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
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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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.
- 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
- 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.
- 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!
- 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.
- DO NOT Use Word Lists
Word lists should not be a part of your entire GRE study plan in any manner.
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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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!
- 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.
- 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.
- 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
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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
- 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!
- 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.
- 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.
- 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!
- 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.
Under GRE Verbal strategies, we mentioned the importance of guesstimation. Now, we’re saying you should do it with Quant, too.
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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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
- MIND CONTROL!
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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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
- 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!
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.