agreeing with it.

    Trying to figure out what the passage says is a huge pitfall.

    Just make sure you’re aware of what’s being said. Usually, the thought process behind the writing is fairly obvious. So, try to grasp that too.

    But don’t waste your time trying to do more than that.

  13. Text Completion Answer Order
    Often, the blanks in text completion questions are interdependent.

    On straightforward questions, the word in the second blank will depend on the word in the first and so on. In these cases, solving the first blank first makes sense.

    But at times, the correct answer for the first blank will depend on the answer in the second or third blank. In case you come across such TC questions, you’ll end up wasting time if you keep trying to solve the first blank first.

    So, keep in mind that you can solve the blanks in any order you like.

    If it feels like the answer to the first blank can change based on any other answer, just solve the other one first.

  15. Synonymy vs. Sentence Equivalence
    The assumption in sentence equivalence questions often is that the two applicable answers have to be synonyms.

    That is decidedly inaccurate.

    There’s a huge difference between synonymous words and synonymous sentences. Remember what we said earlier about the connotations of words? Thanks to that, synonymous words can have very different meanings in the same context.

    Don’t pick a pair of words simply because they’re synonyms.

    Check whether the meanings of the sentences they create are similar. That is what GRE Sentence Equivalence is about.

  17. Leave Out Personal Knowledge
    We mentioned that the questions contain all the information you need.

    That’s also another way to tell you not to answer based on anything that you may know beyond what the questions present.

    Sometimes you may be familiar with the topic that a question is based on. In these cases, it is important for you to make sure your answer is based only on the information in the question and nothing beyond.

    Doing this is important because the question may be providing an older context than what you know. Your external knowledge may be contradictory to the premise of the question, which will invalidate your answer.

    At times, things like this are deliberately done to trick you and see if you fall for it.

    So, make sure external context doesn’t colour your answer choice.

  19. Filter Out Opinions
    Just like external context, you must keep opinions out of the equation as well.

    Understand that the GRE is created by the ETS, which is an American organization. The contexts they come from may not apply to those of us from the rest of the world. That’s why our opinions may also be vastly different as compared to theirs.

    If an author’s opinion is expressed in the question, make sure your answer reflects the same opinion.

    Answers that don’t do this will be considered wrong.

    Remember that the GRE is not looking for your opinion. It is trying to see how well you can function within the boundaries that it sets for you.

IV. Strategies for GRE Quant


Strategies GRE Quant


  1. The Calculator is a TRAP
    Fun fact about GRE math: it is dead easy.

    And no, we’re not all engineers.

    GRE quant is not very advanced; it involves rather basic arithmetic. And some of you may know that the exam offers you the option to use an on-screen calculator. That’s awesome, right?!


    That calculator is a trap! It is so cumbersome to use that it will end up wasting a lot of your time. Besides, it has limited functionality.

    You’ll need to specifically look up how to use the GRE calculator before doing it.

    What the questions want to check is not your ability to compute. The arithmetic is not the important part, how you apply it is. That’s why you get a calculator to do the arithmetic for you if needed.

    You have to try your best not to use it!

  3. Practice Arithmetic
    Now, you already know that the calculator is just there to tempt you to waste your time.

    In order to not fall for it, you will need to be able to do your calculations on your own. And trust us, there’s no need to freak out over this.

    All you need to do is practice solving basic arithmetic functions like addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division of large numbers. Keep doing it over and over, you will begin to develop intuitive methods of your own that help you solve faster.

    By the time of your GRE date, you will hopefully be able to compute answers in your head faster than you can do the same on that calculator.

    Make basic arithmetic practice a part of your GRE study plan and learn techniques to improve your mental calculation time. It will serve you very well while attempting the GRE.

  5. Solving Techniques
    The GRE doesn’t care how you arrive at an answer.

    How you solve a question is immaterial. You need to come up with an answer, and the only thing that matters is whether the answer you’ve chosen is right or wrong.

    Sometimes, you might be able to work faster and more efficiently if you use non-mathematical techniques like elimination to find an answer. In these cases, actually solving the question is not the ideal way to get your answer.

    As we said, it doesn’t matter how you get to an answer as long as you get to it.

    For many people, solving is the instinctive reaction, which is sub-optimal. We recommend that you practice solving mathematical questions in non-mathematical ways as a part of your GRE study plan just to get into the practice.

  7. Cross-Checking Answers
    Pay close attention, this is a pretty neat trick.

    After you’ve worked out an answer using any method whatsoever, just plug your chosen answer option into the question and check whether it makes sense. Let’s take a sample question to help you understand this better.


    Suppose you have chosen option C as the answer, here’s how you can cross-check:

    x/y = 2/3 (x-y)/x = 1/3
    Taking x=2 and y=3, this becomes 2/3 = 2/3 (2-3)/2 = 1/3

    Clearly, this is not making sense. If you don’t understand why we’re saying so, try solving this further to see whether the second equation is actually correct. Our point is that this is how you plug in answers to see if they’re right or not.

    This is a good time to mention another tip:

    Sometimes, especially when you can’t make head or tail of a given question, you can just start plugging in the options one by one till you arrive at an answer. This technique saves a lot of time and can help you when you begin losing confidence in the middle of your test.

    For some of you, this might sound like an obvious thing to do. But not all of us are born math prodigies, okay?! It had to be said!

  9. Handling Quantitative Comparison
    One of the best ways to deal with quantitative comparison or QC questions is to try and equate the given quantities.
    Typically, a QC question will present you with two quantities and you have to figure out whether one will always be greater than the other or whether the two will always be equal. Now, the answer options will not mention the word ‘always’, but it is implied. That’s what makes it a bit tricky to handle this question type.

    Here’s how trying to equate the two will help you:

    If you can equate the two quantities in the first attempt, it means there is at least one instance in which the quantities are equal. This will eliminate answer options A & B, which say one is greater or lesser than the other.

    However, if they’re not equated, you find at least one instance where either option A or option B will apply. This will effectively eliminate option C.

    Equating a second time, you’ll either get evidence to back up what you found in your first attempt, or you’ll end up with a contradictory result. Either way, you get your answer.

    In your GRE study plan, make sure you reserve some time for practicing QC questions.

  11. Guesstimation
    Under GRE Verbal strategies, we mentioned the importance of guesstimation. Now, we’re saying you should do it with Quant, too.

    are you crazy

    We are not!

    Guesstimating on GRE math is different from guesstimating on the Verbal section. When we tell you to make intelligent guesses on verbal, your knowledge and understanding of the meanings of the available options is a prerequisite. That’s not the case on Quant.

    Making an educated guess on quant involves rounding up large numbers and eliminating options based on possible answer ranges.

    For example, if the number in the question is 448,318, you can either round it up to 450,000 or down to 440,000. This way, while picking an answer, you can hike up the number to account for the missing 8,318 or reduce the number to account for the extra 1,682.

    Similarly, if you know that the answer is in the range of 30% to 40%, you can easily eliminate answer options that fall beyond this range.

    Using such techniques instead of solving every question in detail will help you get through the entire quant section much faster.

  13. Memorize the algebraic identities
    For the uninitiated, there are at least 8 algebraic identities that you should know.
    Remember these little nuggets that you first learned in school?

    Guess what?! They’re still super useful!

    Some of you may know these by heart already, while others might struggle with them. It’s important to know these identities by heart so that you can spot them even if they’re placed out of order in front of you.

    If you already know these, great. But if not, put it in your GRE study plan right now!

    The idea behind knowing these identities inside-out is that they can help you solve even complex-looking questions quite quickly.

    Knowing your algebraic identities will help you storm through the quant section.

  15. Inequalities ≠ Equations
    See what we did there? *snigger snigger*

    But honestly, don’t make the mistake of treating inequalities like you’d treat equations.

    We’ve noticed that many people often use techniques like cross-multiplying and canceling out while dealing with inequalities. That is not how it works.

    Cross-multiplying and canceling out are techniques exclusive to equations. You cannot use these unless the left-hand side and right-hand side are equal to each other.

    In essence, don’t approach inequalities the same way in which you would approach equations because mathematically, the two work very differently.

  17. Know Your Math Conventions
    This is a no-brainer, really, but we’re mentioning it nonetheless.

    There are some mathematical conventions used by the GRE. For example, the word ‘line’ will always mean a straight, infinite line, unless otherwise specified.

    A list of the mathematical conventions that are used on the GRE can be found in the Official Guide published by the ETS. make sure you know all these conventions before taking your attempt.

    Even if you feel like you know all the conventions, make it a part of your GRE study plan to go through this list at least once.

    That will ensure there are no surprises.

  19. Do Not Trust the Figure!
    Before you start thinking weird things, let us clarify: we’re talking about geometry.

    With every GRE Geometry question, you’ll find a diagram drawn out. It is important to ignore this diagram entirely!

    The figures that come with the question on GRE Geometry are not to scale. But more importantly, they’re not even vaguely accurate sometimes.

    For example, you may be looking at a right-angled triangle while the question is describing an isosceles triangle. If you try to solve the question assuming that the figure is accurate, your answers will turn out to be wrong.

    Use your scratchpad to draw your own rough sketch if you need one. But don’t trust the given figures!

V. Strategies for GRE AWA


Strategies GRE AWA


    We’re not hatching conspiracy theories – we’re merely saying that you should learn to control your mind.

    Your GRE attempt will begin with the AWA. And there will most probably be rousing and stimulating topics up for discussion in this section. You will be expected to dig your heels in and explain your views, as well.

    If you can keep your mind from getting distracted by all that is mentioned in the AWA, half the battle is won.

  3. Use the Scoring Rubric
    The GRE AWA is the easiest section to score well on. That’s because the ETS, which is the body that conducts the GRE, literally tells you exactly what it wants you to do.

    The trick to scoring well on most exams is to understand what causes low scores.

    The ETS provides a detailed analysis of what constitutes a great essay as well as what makes for a really bad one. This makes is very easy for you to understand what you should do and what you should avoid.

    Take a look at the GRE AWA score level descriptions on the ETS website to understand what we mean.

  5. Use Templates
    Whether you are good at creative writing or not, having a template for every AWA essay is a great idea.

    If you are a good writer and are used to creating impactful long-form writing, you may be tempted to wing it. Our strong recommendation to you is, don’t. There’s a high chance that you might get carried away and end up running out of time. That can have a huge adverse impact on the conclusion of your essay, which is a critical part of the essay.

    And for those of you who aren’t great at writing in the first place, a template can be a life-saver. It gives you direction and ensures that your work will be impactfully structured, at the very least.

    Using a GRE AWA essay template is the surest way to avoid silly errors. So, put it down in your GRE study plan to check out AWA templates for GRE.

  7. Analyzing Arguments
    One of the types of AWA essays you have to write is the Analyze an Argument essay.

    In this essay, the most common mistake people make is to express their personal opinion as an analysis. The question asks you to analyze the argument and says nothing further, but you must remember that you get marks for critically evaluating the argument irrespective of your personal beliefs.

    Suppose a given argument is in favor of communism. You cannot call it a bad argument simply because you are not pro-communism. If the argument follows a sound logical sequence, it is a well-made argument.

    Whether you agree with it or its outcomes or not is inconsequential to the quality of that argument. Similarly, you may agree with an argument and/or its outcomes, but that alone doesn’t make the argument good.

    Focus on the logical structure of the argument rather than its contents and your personal opinions.

    It’s not a bad idea to drop in a line or two about your personal opinion. But don’t make the entire essay about that.

  9. Provide Examples While Discussing Issues
    In the Discuss an Issue essay, you’re expected to provide your personal opinion and make a compelling argument in favor of your point.

    This is the right place to bring out your personal convictions because that’s what is expected of you. We recommend giving examples where possible.

    Most of the time, your opinion will be based on something you know or have experienced. Giving the context of that knowledge or experience at some point can add much more substance to your entire essay.

    Provide both personal as well as real-world examples in the Discuss an Issue essay.

VI. GRE Test Day Tips



  1. KYC – Know Your Center!
    It’s important for you to know everything about your GRE center beforehand.

    Seriously – don’t underestimate this one.

    Many people have to travel to a different city to take their GREs. Especially if that’s true for you, too, make it a point to prepare well in advance. Be sure you know the routes to get to your center, how long it will take at the time of the day when you need to be there, etc.

    Murphy’s Law states that everything that can go wrong is most likely to do so when you’re least prepared for it. So, don’t rely too much on things working as they should!

  3. Carry Snacks
    We recommend to all our students that they should carry light snacks into the exam center.

    You know how you feel like getting some popcorn during the interval of a movie? That feeling is likely to surface in the middle of your exam, too.

    Popcorn works during movies because you’re not using up any energy in watching, but the GRE is likely to use up quite a bit of your energy. And honestly, whether you feel like it or not, giving your body a light sugar boost in the middle of the exam is a great idea.

    Carry light sugars with you. Naturally, this wouldn’t be in your GRE study plan, but you have to remember to do it.

    Keep it dry and easy to eat so you don’t have to wash your hands after.

    Also, make sure your snack isn’t something that could go bad before you can eat it.

  5. Manage Time by Question Type
    On a test like the GRE, you will typically hear people say things like, “You have a minute and a half per question.” Meaning that every question should be answered in a given amount of time.

    That’s just wrong.

    You can’t simply divide the total amount of time by the total number of questions. Doing that will give you a generic number per question, but not all questions require the same amount of effort.

    Obviously, there’s no way you can solve a Reading Comprehension question in the same amount of time as a Text Completion question.

    What we recommend for the verbal section is this:

    Give yourself 2 minutes per question for Reading Comprehension and Critical Reasoning, and 1 minute per question for Sentence Equivalence and Text Completion.

    For Quant, try solving questions without time limits and see how long you take for each type. Figure out the timings according to your own comfort levels.

  7. Try Your Luck!
    We said earlier that there’s an art to guesswork. But you know what? We know there can be times when you’re absolutely confused about the correct answer.

    At a time when you’re in absolute la-la-land about what the answer might be, feel totally free to “eenie-meenie” it.

    I am feeling lucky

    Mind you, we are not advising you to rely on guesswork to get you through the exam. Please make sure that you’ve tried everything to arrive at the correct answer logically before you even consider taking a wild guess.

    But the point we’re trying to make is that even “eenie-meenie”ing your way to an answer is better than not answering a question at all.

    Since there’s no negative marking on the GRE, you have nothing to lose!

    So, try your luck if you must, but don’t leave anything unanswered.

  9. Be Extra Alert on Opening Quant & Verbal Sections
    Since the GRE is a computer-adaptive test, some parts will be more critical than others.

    You should know which sections of the test you can afford to take wild guesses on and which ones you cannot afford that on.

    There are five sections after the AWA, one of which will be experimental. This basically leaves you with two Verbal and two Quant sections.

    Now, because the GRE is a computer-adaptive test, the difficulty level of your second section. If you don’t do too well in your first sections, the next ones will be of a lower difficulty level. That automatically translates to lower marks per question.

    You don’t want that.

    To avoid this, just be super careful while answering the first sections of each category and avoid guesstimation as far as possible.

  11. Mark and Review Your Answers
    You get to choose the order in which you will answer the questions on your GRE attempt.

    A smart tactic is to use this to your advantage. Answer the easiest questions and skip those that feel like they’ll take some time to solve. Come back to the tougher or lengthier questions after the easier ones are out of the way.

    On your GRE test day, you’re likely to start running out of time on some questions at least. You could end up panicking and choosing an answer option in a hurry. Luckily for you, that’s totally okay.

    When you find yourself in such a position, just pick an answer option and mark it.

    After you solve everything else, you can go back to this marked answer and retrace your steps to make sure you got it right. If not, you can change your selection and submit!

    There’s one important thing about retracing your steps, though. That’s the next point in this list.

  13. Use Your Scratch Paper
    Do you remember that we said scratch paper will be your new best friend? Here’s why:

    If you follow our advice and learn to put your thought process on the scratch paper, it will save you massive amounts of time.

    There are so many questions on the test that you’re likely to forget or mix up what you had thought about a marked answer by the time you get around to reviewing it. But if you’ve put your thoughts on the paper, you can simply pick up where you left off.

    Unless you’ve got your thoughts down in writing, you could end up starting from scratch or mixing up one question with another in your head.

    So, we reiterate – that scratch paper can be VERY useful!

Having said this, the most critical part of GRE prep is consistency in practice. Not only do you need to practice regularly, but you also need to gradually increase the level of difficulty over time. At CrackVerbal, we can help you stay on track and do your GRE prep the right way. Check out how!

What to Expect from GRE Quant – Arithmetic

Reading Time: 8 minutes

GRE quant is often referred to as GRE math as well, which could be a good indication of why so many people are so intimidated by it. Fortunately, though, the truth is that GRE math is only a very small part of the mammoth subject of mathematics.

If you’re wondering what GRE quant tests, it’s just stuff we’ve learned in school.

Honestly! We’re not kidding.

However, we understand if you still have reservations in your mind about how easy GRE math really is. So, we’ve made a series of articles on the different parts of GRE quant with one article each on arithmetic, algebra, data interpretation, and geometry.

In this article, as the title suggests, we will focus on Arithmetic. Here’s what this article will talk about at length:

  1. Number Theory
  2. Ratios
  3. Percentages
  4. Application-Based Topics

The word ‘arithmetic’ is derived from the Greek word, ‘arithmos’ which means number. Arithmetic is the branch of mathematics which deals with the study of numbers and their properties.

For a fairly long time in the history of mathematics, arithmetic has been synonymous with number theory. However, when we approach Arithmetic from a Test Prep perspective, we can see it in a much broader sense.

Arithmetic on GRE Quant

Generally, arithmetic refers not only to Number Theory but also to its various applications including ratios and percentages and their respective applications, too.

As such, arithmetic is indeed the Queen of Math, especially when it comes to the GRE, because it constitutes almost 50% of the questions in the Quant section.

Questions from GRE Quant Arithmetic basically boil down to Number Theory, Ratios, Percentages, or Application-Based Topics.

Therefore, preparing for arithmetic entails preparation on these topics.

Let’s now look at each of these topics in detail, beginning with Number Theory.

1. Number Theory

One of the greatest mathematicians of all time, Carl Friedrich Gauss, once said,

“Mathematics is the queen of the sciences and number theory is the queen of mathematics.”

Since Number Theory is the root of all numbers and mathematics is nothing but numbers, it’s only right that it should be considered the most important part of mathematics. As such, Number Theory is the study of different types of numbers and their properties.

Additionally, Number Theory is also a study of the behavior of various types of numbers when mathematical operations like addition, subtraction, multiplication, division, and exponentiation are performed on them.

For the sake of GRE Quant, topics under Number Theory can be broadly divided into the following categories:

1. Properties of Integers
2. Properties of Fractions
3. Exponents & Roots

Let’s dive into what questions each of these categories could throw up.

a. Properties of Integers

This is probably the broadest of all categories under Number Theory. Here are some concepts you might be tested on:

– Basic properties of different types of numbers (For example, Natural Numbers, Whole Numbers, Prime Numbers)
– Division Algorithm and Divisibility Rules
– Factors & Multiples with special emphasis on HCF and LCM
– Composite Number Concepts
– Remainder Concepts
– Factorial Notation

Sample Question:

If a number has a remainder of 4 upon division by 5 and a remainder of 2 upon division by 3, what remainder must it have upon division by 15?

i. 5
ii. 7
iii. 9
iv. 11
v. 14


The basic equation for division is Dividend = Divisor x Quotient + Remainder.

Accordingly, a number which has a remainder of 4 when divided by 5 can be written in the form of 5k + 4, where k is the quotient and can take values of 0,1,2,3 and so on.

Hence, the possible values for the number are 4,9,14,19 and so on.

Further, a number which has a remainder of 2 when divided by 3 can be written in the form of 3p + 2, where p is the quotient and can take values of 0,1,2,3, and so on. 

Hence, the possible values for the number here are 2, 5, 8, 11, 14 and so on. 

So, when we look at both the lists of possible answers, we find that the common number in both sequences is 14. Thus, we can conclude that this is the number we are looking for. 

As a rule, if a smaller number is divided by a larger number, the remainder is the smaller number itself. So, when 14 is divided by 15, the remainder is 14 itself. 

Hence, the correct answer is option E.

b. Properties of Fractions

This part of Number Theory tests your knowledge of fractions and decimals, which are also referred to as Real Numbers.

The inherent nature of questions on fractions and decimals is that they consume a lot of time for even basic calculations. You have to be super sorted with the basic concepts here because if you’re not, you risk losing out on time. 

Under this topic, you can expect questions from: 

– Comparison of fractions
– Conversion of decimals to fractions
– Identifying whether a fraction represents a terminating decimal or a recurring decimal

Sample Question: 

Which is greater, 17/21 or 21/25?


To compare fractions, cross multiply the numerator of the first fraction with the denominator of the second fraction and vice versa. The fraction on the side of the bigger product is the bigger fraction.

c. Exponents & Roots

This part of number theory tests your knowledge of exponents/indices and their rules. Questions from this area can include:

– Questions based on laws of indices
– Questions on cyclicity of units digit
– Maximum power of an integer in a factorial

Sample Question:

Find the units digit of 9^8235!

Ans: _____


Any power of 9 always ends with a 9 or 1. Whenever 9 is raised to an odd power, the units digit of the resultant number is 9 and whenever it is raised to an even power, the units digit of the resultant number is 1. 

Any factorial greater than 2 will always be an even number. 

Hence, 8235! will be an even number. 

Therefore, the question given to us can be written as 9even which will have a units digit of 1.

2. Ratios

Ratios are important not only because they can give direct problems but also because they are applied in other areas as well. You are expected to know the basic concepts of ratios so that you can apply them.

In this topic, you will be expected to solve problems on:

a. Interpreting ratios
b. Bridging ratios
c. Conducting mathematical operations on ratios
d. Word problems based on ratios

Sample Problem:

In a class of 35 students, if boys and girls are in the ratio of 2:3, how many girls are there?

Ans: _____


Given that the ratio of boys and girls is 2:3. This means that for every 2 boys there are 3 girls. 

Let the number of boys = 2x and the number of girls = 3x. 

Then, 2x + 3x = 35 

i.e. 5x = 35 

Therefore, x = 7

Therefore, the number of girls which is 3x, will be 21.

3. Percentages

This is a very important topic because you’ll get direct questions related to it and you’ll probably also get questions related to its applications.

You can expect one or two direct questions on percentage concepts. However, the applications of percentages like Profit and Loss will also give you two to three questions. 

Hence, the topic of percentages accounts for almost 40% of the Arithmetic questions. So, make sure that you are well prepared on this topic. 

Direct questions on percentages could be based on

a. Basic percentage calculations
b. Percentage Change concepts
c. Successive percentage change concept

We will have a look at the application areas of percentages in the next section.

Sample question:

The price of a ticket increased from $80 to $84. Find the percentage increase in the price of the ticket?


The percentage increase in a quantity is given by the expression:

In this case, the initial value is 80 and the final value is 84. Substituting these values in the expression given above, we get 5% as the answer.

The value 5 has to be filled in the answer box provided.

4. Application-based topics

Application-based topics cover a large variety of sub-categories. The ones you could be tested on are:

a. Profit & Loss and Interest which are applications of Percentages
b. Word problems based on ratio concepts
c. Word problems based on number theory
d. Time & Distance and Time & Work which are applications of Ratios

a. Profit & Loss and Interest

Questions on Profit & Loss and Interest are usually perceived by students to be formula oriented topics. This means that you may have a stereotype in your head that you need to memorize a number of equations to be able to solve questions from these areas.

However, this is farthest from the truth. And the truth is that if you are well versed with the basic percentage calculations and percentage change concepts, Profit & Loss and Interest problems are mere applications of these concepts. 

Hence, our advice to you would be to practice as many questions as possible from the Percentages topic so that you have built up sufficient muscle memory to tackle questions from Profit & Loss and Interest. 

Sample Question:  

A shopkeeper bought a pound of almonds at $4. He made a profit of 33.33% after giving a discount of 33.33%. Find the marked price of the pound of almonds.

i. $5
ii. $5.66
iii. $7
iv. $8
v. $9


The cost incurred by the shopkeeper to purchase the almonds is $4. Hence, CP =  $4.

If he made a profit of 33.33%, it means he made a profit of 4/3 (because 33.33% = ⅓ and remember, profit percentage is always calculated with reference to CP).

But, Profit = SP – CP

Hence, SP = CP + Profit

Therefore, SP = 4 + (4/3) 

SP = 16/3 

We know that he gave a 33.33% discount. Percentage of discount is always calculated with reference to Marked Price (MP). Let MP = x. 

Then, Discount = x/3 (remember 33.33% = ⅓)

Discount = MP – SP

(x/3) = x – (16/3)

To simplify, we have x = 8.

Hence, the correct answer option is D.

b.Word problems based on ratio concepts

Word problems based on ratio concepts usually require you to apply the concept of interpreting a ratio and then build a mathematical version of the statements to solve the question. 

Since a word problem is usually built around lengthy and complex statements, word problems also test your reading and comprehension skills. 

They also test your ability to integrate different bits of data into a whole similar to solving a jigsaw puzzle.

Word problems based on ratios can be:

a. Word problems on interpreting ratios
b. Problems on ages
c. Problems on numbers and digits

Sample Problem:

Six years ago, the ratio of ages of Bob and Joe is 2 : 5. Four years from now, the ratio of their ages will be 4 : 5. Find the sum of their present ages.

Ans: _____


Let the ages of Bob and Joe, six years ago, be 2x and 5x respectively. 

Then, their ages, four years from now, will be 2x + 10 and 5x + 10 respectively.  

It is given that the ratio of their ages, four years from now is 4:5.  

Therefore, 2x + 105x + 10 = 4

Solving this, x = 1. 

Therefore, the present ages of Bob and Joe are 2 and 5 respectively which means the sum of their present ages is 7.

c. Word problems based on Number Theory

Word problems based on number theory also test your comprehension and interpretation skills. Along with these, they also test your in-depth knowledge of number theory concepts.

Word problems on number theory are usually based on properties of numbers. 

Sample Question: 

Sum of the LCM and HCF of two numbers is 760, and LCM is 18 times their HCF. If one number is 360, then the other number is:

i. 20
ii. 48
iii. 64
iv. 80
v. 96


Let the two numbers be x and y; let their HCF be H and their LCM be L.

Then,  L + H = 760

It’s also given that L = 18H.

Substituting this in the equation above, we have 18H + H = 760

Therefore, 19 H = 760 or H = 40.

Hence, L = 18 x 40 = 720.

Let x = 360.

Product of two numbers = Product of their HCF and LCM.

Therefore, 360 x y = 40 x 720

Therefore, y = 80.

So, the correct answer is Option D.

d. Time & Distance and Time & Work

Both the topics mentioned above are the most significant applications of all topics that you learn in Arithmetic namely Numbers, Ratios and Percentages. 

This is because questions from these two areas usually involve multiple concepts drawn from multiple topics, intertwined in such a way that a person without a firm grasp of all the concepts will find the going tough. 

This is also the reason why these two topics contribute at least 3 to 4 questions to the Quant section.

Sample Question:

Stan drives at an average speed of 60 miles per hour from Town A to Town B, a distance of 150 miles. Ollie drives at an average speed of 50 miles per hour from Town C to Town B, a distance of 120 miles.

Quantity A

Quantity B

Amount of time Stan spends driving

Amount of time Ollie spends driving


Speed = Distance/Time

Hence, Time = Distance/Speed

Stan’s Speed is 60 mph and he has covered a distance of 150 miles. Hence, the time taken is (5/2) i.e. 2.5 hours.

Similarly, the time taken by Ollie is (12/5) i.e. 2.4 hours.

Hence, Quantity A is definitely greater than Quantity B.

The correct answer option is Option A.


So, that is all for now, folks! This is everything we thought you might need some clarity on for now.

With this blog, we hope we have given you enough ammunition to ruminate on and plan your prep for Arithmetic.

Go ahead, pick up that study material and get cracking with your GRE Quant prep!

Feel free to reach out to us through the comments section below by posting any questions/suggestions you may have. We’ll get back to you ASAP!

  • March, 14th, 2019
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Everything You Need to Know About GRE Quant

GRE Quant Demystified
Reading Time: 12 minutes

Does the very idea of GRE Quant give you the jitters?

Are multiple sources of information confusing you further rather than helping you understand GRE quant?

Would you like to take advantage of the GRE exam pattern to target a 165+ score on quant?

If you answered with a ‘No’, we’re happy to see that you have your GRE math act together! Congratulations, well done! We do hope that this article will help you anyway.

If you answered these questions with a “YES!”, look no further. You have come to the perfect place!

In this blog, we’ll be giving you a detailed insight into the Quantitative Reasoning (QR) section of the GRE. Here’s a quick roadmap to help you navigate this article.

  1. GRE Test Pattern
  2. Scoring Pattern for GRE Quant
  3. Quant vs Math
  4. Subsections in GRE Quant
  5. Using the Calculator

Let’s begin by refreshing our knowledge of the GRE test pattern.

GRE Test Pattern

Here’s what the GRE pattern looks like:

The test starts off with the mandatory AWA section which spans the first 60 minutes.

Next, you’ll either get a Quant section or a Verbal section to solve, but which one comes first is decided at random. Based on which section comes first, you can figure out how many of which section you should expect.

If your AWA is followed immediately by a VR section, it means that you will see 3 VR sections interspersed by 2 QR sections. However, if you see a QR section following your AWA section, it means you will be required to answer 3 QR sections and 2 VR sections.

Whichever way it is, you are required to answer 100 questions (20 questions per section x 5 sections) in 160 minutes to 165 minutes.

This is because one of the five sections is an unidentified experimental section, which will not be scored.

However, since it is an unidentified section, we advise you to go ahead and answer the test as though it actually contained 100 questions.

Scoring Pattern for GRE Quant

Your performance on the two scored sections of GRE math is first converted to a raw score. This raw score is based on how many questions you answered right and how many you answered wrong.

This raw score is then converted to a scaled score which can range from 130 to 170, in single-point increments. So, even if you get all the Quant questions wrong, you will still get a 130. But that’s the equivalent to getting a zero on GRE quant.

Statistically, scoring 165 on GRE math represents the 89th percentile.

This means that if you get 165, you have scored as much as or more than 89% of all the GRE test takers. In other words, you are in the top 11 percent of all students who took the GRE.

Food for thought –  The highest score one can get in Quant is 170, which represents the 100th percentile. This is a difference of just five points in terms of marks scored, but when it comes to percentiles, the same distance represents an 11-point difference. What does this tell you?

The only reason this can happen is that a substantial number of people get scores between 165 and 170. What does THIS tell you?

In our opinion, this suggests that it’s not all that difficult to get that perfect GRE quant score.

So! Let’s now get into dissecting GRE quant so that you have a very clear understanding of the whole thing by the time you finish reading this blog.

Quant vs. Math

You may notice that the words ‘quant’ and ‘math’ are used interchangeably, even in this blog.

However, here’s the thing:

Quant ≠ Math. At least not on the GRE.

Mathematics is akin to outer space, in that it is MASSIVE. You could go from school level mathematics to post-doctoral degree-level math and still not cover everything there is to know about mathematics. There’s literally nothing in the universe that is unrelated to math.

Seriously, if you have doubts or think this is crazy-talk, Google ‘golden ratio‘. Oh and also, just for fun (yes, fun) try this website out.

Mathematics is not only about formulae; it is also about theories, theorems, propositions, proofs, and a whole bunch of other things that are difficult to comprehend, even for the best of us.

The point is, it’s a capital mistake to mix up quant and math in your head. You’ll just end up making a mountain out of a molehill because the GRE quant is only a very small subset of the gigantic subject called Mathematics.

Quantitative Reasoning on the GRE is exactly like it sounds. It looks to gauge your reasoning skills – both analytical and logical – when it comes to numbers, along with your basic mathematical skills.

When we say ‘basic mathematical skills’, we mean the fundamental level of mathematics we all learned in high school, regardless of how our academic paths digressed from there on.

Didn’t we all learn that the sum of the three angles in a triangle is 180 degrees?

This is an example of a basic mathematical skill we all acquired when throughout our school lives. In GRE math, this is the level that you’re expected to be well-versed with.

As a rule, the GRE doesn’t look to find mathematicians. The objective is to test intelligence, which mostly means the ability to apply whatever you do know. GRE quant measures your ability to estimate, use logic, use the given answer options and eliminate them to solve the questions you face – in short, your ability to use ‘reasoning’ with numbers.

We hope that this has assuaged at least some of the fears and mental blocks you may have had with respect to GRE math/quant. Please note that we only mean a small subset of mathematics when we say ‘GRE math’ or ‘GRE quant’, and not the entire mammoth that is math.

Next, we talk about what actually constitutes ‘GRE quant’.

Subsections in GRE Quant

There are three ways in which you can divide GRE Quant to help you study it properly.

  1. Based on Areas of Math
  2. Based on Question Types
  3. Based on the relevance of the question

Let’s get into the details of each of these, one at a time.

I. Based on Areas of Math

The questions in GRE quant comprise of questions drawn from the following areas of Math:

1. Arithmetic
2. Algebra
3. Geometry
4. Data Analysis

Of these, Arithmetic takes the lion’s share of importance – almost 8 to 10 out of 20 questions come from Arithmetic. That’s almost 50%, which is why preparing well for Arithmetic questions is of paramount importance.

Algebra and Data Analysis each account for 15% to 20% of the questions, while Geometry accounts for 10% to 20% of the questions.

As we said before, the questions you can expect from each of the four areas will be from topics that you learned in high school. But, this is not to say that you will be tested on all the topics that you learned in high school.

Topics like Logarithms, Progressions, Relations and even Trigonometry are not tested on the GRE.

Relieved to hear that? We know the feeling!

II. Based on Question Types

There is another way of categorizing Quant questions – it’s based on question types. There are four different types of questions in GRE Quant which you need to be aware of. They are: 

1. Quantitative Comparison
2. Multiple Choice – Select One Answer Choice
3. Multiple Choice – Select One or More Answer Choices
4. Numeric Entry

Now, let’s examine each one of these in further detail.

1. Quantitative Comparison (QC)

Although this type of question tests your basic mathematical skills, it tests your reasoning and estimation skills to a larger extent. The basic structure of a Quantitative Comparison question is shown below:

Information / Constraints

Quantity A

Quantity B

A. Quantity A is greater
B. Quantity B is greater
C. The two quantities are equal
D. The relationship cannot be determined from the information given.

As you can see, QC questions test your ability to compare two quantities and arrive at a conclusion about their magnitude. Generally, 6 to 8 out of 20 questions will be QC questions.

This goes to show the importance that this question type holds in GRE Quant. 

A QC question may have additional information/constraints given above the two quantities or may not have. Based on this, you are required to compare the two quantities and mark the relevant options out of the four. 

Accordingly, you will mark: 

Option A if Quantity A is ALWAYS greater than Quantity B. 
Option B if Quantity B is ALWAYS greater than Quantity A. 
Option C if Quantity A is ALWAYS equal to Quantity B. 
Option D if a definite relationship cannot be established between the two on the basis of the information provided. 

The pertinent point to be noted here is the word ALWAYS

For example, if Quantity A is sometimes greater than Quantity B but sometimes lesser than Quantity B, then Option A cannot be marked as the answer. Similar reasoning can be applied to the other options as well.

Sample Question:

Akshay is younger than Chitra

Twice Akshay’s Age

Chitra’s age

A. Quantity A is greater
B. Quantity B is greater
C. The two quantities are equal
D. The relationship cannot be determined from the information given

Now, if you observe this question, there is hardly any math involved in solving this question except basic inequality concepts.

Consider Akshay’s age = 10 and Chitra’s age = 20; in this case, Quantity A will be equal to Quantity B.

On the other hand, consider Akshay’s age = 10 and Chitra’s age = 30; in this case, Quantity A will be lesser than Quantity B.

Since we are unable to say whether Quantity A is ALWAYS equal to B or ALWAYS less than B, the answer to this question is option D.

2. Multiple Choice – Select One Answer Choice

This question type is something most of us will be familiar with. In this question type, a question will be followed by five answer options named A, B, C, D and E. Your job is to solve the question and pick one of the five options, which you think is the answer.

Two points to note about this question type:

– There is one and only one correct answer to each question.
– The five options will be arranged in either ascending order or descending order of magnitude if numbers constitute the options.

While solving questions of this type, you need to make use of point number 2 above, by eliminating options and retaining those which you think could make the cut.

If you resort to the conventional methods in all problems of this type, you will end up wasting precious time whilst getting the same answer which does not sound commonsensical. 

Approximately 6 to 8 questions of this type can appear in the Quant section. Therefore, this question type coupled with QC constitutes almost 75% of the entire Quant section of the GRE. 

Sample Question: 

Which of the following numbers is the farthest from the number 1 on the number line? 
A. -10
B. -5
C. 0
D. 5
E. 10

From the given diagram, it is clear that -10 is the farthest number from the number ‘1’. Hence, Option A is the correct answer.

3. Multiple Choice – Select One or More Answer Choices

This is the more challenging variant of the Multiple Choice question type. Here, a question can be followed by any number of answer options ranging from 3 to 10 and therein lies the challenge. Your job is to select all the answer choices applicable under the conditions given. 

A few points to note about this question type:

– These questions are marked with square boxes beside the options, not circles or ovals.
– Some questions of this type might ask you to mark a specific number of options as answers.
– Some other questions of this type might ask you to mark all those options as answers as are applicable.
– Some questions of this type might also have only one correct answer.
– No partial credit is awarded ( in this sense, this question type is analogous to the multiple blank questions that you encounter in SE or TC of the Verbal section of the GRE).

Eliminating as many options as possible by logic and estimation is a very good strategy to adopt in such questions. Elimination based on concepts is also a good method. Plugging in the remaining options into the question and checking if all of them apply, is the last stage of filtration before finalizing the answer options.

Around 3 to 4 questions in the Quant section belong to this question type. Hence, this question type does not pose that big a challenge anyway.

Sample Question:

Which of the following integers are multiples of both 2 and 3? A. 8 B. 9 C. 12 D. 18 E. 21 F. 36

This is a very simple question based on divisibility concepts. 

Any number that is a multiple of 2, is an even number. So, if a number has to be a multiple of both 2 and 3, it has to be an even number first.

Based on this, we can eliminate options B and E, since they are not even. 

Now, the next step is to eliminate the numbers which are not multiples of 3. Clearly, 8 is not a multiple of 3. Hence, Option A can be eliminated. 

We are left with options C, D and F. Let us see if these are the final options which we can retain. 

Any number which is a multiple of both 2 and 3 is a multiple of 6. All three numbers, i.e., 12, 18 and 36 are DEFINITELY multiples of 6. Hence, we can retain options C, D and F as the final answer. 

There we go: the correct options to be marked are C, D, and F!

4. Numeric Entry

This is probably the only question type that we can all relate to from our school days. Because this is the question type where you have to work out the problem from start to end and there are no options provided!

Yep, you read it right!

No options are provided as part of the question. So, you have to be extra careful while reading and analyzing the question and working it out methodically. 

You will be required to type in your answer in a single box if your answer is an integer or a decimal, or in two boxes if your answer is a fraction. 

The good news is that this question type contributes a measly 10% of the total number of questions in Quant. So you may expect 1 or 2 questions from this type. 

A few points to note about the Numeric Entry question type:

– Sometimes, there will be labels before or after the answer box to indicate the appropriate type of answer.
– If you are asked to round the answer, make sure you round it to the required degree of accuracy.
– Only mark the final answer in the box and not any of the intermediate answers that may be a part of your solution.
– Enter your answer as an integer or a decimal if there is a single answer box OR as a fraction if there are two separate boxes—one for the numerator and one for the Denominator.
– To enter an integer or a decimal, either type the number in the answer box using the keyboard or use the Transfer Display button on the calculator. 

i. First, click on the answer box—a cursor will appear in the box—and then type the Number.
ii. To erase a number, use the Backspace key.
iii. For a negative sign, type a hyphen. For a decimal point, type a period.
iv. To remove a negative sign, type the hyphen again and it will disappear; the number will remain.
v. The Transfer Display button on the calculator will transfer the calculator display to the answer box.
vi. Equivalent forms of the correct answer, such as 2.5 and 2.50, are all correct.
vii. Enter the exact answer unless the question asks you to round your answer.

– To enter a fraction, type the numerator and the denominator in the respective boxes using the keyboard.

i. For a negative sign, type a hyphen. A decimal point cannot be used in the fraction.
ii. The Transfer Display button on the calculator cannot be used for a fraction.
iii. Fractions do not need to be reduced to lowest terms, though you may need to reduce your fraction to fit in the boxes.

Sample Question:

A rectangle R1 has a length of 25 and a width of 20, while another rectangle R2 has a length of 30 and a width of 20. What is the ratio of the perimeters of the two rectangles?

The perimeter of a rectangle is given by the formula 2 (l+b) where ‘l’ represents the length of the rectangle and ‘b’ represents the breadth/width of the rectangle.


Perimeter of R1 = 2(25 + 20) = 2(45) = 90

Perimeter of R2 = 2(30 + 20) = 2(50) = 100

Hence, the required ratio is 9:10. Remember that, because the question is asking you to find out a ratio, you have to simplify it to the lowest form before entering the numbers 9 and 10.

On the contrary, had  the question asked you what fraction of perimeter of R2 is perimeter of R1, then you could directly plug in 90 and 100 without worrying about simplifying it to the lowest form.

III. Based on the Relevance of the Question

The two question types based on the relevance of a Maths question are:

1. GRE Quant Questions Described in a Real-Life Setting

Questions of this type are Maths questions where real-life scenarios are simulated/described in the questions. 

Questions from Numbers, Word Problems, Time and Work, Time and Distance, Permutations and Combinations, Probability, Statistics & Data Interpretation, will all come under this category.

2. GRE Quant Questions Described in a Purely Mathematical Setting

Questions of this type are mostly concept-oriented and you may not be able to relate the situation described in the question to real life every time.

Questions from equations, inequalities, modulus, functions, and geometry, all come under this category.

Using the Calculator

The GRE proves to be a very student friendly test. This is testified by the fact that there is an onscreen calculator available for use in the Quant section.

Although you may think that using the calculator extensively will reduce the burden of calculations, it will actually do the opposite because you will end up spending a lot of time keying in the values.

Even if you make one error while keying in the values, you may end up getting a wrong answer, but you will not realize this until later, since you would not consciously notice that you made an error, because of the time constraints.

As such, our advice to you on using the calculator would be to use it: 

1. When you are adding, subtracting, multiplying or dividing substantially large numbers so as to save time and improve accuracy;
2. When you are dealing with addition, subtraction, multiplication or division of decimals
3. When you have to find the square of a number which has 3 digits or more.
4. When your calculations involve finding a square root of a large perfect square or smaller imperfect squares
5. When estimation/approximation cannot be resorted to, to get to the answer.

On the other hand, avoid using the calculator for:

  1. Simple calculations, which you know can be done mentally.
  2. Questions where a fraction is required as an answer.

While using the calculator, make sure that:

  1. You do not mis-key the numbers or the signs.
  2. You know that all of the calculator’s buttons include Transfer Display
  3. You know that the Transfer Display function can be used only with Numeric Entry questions with a single answer box
  4. The calculator follows the PEMDAS sequence of operations while computing values
  5. The calculator gives an error for mathematical operations like Division by ZERO and the square roots of negative numbers.

We hope that we have given you all that you needed to know about the Quant section of the GRE.

We also hope that we have imbued you with a sense of confidence to take the Quant section head on and quell the challenge. So, go ahead and start preparing for the Quant section using some of the best resources you can find for GRE preparation, from CrackVerbal.

How did you find this blog on GRE Quant? Please let us know in the comments section below!

  • March, 13th, 2019
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How to Boost Your GRE Sentence Equivalence Score

GRE Sentence Equivalence Word Cloud
Reading Time: 10 minutes

For many non-native English speakers, preparing for the GRE means going hard on developing stronger GRE vocabulary. If you’re reading this article about GRE sentence equivalence, you are probably beginning to understand that there’s more to GRE prep than just learning a bunch of words.

The GRE is about understanding words so you can use them correctly.

Questions on the GRE don’t need you to know the definitions of difficult words you’ve never heard of before. Most of the time, they want you to pick the right word or words to fill in a blank and complete a sentence. But when it comes to Sentence Equivalence, things get a bit more complicated than sentence completion in GRE.

The most commonly asked questions include:

In order to crack GRE Sentence Equivalence questions, you have to pick two right answers instead of one.

This can be a daunting and supremely confusing task, even for the best of us.

In this article, we will attempt to answer the above questions in detail.


Sentence Equivalence vs. Sentence Completion in GRE

To start off – there is no such thing as sentence completion in GRE. The GRE Verbal syllabus is split into the following parts:

  • Sentence Equivalence
  • Text Completion
  • Reading Comprehension
  • Critical Reasoning

So, sentence completion in GRE, as a concept, is either a carry-over from GMAT sentence correction or confusion between GRE Text Completion and GRE Sentence Equivalence.

Conceptually, we tend to look at any fill-in-the-blanks kind of a question as a ‘sentence completion’ question. So, Text Completion and Sentence Equivalence in GRE, both tend to be called ‘sentence completion’ questions more often than not – even though there is no such thing as sentence completion in the GRE.

In any case, when you see one sentence with one blank and six options to pick an answer from, your intuition will be to look for one option that completes the sentence. However, that is only a part of what’s required in the GRE Sentence Equivalence.

A typical Sentence Equivalence question will consist of one sentence with one blank. It will offer six answer options, and your objective is to choose two options, both of which should give the sentence similar meanings. Things begin to get complicated when more than two options look like they may be viable answers – which is exactly what happens most times.

It is in these situations that you need to employ smart tactics and find your answers quickly.


Tactics to Improve Your GRE Verbal Score

As mentioned, you can expect more than two of the available answer options to sound appropriate, which could lead you to believe they must be the right answers. However, you’d be quite wrong to go with answers that merely complete the sentence meaningfully.

The objective in Sentence Equivalence questions is to pick two words that create synonymous sentences.

Pay close attention:

The objective is not to pick synonymous words from the given options, it is to pick words that create two synonymous sentences.

Now, you must be wondering, “What is the difference between synonyms and synonymous sentences?”

Here’s the answer.

Synonyms are two or more words that have the same or similar meanings. These words may carry different connotations but they will still be considered synonyms if they can be interpreted to mean the same thing.

Synonymous sentences, on the other hand, are two complete sentences (not just words) that convey similar meanings, irrespective of how they are worded.

The GRE Sentence Equivalence questions will consist of one sentence each, with one of the keywords removed. You will be expected to complete the sentence in two ways – by using two words, one at a time – so that the two sentences thus created are synonymous.

There are five winning tactics you can employ to maximize your chances of getting Sentence Equivalence answers right.

  1. Original Answer Creation
  2. Sentence Simplification
  3. Option Elimination
  4. Synonymity Check
  5. RISE

Let’s take a look!

1. Original Answer Creation

You may be tempted to skip this step because it seems unnecessary.

That’s a trap! 

The first step is a bit unconventional but it is extremely important. It will help you figure out whether you have actually understood the question well or not. 

What you should do at this stage is, read the question carefully and try to come up with an original answer for it. It gets tough to put the answer options out of your mind, so we recommend literally covering the answers with your hand while you attempt to do this. 

If you can come up with your own answer – a word that gives complete meaning to the sentence – it means you have understood exactly what needs to go into that blank. It helps you gain a sneak-peek into the completed picture so that you know the full meaning of what is being said.

Once you know the bigger picture, it becomes easier for you to reverse-engineer the answers. Let’s look at the same example and try this out:

“The German painter is sublime, profound, and authoritative in a way that invites high-flown comparisons and invocations of art history, yet his own utterances on art would suggest he finds such ____ repulsive, and is suspicious of anything that romanticizes the creative act.” 

We think the word ‘pretentiousness’ fits well in this context. It aptly indicates the disdain that the artist feels for such superlative praise, and it is a noun. 

Besides, this is not one of the answer options provided. So, we know now that we have understood the question properly. 

Let’s get on to breaking the question down now.

2. Sentence Simplification

Sentence equivalence questions can be of varying difficulty levels. The tougher the question is meant to be, the more complex the sentence structure will be. Often, this confuses people. For example, consider this question:

“The German painter is sublime, profound, and authoritative in a way that invites high-flown comparisons and invocations of art history, yet his own utterances on art would suggest he finds such ____ repulsive, and is suspicious of anything that romanticizes the creative act.”

There is so much being said in this sentence that it takes us a moment to wrap our heads around it. When you’re taking the GRE, you won’t have the luxury of taking your time to answer each question; you’ll need to be as quick as possible.

So, cut out the unnecessary information from the sentence.

Get rid of flamboyant but unnecessary descriptions first, followed by excess adjectives:

“The German painter is so authoritative that it invites superlative comparisons, yet his own utterances on art would suggest he finds such ____ repulsive, and is suspicious of anything that romanticizes the creative act.”

Then, consider what value the presented facts add to the given sentence. Remove anything that adds inconsequential information:

“The German painter is authoritative in a way that invites superlative comparisons, yet his own utterances on art would suggest he finds such ____ repulsive.”

By now, the sentence structure is simple enough for you to start considering the answer options without any confusion. But even so, if big and unusual words intimidate you, feel free to replace them with simpler synonyms and change the structure of the sentence a little. You’ll be okay as long as you maintain the meaning:

“The German painter is such a great artist that it invites superlative comparisons, yet his own comments on art suggest that he finds such ____ repulsive.”

Once you have broken the sentence down into simpler words and a palatable structure, it becomes significantly easier to consider the answer options.

This brings us to the next step.

3. Option Elimination

So, now that you have a clear sentence that is easy to understand, read it and compare it to the original question just to make sure you haven’t lost out on anything important.

Once you’re certain there is no loss of important information between the original question and the edited version, you can begin considering the answer options.

Although this step is called option elimination, we suggest you start off by mentally inserting each answer option, one by one, to see which ones fit the bill. There will be options that don’t really make sense – those are the ones you should eliminate.

Let’s continue with the same example from the previous step.

“The German painter is sublime, profound, and authoritative in a way that invites high-flown comparisons and invocations of art history, yet his own utterances on art would suggest he finds such ____ repulsive, and is suspicious of anything that romanticizes the creative act.”

Here are the given answer options:

  1. Cynicism
  2. Exaggeration
  3. Skepticism
  4. Antipathy
  5. Zealotry
  6. Hyperbole

Let’s go to one option at a time.

The word ‘such’ in the question refers to the act of making ‘high-flowing comparisons and invocations of art history’. The word that follows should be a noun that a person would use to refer to this act if they think it is repulsive.

Now, the word ‘cynicism’ means an inclination to believe that people only do things for selfish reasons, or to disbelieve the face-value of what is being said. Since the word is supposed to apply to the act of giving high praise, ‘cynicism’ does not fit in the context. Option ‘c.’, ‘skepticism’ has a similar meaning and it is equally unfit to be the answer.

On the other hand, ‘exaggeration’ means presenting something as much better or much worse than it really is. The given sentence mentions high-flowing comparisons and references to art history, and the artist may think that such things are overstated, or ‘exaggerated’. That makes this word a good fit. Answer option ‘f.’, ‘hyperbole’ also means overstating and exaggerating, which makes this a good fit, too.

That leaves us with two possible options, ‘antipathy’ and ‘zealotry’. The former means a lack of feeling, while the latter means fanaticism or extremism. Nothing in the given statement refers to a lack of feeling or even implies it in any manner. It doesn’t make sense that the artist would think of overstated praise for his work as lacking in sentiment, so ‘antipathy’ is ruled out.

He may consider overemphasized praise to be overzealous and fanatic, in a way, so ‘zealotry’ is a possible answer. The word also carries a negative connotation, and it makes sense that the artist would, therefore, find it repulsive.

So, we have eliminated three possible answers and are now left with three.

Do you think you have the answer already?

Well, good – but don’t jump to any conclusions yet, there is one more step to ensure you’re not wrong.

4. Synonymity Check

The final ‘nail in the coffin’, so to speak, is to check the answer options to see if they create synonymous sentences.

Remember that it is not necessary for answer options to be synonymous for them to create synonymous sentences. The only thing you need to be sure of is whether they convey similar meanings within the given context.

Let’s review the remaining options we have:


One thing that jumps out at us is the obvious synonymity between ‘exaggeration’ and ‘hyperbole’, but let’s still follow due course just to be on the safe side. The thing is, it may seem obvious but it may still turn out to be wrong. Besides, it may not always be obvious in other cases.

So, here are the three possible answers:

“The German painter is sublime, profound, and authoritative in a way that invites high-flown comparisons and invocations of art history, yet his own utterances on art would suggest he finds such exaggeration repulsive, and is suspicious of anything that romanticizes the creative act.”

“The German painter is sublime, profound, and authoritative in a way that invites high-flown comparisons and invocations of art history, yet his own utterances on art would suggest he finds such zealotry repulsive, and is suspicious of anything that romanticizes the creative act.”

“The German painter is sublime, profound, and authoritative in a way that invites high-flown comparisons and invocations of art history, yet his own utterances on art would suggest he finds such hyperbole repulsive, and is suspicious of anything that romanticizes the creative act.”

In this case, we notice that inserting ‘zealotry’ into the blank conveys a stronger sense of dislike and hints at possible hostility on the part of the artist towards the act of giving superlative praise.

However, ‘exaggeration’ and ‘hyperbole’ both convey a general dislike and disapproval on the part of the artist towards the same act.

Clearly, the answer is option ‘b. Exaggeration’ and ‘f. Hyperbole’.


At CrackVerbal, we advise our students to use a single mnemonic to remember all these steps.

RISE stands for ‘Read, Identify, Synthesize and Eliminate’.

Let’s examine these one at a time.

Read: Before you do anything else, you have to ensure you understand what the given sentence says before you get to work on it. This is the first and most critical step in the entire process. If you misunderstand or skip even a single word, the entire process will be derailed. Your answer could be completely wrong if you don’t read and understand the sentence thoroughly.

Identify Keywords: Whether the question is simple or complex, it is bound to have some specific words that define the entire meaning of the sentence. These are the keywords. They make up the skeleton of the sentence and if a single one of those words is out of place, it could change the meaning of the sentence itself. Identifying these keywords is critical to understanding the simplified meaning of the given sentence.

Synthesize Original Answers: As you know, every sentence comes with its own answer options. You may be tempted to start looking for the answers among those right away, but it’s a better idea to cover the answer options and come up with your own answer first. You don’t have to come up with two words, just one is enough. The idea is to check if you have adequately understood what needs to go in the blank.

Eliminate: Finally, armed with a clear understanding of the given sentence, it’s keywords, and your own answer to complete the sentence, you can begin considering the answer options one by one. Discard those which don’t make sense, then find two which create synonymous sentences.

Once you know these strategies, it is important to practice with real GRE questions. You can easily read and feel like you’ve understood these kinds of GRE tips and tricks but when you’re faced with an actual question, you could still end up feeling utterly stumped.

Moreover, if you haven’t practiced, you won’t be prepared for the common pitfalls of such methods.


Pitfalls to Avoid While Handling GRE Sentence Equivalence

Consider this:

The intended meaning of any given word is only brought out by the context in which it is used, outside of which, the word may mean something entirely different. For example:

Gillian is a woman of fine taste.

The management thought it would be fine to keep the matter quiet.

The group is expected to pay a fine for the transgression.

The meaning of the word ‘fine’ changes observably across the three sentences. Synonyms for ‘fine’ in the first sentence would include, ‘exceptional’, ‘outstanding’, ‘distinguished’; in the second sentence they would be along the lines of, ‘acceptable’, ‘okay’, ‘alright’; and in the third sentence, the synonyms would be, ‘penalty’, ‘fee’, ‘charge’.

Out of context, the word ‘fine’ can mean all of these words!

The idea is that synonyms of a word change according to the context it is placed in. So, it’s not enough to simply pick out a pair of synonyms from the six available options, because the context may fit one word but not the other.

If you use word lists to learn GRE words, this is going to be a particularly difficult section for you to get through. You see, word lists don’t prepare you to handle context, so even if you know the meaning of a word, you won’t know it’s nuanced, contextual uses, making it nearly impossible for you to get this section right.

The best strategy to avoid pitfalls of Sentence Equivalence questions is to ensure that you learn GRE words with context.

In conclusion, if you have made it to the end of this article and are now reading this – congratulations! You know everything you need to know about GRE Sentence Equivalence. All you need to do now is practice, practice and practice some more!

  • March, 7th, 2019
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3 Reasons Why You Should Absolutely Avoid GRE Word Lists!

Avoid Word Lists
Reading Time: 6 minutes

You’ve started preparing for the GRE, the date is coming closer, and your vocabulary is still down in the dumps.

You are beginning to get desperate to make it better, so you look up GRE word lists and begin learning the words.


You are wasting your time.

Word lists are not going to help you get through GRE verbal.

They’re not. Seriously!

Let us explain.

Most Indian students find GRE vocabulary very hard, and for good reason. After all, you’re expected to learn somewhere around 3,000 complex words – words you’ve never even heard of before!

We totally get the temptation to use word lists and why you’d do it. Tell us if any of these reasons seem wrong to you!


Why Word Lists Are Used

  1. That’s Just How It’s Done
    The general trend everywhere is that people don’t question the norm. When you’re told “This is how it’s done,” you would normally just go with it.

    That’s the biggest reason why people still use word lists.

    Simply because nobody thought to ask why we use them or whether they even work. Pretty lame reason to do something, don’t you think? 

  2. Rote Learning FTW! 
    Most of us have been taught to rote-learn things since we were kids. We’ve grown up believing that mugging everything up is a good way to learn, so we never stop to wonder if we actually learn anything from it. 

    The logic is that as long as you score well, you’re doing great! Who cares if you understand any of it!?

    It’s just a carried-over thought that rote-learning is the way to go because it works on most Indian exams.


  4. Hard Work = Success! 
    Indians value hard work. Smart work is good and everything but there is no alternative to hard work. Or at least that’s what most of us believe.

    We’re so ready to do the hard work that we don’t even try to find out if it’s efficient.

    It doesn’t compute for most of us that a smarter way to do something could actually be more effective. Mugging up a GRE word list is extremely inefficient and ineffective, but we do it because we think hard work brings success!


The fact is that GRE word lists do not work.

We repeat, GRE word lists do not work.

They don’t improve your vocabulary and may not change your score by much, either. Here’s why.


Why GRE Word Lists Don’t Work!

  1. There’s No Context
    Think of the brain as a map. Every new word is a new destination on the map.

    When you mug up a word from a GRE word list, you’re learning one way to get to a new destination in a new locality. So, when you need to remember what that word means, you have to navigate through an unknown area because you only know one route that can get you there.

    When you encounter new words while reading or watching something, it becomes a new destination in a locality you’re already familiar with. It is like visiting a new restaurant near your house; you already know various routes to the place. This way, when you need to remember the word and its meaning, you get there quite easily!

    You’ll find more about this in our Building GRE Vocabulary series, but people learn new information by linking it to what they already know. Word lists make you focus on definitions of words. The GRE wants to know if you understand the word, not whether you can recite its definition.

    Let us consider an example.

    Suppose you’re learning the definition of ‘compromise. Here’s the dictionary definition:

    Definition of Compromise
    So you think you know this word now since you know the definition. Very good. Now take a look at this grammatically correct sentence:

    The structural integrity of the building has been compromised.

      This is a classic case where context completely changes the meaning of a word. In this sentence, ‘compromised’ means ‘unable to function optimally.’ You may or may not find this use of the word within its definitions, but it is a popular application of it nonetheless. 


  3. There’s No Pattern
    So here’s a fun fact about the human mind: it is not a computer!

    Your mind is not built to purely store information, it’s built to process it. Word lists sort words in alphabetical order, leaving you with a boring, senseless monotony of data you’re expected to just transfer into your mind, verbatim. 

    As if you can create a spreadsheet and hit Ctrl + S in your mind! 

    Did you know that nature enthusiasts who go on treks into unexplored forests always carry paint or rope with them? This is to help them mark the route they take. They need the paint or rope because the forest is too monotonous, there is no obvious pattern that can help them remember the way without marking it.

    Using GRE word lists for your prep is like walking into the forest without any paint or rope. There’s no way to navigate through that whole mass of information in your mind!

    In short, if there’s no intelligent pattern to the data you’re feeding yourself, you most probably won’t be able to remember what you want to, when you need to.


  5. It’s Inefficient
    Suppose you somehow manage to learn the definitions of 700-800 words by heart. By the way, it is insanely difficult to do even just that much. But even if you do, the amount of work you have to do for it is simply disproportionate. 

    What’s worse is that it’s still useless. Here’s why: 

    Your brain is literally not wired to remember things automatically unless your life depends on remembering. For example, you might need to keep practicing a speech in order to remember it, but you don’t have to meet a lion every morning to remember it can kill you. 

    If you need more evidence, try this: recite the National Pledge right now without looking it up on the internet. 

    How much do you remember?

    Now think about it – if you went to an average Indian school, you repeated the same words every morning for ten years at least. You know the meaning of the pledge, too. And yet… Do you even remember how it ends?

    To remember things better over the long term, you’ll need to revise it all every day. We all know it’s impossible to revise the entire word list every day unless you literally have nothing else to do. And even then, you will forget the words at the end.

    In other words, word lists are just not worth your time!


GRE word lists function on a very flawed basic logic. If you think about it, these lists expect you to remember 10-20 more words for every word you actually want to remember.

How does that even make sense?

That’s the final nail in the coffin as far as we’re concerned – absolutely enough to convince us to avoid GRE word lists like the plague!

There is a variety of things you can do instead. You can learn GRE words with mnemonics, which is a technique you have actually used before. It worked out really well for you if you’re able to read this – you see, mnemonics were used to teach you the alphabet!

Incredibly, the same technique – associating GRE words with pictures and mnemonics – can help boost your memory to improve your vocabulary for the GRE quickly.

Another great technique to improve your vocabulary involves using GRE word roots. Many words in the English language often come from a single word in another language.

For example, the Greek word ‘tele’ means ‘distant’ – based on this, you can gauge the approximate meaning of English words like telephone, teleport, telegram, telepathy, etc.

Sometimes, a word in an amalgamation of two foreign words, like in ‘telepathy’ – ‘tele’ + ‘pathy’: ‘-pathy’ is a commonly used suffix in English and it comes from the Greek word ‘pathos’ meaning ‘suffering, experience, or emotion’.

However, it is risky to rely entirely on roots because they may lead you to completely misinterpret some words. Read our blog post on building GRE vocabulary with roots for more on how to use this technique correctly.

You can bolster your learning methods by also studying grouping as a technique. This will help you identify words that may not belong to the root you think they could belong to.

Grouping is similar to using roots: you make groups of words that are somehow related to each other. They could be synonyms, words used in the same context, or any other way in which you can relate them to each other.

You can go through our blog for more on effective methods to learn GRE words fast.

  • March, 1st, 2019
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Building GRE Vocabulary: Grouping

Reading Time: 7 minutes

When preparing for the GRE, one of the greatest challenges for most aspirants is the verbal section in general and building GRE vocabulary, specifically.

There are many methods that you can use to create a strong English vocabulary that will help you sail through the GRE. Some of the most common ones include using mnemonics, roots, and word lists, although we strongly suggest that you AVOID GRE word lists entirely.

Anyway, once you’ve obtained a vast reservoir of words, you’ll realize that having all of them sorted in your head becomes a nightmare. What you need is a system that helps you clump up these huge amounts of words in a meaningful way.

You’ll need a system that will help you not just organize these words thematically, but also remember the distinct differences in their tones and meanings.

Grouping is meant to address exactly this!

There can be various kinds of grouping. In this article, we will discuss:

  1. Grouping by Inclines
  2. Grouping by Context
  3. Grouping by Origins

Let’s take a look at the prominent styles of grouping to get you going.


1. Grouping by Inclines

An incline essentially clumps up similarly-themed words. An incline signifies the degree of variation in meaning among the words.

Look at these examples.

Examples of Inclines

The first incline begins with ‘timid’, which means ‘shy’. While ‘timid’ has no negative connotation of its own, ‘diffident’ has a similar meaning but it carries a slightly disapproving tone by implying a lack of confidence.

‘Pusillanimous’ means ‘showing a lack of courage or determination’, which is slightly more disapproving than ‘diffident’. The word ‘craven’ has a fairly heavy tone of criticism, it means a contemptible lack of courage or cowardly behavior.

If a person calls you timid, they might actually mean it in a positive sense, implying that you are of a shy and peaceable temperament. But if someone calls you “craven”, there is no doubt that they look down upon you and have a very negative opinion of you.

Take a look at the other inclines as well. Do you see the distinctions in meaning?

When you learn words, make sure you learn them in context. Also, make sure you clump them up based on their common themes.

When this is done, making inclines becomes much less arduous. Sure, making inclines takes time and effort, but the rewards of spending the extra time to figure out the nuances in meaning among the words will definitely pay off on the GRE, especially with those tricky SE and TC questions!


2. Grouping by Context

Another effective way to use grouping is to make groups of words based on the context in which they’re used.

For example, you could group together all the words that are related to the Church.

  1. Friary

    Killarney Friary

    Friars are priests who belong to one out of any of the mendicant orders of the Christian faith. Friars typically wear black robes along with a tassled rope for a belt. They also wear a small black skullcap as a part of their formal uniform. Friaries are church buildings in which friars live.


  2. Ecclesiastical

    The word ‘ecclesiastical’ means ‘of or relating to the church’. The most common usage of the word occurs when referring to the church calendar – it is called the ecclesiastical calendar, or the church calendar. 

    Some of the Christian festivals occur on fixed dates – for example, Christmas is always on the 25th of December – while others like Good Friday and Easter depend on the positions of celestial bodies including the sun and the moon. The ecclesiastical calendar helps in determining the dates for such festivals.

  3. Steeple

    Church Steeples

    A church steeple is the tower and spire of a church. These structures typically bear the Christian cross, displayed either on the top or at the base of the spire, as shown in the steeple in the middle. A steeple may be a spire built on top of a tower, as shown in the left-most pictures, or a spire atop the roof of the church, as shown in the other two pictures.

  4. Oratory
    You may have heard this word in the context of public speaking, when a good speaker is called a great ‘orator’. The term ‘orator’ comes from the Church building known as an oratory. An oratory is a small prayer house, especially the kind built for private worship as opposed to large churches and chapels. Addressing a small audience in an oratory involves public speaking, so presumably, that’s where the word ‘oration’ with its public speaking connotations comes from.

    The word oratory also has another meaning with reference to the Roman Catholic Church. It refers to specific orders of priests who are instituted without having to take the vows average priests do.

  5. Minster
    Westminster Abbey

    If you are familiar with writing related to the British Royal Family, you must have heard of the world-famous ‘Westminster Abbey’. In case you thought ‘minster’ was just a part of the abbey’s name, think again!

    ‘Minster’ is a special title that is conferred upon a handful of churches in England, exclusively. You will not find minsters elsewhere in the world. Before the introduction of parishes and parish churches in the 11th Century, Minsters held significantly higher levels of prestige than they do today.

3. Grouping by Origins

The third way you can use grouping is to cluster words by their origins. The English language has adopted words from various languages, which enables you to create groups of words based on the languages from which they were adopted.

The Greek language has had a huge influence on English. There are a lot of words that took shape from stories belonging to Greek mythology. Here’s a look at some words that were adopted from ancient Greek.

  1. Procrustean

    Procrustes – a smith from Greek Mythology – was infamous. The story goes like this: Procrustes would invite guests home to rest in his bed. If they didn’t fit the bed – he “made” them fit the bed by either stretching them to make them (the travelers) longer or chopping off their legs to make them shorter! Gruesome – we know!

    Therefore, when something is Procrustean, different lengths or sizes or properties are fitted to an arbitrary standard. 

    For Example: “The would-be critic starts out in life with a sort of Procrustean ideal of measurement, to which everything has to be cut down.” – Hollander, Lee Milton.

  2. Narcissism
    Greek God Narcissus

    Narcissus, another figure from Greek Mythology, was very proud of himself and admired himself excessively. One day while Narcissus was strolling by a pool he noticed his reflection. Seeing his reflection in the pool and realizing how attractive he was – he fell in love with himself. He was so transfixed by his own beauty that he grew old and died at the pool, gazing at his own image. 

    When someone is a Narcissist or someone exhibits the quality of Narcissism- he or she has an excessively grandiose view of oneself; they also admire themselves (physical or otherwise) excessively. 

    Don’t confuse this with the feeling of self-worth or love. Narcissists don’t just like themselves, they love themselves above everything else: they are obsessed with themselves.

    For Example: “Lily remains a dedicated narcissist, addicted to face-lifts and a number of self-gratifying social causes.”

  3. Herculean 
    Greek God Hercules

    Hercules was a Greek Hero and the son of Zeus. He was famed for his superhuman strength and ability to achieve feats that were almost impossible. Hercules is well known for his adventures – the most well known are the “12 Labours” which required Hercules to accomplish 12 almost impossible tasks.

    The word ‘herculean’ means exactly this; it suggests that something requires a great amount of strength and effort to accomplish.

    For Example: “Any effort to remove the non-native rainbow and brown trout in these areas would be nearly impossible – Herculean, expensive, and unpopular,” Kumlein said.

  4. Bacchanal
    Greek God Bacchus

    Bacchus was the god of the grape harvest, winemaking, and wine, and of ritual madness and ecstasy in Greek mythology. He was associated with unrestrained celebrations and revelries. Therefore, when a celebration (a party) goes wild with different kinds of promiscuities it’s a bacchanal. 

    For Example: “Based on Belfort’s memoir about his evolution from penny-stock peddler to millionaire trader, Scorsese’s adaptation is a capitalist critique in the form of a bacchanal.”- About the movie “The Wolf of Wall Street”

  5. Mercurial
    Greek God Mercury

    The god ‘Mercury’, also called Hermes, was a messenger god. The planet Mercury was named after him. What’s peculiar about Mercury is that the temperatures in this planet undergo extreme changes very frequently: it reaches about -200°C during the night and goes up above 400°C during the day! 

    When someone is subject to sudden or unpredictable changes of mood or mind – he/she is Mercurial. 

    For Example: “Mr. Sadr, 40, a somewhat mercurial figure, has made such announcements before and then has changed his mind.”

  6. Plutocracy 

    Greek God Pluto

    Pluto, also called Hades, was the god of the underworld. There were two popular attributes to the underworld: 

    • Place where bad people went after they died.
    • Place where all the precious stones could be found.

    Therefore Pluto, as a god, was the god of hell as well as the god of riches. As a result, the root pluto- could be used to mean either “hell-like” or “wealth”. In the case of the word ‘plutocracy’, the root uses the latter meaning. 

    Plutocracy is, therefore, a political scenario in which the rich and powerful have control over the masses. 

    For Example: “A progressive tax system should maintain or reduce income inequality so that our society is more of a meritocracy than a plutocracy.” 

All in all, you can see how grouping can have a massive impact on the way you organize what you learn. In our post about mnemonics, we talked about how the mind works like a map and every new word you learn is a destination on that map.

Grouping helps ensure, just like roots and mnemonics, that you have multiple ways to get to the new destinations (words) you learn. 

We hope you found this article useful. Let us know what you think in the comments below!

  • February, 28th, 2019
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Building GRE Vocabulary: Roots

GRE Vocabulary - Roots
Reading Time: 3 minutes

Assuming that you’re on your way to building a vast and impressive GRE vocabulary, let’s dive into understanding how to use root words to manage the enormous volumes of words that you will deal with during your GRE Prep.


Why is it important to organize the words you learn?

Contrary to what education in India might have us believe, the human mind is not really a great device to hoard massive amounts of unorganized information!

What it is meant for is processing, analyzing and making sense of things that it happens to chance upon. Our brains are constantly making connections; that’s what they’re wired to do – sometimes they even make connections that don’t exist!

So, the point is, if you want to remember what you’re learning, you must organize it in a meaningful manner.

Realizing this helps us approach GRE vocabulary building from a perspective that is more sensitive to what the brain needs. Meaninglessly pummelling your brain with seemingly disconnected words and their “definitions” does no good to encourage your brain into doing what you want it to do.


How do Root Words help to build GRE vocabulary?

  1. Roots help make connections between words you already know and the words you will eventually come to know. This ensures that you can remember a vast volume of words that share similar roots, even if they have quite different usages and meanings.


  2. Roots act like mnemonics. They help you remember words more effectively: even if you forget what the word means, you might still remember the “theme” and that might be all that is needed to make an educated guess during the exam!


  3. Roots can help you guess meanings. Roots help you learn new words that have related roots or share the same root. Similarly, when you come across new words, you might be able to guess the correct meaning if you know the meaning of the roots present in the new words.


Understanding Root Words

Many English words originate from Greek or Latin sources. Most times, these words carry a small part of the source word from the parent language that depicts the core concept: these parts are called roots.

Let me take you through some words and their roots along with some other words that share the same roots. You’ll realize how awesome roots are for building GRE vocabulary by the time you finish reading this post!

  1. Circum– The root “circum” means “around” (like circumference). Here are some words that stem from the root “circum”: 
    circumnavigate:  meaning to navigate or travel all around

    circumambulate:  meaning to amble or walk all around

    circumspect:  ‘spect’ means ‘to see’ (like spectator, spectacle); when someone is circumspect, he or she is very vigilant and cautious. Think of it as someone who always looks over their shoulders and behind them to ensure everything is fine – someone who is extremely cautious.

    circumscribe: ‘scribe’ means ‘to draw or write’. So, to ‘circumscribe’ means to restrict or limit something – to constrain. Think of it as drawing a circle around someone and prohibiting them from crossing it. You are constraining them to stay within that limit.

    circumlocution: ‘loqui’ means to talk. Circumlocution is to talk evasively and avoid the topic/issue at hand. It means to beat around the bush!


  2. Loqui– As an offshoot from ‘circumlocution’, we could explore the root “loqui” which means “to talk”. Some words of interest with “loqui” are:

    loquacious: Someone who is loquacious is capable of talking a lot: a very talkative person.

    eloquent: Eloquent people talk very effectively – they can convince others. They are characterized by their good use of language.

    soliloquy: Solo = single. Soliloquy, therefore, means the act of speaking to oneself.

    monologue: Mono = one. When just one person speaks (and no one else contributes) it’s a monologue.

    grandiloquence: Speaking loftily and bombastically – in a grand manner is what grandiloquence means. 

    magniloquence: Again, magniloquence means to speak pompously in a highly exaggerated manner.

    somniloquy: Like in the word insomnia – somn = sleep; somniloquy is the act of sleep talking!


  3. Fallibilis– In Medieval Latin, this means ‘liable to err, or to be deceitful’. Here are the words derived from this:

    fail: a word with a meaning we know all too well!

    fallible: capable of making mistakes or being wrong

    infallible: this word takes the prefix ‘in-’ which means ‘opposite of’, making it the obvious opposite of ‘fallible’, meaning incapable of failure or error.

    fallibility: this word takes the suffix ‘-ity’ which means ‘having the quality of’, so it means ‘the ability to fail or make mistakes’

As this last example demonstrates, studying roots helps you notice patterns among words, especially with prefixes and suffixes.

However, if you go about trying to guess the meaning of words based purely on their possible roots, you will be highly ‘fallible’!

A good way to avoid making mistakes in identifying roots is to use etymology to help you better gauge whether or not a word could have the root you think it might. Etymology also helps you understand words better by providing historical context, and context is very important.

Sometimes, the ability to recognize roots can help you make that critical educated guess on your GRE Verbal questions: it might be the difference between a wrong and a right answer!

A parting piece of advice – the etymological dictionary is a great reference point to help you understand the roots present in a word; also to find other words that use the same roots!

  • February, 28th, 2019
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Build Your GRE Vocabulary: Mnemonics

How to Use Mnemonics for GRE
Reading Time: 5 minutes

If you’re preparing for the GRE and have been reading about the best ways to remember words, you will probably hear about various ways to learn new words. Most of all, you must’ve heard about learning GRE words using pictures and mnemonics.

Here are a few questions you may have:

What is/are mnemonics? (Even pronouncing it is hard!)

How can I learn words using pictures? (Makes no sense – seriously!)

Is this the best (and newest) way to learn words for the GRE?

In this article, these are some of the questions we will address. We will also take a look at how remembering words on the GRE can be fun. Yes – you read that right: FUN!

We will talk about:

  1. What mnemonics are
  2. How to use mnemonics to learn GRE words fast
  3. How the brain uses images to remember better
  4. How to use GRE Flashcards to remember words

Sounds interesting? Great!

Let’s get on with it.


How effective are mnemonic techniques to remember GRE vocabulary?

Let us start with how to pronounce mnemonics: It is pronounced NEH-MOH-NIKS.

Here is the dictionary definition:

To understand how they work, you should first understand what mnemonics are. Before you start thinking this is going to be all technical jibber-jabber, remember this:

Nursery kids use mnemonics the most.

Yeah, you read it right!!

We are literally saying you should do what 3-year-olds do, for the same purpose: to improve vocabulary. If kids that young can use this simple tool, you can definitely use mnemonics for GRE.

Mnemonics are tools designed to help people remember things better. Here are a couple of examples you’re definitely familiar with:

“A for Apple, B for Ball”

Remember this? It’s a whole chart of mnemonic devices. In fact, this is exactly what we’re about to use right now!

It’s been proven that our memory works by creating webs of information – linking new information to what we already know. The more the links between known and new information, the easier it is to remember the new stuff we learned associated with it.

You know how you can suddenly remember someone’s name once you recall where and how you met them last?

Are things suddenly making a lot of sense now?

So, it’s safe to say that it is a great idea to learn GRE words with mnemonics.

The idea is this:

Increase the variety of information you have about the words you need to learn. Engage all your senses. This helps create a rich web of links with things you already know, so you remember these words easily.

Here’s a very basic example.

You hear the word ‘apple’. You know nothing else about this word. By itself, it doesn’t make much sense to you, you’re likely to forget it.

Then someone shows you a picture or drawing of an apple and you learn to associate a peculiar red shape with the word ‘apple’. When you hold an apple in your hands, your mind records how the surface of the apple feels; when you eat it, you remember the smell, taste, and texture of the apple.

You now have visual, auditory, tactile and olfactory information related to the word “apple”. Your chances of forgetting what “apple” means are next to none by this point.

But here’s the kicker:

You can’t get this much information about 3000+ words in time for your GRE.

Words in the GRE vocabulary are not those you’d find in daily life, you would have to go out of your way to learn most of them. Even then, it’d probably take years to really learn all those words this way!

Relax; we’re not here to tell you that you’re doomed.

Now that you know so much about how memory works, it’s time to look into how to learn GRE words with mnemonics.


Trick Your Brain with Mnemonic Flashcards

Let’s say you want to remember the word “extirpate”. The definition of the word is “to eradicate or destroy completely” or “to pull up by, or as if by, the roots”.

If you try to mug this up, you’re essentially trying to remember 15 words so that you can remember one.

Doesn’t make a lot of sense, does it?

Try this instead:

See what we did there? 😉

This is a GRE vocabulary flashcard. It is designed to tie the word ‘extirpate’ using multiple strings to the information you already know. This flashcard draws a comical connection between two things – it is a quirky and unusual association that you wouldn’t normally make.

Think about it. A goat would hardly be the first – or even among the first 10 – things to pop into your mind when you read the definition of ‘extirpate’.

These kinds of funny associations tend to stick out and therefore become easier to remember than the more ‘normal’ connections we make in our minds. It (hopefully!) also appeals to your sense of humor and that makes it even better. You see, we tend to remember the things we enjoy much more easily than things we find routine or boring.

Most importantly, the flashcard puts a picture to the word. It enriches the format in which you have engaged with the word ‘extirpate.’ Since pictures are much easier to recall than words, this is going to stick with you for a long, long time.

Here’s a fun fact:

The next time you see the word ‘extirpate’, you’re going to think of a goat.

If you start using the word regularly, after a few months or years, you will probably not even be sure why you associate the word with a goat. But you will think of a goat nonetheless because this is how you first learned the word – this is the power of first impressions.

At CrackVerbal, we have created a whole bunch of these GRE vocabulary flashcards. They are designed especially for Indian students, with references and cross-lingual puns that make them easily relatable. All of the flashcards carry GRE words with pictures and caricatures.

Here are a few more examples:

  1. Profligate (adj.): recklessly extravagant or wasteful in the use of resources.

Profligate basically means a person who spends huge amounts unnecessarily. Here, we see a professor who is driving by in a fancy, high-end car that is definitely very expensive. 

We all know that professors aren’t exactly the best-paid professionals around! So this is definitely a huge and unaffordable expense for this professor. He is spending a professor’s salary like Bill Gates – Prof(li)gate!

2. Quixotic (adj.): extremely idealistic; unrealistic and impractical.

The word is pronounced ‘quik-so-tik’ and it is used to describe someone who tends to have unrealistic expectations.

This card shows a plane passenger who is demanding to be served exotic food quickly. Getting quick, exotic food on a plane is practically impossible – making this expectation unrealistic. So, the passenger is one quixotic guy!

3. Spoonerism (noun): accidental transposition of initial consonants in a pair of words.

Let’s take a look at a simpler explanation for the same word.

You know how you misspeak sometimes, switching the first letters of two words in a sentence? Like saying “You hissed the mystery lesson” when you meant to say “You missed the history lesson.”

That’s spoonerism.

This flashcard presents one example but you can think up as many as you like!

Let’s take a look at a few more flashcards!

4. Abnegation

5. Recondite

6. Galvanize

7. Desiccate

8. Lionize

9. Pedantic

10. Disingenuous

At CrackVerbal, we understand how the human mind is designed to work. We make it a point to devise teaching and learning techniques that exploit natural human tendencies to help you learn better.

As a result, the stress and anxiety associated with the GRE are both drastically reduced and your chances of cracking the exam are significantly raised.

Our GRE vocabulary flashcards work because:

  1. They associate pictures with every word.
  2. They make funny connections between words and the pictures they carry.
  3. They don’t give you more words to remember one word.

Take a look at our WordToonz Web App to get a better idea of how these flashcards can help you learn GRE words with mnemonics and test your progress, too!

  • February, 27th, 2019
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Vocabulary for GRE – A Detailed Approach

Building Vocabulary for GRE
Reading Time: 6 minutes

What is the best way to study vocabulary for GRE?

This is probably the most frequently asked question among GRE test-takers, one that everyone wishes they had an answer to.

Fear not, for we are here to help! In this blog, we will discuss the most common mistakes and misconceptions about GRE vocabulary and then give you some highly effective resources and strategies to build vocabulary for the GRE.

So, first off, let’s address the elephant in the room!


Is GRE Vocabulary all about mugging up words?

A huge misconception that students have about preparing for GRE vocabulary is that it is all about mugging up words.

It must’ve taken some serious “creativity” for someone at the UP Ministry of Tourism to approve this ad on Twitter:

This is a classic example of why mugging up dictionary meanings of new words simply doesn’t work.

As part of a graduate program – a Master’s or an MBA – you are required to not only read a lot of journals and books but also to write lengthy theses and project reports. You need to be clear, crisp, and concise in the words you choose.

For this, you need to understand words in context. And that is what the GRE is meant to test.


How Context Matters

What is the difference between “John is firm” and “John is obstinate”?

“Firm” and “obstinate” have meanings that are very similar, yet, the first statement carries approval whereas the second is criticizing John. The meanings are similar but there is a huge difference in the tone.

Context almost always affects the meaning of the words themselves and this is the stuff that the GRE expects you to know and be able to judge while reading or writing in English.

Expertise in Verbal Reasoning becomes very important when you try to get your work published in a scientific journal – it has to be ready for scrutiny by Ph.D. holders who have spent more time reading books than you have spent binge-watching “Game of Thrones”!

This brings us to the next elephant (or wait, is it a hippo?) in the room.


What is wrong with preparing from GRE word lists?

We have had students who come to us and say “I’ve learned words until “P”!



There are two sections on the GRE that test you on words and their meanings: Sentence Equivalence (SE) and Text Completion (TC). Both these sections test you on the nuances in meaning, and simply knowing the meanings by heart will not help you with that.

Here’s what’s wrong with using word lists for GRE vocabulary building:

  • Lack of Context

    Yes, we’re stressing on this yet again. Word lists do not provide any context whatsoever, which seriously compromises your ability to answer the kind of questions the GRE will pose.

    Every vocabulary-intensive question on the GRE will require you to pick the correct words with reference to the context they’re in. If you’ve only learned from word lists for GRE vocabulary, this isn’t something you’ll be able to get through easily.
  • Isolated Definitions

    Some words have definitions that are of no help whatsoever. Here’s an example.

    This is the definition of Transcended according to WordWeb:
    “Be greater in scope or size than some standard”

    Does it make sense to you? Not to us!

    Now, let’s take a look at the same word in context:
    “Dante embodied all the learning and thought of his age and transcended them: he went far ahead of all his predecessors, contemporaries, and successors.”

    Dante went over and beyond what his contemporaries were doing, so he was greater than the “standard”.

    Does that definition make sense now? In case we haven’t stressed it enough already: Context matters, even just to understand a definition!
  • Alphabetical Order and Retention Power

    Every word list presents words in alphabetical order, so by the time you’ve reached words beginning with “B”, you’ll begin forgetting what you’d learned under “A”. This is because alphabetical orders present no pattern at all.

    The human mind is wired to learn and remember new things by connecting them with the information it already has. By learning from a word list, you’re creating zero connections between what you already know and what you’re learning now.

    Not much of that will be retained!

It’s always safe to assume that you WILL come across words you don’t know when you’re taking the GRE. Even so, it is understandable that you’d want to learn as many new words as you can in a short span of time. If you still feel like GRE word lists will help you, read our post on why they won’t.


How To Build Your GRE Vocabulary Quickly

In an ideal world, you should be building your vocabulary through years of exposure to good quality reading such as The Economist and The New York Times. Vocabulary building needs to be deep and meaningful.

However, this is not an ideal world, and you are probably worried because your vocabulary isn’t exactly great. What do you do?

Here’s what.


3 GRE Vocabulary Building Strategies

There are no less than three super effective strategies you can employ to build your vocabulary quickly for the GRE.

#1 Learn New Words Through Grouping

As we’ve said before, people are wired to learn and remember new information by linking it to what we already know. Grouping is one way to form associations between words so that you can remember their meanings and connotations.

For example:

  1. “Juggernaut”, “guru”, “avatar”, “jungle”, “bungalow” – the list can go on. These are all words with Indian origins.
  2. “Procrustean”, “narcissism”, “mercurial”, “herculean”, “plutocracy” – English words with Greek origins.

This is grouping by origins. You can find your own ways to group words, in whatever manner suits you, like ‘words related to the Church’ or ‘words related to medicine’. One other interesting technique is to group words by “inclines.”

When you classify words by inclines, you place two words at two ends of the spectrum and study the words in between. This could be in increasing order of intensity, or it could be from one opposite to the other.

For example:

  1. Annoyance, irritation, anger, rage, fury – increasing order of intensity.
  2. Malevolent, truculent, irascible, imperturbable, equanimous – opposite to opposite

For more, read our post on using grouping for GRE vocabulary.


#2 Learn Words Using Roots

A lot of words in the English language are derived from other languages. Often, a variety of words come from the same root word.

Learning root words and their meanings does not only help you remember more words better, but it also allows you to make more accurate, educated guesses when the time comes.

Here are some examples:

  1. “Chronos” is the Greek god of time. So, “chronograph” means a device to measure time with (a clock or watch), “chronological” means arranged by the time of occurrence, “chronic” means something that persists for a long time or keeps recurring.
  2. “Anthropos” is also a Greek word; it means ‘man’ or ‘human being’. So, “anthropomorphic” means suggesting human-like characteristics for animals or inanimate objects, “anthropology” is the study of humans and their societal relations, “philanthropy” is the love of mankind and a “philanthropist” is one who makes charitable donations for the greater human good.

Another benefit of learning new words via roots is that some of the words you already know will suddenly make more sense.

Additionally, you can always branch out from one word root to another – for example, “philos” from “philanthropist” means “love”, which leads to “philosophy” which is “philos” (love) + “sofia” (knowledge).

Do you see how a Doctorate in Philosophy basically goes to say that the holder of a Ph.D. loves studying the subject they’ve done a Ph.D. in?

For more, read our post on using word roots for GRE vocabulary.


#3 Learn New Words Through Mnemonics

A simpler way to say this is, learn words by associating them with pictures.

You may have gathered that a mnemonic is a picture that acts as a cue for your memory, helping you remember words associated with it.

We remember the things we see better than the things we read.

Besides, the number of senses we use to understand an idea or a word determines how easily we will remember it.

For example, you’ll remember things better if you read things out aloud – does it suddenly make more sense that your school teachers made you read your multiplication tables out aloud?

Anyway, the idea is, the more information you associate with a given word, the likelier it is that you will remember the word.

Mnemonics for GRE, otherwise known as GRE flashcards, exploit this basic fact to help you trick your brain into learning and remembering a lot of new words very quickly.

CrackVerbal’s GRE Flashcards are specially designed to incorporate humor into the imagery they create because human brains will retain more information that is entertaining.

(Yeah, that’s why you remember so many completely random and fairly useless things but find it hard to recall what’s in your GRE word list.)

For more, read our post on using mnemonics for GRE vocabulary.


In spite of all this, as we’ve said before – no matter how many words you learn in preparation for the GRE vocabulary section, you WILL encounter words you’ve never seen before.

This is because, to be honest, the words you’ll find in the GRE will not exactly be the kind you may encounter in daily life or popular culture.

Chandler and Ross may use some unusual words on occasion in “F.R.I.E.N.D.S.” but watching the show is NOT going to be enough to help you with your GRE.

So how do you deal with it when you do come across completely new words?

The key is not to become too dependent on REMEMBERING words but to understand the ones you learn. That way, when you encounter new words during the exam, you can at least eliminate your way to the right answer.

Remember that guessing on the GRE is not only a good idea but it is also something we recommend for a variety of reasons.

However, we do not mean blind guessing. Here’s what you should do instead:

Make an educated guess from time to time – and employing these vocabulary building strategies for your GRE preparation will definitely start you off in the right direction for that.

We hope you found this article helpful.

Do let us know if you have any questions or doubts in the comments section below!

Feel free to follow any of the links in this article for more.

7 Ways to Boost Your GRE Prep (Effectively!)

Reading Time: 9 minutes

The Graduate Record Examination (GRE) is a standardized test conducted by the Educational Testing Service (ETS). GRE is used by universities in most English speaking countries for admission into the Graduate program. It assesses the verbal, quantitative and writing skills of the student.

GRE is taken by candidates who wish to get into graduate or business schools. Aspirants interested in pursuing a Master’s degree – MS, MBA, MEM, or a doctoral degree can sit for the GRE. The total duration of the test is 3 hours 40 minutes, with a 10 minute break in between.

To successfully crack the GRE, knowing the pattern and preparing well is the only solution.

So how do you go about preparing for the GRE?

We have mentioned below seven effective and practical tips on how to prepare for the GRE:

1. Choose the right study material

2. Create a study plan

3. Do not underestimate the difficulty of Quant

4. Prepare well for AWA

5. Build your mental stamina

6. Know the contextual meaning of the GRE words

7. Make a list of your target universities


1. Choose the right study material


Many students when preparing choose one book and stick to it. While there are many great books in the market, you have not mastered GRE if you finish one of them. Even if you start with one book, use other material as well to supplement it.

The other problem is that with the introduction of the web and smartphone, the preparation material available to you is abundant. It is easy to lose yourself trying to do everything. So instead choose your material and prepare.

Start simple, it will help you understand the concepts and once you have got a hang of it, work your way up to more advanced material. Do not try to do everything at the same time. In the end you will not have covered much. We would recommend you to start with the official ETS GRE guide.

Also remember, when it comes to practice test material, make sure you take the right practice tests – preferably the official ones! If you take random tests, chances are that your results are not accurate thus messing with analysing where you stand.

Also, Don’t be a serial test taker!

The key is to understand when and how often these GRE practice tests should be taken. Exhausting them all at once as soon as you have started your GRE perpetration, for instance, is counterproductive.

If you are just starting your GRE preparation then go through our Comprehensive Guide to GRE Exam Preparation.

Here are a list of other Free resources to get you started:

Free GRE E-books
Free GRE online course

2. Create a study plan


Depending on you exam date, create a plan accordingly.

Your study plan needs to take into account the number of weeks you have left for the GRE test, your current GRE preparation level, and your target GRE score. Once you have the plan, you take a printout of it and stick it next to your study desk so you can look at it while studying (and get motivated too!).

Once you have a concrete study plan you will feel charged up to complete it. It is the most simple and pain free way for you to start taking action!

Not sure how to make a detailed GRE study plan?

Then you can mail us at CrackVerbal and we will help you with a custom GRE study plan.

You can also check out our comprehensive blog on prepping for the GRE to get a detailed explanation on creating a study plan that suit your needs.

3. Do not underestimate the difficulty of Quant


The GRE is designed specifically to differ from what you learnt in college. Even if the syllabus for Quant takes you back to high school with memories of the amazing grades you scored, it is going to be a little more complicated than that to score in GRE.

A lot of students misunderstand the term and think that “Quant” is synonymous with “Math”.

Mathematics is different from Quantitative analysis. Educational Testing Service (ETS), which administers the GRE exam, could have easily called it “mathematical assessment” but didn’t, and there is a reason for that.

GRE quant focuses on testing the reasoning ability of the student. So most of the questions are based on a simple logic with a twist in it, making it a brain teaser. Understanding these subtle nuances is often the solution to most problems.

Attempting to solve a problem with only concepts and procedure can be both confusing and time consuming. A far more efficient approach would be to figure out a pattern in the trick questions and create a strategy which can be used for them.

For more details about the GRE Quant section check out our blog on All You Wanted to Know About GRE Quant

GRE Quant is made up of four major buckets:
• Arithmetic
• Algebra
• Geometry
• Data Interpretation

The GRE Quantitative Reasoning section tests your ability to interpret given data correctly rather than just your knowledge of formulae and concepts. Out of the four topics, Arithmetic is what is going to be tested pre-dominantly, accounting for approximately 40 to 50 percent of your questions. Arithmetic tests your skills in numbers, ratios, percentages and exponents, etc.

Hence, you should be very good at your basics, which you would have typically studied up to the Eighth or Ninth grade.

• For information about Arithmetic questions in GRE Quant, see All You Wanted to Know About GRE Quant Arithmetic
• For information about Algebra questions in GRE Quant, see All You Wanted to Know About GRE Quant Algebra
• For information about Geometry questions in GRE Quant, see All You Wanted to Know About GRE Quant Geometry
• For information about Data Interpretation questions in GRE Quant, see All You Wanted to Know About GRE Quant Data Interpretation

4. Prepare well for AWA


Analytical Writing Assessment allows schools to evaluate the writing skills of the applicant. Even if in comparison with the other sections AWA is relatively less significant, it can take up a considerable amount of your time and energy if you go unprepared.

Before the exam, prepare a format outlining the structure of the 2 essays. Practice writing a few essays using this format. This way you know the kind of points you will need for the essay. It will allow you to focus your thoughts in terms of the content you plan to put in the essay.

The essay is then scored by e-rater®, a computerized program developed by ETS that is capable of identifying essay features related to writing proficiency.

If the human and the e-rater scores closely agree, the average of the two scores is used as the final score. If they disagree, a second human score is obtained, and the final score is the average of the two human scores.

The final scores on the two essays are then averaged and rounded to the nearest half-point interval on the 0–6 score scale.

Here is an example of a sample AWA essay prompt from the ETS pool of Issue Essays:

“As people rely more and more on technology to solve problems, the ability of humans to think for themselves will surely deteriorate”

There are two ways to approach this – either you develop an argument that speaks in favor of technology or one that speaks against it. You could use real-world examples, things that you’ve read in books or even personal experiences to substantiate your point.Remember to clearly illustrate how this scenario helps prove your perspective though!

We recommend you spend the first 5-7 minutes in brainstorming and listing your thoughts. Then spend the next 15 minutes expanding your ideas into words and the last 5-7 minutes fine-tuning and writing a conclusion.

More more detailed tips on how to go about writing an AWA essay, check out our blog on how to go about your AWA

5. Build your mental stamina


The GRE is 3 hours and 45 minutes long. You have 1 minute between sections and a 10 minute break after three sections.

In long tests like these, it is very likely that by the middle of the test your concentration will begin to flag and the one minute between sections gives you barely enough time to catch your breath.

So it is important to develop your endurance with sufficient preparation beforehand. Usually you begin practice with blocks of questions in the same category. It is easy to get caught up in it, but mastering concepts is only half the battle.

Once you reach a level of comfort with the different sections individually, the next step will be to take full length practice tests.

Schedule them in regular intervals over the last 2 weeks before the exam and identify the areas which take up most of your time. These are the areas which will probably tire you out the most.

Monitor the time closely and work on improving your speed.

Here are some practical tips on how to stay focussed during your GRE test:

-> To be able to focus for a longer time, it’s important to keep up your energy levels. Try to avoid junk food or anything that contains a lot of sugar or artificial sweeteners before the exam.

-> Your posture plays a vital role on your energy levels. So sit up straight and avoid shallow breathing.

-> You should practice the test under the same conditions you will take the test. So if you have booked a morning slot then practice taking your GRE mocks tests around the same time as you would on the actual test day.

6. Know the contextual meaning of the GRE words


A common mistake made by students is spending time trying to learn by heart a list of words within a limited time frame. While the words are important to answering sentence completion questions but the whole point of the questions is to test the vocabulary of the student. So knowing the meaning of the words will be useless without knowing the context in which they are used.

Using examples to learn the words can be advantageous. When learning with examples picturing the word in your mind becomes easy. This relates the word to a situation which in turn makes it easier to remember. This will also teach you the context in which the word is usually used.

For example, a commonly misused word is literally.

Literally means without exaggeration or in strict sense of the word.

So when you say “It is literally raining cats and dogs.” unless you really saw cats and dogs drop from the sky, you are using the word ‘literally’ in the wrong sense.

If you are looking for quick ways learn the contextual meanings of GRE Words then try learning the words using the Mnemonics technique.

To make learning GRE words fun, we have designed a set of 500 GRE flashcards cards that consist of visual mnemonics, to help you learn unfamiliar words by understanding its contextual meaning.

Click here to watch the complete playlist

If you found the above video useful, then go ahead and Get our GRE WordToonz Flash Cards – featuring the 500 most frequently tested words.

7. Make a list of your target universities


So you’re obviously inventing a huge chunk of time and money to get into a university of your choice, right? Good – that is motivation enough for you to start researching on colleges that best enhance your abilities, personality and help set you on the right career path.

Make a list of universities – both India and Abroad – and list out the pros and cons. You can include factors such as – finance, duration of course, GRE score cutoffs, the course offerings, to name a few. This exercise will help you narrow down on a few good universities.

Also, don’t forget – alongside preparing for the examination, build your profile too. Find out things you can do to enhance what you already have – say, you’re decent in German – get fluent instead! And you could also start drafting your applications for the shortlisted universities, collect sample essays – basically do your bit of ground work.

If you need an expert to review your profile before applying, then CrackVerbal can do that for you, for free 🙂

GRE online Course Crackverbal

Super-Effective GRE Reading Comprehension Strategies

Reading Time: 15 minutes

Honestly, tell us…when was the last time you read something excruciatingly boring and didn’t doze off?
You’re probably thinking, “Right now! When I solve the GRE Reading Comprehension passages!!”
We completely get it!
Reading about topics that you have absolutely no interest in, and moreover when you don’t understand squat – it can be annoying.
But you gotta do what you gotta do!
In this article, we are going to ease out things a little bit.
We will talk about importance of RC passages on the GRE Verbal, and how you don’t really need to know the background behind the passage, but ways to just get the answer right.
And to help put this theory into practice, we will additionally provide a few practice passage towards the end of this article 🙂
Reading this article will give you a very clear picture of how to tackle RC on the GRE.
So why don’t you grab some coffee (or a pen and paper – whichever works!) and get yourself comfortable.
Let’s get started!

Section 1 : Why do colleges care about Reading Comprehension (RC)?

Section 2 : How is RC tested on the GRE?

Section 3 : Challenges answering RC questions( & how to overcome them!)

Section 4 : Mapping an RC Passage

Section 5 : Question types on the RC GRE

Section 6 : Practice Passages for the GRE RC

Section 7 : Commonly Asked Questions


Section 1 : Why do colleges care about Reading Comprehension (RC)?

Incidentally, Reading Comprehension is the only question that appears on all major standardized tests.
Irrespective of the academic career you wish to pursue, you will always come across dense complex written material which you have to make sense of.
According to the Educational Testing Services (ETS), the RC in the GRE – “tests your ability to actively engage with the text, ask questions, formulate and evaluate hypothesis and reflect on the relationship of a particular text to other texts and information”
To put it in simpler words, the GRE RC passages test you on your ability to comprehend individual words and sentences, bifurcate the structure of main text and parts that relate to each other, identify the author’s assumptions and perspective – also consider alternate explanations, and reason from incomplete data to infer missing information.
The good thing about Reading Comprehension is you don’t really require prior knowledge on the subject matter – all the answers lie within the passage.
Why don’t you require the prior knowledge?
RC GRE passages are hand-picked by the ETS. The passages chosen are from diverse backgrounds – academics, non academica, fiction, arts and humanities, history, english literature – to name a few. The probability of you having read these passages before is bleak.
These passages are picked in a way to test your vocabulary, comprehension of complex ideas and sentence structures, and the speed at which you are able to complete answering a complete passage.
So fretting about not knowing the content is pointless.
What you should be looking at are tips and hacks that will help you answer the questions below to get the answer right, and of course – a high GRE score. 🙂
We’ve observed a lot of students waste ample time reading and re-reading the passage – when you have only 30 minutes in hand for the entire Verbal section, it might not be greatest of ideas.
But lucky for you, we have a few ways in which you can make the RC process way faster.
A lot of students have been pondering over the same question, “If we don’t know what passage is going to appear, how are we supposed to prepare for it, and even if I do prepare, how is it going to help boost my overall GRE score?”
Well, RC in the is one of the most important sections under GRE Verbal.
Unlike the comprehension passages you got in school, this one is 10x times harder.
We will be covering all these aspects – one at a time 🙂

Section 2 : How is RC tested on the GRE?

Reading Comprehension (RC) questions are one of the three types of questions in the Verbal Reasoning section of the GRE.
RC makes up for almost ⅓rd of the questions under the Verbal section.

Total duration : 30 minutes
Total no. of questions : 20
The split :
> Reading Comprehension – 9 questions
> Critical Reasoning – 1 questions
> Text completion & Sentence Equivalence – 10 questions
GRE Verbal RC passages vary in length – approximately 200-500 words – short one paragraph passages to three long paragraph passages.
Ideally, each passage is followed by 1-3 questions.
Whether you understand the passage or not, you need to be able to skim through it entirely and absorb only what is required to answer the questions below.
There are 3 question formats on the RC GRE:
–> Multiple Choice Questions – 5 answer options and 1 right answer

–> Multiple Response Questions – 3 answer options, upto 3 right answers – More than one right answer. Pick all the correct options to get the right answer.

–> Select in Passage Questions – clickable parts of the passage will be marked with an arrow on the main passage.

The first question format – MCQ – there is only one right answer – thus increasing the probability of you getting the right answer much higher compared to the second format.
In the second format, all answers could be right, or just 3 out of the 5 – if you get one answer option incorrect, you lose out on the entire question.
Now the third questions format, you need be extremely aware of how you go about selecting the line from the passage – reread the question if you have to, but make sure the sentence you pick is accurate.

Section 3 : Challenges answering RC questions( & how to overcome them!)

Reading passages and answering questions within a few minutes is not easy – you have to
read, process, comprehend, and answer.
To be good on the GRE RC, you need to realize that Reading Comprehension is extremely challenging both inherently and by design.
Let’s explore these challenges and ways to overcome them.

Limited Time

“Don’t spend too much time reading the passage” – we said. “ But I always thought I should, it’s important to understand what I’m reading, right?” – said one of our students.
The answer to why you shouldn’t spend too much time reading the passage is simple. You are awarded points for answering the questions below – NOT for comprehending every tiny detail the passage provides.
Your approach should be:
> Read the passage for surface level details i.e overall idea discussed, how many ideas transition through paragraphs and what the author’s perspective is.
> Read in-depth only if and when needed. If a question asks about a particular detail, you can always go back to the passage to find more about it. So don’t focus your energy towards absorbing the details, but only to grasp the highlights.
Now, let’s calculate how much time you should be allocating per passage:
You have only 30 minutes to finish the entire Verbal section – 20 questions – including Text Completion, Sentence Equivalence and Critical Reasoning.
Assume you have 3 RC passages with 3 questions each.
Let’s split the time you take to read and answer:
> 3 minutes – reading
> 5 minutes – answer questions
In total, you will take 24 minutes for 3 passages – 8 minutes per passage.
That, my friend, leaves you with only 6 minutes to solve the remaining questions.
Is that freaking you out a little bit? It should be.
Ideally, candidates spend over 8+ minutes reading and trying to dissect the passage.
On the GRE RC, time is of the essence- make every moment count.
To make things easier, start practicing RC passages when you start your GRE Verbal Prep.
Bring down the time from 8 minutes to 6 minutes per passage. That should give you an additional 6 minutes (totally 12) to figure out the rest of the Verbal section.
When you take the tests, keep a log of the:
> Time you take to read
> Time you take to answer
> Measure your accuracy
This is the simplest way to manage your time on the RC.

Confusing Content

What are you doing to do if you get an RC passage that is highly tormenting? A passage you feel you need to re-read multiple times?
You enter the panic stage. And boom. 30 minutes gone!
Don’t worry. We are not going to let that happen to you.
We have identified 3 GRE prep tips that should help you better your RC skills.
> Familiarize yourself with the content style
GRE throws passages drawn from diverse backgrounds- history, astronomy, art and humanities, social sciences, biological sciences – among others.
Test takers find the subject matter of these passages extremely scary and overwhelming.
Honestly, the probability of you having read the passage is bleak.
So don’t let the unfamiliarity of the content stand in the way of your study plan.
Here are a few ways to help you stick to the ‘6 minute rule per passage’:
> Start reading A LOT – don’t stick to a particular genre – explore types of content out there
> Learn to map passages (we’ll explain passage mapping in the next section)
> Twin with the author – start reading from his perspective
> Read in between lines – only if required.
> Complicated Wording and Perspectives
GRE RC passages are often heavy duty- long sentences structures, complicated words, confusing ideas – purpose of the passage, difficult vocabulary – to name a few.
Let’s take this practice passage for example :
“ The discovery of what Loody has called the ‘enabling effects’ of literacy in contemporary societies tends to seduce the observer into confusing often rudimentary knowledge of how to read with popular access to important books and documents: this confusion is then projected onto ancient societies”
The whole paragraph is one big complex sentence. It consists of words like seduce, contemporary and rudimentary.
Next, try and map the passage to understand the gist of it.
Loody – the author talks about a theory he coined – ‘enabling effects’. He draws parallels between the contemporary (modern) and the ancient societies, and how one influences the other.
Mentally break it down into –
    • Words and meanings
    • Writers perspective – background
    • Points to ignore
Breaking the passage down will help process information faster and thus save on time.
The intent of the Reading Comprehension passage is seldom to check vocabulary.
When you do come across an unknown word while reading the passage, try figuring out what it means through context (if you aren’t able to – don’t worry about it – it’s probably not gonna be important!).
Although, there might be cases in which some words or terms may be of importance; in such cases ETS (the guys who set the test) will make sure an explanation or a definition is provided.
> Know the subtle difference
We call it the ‘Jugglery of Words’
Say for example the words ‘discuss’ and ‘debate’
Discuss is when two or more people get together to share and talk about ideas.
Describe is a detailed explanation of the subject – can be written or oral – you are explaining the logic to someone, not discussing it.
A lot of people confuse the both – and it’s not uncommon – it’s just the lack of knowing the subtle difference.
On the GRE RC, you have to understand the exact usage of words and phrases and what they exactly mean.
Even the slightest difference in your understanding will cost you a few points (scores).

High Mental Stress

Quick! What is the difference between cold-blooded and warm blooded animals?
If someone were to ask you that out of the blue, and expected a response within seconds you’d be taken off guard – it’s not that you don’t know what the answer is, it’s just you need to clear your head and think it through.
Keeping up with the time limit on the GRE RC is just like that.
You need to make quick right decisions.
The secret is to train your brain to stay calm under pressure – thus not affecting your performance.
GRE is a 3 hour 50 minute demanding and rigorous test.
To give the GRE, you need to be in the right state of mind and you need to be able to withstand an almost 4 hour-long test.
The only way to overcome the mental stress is to include RC passages as a part of your GRE study plan.
Constant practice will improve your working speed and thus your accuracy.
Remember, you aim is to answer the question correctly, not understand the content of the passage.

Section 4: Mapping an RC Passage

A measles-like virus is being cited as a likely cause for the mass dolphin die-off that’s been plaguing the U.S. East Coast this summer. Since July 1, 333 carcasses have littered shores from New York to North Carolina – a number that’s roughly 10 times more than normal for this time of year. Scientists don’t yet know how many dolphins have died offshore without reaching mid-Atlantic beaches, but it could be thousands. In July, NOAA declared the die-off an Unusual Mortality Event, which frees up federal funding and investigators to address the crisis.
Now, a NOAA team in charge of investigating the event is pointing to a type of morbillivirus as the culprit behind the bottlenose dolphins deaths. Morbilliviruses are responsible for measles in humans, rinderpest in cattle, and canine distemper in dogs, coyotes, wolves and seals. There is no easy way to identify morbillivirus infection just by looking at a carcass, so identifying the pathogen as the cause of the die-off involved a feat of molecular detective work using tissue collected from the dead animals.
While there are no unifying anatomical findings that point toward the pathogen, many of the animals washing ashore have suggestive lesions in their mouths, lymph nodes, brain, or lungs. Potter, and the others who conduct necropsies (animal autopsies), collect bits of these damaged tissues, as well as other organs.
So far, nearly all of the carcasses – 32 out of 33 – fresh enough to be analysed by these methods have tested positive for, or are strongly suspected of having, morbillivirus. Of those, genetic sequencing confirmed that 11 of the carcasses carry the cetacean form of the virus, which affects dolphins and porpoises.

Paragraph-wise explanation:
First – The opening statement – “A measles-like virus is being cited as a likely cause for the mass dolphin die-off that’s been plaguing the U.S. East Coast this summer.” – tells us that the passage is about dolphin die-offs and that there is an ongoing investigation to figure out the reason. We also know that 1333 carcasses is 10 times more than normal.
Second – This paragraph tells us that NOAA is investigating the issue. The rest of the information in the second paragraph – just skim through. If there is a question on the investigating team/complexity of the investigation, you come back and scan the it.
Third – While there are no unifying anatomical findings that point toward the pathogen, many of the animals washing ashore have suggestive lesions in their mouths, lymph nodes, brain, or lungs. Potter, and the others who conduct necropsies (animal autopsies), collect bits of these damaged tissues, as well as other organs.
Fourth – So far, nearly all of the carcasses – 32 out of 33 – fresh enough to be analysed by these methods have tested positive for, or are strongly suspected of having, morbillivirus. Of those, genetic sequencing confirmed that 11 of the carcasses carry the cetacean form of the virus, which affects dolphins and porpoises.
And that is how you go about mapping the passage.
Limit the time you spend mapping the passage to max. 2 minutes.
Let’s now move on to the types of questions you will see on the GRE RC.

Section 5 : Question types on the RC GRE

These are the 3 major types of questions that appear on the GRE RC.
We will explain what the question type means with the example of the passage above.

1. Big Picture Questions

Questions under this category test your ability to understand the main idea of the passage and distinguish it from the supporting ideas.
The idea behind the Big Picture question is to identify the primary purpose of the passage, and differentiate that from the secondary and tertiary purposes.
These questions will also test your ability to understand the structure and the tone of the passage.
Q – This passage is primarily concerned with:
Before going through the answer options, we will try to get the answer from our map.
Looking at the map, we know that the passage revolves around dolphin die-offs.
The author is giving us details of an ongoing investigation and some indicators and evidence to suggest that morbillivirus is the cause for the die-offs.
We will go through the answer options and pick the option closest to the answer we got from the map.
A. exploring possible causes for a phenomenon
B. illustrating the mechanism of propagation of infection by the morbillivirus in dolphins
C. Evaluating the actions taken by the NOAA with respect to Unusual mortality events
D. Providing evidence to suggest a likely cause for a phenomenon – Correct Answer.
E. Suggesting that the cetacean form of the morbillivirus is the only cause for the dolphin die offs.

2. Anchor-phrase Questions

Questions under the Anchor Phrase category will ask you to deal with information explicitly stated in the passage and with information implied in context-specific statements.
Basically, you need to answer with the literal meaning of words and sentences. And not try to be creative or illogical.
If you find an anchor phrase in a question, you will find the same phrase explicitly mentioned in the passage – your answer must be with reference to that phrase and not in general context.
Q. While there are no unifying anatomical findings that point toward the pathogen, many of the animals washing ashore have suggestive lesions in their mouths, lymph nodes, brain, or lungs. According to the passage, when the author says “many of the animals washing ashore have suggestive lesions”, the author is
A. Giving proof that the die offs are caused by the morbillivirus –
B. Indicating that infected dolphins show similar characteristic signs of infection in their bodies
C. Putting forth findings that help the NOAA team progress in its investigation of dolphin die offs – Correct Answer
D. Indicating that it is not easy to identify morbillivirus looking at a carcass
E. Suggesting that lesions in their mouths, lymph nodes, brain or lungs is the only reason for dolphin die offs
3. Inference-based Questions
Inference is information necessarily implied ‘in’ or ‘between’ context specific statements. It is based on information that may or maynot be explained in the passage.
So basically, you will have to read between the lines. However, you will have to understand the author’s perspective, and not make assumptions about content that is not relevant to the question or doesn’t exist in the passage.
Q. It can be inferred from the passage that the morbillivirus
We won’t get this information directly from the passage, so we’ll use the map for direction to identify areas on the passage we need to scan.
A. is the only pathogen that causes lesions in the organs of dolphins
B. has other forms apart from the cetacean form that can affect dolphins – Correct Answer
C. is more lethal, in its viral proliferation, to infected dolphins than to infected humans, cows, or dogs
D. is the cause of the mass dolphin die-off in the U.S East Coast
E. has been substantially more virulent than it was last year
So these are the 3 most commonly asked question types.
We’ll now provide you with practice passages where you can apply these techniques and give it a shot on your own.

Section 6 : Practice Passages for the GRE RC

We have compiled a series of GRE RC passages that we think will help you analyze your strengths and weaknesses.
GRE RC practice passages

Section 7 : Commonly Asked Questions


What are the total number of questions on the RC GRE?

On the GRE RC, you can get upto 1-5 questions – per passage. This primarily depends on how the passages and the questions are set by the ETS.

How do I manage time spent for an RC passage?

If you didn’t read the “Limited time” section above, here’s the gist.
Assume you have 3 RC passages with 3 questions each.
Let’s split the time you take to read and answer:
> 3 minutes – reading
> 5 minutes – answer questions
In total, you will take 24 minutes for 3 passages – 8 minutes per passage.
That, my friend, leaves you with only 6 minutes to solve the remaining questions.

Why is it important to prepare well for the RC section?

It is an important section on the GRE Verbal, and will help improve your overall score. However as the RC section is highly time consuming, you will have to train you mind with the tips/hacks mentioned above to help increase your speed.

What if I don’t know the meaning of certain words in the given passage?

Doesn’t matter. Try and understand what the author is trying to say in that particular context, and pick the option closest to the question asked.

Is RC question adaptive?

No, the RC on the GRE is not adaptive. Points are allocated per passage, not per question.

What are the types of questions on GRE RC?
There are 3 main types of questions on the GRE RC. 1) Big-Picture Question 2) Inference-Based Question 3) Anchor-Phrase Question.
To read more on the types of questions ( with examples) – skip to the “Types of Questions” section above.

What if I don’t understand the passage at all?

You don’t have to understand the complete passage. Learn how to map the passage instead.
Scroll to the example above to learn how to map the passage.

Are the questions within the RC passage counted individually or is the entire RC passage counted as 1 question by the scoring algorithm?

The score is calculated per passage – not per question.

Do I get marks for a partially correct answer?

No. You either answer correctly or you don’t. There is no in-between.

Are there any books/magazines that will help me improve my reading speed?

Reading speed comes with practice. Moreover especially for the RC, you need to learn to map the passage.
Try starting by reading posts from Business magazines, Finance blogs, any academic content you can lay your hands on, autobiographies, and so on. Make sure you pick heavy reads – so you won’t be cause off guard on the day of the test. This kind of reading will also help you understand the author’s perspective.
And is all we have to share on GRE RC. Just remember the ultimate goal is to get all the answers right without wasting time.
If you need help on the GRE Verbal, we are just a click away 🙂

GRE online Course Crackverbal

  • March, 25th, 2018
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Nailing GRE Reading Comprehension (Free Practice Passages)

Reading Time: 12 minutes

Below are 6 practice passages that include the various question types.
Give it your best shot, and if you are stuck – please leave a comment below and we will get back to you 🙂
Good luck!

Passage 1 :

Since the Hawaiian Islands have never been connected to other land masses, the great variety of plants in Hawaii must be a result of the long-distance dispersal of seeds, a process that requires both a method of transport and an equivalence between the ecology of the source area and that of the recipient area. There is some dispute about the method of transport involved. Some biologists argue that ocean and air currents are responsible for the transport of plant seeds to Hawaii. Yet the results of flotation experiments and the low temperatures of air currents cast doubt on these hypotheses. More probable is bird transport, either externally, by accidental attachment of the seeds to feathers, or internally, by the swallowing of fruit and subsequent excretion of the seeds. While it is likely that fewer varieties of plant seeds have reached Hawaii externally than internally, more varieties are known to be adapted to external than to internal transport.
1. The author of the passage is primarily concerned with
A) discussing different approaches biologists have taken to testing theories about the distribution of plants in Hawaii
B) discussing different theories about the transport of plant seeds to Hawaii
C) discussing the extent to which air currents are responsible for the dispersal of plant seeds to Hawaii
D) resolving a dispute about the adaptability of plant seeds to bird transport
E) resolving a dispute about the ability of birds to carry plant seeds long
2. The author mentions the results of flotation experiments on plant seeds most probably in order to
A) support the claim that the distribution of plants in Hawaii is the result of
the long-distance dispersal of seeds
B) lend credibility to the thesis that air currents provide a method of
transport for plant seeds to Hawaii
C) suggest that the long-distance dispersal of seeds is a process that requires
long periods of time
D) challenge the claim that ocean currents are responsible for the transport
of plant seeds to Hawaii
E) refute the claim that Hawaiian flora evolved independently from flora in
other parts of the world

Passage 2 :

Recent studies of sediment in the North Atlantic’s deep waters reveal possible cyclical patterns in the history of Earth’s climate. The rock fragments in these sediments are too large to have been transported there by ocean currents; they must have reached their present locations by traveling in large icebergs that floated long distances from their point of origin before melting. Geologist Gerard Bond noticed that some of the sediment grains were stained with iron oxide, evidence that they originated in locales where glaciers had overrun outcrops of red sandstone. Bond’s detailed analysis of deep-water sediment cores showed changes in the mix of sediment sources over time: the proportion of these red-stained grains fluctuated back and forth from lows of 5 percent to highs of about 17 percent, and these fluctuations occurred in a nearly regular 1,500-year cycle.
Bond hypothesized that the alternating cycles might be evidence of changes in ocean-water circulation and therefore in Earth’s climate. He knew that the sources of the red-stained grains were generally closer to the North Pole than were the places yielding a high proportion of “clean” grains. At certain times, apparently, more icebergs from the Arctic Ocean in the far north were traveling south well into the North Atlantic before melting and shedding their sediment.
Ocean waters are constantly moving, and water temperature is both a cause and an effect of this movement. As water cools, it becomes denser and sinks to the ocean’s bottom. During some periods, the bottom layer of the world’s oceans comes from cold, dense water sinking in the far North Atlantic. This causes the warm surface waters of the Gulf Stream to be pulled northward. Bond realized that during such periods, the influx of these warm surface waters into northern regions could cause a large proportion of the icebergs that bear red grains to melt before traveling very far into the North Atlantic. But sometimes the ocean’s dynamic changes, and waters from the Gulf Stream do not travel northward in this way. During these periods, surface waters in the North Atlantic would generally be colder, permitting icebergs bearing red-stained grains to travel farther south in the North Atlantic before melting and depositing their sediment.
The onset of the so-called Little Ice Age (1300-1860), which followed the Medieval Warm Period of the eighth through tenth centuries, may represent the most recent time that the ocean’s dynamic changed in this way. If ongoing climate-history studies support Bond’s hypothesis of 1,500-year cycles, scientists may establish a major natural rhythm in Earth’s temperatures that could then be extrapolated into the future. Because the midpoint of the Medieval Warm Period was about A.D. 850, an extension of Bond’s cycles would place the midpoint of the next warm interval in the twenty-fourth century.
1) According to the passage, which of the following is true of the rock fragments contained in the sediments studied by Bond?
A. The majority of them are composed of red sandstone.
B. They must have reached their present location over 1,500 years ago.
C. They were carried by icebergs to their present location.
D. Most of them were carried to their present location during a warm period in Earth’s climatic history.
E. They are unlikely to have been carried to their present location during the Little Ice Age.
2) In the final paragraph of the passage, the author is concerned primarily with
A. answering a question about Earth’s climatic history
B. pointing out a potential flaw in Bond’s hypothesis
C. suggesting a new focus for the study of ocean sediments
D. tracing the general history of Earth’s climate
E. discussing possible implications of Bond’s hypothesis
3) According to the passage, Bond hypothesized that which of the following circumstances would allow red-stained sediment grains to reach more southerly latitudes?
A. Warm waters being pulled northward from the Gulf Stream
B. Climatic conditions causing icebergs to melt relatively quickly
C. Icebergs containing a higher proportion of iron oxide than usual
D. The formation of more icebergs than usual in the far north
E. The presence of cold surface waters in the North Atlantic
4) It can be inferred from the passage that in sediment cores from the North Atlantic’s deep waters, the portions that correspond to the Little Ice Age
A. differ very little in composition from the portions that correspond to the Medieval Warm Period
B. fluctuate significantly in composition between the portions corresponding to the 1300s and the portions corresponding to the 1700s
C. would be likely to contain a proportion of red-stained grains closer to 17 percent than to 5 percent
D. show a much higher proportion of red-stained grains in cores extracted from the far north of the North Atlantic than in cores extracted from further south
E. were formed in part as a result of Gulf Stream waters having been pulled northwar

Passage 3:

Tocqueville, apparently, was wrong. Jacksonian America was not a fluid, egalitarian society where individual wealth and poverty were ephemeral conditions. At least so argues E. Pessen in his iconoclastic study of the very rich in the United States between 1825 and 1850.
Pessen does present a quantity of examples, together with some refreshingly intelligible statistics, to establish the existence of an inordinately wealthy class. Though active in commerce or the professions, most of the wealthy were not self-made but had inherited family fortunes. In no sense mercurial, these great fortunes survived the financial panics that destroyed lesser ones. Indeed, in several cities the wealthiest one percent constantly increased its share until by 1850 it owned half of the community’s wealth. Although these observations are true, Pessen overestimates their importance by concluding from them that the undoubted progress toward inequality in the late eighteenth century continued in the Jacksonian period and that the United States was a class-ridden, plutocratic society even before industrialization.
1. According to the passage, Pessen indicates that all of the following were true of the very wealthy in the United States between 1825 and 1850 EXCEPT:
A) They formed a distinct upper class.
B) Many of them were able to increase their holdings.
C) Some of them worked as professionals or in business.
D) Most of them accumulated their own fortunes.
E) Many of them retained their wealth in spite of financial upheavals.
2. Which of the following best states the author’s main point?
A) Pessen’s study has overturned the previously established view of the social and economic structure of early-nineteenth-century America.
B) Tocqueville’s analysis of the United States in the Jacksonian era remains the definitive account of this period.
C) Pessen’s study is valuable primarily because it shows the continuity of the social system in the United States throughout the nineteenth century.
D) The social patterns and political power of the extremely wealthy in the United States between 1825 and 1850 are well documented.
E) Pessen challenges a view of the social and economic systems in the United States from 1825 to 1850, but he draws conclusions that are incorrect.

Passage 4:

The evolution of intelligence among early large mammals of the grasslands was due in great measure to the interaction between two ecologically synchronized groups of these animals, the hunting carnivores and the herbivores that they hunted. The interaction resulting from the differences between predator and prey led to a general improvement in brain functions; however, certain components of intelligence were improved far more than others. The kind of intelligence favored by the interplay of increasingly smarter catchers and increasingly keener escapers is defined by attention — that aspect of mind carrying consciousness forward from one moment to the next. It ranges from a passive, freefloating awareness to a highly focused, active fixation. The range through these states is mediated by the arousal system, a network of tracts converging from sensory systems to integrating centers in the brain stem. From the more relaxed to the more vigorous levels, sensitivity to novelty is increased. The organism is more awake, more vigilant; this increased vigilance results in the apprehension of ever more subtle signals as the organism becomes more sensitive to its surroundings. The processes of arousal and concentration give attention its direction. Arousal is at first general, with a flooding of impulses in the brain stem; then gradually the activation is channeled. Thus begins concentration, the holding of consistent images. One meaning of intelligence is the way in which these images and other alertly searched information are used in the context of previous experience. Consciousness links past attention to the present and permits the integration of details with perceived ends and purposes. The elements of intelligence and consciousness come together marvelously to produce different styles in predator and prey. Herbivores and carnivores develop different kinds of attention related to escaping or chasing. Although in both kinds of animal, arousal stimulates the production of adrenaline and norepinephrine by the adrenal glands, the effect in herbivores is primarily fear, whereas in carnivores the effect is primarily aggression. For both, arousal attunes the animal to what is ahead. Perhaps it does not experience forethought as we know it, but the animal does experience something like it. The predator is searchingly aggressive, inner-directed, tuned by the nervous system and the adrenal hormones, but aware in a sense closer to human consciousness than, say, a hungry lizard’s instinctive snap at a passing beetle. Using past events as a framework, the large mammal predator is working out a relationship between movement and food, sensitive to possibilities in cold trails and distant sounds — and yesterday’s unforgotten lessons. The herbivore prey is of a different mind. Its mood of wariness rather than searching and its attitude of general expectancy instead of anticipating are silk-thin veils of tranquillity over an explosive endocrine system.
1. The author refers to a hungry lizard primarily in order to
A) demonstrate the similarity between the hunting methods of mammals and those of nonmammals
B) broaden the application of the argument by including an insectivore as an example
C) make a distinction between higher and lower levels of consciousness
D) provide an additional illustration of the brutality characteristic of predators
E) offer an objection to suggestions that all animals lack consciousness
2. It can be inferred from the passage that in animals less intelligent than the mammals discussed in the passage
A) past experience is less helpful in ensuring survival
B) attention is more highly focused
C) muscular coordination is less highly developed
D) there is less need for competition among species
E) environment is more important in establishing the proper ratio of prey to predator
3. According to the passage, improvement in brain function among early large mammals resulted primarily from which of the following?
A) Interplay of predator and prey
B) Persistence of free-floating awareness in animals of the grasslands
C) Gradual dominance of warm-blooded mammals over cold-blooded reptiles
D) Interaction of early large mammals with less intelligent species
E) Improvement of the capacity for memory among herbivores and carnivores
4. According to the passage, as the process of arousal in an organism continues, all of the following may occur EXCEPT
A) the production of adrenaline
B) the production of norepinephrine
C) a heightening of sensitivity to stimuli
D) an increase in selectivity with respect to stimuli
E) an expansion of the range of states mediated by the brain stem

Passage 5:

The work of English writer Aphra Behn (1640–1689) changed markedly during the 1680s, as she turned from writing plays to writing prose narratives. According to literary critic Rachel Carnell, most scholars view this change as primarily motivated by financial considerations: earning a living by writing for the theatre became more difficult in the 1680s, so Behn tried various other types of prose genres in the hope of finding another lucrative medium. In fact, a long epistolary scandal novel that she wrote in the mid-1680s sold quite well. Yet, as Carnell notes, Behn did not repeat this approach in her other prose works; instead, she turned to writing shorter, more serious novels, even though only about half of these were published during her lifetime. Carnell argues that Behn, whose stage productions are primarily comedies, may have turned to an emerging literary form, the novel, in a conscious attempt to criticize, and subvert for her own ends, the conventions and ideology of a well-established form of her day, the dramatic tragedy.
Carnell acknowledges that Behn admired the skill of such contemporary writers of dramatic tragedy as John Dryden, and that Behn’s own comic stage productions displayed the same partisanship for the reigning Stuart monarchy that characterized most of the politically oriented dramatic tragedies of her day. However, Carnell argues that Behn took issue with the way in which these writers and plays defined the nature of tragedy. As prescribed by Dryden, tragedy was supposed to concern a heroic man who is a public figure and who undergoes a fall that evokes pity from the audience. Carnell points out that Behn’s tragic novels focus instead on the plight of little-known women and the private world of the household; even in her few novels featuring male protagonists, Behn insists on the importance of the crimes these otherwise heroic figures commit in the domestic sphere. Moreover, according to Carnell, Behn questioned the view promulgated by monarchist dramatic tragedies such as Dryden’s: that the envisioned “public” political ideal—passive obedience to the nation’s king—ought to be mirrored in the private sphere, with family members wholly obedient to a male head of household. Carnell sees Behn’s novels not only as rejecting the model of patriarchal and hierarchical family order, but also as warning that insisting on such a parallel can result in real tragedy befalling the members of the domestic sphere. According to Carnell, Behn’s choice of literary form underscores the differences between her own approach to crafting a tragic story and that taken in the dramatic tragedies, with their artificial distinction between the public and private spheres. Behn’s novels engage in the political dialogue of her era by demonstrating that the good of the nation ultimately encompasses more than the good of the public figures who rule it.
1) The passage is primarily concerned with
A. tracing how Behn’s view of the nature of tragedy changed over time
B. explaining one author’s view of Behn’s contribution to the development of an emerging literary form
C. differentiating between the early and the late literary works of Behn
D. contrasting the approaches to tragedy taken by Behn and by Dryden
E. presenting one scholar’s explanation for a major development in Behn’s literary career
2) The passage suggests that Carnell sees Behn’s novels featuring male protagonists as differing from dramatic tragedies such as Dryden’s featuring male protagonists in that the former
A. depict these characters as less than heroic in their public actions
B. emphasize the consequences of these characters’ actions in the private sphere
C. insist on a parallel between the public and the private spheres
D. are aimed at a predominantly female audience
E. depict family members who disobey these protagonists
3) The passage suggests that Carnell believes Behn held which of the following attitudes about the relationship between the private and public spheres?
A. The private sphere is more appropriate than is the public sphere as the setting for plays about political events.
B. The structure of the private sphere should not replicate the hierarchical order of the public sphere.
C. Actions in the private sphere are more fundamental to ensuring the good of the nation than are actions in the public sphere.
D. Crimes committed in the private sphere are likely to cause tragedy in the public sphere rather than vice versa.
E. The private sphere is the mirror in which issues affecting the public sphere can most clearly be seen.
4) It can be inferred from the passage that the “artificial distinction”(highlighted text )refers to the
A. practice utilized in dramatic tragedies of providing different structural models for the public and the private spheres
B. ideology of many dramatic tragedies that advocate passive obedience only in the private sphere and not in the public sphere
C. convention that drama ought to concern events in the public sphere and that novels ought to concern events in the private sphere
D. assumption made by the authors of conventional dramatic tragedies that legitimate tragic action occurs only in the public sphere
E. approach taken by the dramatic tragedies in depicting male and female characters differently, depending on whether their roles were public or private.
Passage 6:
The most plausible justification for higher taxes on automobile fuel is that fuel consumption harms the environment and thus adds to the costs of traffic congestion. But the fact that burning fuel creates these “negative externalities” does not imply that no tax on fuel could ever be too high. Economics is precise about the tax that should, in principle, be levied to deal with negative externalities: the tax on a liter of fuel should be equal to the harm caused by using a liter of fuel. If the tax is more than that, its costs (including the inconvenience to those who would rather have used their cars) will exceed its benefits (including any reduction in congestion and pollution).
In the context in which it appears, “exceed” most nearly means
A. outstrip
B. magnify
C. delimit
D. offset
E. supplant
Hope this helped you prepare for the GRE RC. If you are just starting with your GRE preparation, then do check out our GRE Free Resources.
Or you could give our trail course a shot!

GRE online Course Crackverbal

  • March, 25th, 2018
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Here’s the Best Way to Prepare for the GRE (Tried & Tested!)

GRE Preparation Crackverbal
Reading Time: 13 minutes

 Is GRE Preparation on your mind all the time? Then you already know that there are tons of free resources out there. The sad part? Everything looks so confusing and overwhelming.


If you were wishing for a page that will keep it simple for you, and give you a clear path to crack it the with an optimized GRE preparation plan, you have come to the right place.


This page will provide you with all the help you need for your GRE Preparation. So get your coffee mug and keep reading!


Here is a simple four-step process to study for the GRE:



Step 1: Get Started with Understanding the GRE

GRE Preparation


Anyone who has fought a war (studying for the GRE can seem like one) will tell you that the first rule is to know your enemy. A reconnaissance mission, if you will.


It’s the same for the GRE preparation. So, as the first step, take the time to understand what the GRE will test. Here is a PDF file from the test makers;  that would be the “evil” Educational Testing Service (ETS).


As you saw earlier on our post, the GRE Syllabus, the GRE has the following format:



Anyone who has fought a war will tell you that the first rule is to know your enemy. A reconnaissance mission, if you will.



1) A section called “Analytical Writing Ability” or AWA, which is basically just essay writing


Truth be told, as an Indian test-taker, you really don’t need to worry much about the AWA essays.


This section contains two essays:


a) “Analysis of an issue” in which you will be asked to write either for, or against a given topic.


For example, the topic could be about how the greatest ideas come from simple observation. You could either shout “Eureka!” and talk about how it is true. Or you could disagree, quoting how scientific discovery comes after many years of diligent research.


b) “Analysis of an argument” in which you will be given a situation that you need to argue against.


For example, the topic could be about how radio advertising has worked great for a new pizza delivery shop so it should also work well for a newly opened fine-dine restaurant in the same town. Clearly, people who listen to radio ads could be from anywhere in town so works well for pizza delivery but not for a restaurant which usually services customers in the same locality.


Doesn’t sound too hard?


It isn’t!


As we discuss in the blog, How to prepare for GRE AWA, you need to have a solid, templatized approach to cracking the GRE AWA section.


However, the GRE AWA scores really don’t matter much in your Masters, or MBA application. What matters more is your TOEFL score so ensure you prepare well to crack that one. Here is a blog on TOEFL preparation.


2) Two sections of 35 minutes each for Quantitative Reasoning (fancy-speak for Maths)


Okay, so you are an Indian Engineer? You should be great at quant, shouldn’t you?




Remember that this is the GRE and not really your friendly neighborhood math paper where everything can be derived if you just remember the formula. GRE Quant can be tricky. Most Indian engineers think they can score 170 but it is not as easy as you think.


The four areas in which you will be tested are:


 a) Arithmetic

 b) Geometry

 c) Algebra

 d) Data Analysis


Yes, the usual suspects!


The most important part of preparing for the GRE Quant section is to ensure that you follow these three  steps:


a) Revise the basic formulae needed for GRE Quant

b) Practice, practice, and practice difficult GRE Quant questions

c) Understand common hacks for solving GRE Quant questions



GRE Quant can be tricky. Most Indian engineers think they can score 170 but it is not as easy as you think.



But hey, don’t worry! We got you covered with our detailed page on GRE Quant. Right click and open the link so you can head there right after you’ve read this blog


3) Two sections of 30 minutes each for Verbal Reasoning (nothing but plain old English)


The GRE tests you on your ability to effectively use words to convey your thoughts as well as your ability to understand the semantics of the written word. In other words, the GRE wants to make sure you don’t mess up while writing a journal in grad school, or while reading a difficult book on Quantum Physics to pass a test!


But the GRE is not going to ask you for the meaning of words, but is going to put it in “context” by asking you questions in the following two ways:


a) Text Completion in which you will be given a sentence (or two) with one, two, or three blanks. From among the options, you need to pick the word(s) that correctly convey the intended meaning.


b) Sentence Equivalence in which you will be given a sentence with one blank and you need to pick two (yes two!) options from among the six given. As you can imagine, the two words you pick should be synonymous, and fit in the blank.


Apart from this, the GRE also expects you to understand the written word well so you have another question type:


c) Reading Comprehension, in which you will be given a passage followed by a set of questions that you need to answer. The answer could either be explicitly stated in the passage (easy!) or implied through context (tough!).


Don’t worry! If you have not yet figured it out, – we got your back!


Head over here for a comprehensive blog on GRE Verbal. So yes, now you have three tabs open, but we promise that it is all we have for you.


4) One section of either Maths or English that is not scored


GRE also gives you one extra section of either Maths or English. Thus, in total, you will have five sections in either of the two configurations:

Two Verbal sections of 30 minutes each

Three Quant sections of 35 minutes each




Three Verbal sections of 30 minutes each

Two Quant sections of 35 minutes each


The deal is that you will never get to know which section is the “dummy” section. It could be the first, or the last.


That’s it about “knowing your enemy”; now let us see how to tame the devil!



The deal is that you will never get to know which section is the “dummy” section. It could be the first, or the last.



Step 2: Get the right GRE Study Material

GRE Preparation



No war can be won if you don’t have the right tools with you so it is important that you understand the main arsenal you have to combat the GRE.




There is plenty of FREE advice out there on preparing for the GRE; what is important to know is the CORRECT advice on preparing for the GRE! The biggest culprit that we have found in our interaction with students is that they tend to hoard a lot of material (most of it either useless, or repetitive), and they somehow feel that they have to do ALL of it to get a great GRE score.


No, you don’t!


In fact, many of our students who have done well on the GRE – scored above 160 out of a possible 170 in both Maths and Verbal, have vouched for this fact.



The biggest culprit that we have found in our interaction with students is that they tend to hoard a lot of material, and they somehow feel that they have to do ALL of it to get a great GRE score.



Following are the GRE study materials available to you:


a) GRE Preparation on the internet


With the advent of online content and fast internet speeds, why would you want to stick to the “traditional” methods of pen and paper? Online GRE preparation gives you the flexibility to study on the go. Test preparation companies such as CrackVerbal offer you great options to study from the convenience of your home. See our GRE Online course.


Further, you have a lot of material available to study on your own. For example, the ETS offers its Official Guide book on an app Too bad that it is available only on iOS and not on Android, but don’t worry, there are plenty of ways to prepare for the GRE using the mobile phone you have in your hand. Here is a round-up of Top Mobile Apps that help you prepare for the GRE


You also have a bunch of resources from ETS that help you prepare online. Just remember you need to log in here to buy the resources (which isn’t a bad idea because you have to log in to register for the GRE – so you might as well do so now). This link will give you the online versions of the Official Guide to the GRE® General Test, the Official GRE®Quantitative Reasoning Practice Questions, and the Official GRE® Verbal Reasoning Practice Questions. With all these resources put together, you will have over 300 questions.


In the Indian examination parlance, think of these resources as the “past year’s question papers”!




Online GRE preparation gives you the flexibility to study on the go.



b) GRE preparation books


If you think the internet is a distraction and want to stick to a book, there are several options to choose from. You could either choose resources from a test preparation company like CrackVerbal, or stick to the official books published by ETS, as already discussed. CrackVerbal resources are:


The Official Guide to the GRE (reviewed by us here)

The CrackVerbal GRE Verbal Guide

The CrackVerbal GRE Quant Guide


Shameless marketing plug: Our books have all the magic sauce you need to score well on the GRE! *wink*


c) Free downloadable GRE preparation material


Okay! You are now getting greedy. You want GRE preparation material that is free to download.


Do you know that Khan Academy has explanatory videos for many topics in the GRE Quantitative Reasoning section? (Trivia: Khan Academy was founded by Salman Khan, who has degrees from MIT and Harvard). You can find the videos here.


You can also have a look at learning words through Learning Words the Fun Way – Flashcards. If you find them interesting, you can head over to Amazon to buy the entire set of 500 flashcards with quirky cartoons to help you quickly remember words and their  meaning: CrackVerbal’s GRE Flashcards – pack of 500



Step 3: Prepare for the GRE

GRE Preparation CrackVerbal



Duh! Sounds simple? But yes, now that you know what the GRE can throw at you, and you have all the right material at your disposal, let us get started with the actual preparation!


Of course, you can sign up for a classroom program such as CrackVerbal GRE Classroom Coaching.


Here are a few things that you are probably thinking:


How do I prepare for the GRE in one month?


Is it possible to study for the GRE in a month?




You just need to be diligent in ensuring that you study for at least three to four hours every day. And tank up on a lot of caffeine!


On second thoughts: Ignore the caffeine part! Plenty to prove that coffee isn’t that great after all 🙂


Where can I get a good GRE study plan?




So you have made sure you have just the material you need to score great on the GRE and have booked the test date. But not sure what to do next?


Worry not!


You just need a clear GRE study plan that is customized to meet your needs.

Psst…do you know that if you mail us at CrackVerbal we will help you with a custom study plan?


For many GRE aspirants, the study plan needs to be designed based on urgency to appear for the exam. For example, if you are planning to apply in August-September (fall intake) and it is already May, you would need an intensive three-month plan to be able to apply with a score.


It always works this way – when you start a plan, you will be charged up to complete it. It is the most simple and pain-free way to start taking action!

Depending on how much time you have,  you may prefer a one month plan, or more elaborate study plans.



For many GRE aspirants, the study plan needs to be designed based on urgency to appear for the exam. For example, if you are planning to apply in August-September (fall intake) and it is already May, you would need an intensive three-month plan to be able to apply with a score.



What are some great GRE preparation tips?


Here are the top three GRE preparation tips:


a) Ensure that you are diligent: Nothing beats consistency. This is not your engineering test where you can play a 20-20 game by doing a “night out” just a day before your final exam. GRE requires you to consistently study for several weeks; so make sure you are prepared for it.


b) Understand the techniques: This is not a test of just Math and English. This is the GRE. You need to deep dive into each question type and ensure you have a clear strategy to approach each question on the test.


c) Take a sufficient number of tests: Remember you need to build your mental stamina for four hours. Solving a question in the comfort of your home is very different from sweating it out in the test center on your GRE test day. Condition yourself by taking at least a few tests in the practice condition.


How do I study for the GRE on my own?


Though taking a GRE preparation course would improve your probability of doing well on the test, we understand if you want to go down the GRE preparation road by yourself.


If you are preparing by yourself, you need to remember the following points:


a) Ensure that you get your queries clarified: The biggest problem with self-preparation is that you don’t know why a particular answer is wrong. Or as a corollary, why a particular answer is correct. It is important for you to  do enough research to get your answers clarified.


b) Get your hands on the right material: Most times, during preparation, students end up using incorrect study material – either too dated or non GRE standard, or both. Make sure you use the right preparation material.


c) Form a study group or a meetup in your area: It is important that you have a peer group that you can reach out to for help, or just moral support. You can join a GRE forum such as GRE Prep Club.   At CrackVerbal, our students usually hang out at CrackVerbal Student’s Forum




The biggest problem with self-preparation is that you don’t know why a particular answer is wrong. Or as a corollary, why a particular answer is correct.



Let us now get the GRE out of the way!



Step 4: Take the GRE

GRE preparation CrackVerbal



“Winter is coming” and as a GRE taker, you need to get ready for the inevitable.


GRE practice tests


Before you go into the battlefield, you need to ensure that you have enough “match practice”.


There is good news and bad news.


The good news is that the GRE practice tests offered by ETS. are a fairly accurate indicator of where you will stand on the real test.


The bad news is that you have only two full-length practice tests. Hence, after you take the tests, there is really no way to know if you are improving.


You can always drop into your nearest CrackVerbal center if you want to take a free test, and have it evaluated by our inhouse GRE experts.


Here is our post on how to take the GRE practice tests


Things to know before taking a GRE practise test


Here is a blog that shows you how to improve your scores without necessarily reading anything new. This will help you in getting a better score on your first practise test.


Quick Tips on taking the GRE exam



The good news is that the GRE practice tests offered by ETS are a fairly accurate indicator of where you will stand on the real test. The bad news is that you have only two full-length practice tests. So once you exhaust taking the tests, there is really no way to know if you are improving.



GRE Test Day Tips


It is important that you get a good night’s sleep before the test. Scientific research says eight hours is optimal for peak performance.It is also important that you don’t stress yourself before the actual GRE test. Watching a movie or going out to the mall with friends could be counter-intuitive but is strongly recommended to unwind.

And yes, alcohol impairs your cognitive abilities so it’s better to steer clear of any beverages that may give you a hangover on the test day.


Here is what our experts have written about what you need to do on the test day:

Do’s and Don’ts on the GRE test day


Option of retaking the GRE


In the unfortunate event that your GRE does not go as planned, don’t lose heart.


Firstly, if something goes drastically wrong and you suspect that you did terribly on the test, for example, if, you ran out of time with plenty of questions left. You always have the option to cancel your GRE test scores.


The only flip side is that you have to cancel your scores BEFORE you get to see them!


Secondly, if you suffer from remorse at a later date, and want to see your scores at a later date, ETS will allow you to reinstate the score. Of course, at a cost. Generosity isn’t one of ETS’s virtues!



If something goes drastically wrong and you suspect that you did terribly on the test, say  you ran out of time with plenty of questions left. You always have the option to cancel your GRE test scores. The only flip side is that you have to cancel your scores BEFORE you get to see them!




You can get more information here.


Lastly, you have the option to send the best GRE score among your attempts to the school. The school will not get to see your other scores.


The ETS calls this feature “ScoreSelect” and you can read more about it here.


If you are planning to retake the GRE, we have compiled a nifty list of things you need to take care of for your second (or third) attempt:


Retaking the GRE and doing it right


We spared no effort while compiling this blog to make sure you get everything about GRE preparation in one place.If you liked what you saw – you can bookmark this page to return later.


You can also spread the love by sharing it on your favorite social channel.


If you have any queries about your GRE preparation, please leave a comment in the section below. We would love to hear what you have to say! We respond to all comments and questions within a few days, so expect an answer soon.


That’s all folks!




5 Things About GRE Scores for ISB

Reading Time: 6 minutes

ISB takes both GRE scores, as well as GMAT scores, and you are probably wondering which test to take. Maybe you have taken the GMAT, and your score isn’t very high. Perhaps our article on GMAT scores for ISB has put you off, and to add to the confusion, the ISB website does not show any special preference for either of the tests; refer to ISB Faqs. Don’t worry! We will put you out of your misery!


In this blog, we will look at a few factors that you need to consider while deciding on which test to take to apply to ISB.



1) Why did ISB Start Taking GRE Scores?

TL;DR response: Because it wants to increase the applicant pool.

Seriously! Why did ISB start taking GRE? Why suddenly in 2016? The answer to this lies in what has been happening at ISB over the last many years. In 2006, if you graduated from ISB, it meant you studied in the Hyderabad campus, and graduated in a batch that had a strength of 345.


Cut to 2016, if you got admitted to ISB, it could mean you will be either in Hyderabad or in Mohali. You are probably going to graduate with 908 others next year! That is a whopping 163% of the earlier strength. However, cut ISB some slack. For any college to reach a critical mass, they need to start serving more students. Like a factory, it would make no business sense if the machines (in this case, the buildings, the teaching staff, the support staff and infrastructure) remain underutilized. However, as with any world-class MBA that has a large class size (Harvard took in 935 people last year), ISB also worries about the acceptance rate.


Acceptance rate = Number of people who are offered / Number of applicants to the program X 100


Now, if you think about it, the lower the acceptance rate, the better it is for the prestige of the school. However, if my numerator keeps increasing, my acceptance rate would balloon up. One way to fix this is to decrease the denominator. This means you get more applicants to the ISB program. Wait! Let me correct myself. This means you get more QUALITY applicants to the ISB program. However, as the GMAT is taken by roughly around 25,000 people in India, the total addressable market (TAM) remains limited.


Hence, ISB decided to increase the pool of quality applicants by opening up to GRE scores. Now, the GRE is taken by about a lakh students in India. That is a huge number, a number that is enough to ensure a large pool of quality applicants. Just so you know, the GRE is accepted by most top B-Schools around the world.


2) What is the Minimum GRE Cut-off Required at ISB?

TL;DR answer: 310 with a huge bunch of caveats. Firstly, let me clear this misconception.


There is no cut-off but if you do want to hold a knife to my neck and ask me for a number, I would say 600 for reasons articulated in the article GMAT cut-off for ISB. By the same token, what would be the GRE score cut-off at ISB? If you use the GRE to GMAT comparison tool available at the ETS website, you will see that a score of Q163 and a V148 would give you a total score of 315 that is the equivalent of a 600 on the GMAT. This roughly translates to a Q44 V25 score on the GMAT. My only issue with this comparison is that it isn’t really an apples to apples comparison. If you think about it, the average Amit who takes the GRE is a lot younger and less experienced and focused than the average Ajay who takes the GMAT. However, I don’t think ISB would be looking at this fact.


So, yes, if you hold a gun to my head, I would reckon the GRE “cutoff” at ISB would be around 310. But as we say, the 3 things about MBA applications: Profile, Profile, Profile!!


3) How Will ISB Compare GRE Applicants with GMAT Applicants?

TL;DR response: ISB won’t compare.


Okay, so if you have taken the GRE and scored well, it obviously means that you are/were looking at other programs. Maybe you want to keep your options for an MS open, while taking a shot at the ISB YLP or ISB EEO programs. Maybe you took the GRE while you were in college without having a clue as to what you would do with it. Now you want to use it to apply to ISB. Whatever the reason is: Don’t worry! ISB is really looking for sharp folks who can think clearly.


GMAT or GRE is not going to stand between you and ISB. Chances are that if you apply with a similar GMAT score, your chances of selection (or rejection) remain pretty much the same. Put yourself in the shoes of the ISB Admissions committee. They have a predicament. They have no clue how to interpret these clumsy GRE scores because there is not much precedent.


They cannot tell themselves, “Oh! I remember this smart guy last year who had a GRE 320, and who made it to the Dean’s List”. They are probably winging it. Chances are that they are reading this article to figure out if they can get some juice ☺. So, if you have a GRE score, go ahead and apply! There is more to the application than the test you take.



4) Should I Prepare for the GRE or the GMAT?

TL;DR response: GMAT! Though CrackVerbal runs both GMAT and GRE programs, I would have to say GMAT. There are two good reasons for saying this:


1. As mentioned earlier, ISB has perhaps not yet figured out what to do with GRE scores. So, you can risk applying – HOPING they know what to do with your score. OR, you can apply using a good solid 3 digit GMAT score that starts with 7.


2. Taking the GMAT would enable you to apply to a lot of other B-School programs around the world. Though other schools also take GRE scores, they are in the same boat as ISB when it comes to figuring out what to do with the GRE scores. Studying for either of the tests should take you a good two to three months. The sections are also mostly common, analytical writing, verbal, and quantitative. Here is the GMAT test structure, incase you haven’t seen it:


GMAT Test Structure

And here is the GRE test structure for you:

GRE Test Structure


To reiterate, if you have not taken the test, and are ambivalent, take the GMAT. However, if you have a good reason to take the GRE like applying to an MS program in the US, by all means, take the test. Read point #3 above.


5) Should I take the GRE if My GMAT Scores are Low-ish?

TL;DR response: Yes


Before getting any further, let me give you some food for thought: What makes you think that if you have a low score on the GMAT, you would do any better on the GRE? I suggest you don’t look at taking the GRE as an escape route. At the end of the day, you still need to be smart and focussed to crack either of the tests.


Having said that, if for some reason, a higher score on the GMAT is eluding you, you should definitely have a look at the GRE. When it comes to Verbal, both the GMAT and the GRE test you on the essential skill of comprehension. However, the GRE also puts a lot of emphasis on vocabulary, while the GMAT tests you on the rules of grammar. If you think you can learn about 2000+ new words using various techniques such as mnemonics, GRE sentence equivalence and text completion questions maybe the panacea you are seeking.


When it comes to Quant, both tests pretty much have the usual suspects: Arithmetic, Algebra, and Geometry. Here, the difference is in the type of questions asked. For example, the GRE has quantitative comparison, while the GMAT has data sufficiency. Having said that, I think the biggest difference could be the way the algorithm works. So, despite what people say, it might just be easier for you to score higher on the GRE (higher than the equivalent score on the GMAT).


You can go ahead and hide your GMAT sins, and apply with your freshly minted GRE score!

Hopefully, this article helped you decide on what to do with a GRE score for ISB. If you found the article useful, and would like to pick my brains on your chances at ISB with GRE, go ahead and leave your queries in the comment below. I’d love to give my 2 cents on what I feel the gatekeepers at ISB would see when they look at your profile.

  • October, 31st, 2017
  • Posted in

All You Wanted to Know About GRE Quant Data Interpretation

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Data Interpretation in the GRE can take up approximately 15 to 20 % of questions. That would be approximately 6 to 8 questions, not counting the experimental section.


What is tested in Data Interpretation?


What is tested in Data Interpretation can be split into two broad buckets:

   • Charts

   • Statistics and Counting methods



I) Charts


In the GRE, data interpretation questions (Charts) typically come between questions 11and 18, and the questions would contain Bar Charts, Line graphs, Pie charts, Box Plot graphs, Normal curve, etc.


A single chart may have three to four questions, where each question could be of a different question type (Numerical entry, MCQ and multiple answers type.)


Plan these questions wisely, because these questions tend to take more time and if this is the hard section, it would be tricky. Plan these questions towards the end of each math section, complete the rest of the questions and then come back to these at the end.


If you are a good test taker, you should have around ten to twelve minutes to solve chart questions.



II) Descriptive Statistics and Counting methods


Many GRE test takers don’t know the importance of this topic. It is actually very important and one can expect approximately three to five questions from this topic.


The questions will be based on Mean, Median and Mode, Range, Standard Deviation, Sets, Probability, Permutation and Combination.


Descriptive Statistics questions test your skills at:

   • Basic Operations using Average

   • How to calculate average for an evenly spaced set

   • Comparing the Standard Deviation of two sets

   • Finding the range

   • Max and Min possible value in a set, given the average of the set


Counting methods and Probability test your skills at:

   • Mutually and Non – mutually exclusive sets

   • Finding the total number of arrangements (with or without restrictions)

   • Finding the total number of selections (with or without restrictions)

   • Arrangement of Numbers and words

   • Probabilities of Complex events


Sample question


A set of nine different integers has a range of 35 and a median of 25. What is the greatest possible integer that could be in the set?

   1. 55

   2. 56

   3. 57

   4. 60

   5. Cannot be determined





A set of nine different integers have a range of 35 and a median of 25.

Question: What is the greatest possible integer that could be in the set?

As the integers are different integers, we can say that they are tightly bound because we are trying to find the greatest possible integer. To find the greatest possible integer, we have to keep the smallest possible integer as the maximum value.

Let the smallest integer be X. The greatest integer will be X + 35. Maximizing X + 35 means maximizing X.

X, X +1, X+2, X+3, X+4, X+5, X+6, X+7, X+8

Median is 25, hence X + 4 = 25 and X = 21

So the integers are:

21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29

As range is 35, the set will become:

21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 56.

Hence the largest integer is 56. So the answer is B.


GRE online Course Crackverbal

  • October, 19th, 2017
  • Posted in
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5 Must-Know Tips for GRE Quant Algebra

GRE Quant Algebra
Reading Time: 8 minutes

“I love algebra! It’s so plain and simple!”

Said nobody, ever.

The mere idea of Algebra gave us nightmares when we were in school. Algebra was like a giant ‘x’ – full of random variables and symbols that we couldn’t make head or tail of!

However, you cannot hide behind excuses like how completely terrible you think Algebra is – if you want to get a 165+ in GRE Quant, that is.

Here’s the thing:

If you genuinely wish to up the ante, you cannot “not do well” in Algebra. You cannot say that you will try to cover it up in the other three sections.

So buckle up and let’s do this thing!

We’ll give you the lowdown on five basic tips to improve your performance in Algebra. By the time you finish reading this blog, you should have a fair idea of what you can do to score well in this area of GRE Quant.

Why is Algebra Important?

Before we answer that question, here’s an interesting fact about the origin of the word ‘algebra’. It comes from the Arabic term, ‘al-jabr’ which means the reunion of broken parts. How interesting, right?!

Questions based on Algebra account for around 15% to 20% of the questions in a GRE Quant section. So, this means you should expect 3 to 4 questions per section to be based on Algebra.

Hence, considering that there are either two or three Quant sections on the GRE, you should expect to see anywhere between 6 and 12 Algebra questions on one entire GRE test. That is a BIG chunk of the questions!

Further, GRE Quant Algebra covers 5 basic sub-categories:

  1. Linear & Simultaneous equations
  2. Quadratic equations
  3. Inequalities (Linear & Quadratic)
  4. Absolute values
  5. Functions

Of these, equations and inequalities get the highest weightage in terms of importance. Questions from functions and absolute values are relatively easier and fewer in number.

With this approximate picture in mind, let’s move on to exploring 5 super-useful tips to help you boost your GRE Quant score.

1. Start Out Positive

We cannot stress enough on the importance of starting out with a positive mindset about GRE Quant or even just algebra.

We know it is easier said than done, especially considering how much everyone seems to hate algebra.

And we know you’re probably thinking, “Dude, ‘positive’ is the last thing I can bring myself to feel about Algebra.” Trust us, we know the feeling. If you simply cannot feel positive about Algebra, try to at least develop a neutral perspective towards it.

Starting off with a negative attitude and thinking about all the horrible experiences you’ve shared with Algebra is the worst thing you could do for yourself right now. It just takes a few wrong answers for this feeling to spiral out of control and you will be back in familiar territory again cursing Algebra and saying “Algebra sucks, big time!”

And you’re not going to score a 165+ with that attitude. 

Instead, if you start off by telling yourself, “Okay, let’s just give this a shot,” a few wrong answers will only end up fortifying your determination to get the next few questions right. 

Every time you pick up the book to solve Algebra questions, remember that the only score you have to beat is your own previous score. 

If you got 5 right answers out of 10 yesterday, all you have to do today is get 6 answers right instead. 

This will help you stay calm and collected. 

With a calm and collected mindset, you’ll be able to perform better on every consecutive question, too.

2. Get Equations and Inequalities Sorted

Having a good grasp of the basic concepts is fundamental to doing well in any area of study. It’s no different with Algebra. 

If you want to be good at solving equations, you need to know some standard equations which are universally true.

Similarly, if you want to solve more inequality problems correctly, you need to be good at reproducing the basic concepts of inequalities. 

Simple things are not so simple, because we usually undermine their importance. 

For example, look at algebraic identities. 

How many algebraic identities can you rattle out in under a minute?

We’re not kidding, this is dead serious! Try it! Here’s what we came up with:

1. (a+b)^2 = a^2 + b^2 + 2ab
2. (a-b)^2 = a^2 + b^2 – 2ab
3. a^2 – b^2 = (a+b) (a-b)
4. (a+b+c)^2 = a^2 + b^2 + c^2 + 2ab + 2bc + 2ac
5. (a+b)^3 = a^3 + b^3 + 3ab (a+b)
6. (a-b)^3 = a^3 – b^3 – 3ab (a-b)
7. a^3 – b^3 = (a-b) (a^2 + ab + b^2)
8. a^3 + b^3 = (a+b) (a^2 – ab + b^2)

Wondering how knowing a few equations will help you? Let’s take a sample question to help you figure that out. 🙂

Sample Question:

3. Don’t Solve Everything

No, we’re not out of our minds – hear us out! 

We know it makes us sound cuckoo, advising you not to try and solve everything when solving stuff is literally all that’s expected of you. 

But here’s the thing:

Solving is NOT what’s expected. 

Think about it – GRE Quant is about finding the answer to every math question thrown your way, sure, but solving it is not the only way to find the answer! 

Most of us work on a more or less ‘automatic’ mode when it comes to dealing with math. We just get into calculations without over-analyzing the given question. And that works out well most times. 

However, that will work against you when it comes to GRE Quant. 

While Math requires solving, the GRE test doesn’t provide enough time for you to actually do that every time. Remember, the GRE doesn’t care how you arrive at a solution, they only care about whether you get to the right one in time. 

As we mentioned in our blog on GRE Quant, ‘Quant’ means much more than Math. Don’t approach it like Math. 

Here’s what you can do instead of solving, from time to time: 

Eliminate wrong answer options till you’re left with just one possible answer. Let’s consider an example to demonstrate this. 

Sample Question:

Solve for the range of x : 16 + x > 8x – 12

A. x > 5
B. x > 10
C. x = 4
D. x > 4
E. x < 4


You know the usual way of solving this inequality-based question. Let’s try it our way:

To begin eliminating the available answer choices, we always start by plugging Option C into the question. Contact us to find out why

In this case, Option C is x = 4. Plugging that into the inequality, we get: 

LHS: 16 + 4 = 20

RHS: 32 – 12 = 20

In short, LHS = RHS. Given that this is supposed to be an inequality-based problem, Option C is clearly not the right answer. 

As the next logical step, let’s try option D, which says x > 4. What’s the first number that comes to mind when you consider x > 4? 

For us, it is 5. So, we’ll plug that in to see if it works, but you can choose whatever number you want. 

With x > 4 (or x =5 in this case), 

LHS: 16 + 5 = 21 

RHS: 40 – 12 = 28 

So, LHS < RHS. Meaning Option D is not the answer, either. 

Consider this: if x > 4 gave us LHS < RHS, surely the values given in options A and B will also give us the same result. Thanks to this, we can not only eliminate option D, but also options A and B. 

With A, B, C, and D, all eliminated, we’re only left with Option E, which HAS to be the answer.

Hope our little demo here has given you enough reason to believe that we’re not crazy and that solving everything is actually not necessary. 

By the way, a word of caution here:

Don’t think that we are advocating the method of ‘trial and error’ as a substitute to conceptual depth. This trickery will only work with MCQs, and inequalities will appear on the test in all forms including quantitative comparison and numeric entry.

Sure, you should play smart wherever you can and reduce your workload, but rest assured, this cannot be done unless your basic concepts are clear.

4. Don’t Get Overwhelmed by Word Problems

By ‘word problems’, we mean those questions which have statements that look more like an AWA essay. 

Sometimes, you wonder whether the problem is testing you on your knowledge of Math or Reading Comprehension! 

Honestly, though, your RC skills are also being tested here. If you don’t manage to make sense of the question statements, you will end up messing up the equation and hence, the answer. 

So, the best thing to do when you encounter highly verbose word problems is to keep calm and not get overwhelmed by the situation. Remind yourself that you have tackled RC passages in Verbal which had far greater verbiage. 

Sounds logical, right? 

The thing is this: 

If you start freaking out because you can’t make sense of the question right away, you’ll lower your chances of figuring out what it means within the time limit you have. Besides, none of us is Shakespeare, we all have trouble with complicated language. 

It’s okay if you don’t immediately understand. Take a moment, sip on some water and take a deep breath. 

Remember this: 

A lengthy word problem is like a Paper Masala Dosa. If you try eating it in one bite, you’re going to choke on it. So, take your time and eat your question masala dosa one bite at a time – interpret the word problem in parts, develop variables and then integrate the parts into a whole.

That actually brings us quite conveniently to the next part of this article!

5. How to Develop the Right Variables

In word problems on equations/inequations, you get the right answer only if you have framed the right equation/inequation.

Most of the time, people don’t have issues with solving equations – that’s the easy part. What’s difficult is developing equations/inequations from word problems. For those of you who just went, “YEAH DUDE!” in your heads, here are five simple steps to help you decode word problems into the appropriate math sums!

Step 1
Scan the entire question by quickly going through it to get a gist of what the question demands as an answer. Your sole aim here is to figure out what the question is asking, forget all the data it gives to help you do so. 

Step 2
Map the important pieces of information from your first reading. This is the stage where you pay attention to the data provided in the question. When you do this, you’ll have a rough idea of what the variables could be and also what the required mathematical operations could be. 

Step 3
Develop the variable/variables based on the mapping. 

Step 4
Using the mathematical operations described in the statements, connect the variables and form an equation. 

Step 5
Solve the equation. 

The number of unknown factors generally represents the number of variables. 

Words like more than, less than etc., represent specific mathematical operations which form the connections between the variables, represented using the symbols =, >, < , ≤, and ≥. 

The following table is a ready reckoner to convert certain phrases into their mathematical counterparts:

Let’s look at a sample question to understand how this can be done.

Sample Question:

At a fruit stand, bananas can be purchased for $0.15 each and oranges for $0.20 each. At these rates, a bag of bananas and oranges were purchased for $3.80. If the bag contained 21 pieces of fruit, how many of the pieces were oranges?

A. 8
B. 10
C. 13
D. 15
E. 16


The unknown values here are the number of bananas and the number of oranges. Hence, these are the variables which have to be assumed. 

Let the number of bananas be ‘x’ and the number of oranges be ‘y’. 

Here’s what we know:

Cost of each banana = $ 0.15 and the cost of each orange = $ 0.20. 

If 1 banana costs $0.15, 2 bananas cost $0.30 i.e. 2 x $ 0.15. Right? 

Applying a similar analogy, we can say that x bananas cost $0.15x and y oranges cost $0.20y. When we add these two individual costs, we arrive at the total cost. Combine this with what’s already given and this is what you get: 

$0.15x + $0.20 y = $3.80 

Since we have two variables, we need two independent equations in order to find unique values for each. It’s quite easy to obtain the second equation because we already know that there were 21 pieces of fruit in the bag. Mathematically, this is written as: 

x + y = 21 

What do we do next? If you answered “Solve both the equations”, then you have forgotten point #3 of this blog. 

As mentioned before, we start by substituting Option C in both the equations and check if it works out. If it does, then that’s our answer. 

Remember that we’re trying to calculate the number of oranges. So, the given answer options are talking about the variable ‘y’. As per Option C, y = 13; therefore, x = 8. Hence, 

$0.15 x 8 = $1.20 and $0.20 x 13 = $2.60 

$1.20 + $2.60 =$3.80 

Well, what do you know! Both equations are satisfied if y = 13. Hence, option C is the right answer.


In conclusion, the idea is to keep your mind relaxed and be aware of everything you see on the question paper. This will help you with GRE Quant Algebra, Geometry, Arithmetic, as well as Data Interpretation.

So, that is about it, folks! We hope that you found this blog useful in your preparation for Quant on the GRE. We look forward to hearing from you about how you incorporated these techniques in your prep and how they helped you.

Feel free to leave any comments and feedback in the comments section below.

  • October, 19th, 2017
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All You Need to Know About GRE Quant (Geometry)

Reading Time: 4 minutes

In GRE, Geometry takes up approximately 15% to 20% of the Quant section. That would be approximately 6 to 8 questions, not including the experimental questions.


Geometry is a vast topic in Math including all kinds of shapes, measurements, theorems, etc., but in GRE Quant, it is restricted to basic shapes (triangles, quadrilateral, etc.) and straight lines in geometry. They rarely test curves (parabola) in co-ordinate geometry. GRE Geometry mostly tests the visual skills and basic measurements (area, angles, perimeter, etc.)


Most of the Indian students do well in GRE Geometry because they are good in basic shapes and formulae.


What is tested in Geometry?


What is tested in Geometry can be split into three broad buckets:

   • Lines and Angles

   • Polygons (triangles, Quadrilaterals)

   • Circles and 3D

   • Co-ordinate geometry



I) Lines and Angles


Lines and Angles test your skills at:

   • Parallel and perpendicular lines

   • Angles of two or more parallel lines

   • Properties of parallel and perpendicular lines


Sample question


In the figure above, what is the value of r + s?

   1. 112

   2. 118

   3. 122

   4. 128

   5. 142




The sum of the interior angles of a triangle is 180 degrees

So, in triangle ACD, angle CAD = 52 degrees

Since /CAB =/CAD + /DAB,

90 = 52+/DAB

So /DAB = 38

Since r = 90

So r+s = 128

So the answer is D.



II) Polygons (Convex)


A GRE student should be aware of all the basic rules of triangles and quadrilaterals (basic polygons).


Polygons test your skills at:


   • Sum of the interior and exterior angles of a polygon

   • Area and perimeter of a triangle.

   • Different types of triangles (with both sides and angle wise)

   • Special triangles 30 – 60 – 90 and isosceles right angle triangle.

   • Similar triangles.

   • Third Side Rule of a triangle

   • Area and perimeter of a Quadrilateral

   • Different types of Quadrilaterals (special quadrilaterals).

   • Angles and Diagonals properties in special quadrilaterals


Sample question


If 3 and 8 are the lengths of two sides of a triangular region, which of the following can be the length of the third side?

    I. 5        II. 8       III. 11


   1. II only

   2. III only

   3. I and II only

   4. II and III only

   5. I, II and III




Remember the third side rule of a triangle.

The difference of the other two sides < Third Side of any triangle < Sum of other two sides

So here, the third side has to be between.

5 < Third Side < 11

Only statement II is true.

So the answer is A.



III) Circles and 3D


Circles in the GRE test your skills at:

   • Finding the area and circumference of the circle

   • Finding the arc length and area covered by an arc (sector area)

   • Central angle theorem

   • Tangents

   • Chords

   • Inscribing polygons (circle inside a square or rectangle, or vice versa)


GRE Three dimensional geometry, tests only the basic shapes like rectangular solids, cylinder and sphere.


3D in the GRE tests your skills at:

   • Volume and surface area of the cube and cuboids

   • Volume and surface area of the cylinder and sphere

   • Diagonal and center of rectangular solids, cylinder and sphere


Sample Question


In the above circle, with center O if 0 < x < 40, what are all possible values of y?

   • 40 < y < 60

   • 50 < y < 70

   • 60 < y < 90

   • 70 < y < 90

   • y > 70




From the diagram:

OPQ is an isosceles triangle because OP = OQ as they are the radius of the given circle.

So, /OPQ = /PQO = y

We know that the sum of the interior angles of a triangle is 180.


2y + x = 180

0 < x < 40

2y > 140

y > 70

Also, 2y < 180

So y < 90

Therefore, 70<y<90

So the answer is D.



IV) Co – ordinate Geometry


Co – ordinate Geometry in GRE tests your skills at:

   • Equation of a line

   • Distance between two points

   • Slope of a line (also slope of parallel and perpendicular lines)

   • Finding x and y intercepts

   • Special lines passing through the origin(y = x and y = -x)

   • Reflection of a point across x and y axes

   • Midpoint of a line

   • Intersection of two lines


Sample Question


The vertices of a square s have coordinates (–1, –2), (–1, 1), (2, 1) and (2, –2), respectively. What are the coordinates of the points where the diagonals of s intersect?

   1. (1/2, 1/2)

   2. (1/2, –1/2)

   3. (3/2, 1/2)

   4. (3/2, –1/2)

   5. (√3/2, 1/2)




As the vertices points given are of a square, all sides should be equal.

Let’s plot these points in the co-ordinate plane:

From this diagram, we can see that the diagonals intersect each other in the fourth quadrant at (1/2, -1/2).

So the answer is B.


GRE online Course Crackverbal

  • October, 19th, 2017
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All you need to know about the new GRE

Reading Time: 15 minutes

(27 questions that all GRE test-takers have and do not know whom to ask!)


Here are the list of questions!


1. Why are GRE scores important?

2. Why was the GRE exam created?

3. Why should you take the GRE over GATE?

4. Why should you take the GRE over the GMAT?

5. Why should you take the GRE over CAT?

6. Why are an increasing number of B-Schools accepting the GRE?

7. What is considered a good GRE score? How difficult is the GRE?

8. What is the eligibility for taking the GRE?

9. What is the test structure of the GRE? What is the GRE Syllabus?

10. When is the best time to take the GRE?

11. What are the average GRE scores? (GRE cutoff)

12. Where are the GRE test centers in India?

13. What are the scores that GRE provides?

14. What happens if you are absent on the exam day?

15. How is the test administered?

16. How long is the GRE test?

17. How does the computer-based GRE test work?

18. Can I use a calculator while taking the test?

19. How much does it cost to take the GRE?

20. How do I book my GRE test?

21. How do I cancel my GRE score?

22. How do I reinstate my cancelled score?

23. How do I reschedule my GRE exam ?

24. How long are the GRE scores valid?

25. For multiple answer questions, if I get any of the answers correct, do I receive partial credit?

26. How do I prepare for the GRE?

27. How are GRE scores calculated?


Why are GRE scores important?


Your GRE score is similar to your IQ. Admission committees in any university will immediately judge you as being ‘super smart’, smart or above average based on what your score is.

Top universities around the world want to accept only ‘super smart’ students, and this  translates into a 320+ GRE score. All the universities in the US, UK, Europe, Singapore and Australia consider the GRE as a standard measure for evaluating an applicant’s ability to cope with the curriculum.

Admission committees in any university will immediately judge you as being ‘super smart’, smart or above average based on what your score is. 

The GRE is especially important for international students, as often, their academic and work profile cannot be verified thoroughly.



Why was the GRE exam created?


If we had to trace the history of how the GRE came into being,  we would be heading way back to the end of the second world war. Yes, that’s how further back the story goes!


The Educational Testing service (ETS) was given the task of creating an exam that would act as a universal measure of the verbal reasoning, quantitative reasoning, analytical writing, and critical thinking skills of students, acquired over a long period of learning.


This endeavour in the year 1949, gave birth to the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) as we know it today.



Why should you take the GRE over GATE?


The purpose of taking these two exams – GRE and GATE, is completely different.

You cannot apply for Master’s programs in Indian universities with a GRE score. Similarly, you cannot send your GATE rank to a university abroad and expect admission based on it. A choice between GRE and GATE, is therefore a choice between a Master’s in India and a Master’s abroad.

If you have a strong academic and professional profile, and hunger for success, you should probably take up the GRE and apply for a Master’s abroad. While a Master’s in India will cost you much less than an MS in the US, the academic value and the amount of leverage the international Master’s program will give to your career is incomparable. 


If you have a strong academic and professional profile, and hunger for success, you should probably take up the GRE and apply for a Master’s abroad.

In India, there are only a few institutes such as IITs, IISC, and the IIMs which offer world class higher education that can give a substantial boost to your career. However, the limited seats make it very difficult to get admission in these institutes.


Why should you take the GRE over the GMAT?



The GMAT exam is designed specially for applicants to business programs.

Hence, if  you are applying for a business program, and the college you want to apply to is amongst the only few institutions that do not accept the GRE, you would have no choice but to take the GMAT.

Hard luck!

However, if you are applying for an MS program, your GMAT scores will not be accepted, so you need not bother to take the GMAT.

As the GMAT assesses business school applicants, it is different from the GRE, which is taken by students applying for programs in a variety of subjects.

For example, there is an extra section in the GMAT, known as Integrated Reasoning, which requires the test taker to analyze a collection of data and interpret the data to answer a set of questions. GMAT quant is also more difficult than GRE quant.

The GRE gives you the freedom to apply to MS programs and MBA programs, thus providing a unique opportunity to engineers with a few years of experience, who are not able to decide between an MS and an MBA.  

Some students who are more confident about their verbal ability than their quant skills also tend to take the GRE, although they have decided to applyonly to Business schools.


 The GRE gives you the freedom to apply to MS programs and MBA programs, thus providing a unique opportunity to engineers with a few years of experience, who are not able to decide between an MS and an MBA. 

Some students who are more confident about their verbal ability than their quant skills also tend to take the GRE, although they have decided to applyonly to Business schools.



Why should you take the GRE over CAT?


CAT is an exam for admission into Indian Bchools. IIIMs, and most tier 2 colleges in India accept CAT scores for admission.

Only few institutes in the country, including ISB and IIM-A, which offer the best Business programs in India, accept the GRE.  The GRE is an exam for admission into various Master’s programs abroad, including some  business programs.  If you aspire  to do  an MBA abroad, CAT will be of no use.

Why are an increasing number of B-Schools accepting the GRE?



When the GRE is not designed to be a test for management programs and GMAT is, why is the GRE being accepted at B-Schools?


The GRE is being accepted at B Schools to benefit both the applicants and the institutions by accepting more scores from a wider range of students, providing more options to both.


Let’s take a look at Indian School of Business (ISB).


The number of students admitted to ISB has increased from 345 to 908 in the last 10 years. The threefold increase in the number of admitted students has presented a big problem for the institute, that of maintaining the quality of admitted students.


To get some clarity on how this quality can be maintained, let’s look at what educational institutes call the Acceptance rate.

The number of students admitted to ISB has increased from 345 to 908 in the last 10 years. 

Acceptance rate = Number of people who are offered / Number of applicants to the program X 100


In order to keep the acceptance rates the same in 2017, ISB would need three times the applicant pool to choose from, compared to the applicant poolin 2006. Acceptance rate correlates directly to the quality of the students accepted.


In India, every year, four students appear for GRE compared to one GMAT test taker. Hence the move of opening up the gates to GRE test takers greatly increases the applicant pool.


What is considered a good GRE score? How difficult is the GRE?



The GRE is scored between 260-340.

This means, even if you get all the questions wrong (which would be pretty tragic), you would still get 130 in two sections, making it 260.


An extraordinary few from around the world have been able to score 340 since the new scoring system was implemented in 2011. The first person in India to score 340 was Ashwini Nene from Mumbai. Here’s the article on her exceptional achievement.


If you score anything above 320, you can apply to any of the premier institutes from around the world.

A 330+ score sort of establishes that you have exceptional skills, both quantitative and verbal.


The latest report by ETS provides the following information about the percentiles:


This means that if you score 165 in Verbal, only 5% of the entire GRE test taking population would score higher than you. In the quant section, the same score would mean that 11% of the population scored higher than you.

An extraordinary few from around the world have been able to score 340 since the new scoring system was implemented in 2011. The first person in India to score 340 was Ashwini Nene from Mumbai.

A little indulgence in maths with the above numbers tells us that getting a 170 on both the papers is possible by only three in every 10 thousand test takers. Combine that with a perfect score on the Analytical Writing section, and that makes it three in a million.


Similarly getting 165 in both the papers with a total of 330, would put you  in the top 55 amongst 10 thousand test takers.


Depending on how scary or assuring those numbers sound to you, you can decide on how difficult the exam is.


What is the eligibility for taking the GRE?

There are no specific eligibility criteria for taking the GRE. However, if you want to apply to a university with the score, you have to fulfill the eligibility criteria of the specific program you want to pursue.

What is the test structure of  the GRE? What is the GRE Syllabus?


GRE consists of five sections that are independent of one another. You need to complete an entire section before moving to the next. Within a section, the test takers can go back and forth between questions.

For your convenience, we have authored separate blogs with sample questions on each topic that is tested in the GRE. Here are the links to the blogs:

Quantitative Reasoning:

   Data Analysis

Verbal Reasoning:

   Text Completion
   Sentence Equivalence
   Reading Comprehension

Analytical Writing Analysis (AWA) is a section where the test taker is required to write two essays. This blog on AWA will give you a clear idea of what to expect, and how to approach this section of the GRE.

When is the best time to take the GRE?



GRE scores are valid for five years;  hence, the exam can be taken at the convenience of the test taker. However, if you are applying to a college soon, you need to plan when you will take the exam, accordingly. Typically, colleges accept applications twice a year. These application acceptance times are known as the Fall intake (August – September) and the Spring intake (Feb-March) respectively.

If you want to apply during the Fall intake you should take the exam latest by June, which will leave you with two months to work on your application essays. Similarly, for the Spring intake, you should have your GRE scores with you latest by December.

While scholarships are awarded during Fall and Spring intakes, there is a general opinion that applying for the Fall intake gives you a better chance at receiving scholarships.



What are the average GRE scores? (GRE cutoff)


The GRE score is only one of the factors that goes into the selection of an applicant for a particular program. Even if you have a score that is above 330, it does not guarantee admission into one of the world renowned institutes, such as Stanford or MIT. Universities examine your academic and professional background to make sure that you would fit in well with some of the brightest minds from around the world. Unlike universities in India, for example Delhi University  with its 96% criterion, a ‘cut-off’ is never specified by these institutes abroad. However, the GRE scores of the students admitted each year are published, and can be used to measure the quality of students admitted to the university. This information will provide you with the metrics you need to understand how high a GRE score you must aim for.

A high GRE scores is especially useful for students who have an average academic profile as it helps them ensure that they can keep up with the curriculum.

While scholarships are awarded during Fall and Spring intakes, there is a general opinion that applying for the Fall intake gives you a better chance at receiving scholarships. 

Here is a list of of the average GRE scores of the students admitted to some of best institutions in the world:



(Average Score)

(Minimum Score)

(Average Score)

Massachusetts Institute of Technology




Stanford University




University of California Berkeley




University of Illinois – Urbana Champaign




Carnegie Mellon University




Georgia Technological University




University of Texas Austin




University of Michigan Ann Arbor




Cornell University




Purdue University




University of Southern California




Texas A&M University




University of California San Diego




California Technological University




Princeton University




University of Wisconsin Madison




Columbia University




University of Maryland College




Northwestern University




University of Minnesota – Twin Cities



University of Washington



Ohio State University



Duke University



North Carolina State University



University of Colorado Boulder



University of California Irvine



Arizona State University



Iowa State University



Northeastern University



University at Buffalo – SUNY



University of Connecticut



University of Illinois–Chicago



Colorado State University



Illinois Institute of Technology



Clemson University



University of Central Florida



University of Cincinnati



Santa Clara University



Santa Clara University



Mississippi State University



University of North Carolina



Michigan Technological University



University of Texas Arlington



Where are the GRE test centers in India?

GRE has test centers in all the major cities in the country. You can visit the ETS website  and look for test date availability, and book your date.
For a detailed list of the test centers in India, head over to this blog. – Test centers in India


What are the scores that GRE provides?



Three scores are reported on the GRE General Test:


  •  – A Verbal Reasoning score is reported on a 130–170 score scale, in 1-point increments.
  •  – A Quantitative Reasoning score is reported on a 130–170 score scale, in 1-point increments.
  •  – An Analytical Writing score is reported on a 0–6 score level, in half-point increments.



What happens if you are absent on the exam day?



If you do not turn up for the exam, you have to forfeit your exam fees. You will have to book your exam for another date, and pay the exam fees for it.




How is the test administered?


The computer-delivered test is offered year round at Prometric® test centers, and also offered
on specific dates at additional testing locations outside of the Prometric test center network.

In areas of the world where the computer-delivered test is not available, a paper-delivered test is administered up to three times a year. India is not included in this list.


How long is the GRE test?


The total testing time for the computer-delivered test is three hours and 45 minutes, plus short breaks.



How does the computer-based GRE test work?


You might have never taken a adaptive computer-based test before, but do not let that fact affect you in an adverse way. The test begins with either a quant or a verbal section, the difficulty of which may range from easy to difficult. Based on your performance in the first section the difficulty of the subsequent quant and verbal sections will be decided by the test.

This means, that if a test taker performs well in the first verbal section, the next verbal sections will have a higher difficulty level.

However, your performance in the first Verbal section will not affect the difficulty level of the quant sections and vice-versa.

The scoring for the test, takes into consideration the total number of questions answered correctly across the two sections, as well as the difficulty level of the section.


If a test taker performs well in the first verbal section, the next verbal sections will have a higher difficulty level.



Can I use a calculator while taking  the test?


The computer-delivered GRE General Test includes an on-screen calculator for use in the Quantitative Reasoning section to reduce the emphasis on computation, and to focus more on reasoning skills. The calculator has four functions (addition, subtraction, multiplication and division) and a square root.


How much does it cost to take the GRE?


The cost for the exam is USD 205, which is around INR 13,140.


How do I book my GRE test?



Visit the ETS website and create a ‘My GRE Account’.

After you have set up your account, you can:

Set your test date
View scores after the exam
Reschedule or cancel the test taken
Send out scores to required Universities
Register for the free GRE Services
If you already have a TOEFL account, you can use the same account to log on to the ETS website. Depending on your study plan and the date and time that would work best for you, choose the date and time for your exam.



How do I cancel my GRE score?



Until a few years ago, canceling your GRE score was sometimes a good idea because all GRE scores used to be reported to the selected graduate programs. One bad score could seriously mess up your chances of getting admitted.
Hence any event that interfered with your performance would be a cause to seriously consider canceling your scores.

However the recently introduced GRE Score Select lets you select which scores you would want to send to a particular program you are applying to. This change means that the test takers need not cancel the scores to avoid them from being reported.

However if you still want to cancel your scores, GRE still gives you that option.
After you have answered the last question on the test, you will be given the option to cancel the score. A cancellation cancels the whole test, and not only the section you just completed.
If  the Quant section went well but the last Verbal section left you in shatters, do not cancel the score hoping that your Quant score will still show up! That will not happen.

The exam fees will not be refunded to you on cancellation.

If you accept the scores, the scores will be displayed on the screen. You cannot cancel your scores after you have viewed them.

After you have viewed your scores, you can choose the colleges to which you would like to send your scores.

GRE Score Select lets you select which scores you would want to send to a particular program you are applying to.



How do I reinstate my cancelled score?


If you accidentally, or in a ‘sudden bout of self-doubt’, cancelled the score, you can get them reinstated by registering your request within 60 days of the exam, using your account.

While registering your request for reinstatement, you need to pay a fee of USD 50 .


How do I reschedule my GRE exam ?

If you feel you need more preparation time, or if you have a  personal emergency, you can visit the ETS website and get your exam rescheduled.

However there are a few conditions you need to consider:
– You can reschedule your exam no later than four days before the exam, trying to reschedule it at any later point will make you forfeit your entire exam fees.

– An additional 50$ will be charged for rescheduling provided that you reschedule the exam at least 4 days prior to the exam.

– Rescheduling is only permitted with an exam year (Starts July 1st – Ends June 30th)



How long are the GRE scores valid?


Your GRE score is valid for five years from the date you take the exam. With the score, you can apply to any college within  five  years.

This feature provides a great opportunity to working professionals who are not immediately applying to a university, but have plans to do so in the near future. It also provides the applicant with time  to build up his or her profile over the next couple of years and make it awesome enough to gain admission into a Stanford or a Harvard.

For example, if you are currently working in a technical role but would like to shift to marketing, it would be wise to get a few years of experience in that domain before applying to a world-class university. 

In this scenario, you can take the GRE, and apply with the score after gathering some experience in marketing. This will not only improve your chances of gaining admission, but will also positively affect your employability after you graduate.

Your GRE score is valid for five years from the date you take the exam.



For multiple answer questions, if I get any of the answers correct, do I receive partial credit?



For questions with multiple answers, all of your selections must be correct in order to receive credit for answering the question correctly.


How do I prepare for the GRE?

The shortest answer to this question:  “If you are aiming for a good score, you will need a plan!”

A plan that is feasible, and one to which you are committed.

A detailed answer demands some space and peace of mind, for it to sink in, and be effective.


How are GRE scores calculated?


Three scores are reported on the GRE Test:


  • a Verbal Reasoning score reported on a 130–170 score scale which has 1-point increments
  • a Quantitative Reasoning score reported on a 130–170 score scale which has 1-point increments
  • an Analytical Writing score reported on a 0–6 score scale which has  half-point increments

No score will be reported if the test taker doesn’t answer any question.

We hope you found this blog useful.


Please spread its value by sharing the blog  on your social media channels, and letting your friends know about it.


Also, I would love to know if you have any other questions about GRE, so go ahead, and let me know in the Comments section.



That’s all folks!






  • July, 18th, 2017
  • Posted in

The Ultimate Guide to Preparing for the GRE Verbal Section

GRE Verbal Preparation CrackVerbal
Reading Time: 8 minutes

Are you looking for techniques and material to crack the GRE with a 160+ GRE Verbal score?


Are you looking for a no-nonsense approach to get your dream GRE Verbal score?


Are you getting overwhelmed with all the advice and looking for simple GRE Verbal strategies?


If your answer was a “yes” to any of the above questions, you have come to the right page! Let me guess! You said “yes” to all the three questions!


In this comprehensive article, we provide you with all the information required for you to prepare for the GRE Verbal section.


The GRE Syllabus includes the following three sections:

1) Reading Comprehension

2) Sentence Equivalence

3) Text Completion


In this article, we will explore each of the three sections, and provide you with the right tools and materials to solve them.


Reading Comprehension (RC)



Students typically fall into two categories:

 1. The ones who worry too much about RC

 2. The ones who don’t care much about RC


In either case, you are wrong.


RC need not be feared; at the same time, it is important to understand this section well. The biggest mistake GRE test-takers make on the RC is that they approach the passages as they would approach reading in daily life. They end up spending way too much time reading the passage, and then end up getting rushed while answering the questions.


Reading Comprehension need not be feared; at the same time it is important to understand this section well.



 Here are a few articles that explain the basic rules to follow while solving the Reading Comprehension questions under the verbal section of the GRE:


5 Commandments of Reading Comprehension


Reading Comprehension Strategies


Sentence Equivalence (SE)



Let us understand this section by actually solving a question:


Most young children are often  ______ to old stories.


1) indifferent

2) empathetic

3) impertinent

4) sympathetic

5) apathetic

6) resistant


Can there be two definite answers here?




Children could be either “indifferent” or “apathetic” (both meaning lack of emotion) towards the old stories as they cannot relate to them.




Children could be either “empathic” or “sympathetic” (both meaning ability to understand the meaning of others) because children are able to relate well to old stories.


What’s the problem? Well, there is no context to fix on one correct response.


What about this one?


Most young children are often  ______ to old stories as they are unable to relate to the characters and lifestyles of olden times.


1) Indifferent

2) Empathetic

3) Impertinent

4) Sympathetic

5) Apathetic

6) Resistant


This though has! And the answer is definitely indifferent and apathetic.


Why? Because the sentence qualified exactly what CAN and CANNOT fit the context of the blank.


This is true ALL The time. Remember that the answer to what can fill the blank WILL BE PROVIDED in the sentence itself. Your job is as simple as finding out what this information is!




Remember that the answer to what can fill the blank WILL BE PROVIDED in the sentence itself.




Text Completion (TC)



Text Completion tests you on two things, your ability to comprehend short passages, and your ability to use vocabulary in context. Let us look at these individually:

a) Your ability to comprehend short passages


You will be given a sentence or two, with blanks, and you need to understand what the sentence is trying to say. A lot of processing happens in your brain when you read sentences with the keywords. When the keywords are missing, your brain will find it hard to process the sentences.


Moreover, the sentences in the GRE Text Completion section are typically very   heavy. This makes the task even harder.


Here is a blog on Text Completion to get you started:

Understanding Text Completion on the GRE



Sample this:


It is refreshing to read a book about our planet by an author who does not allow facts to be BLANK by politics: well aware of the political disputes about the effects of human activities on climate and biodiversity, this author does not permit them to BLANK his comprehensive description of what we know about our biosphere. He emphasizes the enormous gaps in our knowledge, the sparseness of our observations, and the BLANK, calling attention to the many aspects of planetary evolution that must be better understood before we can accurately diagnose the condition of our planet.


This isn’t the stuff you read on a nice Sunday morning.


This isn’t stuff you would be reading any time!


And the GRE knows that!


Text Completion tests you on two things, your ability to comprehend short passages, and your ability to use vocabulary in context.


b) Your ability to use Vocabulary in context



Let us take the word “flag”.


Think of what comes to your mind!




Did you think of the national flag of India?


Let me give you a few alternative meanings to the same word:


 – Mark (an item) for attention or treatment in a specified way.

Example: “the spellcheck program flags any words that are not in its dictionary”


– Draw attention to.

Example: “cancer was flagged up as a priority area for research”


– Signal to a vehicle or driver to stop, especially by waving one’s arm.

Example: “she flagged down a police patrol car”


Get the idea?


The GRE  will give you a sentence, and you need to pick a meaning of “flag” that is most appropriate in that particular context.


The blanks come in three flavours: Single, Double and Triple blanks.


Single blanks have five answer options while Double and Triple blanks have three answer options for each blank.


Needless to say, the lengthier the paragraph, and more the number of blanks, the more challenging it gets!



The GRE will give you a word within a sentence, and you need to pick a meaning of the word that is most appropriate in that particular context.



But wait! That’s not all.


A point is awarded only if ALL the blanks are filled correctly.


No marks for partially correct answers!


This means that you might have spent a minute reading the paragraph multiple times and gotten two of the three blanks right,  but if you missed out on just ONE blank, you will end up getting ZERO for that question.


That’s right: Nada!


Let us try solving this by looking at an example:


i) Single-blank Text Completion Question


Emma Puntington writes across generational boundaries, making the past so __________ that our belief that the present is the true locus of experience seems questionable.










What about the past could make you question if you are really in the present?

Maybe something about the past that is so believable that makes the present unbelievable?


If the past were to be complex or remote (distant/far off) then wouldn’t the present be more believable? Also if it is mundane (boring) or mysterious (hard to understand), wouldn’t we want the present to be believable?


Hence the right answer is vivid.


Let’s see what the word means:


GRE Verbal Preparation CrackVerbal



Does this makes sense?


Yes, it does, because the author made the past look so believable that the present looks almost unbelievable.


ii) Double-blank Text Completion Question:


Vain and prone to violence, Caravaggio could not handle success: the more his __________ as an artist increased, the more __________ his life became.



Blank I

Blank II








So Caravaggio was not a good guy: Vain and prone to violence.


Now, we need to understand which one to begin with, between the two blanks. Let us start with the second one (there are reasons behind it – which we will get into, a little later).


So would something in his life be positive? Like providential (favorable / auspicious) or dispassionate (impartial / rational).


Or would it be negative? Like the word “tumultuous” (confused / disorderly).


If you picked the latter, you are right.


Let us now move to the first blank. Remember you are given another clue: he could not handle his success. So, do you want to pick something that says he stopped drinking (temperance) or became famous for the wrong reasons (notoriety)?


Or do you want to pick something that says he gained fame for achievement in his field (eminence)?


If you picked the latter, you got this question correct!



iii) Triple-blank Text Completion Question:


Although the provision of food to wild chimpanzees made them less __________ and easier to study, it was found to __________ their normal social patterns, thereby rendering the implications of the study __________ .



Blank I

Blank II

Blank III











Again, you need to wisely pick the first blank you would like to begin with. 


Let us start with the first blank. Less of WHAT would make these chimpanzees easier to study?


If you missed out on just ONE blank, you will end up getting ZERO for that question.


Interesting, and manageable don’t make sense because both indicate it would be harder to study if they become less interesting (boring) or less manageable (uncontrollable).


So the first blank has to be bashful, which means shy. Makes sense? Because if they are less shy they would be more participative in this experiment.


Note that the sentence starts with the word ALTHOUGH – which is a contrast word. So we need to see what would be the downside if they are easier to study. Something negative, right?


So you expect that their normal behavior is neither promoted nor reinforced but rather disrupted. Hence that is our second blank.


If the behavior is unnatural that would make the study incorrect. The synonym for that is dubious. Our correct answer!



Here is a great video that teaches you more Text Completion:


Practicing GRE Verbal Questions



So did that whet your appetite?


Kicked about solving more GRE questions? Want to learn  more concepts?


Here are a few options:


a) Sign up for a GRE Online Course or GRE Classroom Program


If you liked what you saw on this blog, you can also  check our Online GRE Course that includes ninja strategies to tackle all sections of GRE Verbal.


If you are in Bangalore or Chennai and would like to opt for a more conventional classroom program, we got you covered there too!


b) Pick up a book


You can pick up a book that contains real (but retired) GRE questions:


If you are wondering what to expect in the book, here is the GRE Official Guide (OG) review for you.


What’s more? Here is a playlist with explanations for all GRE OG Verbal Questions:



You can also check our GRE Verbal Strategy book on Amazon:


CrackVerbal GRE Verbal Strategy   


I hope you found this blog useful.


Please spread its value by sharing the blog on your social media channels, and letting your friends know about it.


Also, I would love to know if you have any questions about the GRE Verbal section, so go ahead, and let me know in the Comments section.


That’s all folks!



  • June, 19th, 2017
  • Posted in
  • No Comments

The Ultimate Guide to GRE Inequalities

Reading Time: 13 minutes

Are you wondering, why an entire blog post on Inequalities?

Well, as you may have already found out, compared to other question types on the GRE, inequality questions are an especially slippery slope! They have sent many a test-taker tumbling down on the path to not-so-great Quant scores.

By the time you finish reading this post, you will know all that you need to make sure that this does not happen to you!

So, without further ado, let us examine some must-know inequality concepts and strategies that will help us navigate these tricky questions with limited information .

We’ll first start with the fundamental concept of inequalities, followed by basic properties and then move on to explore the complexities involved with some additional properties. Finally we will summarize the key takeaways with a list of points to keep in mind while using inequalities in problem-solving and data sufficiency questions.

1. What are inequalities?

2. Basic properties

3. Advanced Properties

4. Quantitative Comparisons on the GRE

5. Points to remember

1. What are Inequalities?

Equations and inequalities are both mathematical sentences formed by relating two expressions to each other.

In an equation, the two expressions are deemed equal which is shown by the symbol =.

Where as in an inequality, the two expressions are not necessarily equal – this is indicated by the symbols: >, <, ≤ or ≥.

x > y   —->   x is greater than y

x ≥ y   —->   x is greater than or equal to y

x < y   —->   x is less than y

x ≤ y   —->   x is less than or equal to y


Inequalities on a Number line

Gmat Inequalities

Number lines, such as those shown below, are an excellent way to visualize exactly what a given inequality means. A closed (shaded) circle at the endpoint of the shaded portion of the number line indicates that the graph is inclusive of that endpoint, as in the case of ≤ or ≥.

GMAT Inequalities

An open (unshaded) circle at the endpoint of the shaded portion of the number line indicates that the graph is not inclusive of that endpoint, as in the case of < or >

GMAT Inequalities

2. Basic Properties

There are 2 basic properties of inequalities which we can quickly prove using the example below.

Property 1:

If we consider the true inequality

4 < 8


Adding 2 to both sides           6 < 10           (the inequality sign holds true)

Subtracting 2 from both sides           2 < 6           (the inequality sign holds true)

Multiplying both sides by +2           8 < 16           (the inequality sign holds true)

Dividing both sides by +2           2 < 4           (the inequality sign holds true)

Adding or subtracting the same expression to both sides of an inequality does not change the inequality.

Multiplying or dividing the same positive number to both sides of an inequality does not change the inequality.

Property 2:

Again considering the true inequality

4 < 8

Multiplying both sides by -2           -8 > -16           (the inequality sign reverses)

Dividing both sides by -2           -2 > -4           (the inequality sign reverses)

Multiplying or dividing the same negative number to both sides of an inequality reverses the inequality – this is also called the flip rule of inequalities.

A little Q & A anyone?

Now that we are done with the basic properties of inequalities, here are a couple of questions to make you think.

Question: Can we add or subtract a variable on both sides of an inequality?

Answer: Yes, because adding or subtracting a variable is the same as adding or subtracting a number.

Question: Can we multiply or divide both sides of an inequality by a variable?

Answer: No, we cannot, if we do not know the sign of the number that the variable stands for. The reason is that you would not know whether to flip the inequality sign.

Let us illustrate this with an example –

If x/y > 1, most test-takers make the mistake of deducing that x>y, by multiplying both sides by y. But we haven’t been given any information about the sign of the number that the variable y stands for.

If x = 3 and y = 2 then the above relation x/y > 1 will hold true, and x will be greater than y.
However if x = -3 and y= -2 then the above relation x/y > 1 will again hold true, but x will not be greater than y.

If x/y > 1, the only fact that can definitely be deduced is that both x and y are of the same sign .

Example 1:

Question: If a, b, c are non zero integers and a > bc, then which of the following must be true :

I. a/b > c
II. a/c > b
III. a/bc > 1

A. I only
B. II only
C. III only
D. I, II and III
E. None of these


Now the trap answer here will be D (I, II and III). The general tendency will be to multiply both sides of the first inequality a/b > c by b to get a > bc, both sides of the second inequality by c to get a > bc and both sides of the third inequality by bc to get a > bc.

Remember that we can never multiply or divide both sides of an inequality by a variable if the sign of the variable is not known. In this problem the signs of b and c are not known. The above statements I, II and III can be true, if b and c are both positive. But they will not be true if b and c are negative. Since the question is of a ‘must-be-true’ type, the answer here must be E.

Example 2:

Solve: -6x + 4 ≤ -2

Solving an inequality means finding all of its solutions. A ‘solution’ of an inequality is a number which when substituted for the variable satisfies the inequality

The steps to solve a linear inequation are as follows:

• Isolate the variable and always keep the variable positive
• Solve using the properties of inequalities
• Represent the inequality on a number line

Isolating the variable by subtracting 4 from both sides we get -6x ≤ -6
Dividing both sides by -6 and flipping the inequality sign we get x ≥ 1

GMAT inequalities

3. Advanced Concepts

Well, so far, we saw how the basic operations are applied to inequalities.

It is now time to delve into more complex properties of inequalities, dealing with :
A) Inequalities in fractions


B) Squaring Inequalities


C) Square Root Inequalities


D) Reciprocal of Inequalities


E) Like Inequalities


F) Max Min Concept of Inequalities


G) Quadratic Inequalities


A) Inequalities in Fractions

All proper fractions on the number line can be represented using the range -1 < x < 1 where x represents the proper fraction

All positive proper fractions can be represented using the range 0 < x < 1 where x represents the positive proper fraction

For all proper fractions (0 < x < 1), √x > x > x2

If x = ¼ then √x = ½ and x^2 = 1/16


Clearly here ½ > ¼> 1/16


If x = 0.888, y = √0.888 and z = (0.888)^2 which of the following is true

A. x < y < z
B. x < z < y
C. y < x < z
D. z < y < x
E. z < x < y


Since 0.888 is a fraction,
√0.888 0.888 > (0.888)^2
y > x > z
Reversing the inequality we get z < x < y

Answer : E

B) Squaring Inequalities

We cannot square both sides of an inequality unless we know the signs of both sides of the inequality.

If both sides are known to be negative then flip the inequality sign when you square.

For instance, if a < -4, then the left hand side must be negative. Since both sides are negative, you can square both sides and reverse the inequality sign : a^2 > 16. However, if a > -4, then you cannot square both sides, because it is unclear whether the left side is positive or negative. If a is negative then a^2 < 16, but if x is positive then x^2 could be either greater than 9 or less than 9.

If both sides are known to be positive, do not flip the inequality sign when you square.

For instance, if a > 4, then the left side must be positive; since both sides are positive you can square both sides to yield a^2 > 16. However if a < 4 then you cannot square both sides, because it is unclear whether the left side is positive or negative.

If one side is positive and one side is negative then you cannot square.

For instance, if you know that a < b, a is negative, and b is positive, you cannot make any determination about x^2 vs. y^2.

If for example, x = -2 and y = 2, then x^2 = y^2.

If x = -2 and y = 3, then x^2 < y^2.

If x = -2 and y = 1, then x^2 > y^2.

It should be noted that if one side of the inequality is negative and the other side is positive, then squaring is probably not warranted.

If signs are unclear, then you cannot square.

Put simply, we would not know whether to flip the sign of the inequality once you have squared it.

C) Reciprocal Inequalities

Taking the reciprocal of both a and b can change the direction of the inequality.

The general rule is that when a < b then:

• (1/a ) > (1/b). When a and b are positive , flip the inequality.
Example: If 2 < 3, then ½ > 1/3

• (1/a) > (1/b). When a and b are negative , flip the inequality.
Example: If -3 < -2, then 1/ -3 > 1/ -2

• For (1/a) < (1/b). When a is negative and b is positive , do not flip the inequality.
Example: If -3 < 2, then 1/ -3 < 1/2

• If you do not know the sign of a or b you cannot take reciprocals.

In summary, if you know the signs of the variables, you should flip the inequality unless a and b have different signs.


If 3 ? 6/ (x+1) ? 6, find the range of x

Taking the reciprocal of the above range and flipping the inequality sign since the entire inequality is positive
1/3 ≥ (x + 1)/6 ≥ 1/6

Multiplying throughout by 6
2 ≥ (x + 1) ≥ 1

Subtracting 1 from all sides
1 ≥ x ≥ 0 –> 0 ≤ x ≤ 1

D) Like Inequalities

The only mathematical operation you can perform between two sets of inequalities, provided the inequality sign is the same, is addition.

If the signs are not the same then use the properties to flip the inequality sign and then add the two sets of inequalities.


If 4a + 2b < n and 4b + 2a > m, then b – a must be

A. < (m – n)/2
B. ≤ (m – n)/2
C. > (m – n)/2
D. ≥ (m – n)/2
E. ≤ (m + n)/2

Given 4a + 2b < n and 4b + 2a > m. We can always add like inequalities.

Multiplying the second inequality

4b + 2a > m by -1 we get -4b – 2a < -m.

Now adding the two inequalities

4a + 2b < n and -4b – 2a < -m


4a + 2b < n

-4b – 2a < -m


2a – 2b < n – m

Dividing both sides by 2

a – b < (n – m)/2

Multiplying both sides by -1

b – a > (m – n )/2

Answer : C

E) Min and Max Inequalities

Problems involving optimization: specifically, minimization or maximization problems are a common occurrence on the GRE .

In these problems, you need to focus on the largest and smallest possible values for each of the variables.

This is because some combination of them will usually lead to the largest or smallest possible result.

Read on to learn from an example.

Example 1:

If -7 ≤ x ≤ 6 and -7 ≤ y ≤ 8, what is the maximum possible value for xy?

To find the maximum and minimum possible values for xy, place the inequalities one below the other and make sure the inequality signs are the same. You need to test the extreme values for x and for y to determine which combinations of extreme values will maximize ab.

-7 ≤ x ≤ 6

-7 ≤ y ≤ 8

The four extreme values of xy are 49, 48, -56 and -42. Out of these the maximum possible value of xy is 49 and the minimum possible value is -56.

Whenever two ranges of inequalities are given in x and y and you need to evaluate the value of x + y , x * y, and x – y then use the max-min concept

1. Place the two inequality ranges one below the other
2. Make sure the inequality signs are the same in both cases
3. If the signs are not the same use the properties we have discussed before to make them the same
4. Now add/multiply/subtract both in a straight line and diagonally to get 4 values
5. The greatest value will be max and the lowest value will be min

1/2 < x < 2/3 , and y^2 < 100


Quantity A           Quantity B

xy                     6

Since y^2 < 100 —> -10 < y < 10

Now placing the two ranges one below the other and finding out the extreme values of xy

1/2 < x < 2/3

-10 < y < 10

The four extreme values of xy here are -5, -20/3 , 5, 20/3. Out of these the maximum value of xy is 20/3 and the minimum value of xy is -20/3. Now since Quantity A can take values from -20/3 to 20/3 a definite relationship cannot be determined with Quantity B.

Answer : D

F) Quadratic Inequalities

3x^2 – 7x + 4 ≤ 0

Factorizing the above quadratic inequation

3x^2 – 7x + 4 ≤ 0 —> 3x^2 – 3x – 4x + 4 ≤ 0 —> 3x(x – 1) – 4(x – 1) ≤ 0 —> (3x – 4)(x – 1) ≤ 0

we get 1 and 4/3 as critical points. We place them on number line.

Quadratic Inequalities

Since the number line is divided into three regions, now we can get 3 ranges of x

i) x < 1 (all values of x when substituted in (3x – 4)(x – 1) makes the product positive)

ii) 1 ≤ x ≤ 4/3 (all values of x when substituted in (3x – 4)(x – 1) makes the product negative)

iii) x > 4/3 (all values of x when substituted in (3x – 4)(x – 1) makes the product positive)

At this point we should understand that for the inequality (3x-4)(x-1) ≤ 0 to hold true, exactly one of (3x-4) and (x-1) should be negative and other one be positive. Let’s examine 3 possible ranges one by one.

i) If x > 4/3, obviously both the factors i.e. (3x-4) and (x-1) will be positive and in that case inequality would not hold true. So this cannot be the range of x.

ii) If x is between 1 and 4/3 both inclusive, (3x-4) will be negative or equal to zero and (x-1) will be positive or equal to zero. Hence with this range inequality holds true. Correct.

iii) If x < 1, both (3x-4) and (x-1) will be negative hence inequality will not hold true.

So the range of x that satisfies the inequality 3x^2 – 7x + 4 ≤ 0 is 1 ≤ x ≤ 4/3

The steps to solve a quadratic inequation are as follows:

1. Isolate the variable and always keep the variable positive.

2. Maintain the Inequation in the form ax^2 + bx + c > 0 or < 0.

3. Obtain the factors of Inequation.

4. Place them on number line. The number line will get divided into the three regions.

5. Mark the rightmost region with + sign, the next region with a – sign and the third region with a + sign (alternating + and – starting from the rightmost region).

6. If the Inequation is of the form ax^2 + bx + c < 0, the region having the – sign will be the solution of the given quadratic inequality.

7. If the Inequation is of the form ax^2 + bx + c > 0, the region having the + sign will be the solutions of the given quadratic inequality.

Question: Will the above procedure hold good even for a cubic or a fourth degree equation?

Answer: YES. For a cubic inequality we get 3 critical points which when plotted on the number line divides the number line into 4 regions. Mark the rightmost region as +ve and alternate the sign as shown below

Quadratic Inequalities

Now based on whether the right hand side of the cubic inequality is < 0 or > 0 we get the solution to lie in 2 of the 4 regions.

4. Quantitative Comparisons on the GRE

Now that we are through with the properties of inequalities, lets see how we can make use of these properties in quantitative comparisons.

A quantitative comparison question is a big inequality in itself since it asks you to compare and determine which of the two quantities is greater. So the rules of inequalities can be used here, provided the initial comparison is not tampered with.

For e.g. If we consider a basic quantitative comparison question where quantity B is clearly greater than quantity A,

Quantity A         Quantity B

  4                       6

Adding 2, Quantity A becomes 6 and Quantity B becomes 8. Quantity B is still greater.

Subtracting 2, Quantity A becomes 2 and Quantity B becomes 4. Quantity B is still greater.

Multiplying by +2, Quantity A becomes 8 and Quantity B becomes 12. Quantity B is still greater.

Dividing by +2, Quantity A becomes 2 and Quantity B becomes 3. Quantity B is still greater.

Multiplying by -2, Quantity A becomes -8 and Quantity B becomes -12. Quantity A is greater.

Dividing by -2, Quantity A becomes -2 and Quantity B becomes -3. Quantity A is greater.

It is very evident that if we multiply or divide by a negative number the comparison will never be consistent with the initial comparison.

Points to Remember

Here are a few things you need to remember when you are using the properties of inequalities to simplify complex quantitative comparison questions:

1.Add or subtract any value to both quantities.

2.Multiply or divide by a positive value.

3.Square both sides only when the quantities are both positive.

4.Never multiply or divide both quantities by a negative number.

5.Never multiply or divide both quantities by a variable if the sign of the variable is unknown.

6.If the sign of the variable is always positive then it is possible to multiply or divide both quantities by the positive variable (for e.g. x2 ,since x2 is always positive).

After reading our simple guide, you should now know what strategies you must employ for inequality questions on the GRE!

We hope this guide helps you along the way to a 170 on GRE Quant!

You can now have a copy of your own Inequalities guide here!

Download E-book!
  • May, 23rd, 2016
  • Posted in

Best GRE Apps for the GRE test-taker!

Reading Time: 6 minutes

Okay, so you have got your new smartphone. Maybe you did not pay much and you ended up with a great value phone. Or maybe you did splurge a bit to get the brand named after a fruit 🙂

Whatever the case be – you have in your hand one of the most complex devices that man has ever invented.

Have you realized yet that you hold a powerful tool that can help you ace your GRE?

There are plenty of awesome mobile apps that you can use not only to make studying fun but also to get into the right mental makeup to ace the test. We reviewed over 30+ apps before finalising on the top 5 apps that you must have, if you are studying for the GRE.

1. Elevate


elevate app

In terms of UI and UX, this app comes close to the best for *any* category, not just learning.

In 2014, Apple even named it the app of the year!

What does it do?

To quote the website:

“Elevate is a brain training program designed to improve focus, speaking abilities, processing speed, memory, math skills, and more. Each person is provided with a personalized training program that adjusts over time to maximize results.”

“The more you train with Elevate, the more you’ll improve critical cognitive skills that are proven to boost productivity, earning power, and self-confidence. Users who train at least 3 times per week have reported dramatic gains and increased confidence.”

How does it help you on the GRE?

This app has very interesting games that will help you do the mental math and approximation required in sections on the GRE such as problem solving and quantitative comparisons.


The app is designed in a very interesting way! You would love using this app – it is probably one of the funnest ways to study for the GRE.


With the basic version, you can play only 3 games per day. The paid version lets you unlock all the games.


Where can you download the iOS and Android version of the app?

‘Elevate’ in Itunes App Store

‘Elevate’ in Google Play Store


2. Headspace


Jeff Bezos, the CEO of Amazon, apparently cannot do without this app.

This app is responsible for making Zen Meditation popular in the New York subway.

What does it do?

It gives you a guided meditation tour ranging from 10 to 30 minutes, that you can listen to while you are commuting, or whenever you have some uninterrupted time. This app derives from the Buddhist principle of “mindfulness” – that the mind cannot be controlled, and that we should just let be in its natural stage, and by doing so become calmer.

How does it help you on the GRE?

Studying for the GRE can be stressful. Especially if your scores are not improving after studying a lot. This app reminds you that behind all the dark clouds, there is still a sun that is waiting to emerge.

This meditation also helps you perform better on the GRE, as it improves your concentration and focus – crucial for a test that can last for upto 4 hours!


Very simple and intuitive app – and even absolute beginners can learn basic mediation techniques.


With the basic version, you can just have 10 free sessions of 10 minutes each. The paid version lets you unlock all levels and provides some “packs” such as the sleep pack and the focus pack.

Where can you download the iOS and Android version of the app?

‘Headspace’ in Itunes App Store

‘Headspace’ in Google Play Store

3. CrackVerbal WordToonz



The digital version of the hugely popular WordToonz flashcards.

Created by CrackVerbal, but we wouldn’t have put it in this list if it wasn’t truly a top 5!

What does it do?

You can learn 500 most commonly tested words on the GRE using Indian cartoons. These cartoons are created on the basic principles of mnemonics : the weirder the association, the more likely you are to remember them! You can play games going up a level each time – 50 levels of 10 words each.

How does it help you on the GRE?

This is perhaps the best (& fastest) way to learn the GRE high frequency word list. If you have dreaded remembering words for Sentence Equivalence and Text Completion, then WordToonz is your Batman!


The Indian cartoons can be fun to read by themselves. The app also makes it exciting as it can be played as a game with a clock timer.


This app takes some time to load initially as it downloads the cartoons for faster processing. The free app has 10 levels out of the 50 levels free. If you want to get it for free, let us know by leaving a comment in the comment section below.

Where can you download the iOS and Android version of the app?

‘Wordtoonz’ in Itunes App Store

‘Wordtoonz’ in Google Play Store




What do successful people do before breakfast? No, they don’t hit the snooze button! 🙂

They are just better at forming good habits and more likely to stick with the habits they form!

What does it do? is a simple habit tracker you can use to create the habit of “studying for the GRE”. Everyday, you will be reminded that you need to study for the test. Even studying for a quick 15 minutes can be counted as a win. You even have a support forum where you can get help and support from others who are following various habits (jogging and dieting are the usual suspects).

How does it help you on the GRE?

It has been proven that those who do well on the GRE are not the people who pull “all nighters”, but those who consistently study for the test. allows you do just that! So once you make a GRE study plan, you can make a commitment to follow it X days out of a week. We recommend that you keep the number to at least 3 days a week. Then you can track your progress against your plan!


The UI is pretty cool and you can even use it for forming other habits such as waking up early (to study, of course! ;))


Sometimes the guilt of not following your GRE study schedule / habit can cause you to start ignoring the notifications, which can rapidly pile up 🙂

Where can you download the iOS and Android version of the app?

‘Coach.Me’ in Itunes App Store

‘Coach.Me’ in Google Play Store


5. Wattpad


Do you want to read more but are not able to find the right resources online?

This app has literally millions of stories to choose from, many of which are classics.

What does it do?

Just login and choose from a variety of different genres: popular romance, fanfic, non-fiction, mystery, fantasy, memoirs, travelogues, sci-fi, short stories and memes. However, in the interest of time, and for the sake of GRE prep, we suggest that you pick only non-fiction.

You can read on-the-go on your mobile or on your tablet. This can either be a quick bite-sized read of 15-minutes while waiting for the next class to start, or a longer Kindle-sque read while you are on the train.

How does it help you on the GRE?

Reading comprehension on the GRE requires you to read. So you can start by acclimatising yourself with authors and works you are not aware of. This app is great for reading stuff outside of your comfort zone. You may also want to practice certain techniques that apply to the GRE, such as skimming, and reading with a purpose.


The variety is stupendous, so you get to read a great deal. Many of the stories, especially the classics, would help you assimilate similar dense passages on the GRE.


Some of the writing is by amateur authors, and you need to be careful about choosing the books you are going to spend time reading.

Where can you download the iOS and Android version of the app?

‘WattPad’ in Itunes App Store

‘Wattpad’ in Google Play Store

If you’d like to use the Wordtoonz App for free, let us know by leaving a comment in the comment section below with your email ID!

If you’d like to know more about our GRE WordToonz app, check out this page:

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  • May, 16th, 2016
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How to ensure a great GRE Score

Reading Time: 5 minutes

Although not the most difficult exam in the world, the GRE is definitely one of the most tricky. When you start your preparation, you’ll realise that scaling your score from a 300 to a 310 isn’t that difficult, but pushing past the 320 barrier, which counts as a good GRE score, can be quite challenging.

To get a great GRE score, you need to approach your preparation strategically. You will also need to have a very solid plan of action with a clear timeline in mind. Below are the five steps you need to follow to ensure a killer GRE score!

Step 1:  Know where you stand

GRE preparation

There is no point in attending a preparation program or practicing volumes of questions if you haven’t taken a full-length mock test. Doing this will ensure that you know exactly where you stand and the kind of weaknesses you have. Furthermore, taking a full length test will help you get a taste of what the GRE really is: long, stressful and challenging.


You can take a full length mock test by downloading the Power Prep Tests that the test makers provide. Take the entire test: this includes the two AWAs and all the Verbal and Quant sections. This mock GRE score will help you gauge your current level. This should be your starting point.


Based on your GRE score, have a plan that sets targets within specific time frame. But please keep your targets realistic. For example, if you get a mock GRE score of 140 in Verbal, it is possible to scale up to a 145 or to even a 150 in a month and then to a 155 the next month. But expecting to scale to a 160 within two weeks is unrealistic!

Step 2: Become Passionate about words

Blog Img

50% of your Verbal ability tests vocabulary. This includes the Text Completion and Sentence Equivalence questions. There are primarily three  things you need to know about these question types:

1. They test words in context.

2. The words tested are rarely the kind you come across in every day life.

3. The answer options tend to be very close to each other: this makes  choosing between options very challenging.

These factors make vocabulary a very important aspect of Verbal Reasoning, and building vocabulary meaningfully becomes essential. You’ll realise that just memorising the definitions of a word alone is not going to help you.

Rather, you must know every aspect of a word such as its contextual meaning and usage, the connotation it carries and the degree of negativity or positivity that it has in comparison to other similar words.

Start building your vocabulary early. The most ineffective thing you can do on your GRE prep is to start cramming up words a few weeks before the test! We’ve written many blogs about building vocabulary meaningfully – keeping these aspects in mind: here’s a good place to start.

Step 3: Know what’s tested


If you are planning to focus only on vocabulary and possibly practice a bit of reading comprehension from some online source, then be warned – you may be shocked by the score you get on the day of the test!


Although Vocabulary and Reading Comprehension are important, you need to understand that the way GRE tests these abilities is quite different. It is, therefore, important that you practice these concepts in a setting that is as GRE-like as possible.


The best resource to get to know the different types of questions is the Official Guide published by the test makers themselves. Also checkout our GRE Guide and Workbook; this addresses each question type in-depth and provides sumptuous amounts of practice to fine-tune your approach.

Step 4:  Practice, Review, Analyse


Practicing volumes of questions may not be effective if you do not follow up your practice with review and analysis. Remember to prioritise quality of practice over obsessing about quantity of practice.

What  does  review and analysis mean?

First, ensure that your practice-sessions are realistic. Either pick up 20 questions of a particular question type and solve under a time constraint or pick up 3 passages (8 questions), 6 Text Completion, 4 Sentence Equivalence and 2 Critical reasoning questions and set a time limit of 30 minutes to solve all the questions.

Second, once you’re done and you’ve checked the answers – analyse the following questions:

1. Those you didn’t know how to answer

2. Those you got wrong, because you were caught between two or more likely options

3. Those you guessed and got correct

4. Those you took too much time for (irrespective of whether you got them correct)

While analysing these questions, merely understanding what made the correct answers right will not help you scale up your score, instead, you must pay heed to WHY the wrong options were wrong – understand what made them wrong and therefore what kind of traps was set in that specific question. Having this perspective WILL ensure that you learn how to overcome tricky questions and as a result increase your GRE Score.

Step 5:  Manage Stress


The biggest variable that can affect your GRE score on the day of the actual test is stress!  This can be induced by time pressure, performance anxiety or the sheer intensity of the test itself (the GRE is almost 4 hours long!). Some of these stress factors are valid, yet some aren’t.

For instance, on the day of the test – a student might get stressed because she is unable to make-up her mind about one of the questions. This could play out in two ways:

1. The student understands that it’s OK to get a few questions wrong.

2. The student pressures herself into trying to get each and every question right.

The first approach ensures that she has time to get as many of the other questions right – increasing her total score. The second approach results in the student wasting too much time on just one question and that results in a drastic decrease in overall score!

Remember: It is not possible to avoid stress. What you need to do is to ‘get used’ to the kind of stress you are likely to face on the day of the exam. This you can achieve by taking full length practice tests and understanding the kind of challenges you face.

For instance, perhaps you end up blanking out when you see a passage in the last verbal section of the test, or that you aren’t able to manage time within the quant section. These observations when worked on will substantially help improve your GRE score.

Now that you know what you should and shouldn’t do, are you ready to start prepping? If you have any questions, leave a comment in the comment section below!

Before you begin, read our quick guide on preparing for the GRE!

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Improve your GRE Score without learning anything new!

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Improve your GRE score without learning anything new? Well, you probably think there’s a catch somewhere.

Obviously, proficiency in the concepts tested coupled with some strategies is essential to improve GRE scores. But, following these test-taking perspectives will ensure that you get the maximum possible score for the amount of preparation you’ve had.

1.Don’t worry too much about the AWAs

The AWAs are the first tasks you will have to respond to. These are about an hour long and if you aren’t careful, you might end up getting very absorbed by these tasks.

Why is this a problem?
Because, you ability to stay focused is a quickly exhaustible resource. If you spend all your mental-ability to focus into the AWAs you may not be able to do as well on the Quant and Verbal sections. Remember: it’s enough to get a 4 on the AWAs but you need as high a score as possible on the Quant and Verbal sections.

How do you keep from stressing out?
Create Templates! AWA responses need to be predictable and to draft a good AWA response is quite easy (if you know what to do). Checkout our blog on the AWAs to know more/

2. Fight the easy battles first: use Skip, Mark and Review

A. The GRE lets you do a particular section in any order that you want : you can start by answering the last question first or in any which order you please.

B. Within a section each question carries the same amount of score (irrespective of how their difficulty levels may vary).

C. Your score depends on the number of questions you get right.

Therefore what you should do is Skip the difficult questions and get all the easier ones correct as soon as possible. Then attempt the difficult ones Mark any question that you’re stuck in – come back to it later by using the Review button. This ensure that you get the maximum possible score within a section!

3. Guess : Leave no question unanswered

An extension of the previous point; there is no negative marking on the GRE.

Therefore, when you’ve completed a section – go back to the questions you still haven’t managed to answer and make an intelligent guess or pick an answer in random (if you haven’t the slightest clue). If you got it wrong – you don’t lose anything; if you were lucky: BRILLIANT!

4. Don’t spend too much time Reading the Passages

While solving Reading Comprehension questions don’t spend too much time with the passages. Remember the passages are there to help you answer the questions. No brownie points are given for reading a passage intensely.

Read only what you need to: this is essentially the stuff the questions test you on.
Read this blog to know more.

5. Use the scratch paper intelligently

The Scratch paper will be provided by the test administrators at the test centre.
Many students only use this for the Quantitative Reasoning section of the test. What you need to be doing though – is utilising the Scratch paper for everything!Use it to put down your reasoning for all questions.

Write down the Gist of a passage, the word that could fill a blank for Sentence Equivalence and the probable inferences you could make for a Critical Reasoning question.

Also, let your scratch paper reflect your reasoning for the answer choices as well. Once you see the first option put down on the scratch paper what you decided about it: is it a keeper, is it definitely wrong or are you unsure? Keeping a track of this helps reduce silly errors substantially. It also helps avoid traps!

Follow these simple steps and you’ll see your score improve drastically (without even learning one new word or formula!).

So, what do you think of these techniques? Leave us a comment and let us know! 

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Text Completion on the GRE

Reading Time: 3 minutes


Text Completion questions in GRE are considered daunting for two reasons:

Killer Sentence Structures

Difficult Vocabulary

In this article we will discuss these challenges and learn effective ways to overcome them.

1. Killer Sentence Structures

The Text Completion questions can range from being one sentence long to several sentences long. In fact, the current observable trend in GRE questions suggests that ETS (the people who create the test) is starting to make its Text Completion questions more like the Short Reading Comprehension passages in both length and complexity.

Take a look at this body of text for instance –

Color blindness is usually classified as a mild disability, yet occasionally it can be considered ________: some evolutionary studies suggest that people with some types of color blindness  _________ colors that people with normal color vision find ___________ .

  1. a severe disability
  2. a gift
  3. advantageous
  4. can discern
  5. indistinguishable.

Sure, this isn’t the most complex sentence that you might see, neither is it the longest, but the text does provide you a sample of how a Text Completion question could convolute the intended message.

Let us explain: Although you might be predisposed to filling the first blanked portion with a word such as “a severe disability”, it is equally likely that the words “a gift” could fit the context as well! Remember that the keyword here is “mild disability” and the transition word is “yet”.

If you work with this knowledge, solving this question becomes easy. The only words that could fit the context are “advantageous”, “can discern” and “indistinguishable”.

How do you overcome complex sentence structures?

Pay heed to transition words.

In the question discussed ‘yet occasionally’ showed a contrast in the logical flow of the idea discussed.

Never approach TC by filling in the blank with what “sounds correct”.

Instead, pay heed to structural cues within the sentences that show the flow of direction: the keywords. ‘usually classified as a mild disability’ was the keyword in the question discussed previously.

2. Difficult Vocabulary

As mentioned in previous blogs, GRE tests contextual meaning. Failing to understand this results in problems: students end up having a very superficial understanding of the words and find themselves dumbfounded when they realize that they cannot relate to the words tested even though these words have already been “studied”.

One aspect that is challenging about text completion vocabulary is that nuances in meaning are tested. Another aspect that makes vocabulary in Text Completion challenging is that secondary meanings are tested.

For instance:

The Senator made a _________ endorsement of the new immigration policy, stating that while its scope was limited, it does amend some of the inconsistencies of the current immigration policies.

  1. unrestrained
  2. wholehearted
  3. reviled
  4. qualified
  5. protracted

The structure for this text was not that complex; the vocabulary for the most part was not challenging either. But we’re willing to bet a pretty penny that many of you may not have gotten to the correct response, or if you did – you got there with some difficulty. The answer to this question is “qualified”!

Why “qualified”?

We know that the senator’s endorsement wouldn’t have been a wholehearted one; it is restrained or limited because we know that he feels that the policy’s scope is limited. “Qualified”, apart from meaning ‘to have the required qualifications’, also means ‘limited’.

How do you work around  difficult vocabulary?

Use a wordlist that addresses secondary meanings that are tested on the GRE.

Understand that secondary definitions are sometimes tested on the GRE.

Look out for parts of speech among the answer choices. All options for a specific blank will always be of the same part of speech. If a familiar word is being used in a different part of speech, it is probable that a secondary meaning is tested.

For example:

The word wag as a Verb means to move rapidly, like the tail of a dog; but the word wag as a Noun means a witty and intelligent person!

Leave us your comments in the comments section below!

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  • March, 24th, 2014
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Book Review : ETS GRE Official Guide 2nd Edition

Reading Time: 2 minutes

The ETS GRE Official Guide cannot be compared to any other preparation book because of one very simple reason, it was written by the very people who write the questions that you will face on the test day. It maintains the standard of difficulty that you expect to find in the GRE.


What’s great about the ETS GRE Official guide:

The Verbal and Quant reasoning provides valuable insight into the rationales used to answer the sample questions. The ETS Math review is a great way to refresh your basics and exposes you to the concepts which will be applied to the questions.


What could be better on the ETS GRE Official guide :

The only area where the ETS GRE book could be found lacking is the fact that the explanations are somewhat insufficient in detail.  So, this is not the right book for someone who has just begun preparing. The strategies that can be used by students to tackle questions are not provided and so the value of the ETS GRE book lies more in the questions than the answers.


It will be better to understand strategies and techniques in other books such as The Princeton Review (good explanations but relatively simple practice questions) and then use the ETS GRE official guide to practice the application of the tactics in more complex questions.


The advantage of the ETS GRE book lies in the PowerPrep Tests that are available with the book. They give you the actual GRE test with a score in the end. Since GRE is an adaptive test, paper-based practice does not really prepare you sufficiently. These full-length tests give you a different and more real preparation for the exam.


In short, the ETS GRE Official Guide is essential for anyone preparing for the GRE. But it is best supplemented by one which provides a more detailed insight into the methodologies used to answer questions.


If you have any questions about the GRE official guide, leave a comment in the comment section and our experts will get back to you!   Looking for expert guidance on your GRE prep? Head over to our blog – rather our GRE Verbal Guide

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  • February, 20th, 2014
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3 Quick Ways to Kickstart Your Preparation for GRE

Kickstart GRE prep
Reading Time: 3 minutes

Now that you have made plans to start your GRE preparation, you will also realize that there are tons of distractions coming your way – right from IPL to your friend’s party this week.

Don’t worry – we know how students think which is why we got a way for you to sift through all the content out there and distill it in 3 simple, easy and QUICK ways to kick start your GRE preparation.

Step 1: Don’t get overwhelmed by the amount of GRE preparation material you have

This is perhaps the biggest culprit that we have found in our interaction with students – they tend to hoard a lot of material (most of it either useless or repetitive) and somehow feel they have to do ALL of it to get a great GRE score. No you don’t! Infact many of our students who have done well on the GRE – scored above 160 out of a possible 170 in both Maths and Verbal have vouched for this fact.

So start with a single word-list of around 500 words or so. CrackVerbal has a great word list that in our research we found to be tested MOST often on the GRE. Apart from that consider buying the ETS Official Preparation book for the GRE and supplement it either with other GRE preparation books or join a course such as this.

That’s it! Now get your nose to the grindstone and start studying!

Step 2: Have a clear GRE date in mind – don’t study and plan for the exam later

If you ask most students studying for the GRE, they will probably conjure imaginary dates such as “Once I am done with the word list”, or “Once Bittu Bhaiyya’s wedding gets over” etc. That imaginary date, well, remains just that – imaginary!

If you want to action on your plan then you need to have an end-date in mind. This is the first rule of goal setting – having a target to hit. How long should you take? A conservative estimate based on our experience is 3 months. So add another 2 weeks to it and book a date roughly 16 weeks from now. That will give you all the time to prepare for the GRE Exam! Read our article here on how to register for the test. It is pretty simple and you need to remember just a few guidelines for what you need to do on your GRE test date.

So go ahead and book the date now. As the Nike ad says “Just do it!”

Step 3: Have a clear GRE Plan that tracks your preparation on a day to day basis

Okay! So you have made sure you have just the material you need to score great on the GRE AND have booked the test date. But not sure what to do next? Worry not! You just need a clear GRE study plan that is customized to meet your needs. Do you know that if you mail us at CrackVerbal we will help you with a custom study plan?

Yes the plan needs to take into account the number of weeks you have left for the GRE test, your current GRE preparation level, and your target GRE score. Once you have the plan, you take a printout of it and stick it next to your study desk so you can look at it while studying (and get motivated too!).

It always works this way – once you start a plan you will feel charged up to complete it. It is the most simple and painfree way for you to start taking action!

Okay so now that you know the three tips – do you want to get started right away? If you think there is anything that you need, please leave a comment below and we are happy to help you.

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How to Manage Stress on GRE Quant

GRE Quant Stress
Reading Time: 2 minutes

Usually, it is GRE Verbal that gets the bad rap – both with regards to prep and final scores. However, for at least some of you, studying for GRE Quant can be more stressful that studying for Verbal. Here are a few tips that will help you stay on track:

Know your start point:

It is very important that you start your GRE Math journey with a diagnostic test. This will help you ascertain your skill level and determine how much ground you need to cover. Understand that the first test score will always be an underestimation of your skill level, since you are completely unaware of the question types and test features.


Determine what you are going to study:

It is very important that you plan out the study material that you are going to cover. In case you decide to study by yourself (self study) make sure you research well about the books or the online portal that you are going to buy – choose the one that fits you best!


Have a Study Plan:

The next and the most important part is having a study plan. You might want to determine your strengths and weaknesses before jumping into the questions. Target your weaknesses and sharpen your strengths. Plan out how many hours you can take out from your busy schedule. A minimum of 4 to a maximum of 16 hours should be allocated every week.


Be Healthy:

Health is wealth at all times. You need to get good sleep and remain physically fit if you want to tame the GRE. Keep your mind off other stressors- focus on the GRE. Keep taking breaks; reward yourself when your observe progress in your study!


Take Tests:

You will never be able to judge your performance just by practicing questions. You need to sit and take tests which simulate the GRE test environment. Mark your improvements and make sure that you review your mistakes. Do not forget to maintain an error log.


Good luck!


What are your areas of stress on the GRE? Leave your comments below and our GRE experts will guide you! 

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  • February, 4th, 2014
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The AWAs – What You Need to Know About Them

Analytical Writing GRE
Reading Time: 4 minutes

AWA expands to Analytical Writing Assessment. There are two tasks tested in the AWA section: The Issue and the Argument Tasks, each with a time frame of 30 minutes. These tasks are distinct: you need to approach each of these tasks with a different set of perspectives. More on that in a bit; let’s first look at a few facts about the AWA sections.

What’s a Good Score?


Your AWA score will be reported with the official score report within a week of your taking the test. The AWA is scored between 0-6. Getting a 6 is difficult, although, getting a 4 or a 5 isn’t (as long as you know how your essay needs to be written). It isn’t necessary that you get a 6 on the AWA, remember that the AWA score is more or less a hygiene factor, very few schools insist on a 5+ score!

A score that is 4 and above is considered good on the GRE. Although, getting a 3.5 or anything below that could hamper your chances of getting into the school you have in mind. Let us put this in perspective: according to the scoring guide that ETS released this year a 3.5 on the AWA represents a percentile score of 29 (that’s a pretty sucky place to be in on the percentile front!), a 4 on the other hand puts you at the 48th percentile.

That said, understand that on the day of the test – you’ll have to spend an hour of the initial testing taking time on the AWA sections. This could potentially stress you into underperforming on the Verbal and Quant sections. Our goal is to avoid this!

Keep Calm and Create Templates


The best way to avoid letting the AWA stress you out is by creating templates. Like discussed previously, each of the tasks require you to do different things. Let’s find out what these are!


The AWA Issue Essay:


These are essentially a “general essay”. You will be given a prompt to which you respond by discussing your opinion. You will be required to substantiate this opinion with some evidence. That’s all there is to it.


Here is a sample prompt from the ETS pool of Issue Essays:

Scandals are useful because they focus our attention on problems in ways that no speaker or reformer ever could.”


There are two ways you could approach this – either develop an argument that speaks in favor of scandals or one that speaks against them.You could use examples from real world instances, things you’ve read in books or even personal experiences to substantiate your point.Remember to clearly illustrate how this scenario helps prove your perspective though!


A template for the Issue Essay will look something like this:


1. Your opinion:

2. Example 1:                                        Significance:

3. Example 2:                                        Significance:

4. Example 3:          (if any)                   Significance:


Analyze the Issue prompt and fill in this template on your scratch paper before you start writing. Doing this ensures that you spending less time thinking and therefore get less stressed! This also ensures that you adhere to a good structure while writing the essay.

The AWA Argument Essay:

This is quite different from the Issue essays. There is no scope for “your opinion” here. You’ll be given an Argument, an opinion or a suggestion backed by some evidence, which you are expected to critique.

To give you an analogy- while writing the issue essay think like a journalist. While writing the argument essay, think like a lawyer.

Here is a sample argument from the ETS pool of Argument Essays

Arctic deer live on islands in Canada’s arctic regions. They search for food by moving over ice from island to island during the course of the year. Their habitat is limited to areas warm enough to sustain the plants on which they feed and cold enough, at least some of the year, for the ice to cover the sea separating the islands, allowing the deer to travel over it. Unfortunately, according to reports from local hunters, the deer populations are declining. Since these reports coincide with recent global warming trends that have caused the sea ice to melt, we can conclude that the purported decline in deer populations is the result of the deer’s being unable to follow their age-old migration patterns across the frozen sea.”

That argument suggests that the decline in deer population is caused by global warming. Realize that the flaw in logic is that no other potential causative factors are discussed or dismissed; in other words the author assumes that there is no other cause. But maybe there are outher causes; perhaps overhunting caused the decline?

In the argument essay you are supposed to analyze the argument, expose the flaw in reasoning and also suggest why these flaws weaken the argument.

A template for the Argument Essay will look something like this:


What the author says and why:

Flaw #1: Biggest flaw in the argument
(in case of the previous example, it was the causation)

Flaw #2: Second Biggest Flaw

Flaw #3: (If any)


The information you fill out for this, is all you will need to write the argument essay!


1.It’s relatively easy to get a 4 on the AWA sections.

2.It’s important not to lose your cool during the test.

3.Follow templates to avoid the stress of having to “Think” your way into writing the essays!

This will ensure that you have the mental bandwidth to approach the Verbal and Quant sections without “diminishing” your capacity! 🙂

Hope you found this informative; do let us know what your other AWA peeves might be by leaving a comment below!

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6 Confusing GRE Words – Homonyms

Reading Time: 2 minutes

While learning new words, you might have come across sets of words that seemed too similar to each other and those which you ultimately confuse the usage of. The technical term for this is homonyms.

Here are some confusing words that we’ve noticed people mixing up!

1. Principle vs Principal

My principal, the head of the school I studied in, once told me “remember, a principal is your PAL” (yeah right!). Although grossly untrue- that statement served as a great mnemonic.

A principal is the head or the most important part of something.
Whereas, a principle is a belief or rule that one lives by or is expected to live by.

2. Appraise vs Apprise

The word appraise means to be evaluated; for instance, appraisals at work. Remember that one always wishes to be praised after one is appraised! (lame mnemonic, you’re thinking? But it works!).

Apprise on the other hand means to inform someone of something. Eg: My manager apprised me of the appraisals that were scheduled to happen in a month.

3. Collide vs Collude

I’ve actually heard a person say “My car colluded with another car yesterday”.
Hopefully what he meant to say was that his car collided with another car!Collide means to crash into. Collude means to conspire!

Perhaps the only time cars conspired was in the movie Cars 2. Remember all those old rickety cars that conspired to take over the world? Those cars were colluding!

4. Uninterested vs Disinterested

Often assumed (wrongly) to be interchangeable, many people misuse the word “disinterested”.
While “uninterested”, which means that one lacks interest in something, generally has a negative connotation, “disinterested” has a positive connotation. Disinterested means to not be biased – to be impartial!

5. Compliment vs Complement

Quick tip: complement looks like complete, and that’s what it means!
When something adds on to and completes something else it complements it.
Eg: A very smooth operating system complements the carefully selected hardware on the new iPhone 5s!

The word “compliment” of course means to praise someone or something.

6. Torturous vs Tortuous

Remember that the word Torture is similar to the word Torturous.

Eg: Visits to the dentist always end up being torturous: I’m always in more pain after meeting him than before!

Tortuous, on the other hand, has its roots from the word “torque” which sort of means to twist. Tortuous means to have a lot of twists and turns – to not be straightforward.
A movie could be hard to follow because its plot is very tortuous.

These are just some of the words that people find confusing. What words confuse you? Why? Do you have a way of avoiding this confusion? Tell us all about it by leaving a comment below!

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  • January, 13th, 2014
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How to Reduce Silly Errors on GRE Quant

GRE Silly Mistakes
Reading Time: 3 minutes

Whenever you review your GRE test and categorize a mistake as “careless error”, you think that you can’t help it. Well you can! You can narrow down the cause of careless errors in GRE to a few habits. If you improve on these habits your “careless errors” will definitely go down. If you are aiming to achieve a 160 + in each section then definitely you will have to be disciplined no matter how talented you are.

Let us see the habits which will help you reduce the so called silly and unavoidable errors.

Scratch Paper


You won’t believe this, majority of careless errors happen because of unorganized scratch paper work. Keeping the scratch paper organized requires practice and some techniques which are part of  the Crackverbal GRE course.

An ideal scratch paper should look like this:



There are lot of benefits to keeping the scratch paper organized; for example, it allows you to come back to a half attempted question and start from the point you left it at. You don’t make stupid calculation or algebra errors which you would have otherwise.

Read the Question Layerfully


Most of the GRE questions are framed in such a way that you miss the most important information if you read the question in a hurry. You have to identify a lot of things in a question like what is given, what is asked, etc. The information that you require to solve the question is coded with layers of extra information and you have to break it down.

Don’t Skip Steps


Especially in the GRE Math section students have the tendency to skip simple steps. From 4x2 = 32, they would straight away write the value of x in their scratch paper. While skipping steps, we make so many careless errors that hamper our score.

It is always advisable to write the step down in your scratch paper no matter how easy it is. It allows you to review quickly if you have made any mistake.

Eat in Pieces


Ever eaten a Subway sandwich? If yes then how do you eat it? Bite by bite right? So if you see a wordy math question then take a breath and do the question in pieces.

It is very important that you read the first sentence and convert the English to Mathish ( we just made that up 🙂 ) and then proceed further. This will again help you to not to make any careless error.

It’s Logic, Not Math


People who are good at Math are the ones who get most affected by standardized testing because they tend to think that GRE or any other standardized test will test math. It is always advisable to approach the question logically rather than mathematically. So graphs, logarithms won’t help much in GRE.

Always try to find simpler solutions to the question and you will be surprised to see that each question has a simple solution and does not require any advanced concept at all. After all it is STANDARDised testing.

Test Features


There are various test features which help you in NOT making careless errors. For example the review button for every section. Before you submit a section make sure that you have clicked the review button and checked whether you have answered all the questions or not.

Sometimes in a double click we miss a question altogether. The top bar looks like the following.



Don’t forget that you have a calculator to simplify calculations – that doesn’t mean you would start doing simple arithmetic calculations like 20 times 3 on a calculator. Don’t click the Help button it won’t give you the answer 🙂


After developing these habits you would see a great reduction in silly errors, however they won’t count to zero as we are humans and are bound to make mistakes.

Best of Luck!


So, what trips you up on GRE Quant? Leave your comment below and our GRE experts will guide you!

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  • November, 22nd, 2013
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GRE Math: Easy or Difficult?

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The question of whether math is easy or difficult revolves in every student’s mind while preparing for the GRE. Going through the official guide will make you believe that quantitative reasoning in GRE requires nothing more than a mere brush up.  You could be wrong!

Easy but Deceptive

GRE Quantitative Reasoning section is easy but deceptive. The questions in the section have a way of camouflaging their cunning. They look easy; however they can be very tricky. Let us discuss some of the features of GRE Quantitative Reasoning questions which make it a part of the test that cannot be ignored.

Content Versus Strategy

Even though the concepts tested are at high school level,  such as percentages, averages and geometry, the structure of the questions is tricky. GRE Math has a weapon known as Quantitative Comparison questions. These questions ask you to compare two quantities and then identify which of the two quantities is greater. It may look like an easy thing to do; however, these questions are smartly created. Therefore, if you are planning to prepare for GRE Math, don’t forget to learn the strategies that are specific to Quantitative Comparison: approximately 40 percent of the test will be of this type!

Time Eaters

Another type of question that makes GRE Math a force to reckon with is the Data Analysis type of question. These questions are not difficult, but they eat up your time, which is a vital resource on the test. Our advice would be to attempt the chart questions at the end. These questions are longer and usually take up more time.

Scoring Blues

The last issue is the scores students receive on the GRE Math section. Students typically score higher in GRE Math compared to GRE Verbal; this makes getting even a seemingly high score of 155 pointless. If you want to get into the top universities, you must aim for at least 165 in GRE Quant.


This section works as a hygiene factor:
You do well in this section – not a big deal!
You screw up this section – and the universities notice!
Therefore, even though the questions are easy, you have to be consistent; getting even a few questions wrong can easily take your score down to the 150s.
Thus, do not take GRE Quant too lightly – make sure you pay it the attention it deserves!
What has your experience been with GRE Quant? Leave your comments in the comment section below.
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  • September, 19th, 2013
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