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Your GRE Study Calendar

Manhattan Prep GRE Blog - Your GRE Study Calendar by Chelsey Cooley

Studying for the GRE on your own? Load up your GRE study calendar right now—it’s time to get organized.

The Big Picture

Start by filling in your test date. Not sure when you’ll take the test? Just pick a date that’s in the right ballpark. Plan to spend the two days before your test relaxing, mentally preparing for test day, and doing some light, easy review problems.

Next, mark down any travel or commitments you have coming up. Be realistic about what will and won’t affect your ability to study. You don’t want your whole plan to revolve around studying hard during your beach trip, only to realize once you get there that it’s not going to happen.

Count backwards from your test date by about one week, and choose a day for your dress rehearsal. This is your last practice test, so choose a day when you’ll be able to give it your full attention. On dress rehearsal day, do everything exactly how you’ll do it on test day: timing, scratchwork, breaks, everything.

Next, count backwards another two weeks. You should take and review a GRE practice test about every 14 days—and no more often than every 10 days. Since the GRE is a long test, for many of us, that’ll mean taking a practice test every other weekend. Put these practice tests on your GRE study calendar now. Also, give yourself at least three hours (ideally, over two study sessions) to review each test.

Think of your GRE studying as coming in three phases. Early in your studies, you’ll be spending most of your time learning content. Close to test day, you’ll be spending most of your time practicing problem-solving and staying sharp with what you already know. In the middle, you’ll be doing both of those things—brushing up on a few topics, but also practicing your problem-solving skills.

Here’s what you might have on your calendar right now, if you’re starting it on August 25:

Manhattan Prep GRE Blog - Your GRE Study Calendar by Chelsey Cooley

Filling in the Gaps with Your GRE Study Calendar

Don’t get overwhelmed: start by only filling in the first two weeks of your GRE study calendar. Your needs and goals will change as you take practice tests and learn more about your performance.

Start by analyzing your most recent GRE practice test. Your goal is to find the areas that are currently high-value for you. That means:

  • Areas where you’re missing easy problems and need to brush up on the basics;
  • Areas that showed up frequently on your practice test (think Fractions or Sentence Equivalence, not Combinatorics or Logical Reading Comprehension).
  • Areas that are just a little too tough for you right now, or that take you just a little too long.

Choose about 3-5 focus areas to start with. That seems like a lot, but it’s actually better for your brain in the long run if you jump around between topics, rather than just working on one until you’re exhausted.

Here’s what you might do to study each of these areas:

You don’t have to do every one of these things for every single topic you study! Use what works best for you.

Unless you only have a short time to study on a particular day, try to include two different topics. You should also go back to previous topics on later days. That’s called interleaving, and it helps promote memory formation.

On top of that, dedicate at least one day each week to reviewing your problem log and redoing problems you missed in the past.  

Okay! Now we’re ready to zoom in on the first two weeks of our example GRE study calendar. Suppose that this student was much stronger on Verbal than on Quant, but also missed a lot of Reading Comprehension problems. In Quant, she did pretty well on word problems, but found that she’d forgotten the basic algebra and geometry rules.

Manhattan Prep GRE Blog - Your GRE Study Calendar by Chelsey Cooley

This student is starting her first week, once she finishes reviewing her practice test, by brushing up on the rules for Algebra, Reading Comprehension, and Geometry. As the second week starts, she mixes in more GRE problems on the topics she was weak on. She also builds in two review sessions before her second practice test. Importantly, she takes two days completely away from studying.

Your GRE study calendar will look different, depending on your own strengths and weaknesses and how much time you have before test day. But, you should use the same general ideas from this example: mix up your studies across different days, build in a lot of time for review (and use it!), and be realistic about days you won’t be able to study. The more you plan your studying ahead of time, the less stressed you’ll be when it comes time to actually sit down and do the work. 📝


See that “SUBSCRIBE” button in the top right corner? Click on it to receive all our GRE blog updates straight to your inbox!


Chelsey CooleyChelsey Cooley Manhattan Prep GRE Instructor is a Manhattan Prep instructor based in Seattle, Washington. Chelsey always followed her heart when it came to her education. Luckily, her heart led her straight to the perfect background for GMAT and GRE teaching: she has undergraduate degrees in mathematics and history, a master’s degree in linguistics, a 790 on the GMAT, and a perfect 170Q/170V on the GRE. Check out Chelsey’s upcoming GRE prep offerings here.

The post Your GRE Study Calendar appeared first on GRE.

Fuente https://www.manhattanprep.com

How to Create a GRE Problem Log for Quant

Manhattan Prep GRE Blog - How to Create a GRE Problem Log for Quant by Chelsey Cooley

Having a GRE problem log is like having a budget: sort of a pain sometimes, but much smarter than the alternative. Skeptical? Check out this article first—then come back here when you’re ready to roll.

1. Choose a format that inspires you.

Are you a gel-pen-loving bullet-journal enthusiast? Or would you rather something plain but practical, like a nice Excel spreadsheet? Your GRE problem log won’t work at all if you don’t write in it or look at it. A GRE problem log can be in any format that lets you record information in an organized way.

2. Light, heavy, or in between?

Some of us are natural self-analyzers. Some of us would rather just skip straight to the action. It’s okay if your GRE problem log is very simple. An elaborate problem log is great too. What matters is that you choose something that won’t feel like a burden.

3. The world’s simplest GRE problem log…

At the heart of it, the point of a GRE problem log is to remember what you’ve learned and to help you learn in the future. There are all kinds of little ‘aha’ moments that come from doing GRE problems: keeping a problem log makes sure those moments are recorded rather than vanishing.

With that in mind, here’s the world’s simplest GRE problem log:

Manhattan Prep GRE Blog - How to Create a GRE Problem Log for Quant by Chelsey Cooley

4. Not all takeaways are created equal.

The best takeaways are general. When you do a problem, you’re not going to see that same problem on your actual GRE. So, recording exactly how you did that specific problem is a waste of time. Your goal is to glean ideas from that problem that you could use on other problems.

The best takeaways remind you of not only what to do, but when to do it. Try to record not only which actions you took during a problem, but also how you knew what to do.

Here’s a problem from the 5 lb. Book of GRE Practice Problems:

If y≠0, what percent of y percent of 50 is 40 percent of y?

Here’s a quick solution:

  • Since y isn’t part of the answer, choose a number for y. We’ll choose 100, so we can read the problem like this:

What percent of 100 percent of 50 is 40 percent of 100?

  • Start by writing the equation as follows:

Manhattan Prep GRE Blog - How to Create a GRE Problem Log for Quant by Chelsey Cooley

  • Then, simplify the equation to solve for p:

Manhattan Prep GRE Blog - How to Create a GRE Problem Log for Quant by Chelsey Cooley

And here are some great takeaways:

  • If you see a variable percent (y%), but you aren’t solving for y, just choose 100 for y!
  • Translate ‘what percent’ as ‘p/100’ and translate ‘of’ as multiplication
  • If you see ‘100 percent’, you can just ignore it while doing math
  • Complicated percent problems can be easier to solve with fractions, rather than decimals

5. ‘Do it again?’

You don’t have to redo every single problem, or even every problem you missed. The best problems to redo are the ones that were right at the edge of your ability level. Don’t bother with the ones that were ridiculously hard, or the ones that you missed for a silly reason (although you should still write those ‘silly reasons’ down.) Redo the ones that you know you could get right with just a bit more studying.

6. Taking it up a notch…

Here’s some more information you may want to include in your GRE problem log:

  • What topic was the problem testing? This way, you can quickly skim your log to find all of the Algebra problems, or all of the Geometry problems, and so on.
  • What answer did you pick? This is useful when you redo a problem: compare your answer now to the one you got originally.
  • How long did it take? Log problems that take you a long time as well as the ones you got wrong. When you do them again, try to beat your previous time.

7. Take it up two notches.

You might not include this information for every single problem you do, but it can be useful for some problems!

  • If you got it wrong: what type of error was it? I like to think in terms of conceptual errors (you didn’t know how to do something), process errors (you knew how to do it, but didn’t choose the right approach), and careless errors (you added 2 plus 3 and got 7).
  • For Quantitative Comparison problems: what cases did you test? If you didn’t test cases… that may be a clue to why you missed the problem! What cases should you have tried?
  • Were there any interesting trap answers or easy mistakes to make in the problem – regardless of whether you fell for them yourself? What would be the easiest ways to get this problem wrong?
  • Is there a better or faster way to solve it – even if your approach worked?

8. Now what?

So, you’ve created this GRE problem log, and you’ve started filling it up with Quant problems. Now what? Twice per week, on the same days every week, read over your GRE problem log. On one of those two days, just reread it and look at your takeaways. On the other day, redo some or all of the problems you’ve decided to redo, and record whether you got them right this time. With time, you’ll find yourself thinking about lessons learned from old problems when you’re doing new ones—and that’s exactly what you need for test day. 📝


See that “SUBSCRIBE” button in the top right corner? Click on it to receive all our GRE blog updates straight to your inbox!


Chelsey CooleyChelsey Cooley Manhattan Prep GRE Instructor is a Manhattan Prep instructor based in Seattle, Washington. Chelsey always followed her heart when it came to her education. Luckily, her heart led her straight to the perfect background for GMAT and GRE teaching: she has undergraduate degrees in mathematics and history, a master’s degree in linguistics, a 790 on the GMAT, and a perfect 170Q/170V on the GRE. Check out Chelsey’s upcoming GRE prep offerings here.

The post How to Create a GRE Problem Log for Quant appeared first on GRE.

Fuente https://www.manhattanprep.com

Using Smart Numbers for GRE Quant

Manhattan Prep GRE Blog - Using Smart Numbers for GRE Quant by Chelsey Cooley

Here’s a quick cheat sheet on how, when, and why to use Smart Numbers to solve GRE Quant problems.

What is Smart Numbers?

Smart Numbers is a strategy for certain GRE Quant problems, usually word problems. It’s not a guessing method—in other words, using Smart Numbers will give you the exact right answer, just like doing algebra will.

When can you use Smart Numbers on GRE Quant?

You’ll decide whether to use Smart Numbers by looking at the answer choices (so, it’s most often useful on Discrete Quant problems, which have answer choices!).

If you see the following in the answer choices, you can definitely use Smart Numbers:

  • Expressions with variables in them, such as 3x or 4y + z.

You can also usually use Smart Numbers if you see the following in the answer choices:

  • Percents
  • Ratios
  • Fractions

If you see percents, ratios, or fractions, here’s how to make the decision. Read the whole problem, and decide whether you’re dealing with specific numbers, or just with relationships between numbers.

For instance, does the problem say that x equals 12, or that Beryl has sixteen cats? Those are specific numbers, and you probably can’t use Smart Numbers.

On the other hand, if x is 50% more than y, or if Beryl has twice as many cats as Jane, those are relationships—and you probably can use Smart Numbers.

There are a few other special situations, so I’ll also give you a rule that covers everything—although it takes a little bit more thinking to apply it. If a GRE Discrete Quant problem doesn’t tell you the numbers, but just tells you how they relate to each other, you can use Smart Numbers. If it does tell you specific numbers, you can’t.

How does Smart Numbers work?

Suppose you’ve decided to use Smart Numbers because there are variable expressions in your answer choices. For instance, the problem looks like this:

If a, b, c, and d are consecutive integers and a < b < c < d, what is the average (arithmetic mean) of a, b, c, and d in terms of d?

A) d – 5/2
B) d – 2
C) d – 3/2
D) d + 3/2
E) (4d – 6)/7

In this situation, start by choosing numbers that fit all of the facts the problem gives you. In this one, the four numbers you choose have to be consecutive, with a being the smallest, and d being the largest.

As long as the numbers fit the facts, you should use the easiest numbers you can think of. For this problem, let’s go for 1, 2, 3, and 4.

The next step is probably the most important one: everywhere you see a variable in the problem—including the answer choices!—replace it with the number you chose. You can use a combination of mental math and scratch work to do this, depending on how complex the problem looks.

By the way, during this step, you should forget about the phrase “in terms of d.” “In terms of” only matters when you’re using variables. Since we’re replacing our variables with numbers, we can just drop it.

Here’s what that problem would look like, once we’re finished with this step:

If 1, 2, 3, and 4 are consecutive integers and 1<2<3<4, what is the average of 1, 2, 3, and 4?

A) 4 – 5/2
B) 4 – 2
C) 4 – 3/2
D) 4 + 3/2
E) (4*4 – 6)/7

Next, answer the question. What is the average of 1, 2, 3, and 4? It’s 2.5.

Which of the answer choices equals 2.5? Only (C) does. (By the way, you can often figure this out without doing too much math—for instance, you should eliminate (B) quickly, since it won’t result in a decimal.)

Let’s try another one. This time, suppose you’re using Smart Numbers because you noticed percents in the answer choices. Your problem might look like this:

Aloysius spends 50% of his income on rent, utilities, and insurance, and 20% on food. If he spends 30% of the remainder on video games and has no other expenditures, what percent of his income is left after all of the expenditures?

A) 30%
B) 21%
C) 20%
D) 9%
E) 0%

Pick a number that fits everything you’re told in the problem. This problem doesn’t really give us any constraints on the number—except that it’s a dollar amount, so it shouldn’t be negative—so we can pick more or less any number we want. Let’s say that Aloysius’s income is $100.

You don’t have to replace the variables with numbers in this scenario, because there aren’t any variables! If the problem only has percents or ratios, not variables, you can skip that step. Go right ahead and solve the problem.

50% of $100 is $50, and 20% of $100 is $20. That leaves $30 remaining. Aloysius spends 30% of that $30, or $9, on video games. His total expenditures are $50+$20+$9, or $79, with $21 left over. Since $21 is 21% of his original income, the right answer is (B).

Why should you use Smart Numbers?

In some situations, using Smart Numbers takes more time than just doing the algebra. If you’re fast and confident with algebra, there will be problems where you’ll save time by “just doing the math.” However, there are other advantages to using Smart Numbers:

  • It’s easier to check your work with numbers than with variables.
  • It makes it easier to convert between different units. It’s much easier to convert 100 pennies to dollars than to convert 4x pennies to dollars.
  • It makes it easier to work with percentages. I know that 3 is 50% of 6, but it’s not nearly as obvious that 3xy is 50y% of 6x.
  • It’s often an easier way to solve a very tough word problem. If you’re having a hard time setting up equations based on a word problem, it may become clearer when you try using specific numbers.

However, I do have one warning: don’t think of Smart Numbers as a last resort! If you wait until you’ve already spent two minutes on the GRE Quant problem, using Smart Numbers isn’t going to help you. Try using it first—after all, there’s no rule saying you have to try algebra before you can do something else. On the GRE, you’re free to use whichever approach works, even if your middle school algebra teacher would disapprove! 📝


See that “SUBSCRIBE” button in the top right corner? Click on it to receive all our GRE blog updates straight to your inbox!


Chelsey CooleyChelsey Cooley Manhattan Prep GRE Instructor is a Manhattan Prep instructor based in Seattle, Washington. Chelsey always followed her heart when it came to her education. Luckily, her heart led her straight to the perfect background for GMAT and GRE teaching: she has undergraduate degrees in mathematics and history, a master’s degree in linguistics, a 790 on the GMAT, and a perfect 170Q/170V on the GRE. Check out Chelsey’s upcoming GRE prep offerings here.

The post Using Smart Numbers for GRE Quant appeared first on GRE.

Fuente https://www.manhattanprep.com

Can You Ace GRE Quant if You’re Bad at Math? (Part 3)

Manhattan Prep GRE Blog - Can You Ace GRE Quant if You're Bad at Math? (Part 3) by Chelsey Cooley

If you have a complicated relationship with math, you need to be especially careful about how you study. Some GRE Quant study techniques might seem to make perfect sense, but can actually leave you frustrated and demoralized in the long run. For painless studying, try these next few ideas instead.

(If you’re just joining us now, check out the previous two articles in this series before you keep reading. In the first one, we dispel the “bad at math” myth. In the second, we go over some simple approaches to gain momentum and learn the basics.)  

The When and Why of GRE Quant Rules

Part of the “bad at math” mindset is the feeling that math is sort of like magic. When you watch an expert solve a math problem, it’s like watching someone pull a rabbit out of a hat: you can see what’s happening, but you don’t know what they actually did.   

That’s compounded by the way that a lot of us learn math in school. Unless you had great elementary school math teachers, you probably learned math as a long list of rules and operations. You probably spent a lot of time learning to apply each rule correctly, and much less time learning when to use each rule.

So, if you took a test on multiplication in elementary school, you’d pass as long as you multiplied the numbers correctly. That doesn’t work on GRE Quant. To ‘pass’ the GRE, you have to not only multiply correctly, you have to decide whether to multiply in the first place.

That’s a skill that you won’t get from memorizing rules. You also won’t get there by drilling one problem type over and over until you can perform it perfectly, then moving on to the next one. If you don’t also know the “when and why,” the real test will seem much harder than your practice sessions.

So, what can you do? My first piece of advice is to create “when I see this, do this” flashcards. Those are discussed in detail here. Every time you do a GRE Quant problem, try to spot clues that you could use in other problems. Then, identify what you’re supposed to do when you notice one of those clues. Put those two things on the front and back of a flashcard, and keep it handy. Periodically, go through all of these flashcards and test your “what to do next” knowledge.

Second, regularly set aside time to do random sets of actual GRE Quant problems. This is more and more important the closer you get to test day. It forces you to not only solve the problems, but also figure out what they’re testing in the first place, and what approach to take. Instead of just skimming through your mental cheat sheet on a single topic, you have to choose from among everything you know about GRE Quant. That’s not something that comes naturally, but it will improve if you start practicing it!

Take GRE Quant Step by Step

Think of your GRE Quant knowledge as a jigsaw puzzle. Each time you learn a new fact or skill, someone hands you a new puzzle piece. If you already have the surrounding pieces in place, it’ll be easy to fit the new one in. But if you’re just getting started, and someone hands you a random piece from the middle of the puzzle, it’s almost impossible to decide where it goes.

Don’t start your GRE Quant studies by picking random pieces from the middle of the puzzle. Start with the corners and the edges: the math foundations. Check out the previous article for a list of starting places and some ideas on how to approach them.   

From there, aim to “push your GRE Quant score up from below,” rather than “dragging it up from above.” You’ll gain more points by really mastering the easy or moderate problems than you will by conquering the very hardest problems—and this will take less of your limited study time and build your confidence as well. Spend a little more of your time on the problems that are just a bit too hard for you—the ones where you have all of the surrounding puzzle pieces in place, but you haven’t quite placed the very last one. And avoid wasting time on the very toughest problems, unless those are really the only ones that are challenging for you.

It may seem satisfying to continue drilling one topic until you’re comfortable with it, but this can also lead to frustration when it doesn’t work out. Worse, it’s a poor strategy for memory formation. You’re better off moving around the jigsaw puzzle, changing which bit you’re working on in order to stay fresh. (This means that even if you’re spending almost all of your study time on GRE Quant, a little work on Verbal can be good for both your morale and your score.)

It’s fine to not understand things, to make mistakes, and to get problems wrong, even all the way up until test day. Focus on learning the material that’s most within your grasp right now, and learning it in the most efficient and effective way you can. Why not check out GRE Interact to get started? 📝


See that “SUBSCRIBE” button in the top right corner? Click on it to receive all our GRE blog updates straight to your inbox!


Chelsey CooleyChelsey Cooley Manhattan Prep GRE Instructor is a Manhattan Prep instructor based in Seattle, Washington. Chelsey always followed her heart when it came to her education. Luckily, her heart led her straight to the perfect background for GMAT and GRE teaching: she has undergraduate degrees in mathematics and history, a master’s degree in linguistics, a 790 on the GMAT, and a perfect 170Q/170V on the GRE. Check out Chelsey’s upcoming GRE prep offerings here.

The post Can You Ace GRE Quant if You’re Bad at Math? (Part 3) appeared first on GRE.

Fuente https://www.manhattanprep.com

Can You Ace GRE Quant if You’re Bad at Math? (Part 2)

Manhattan Prep GRE Blog - Can You Ace GRE Quant if You're Bad at Math? (Part 2) by Chelsey Cooley

You’re here because you’re bad at math, and you want to ace GRE Quant but aren’t sure how. But if you read the previous article, you know that you weren’t born without a “math organ,” and your brain is just as suitable for learning GRE Quant as anybody else’s. That doesn’t mean you don’t have challenges to overcome. But you should really be asking, How can I ace the GRE with limited math experience? Or How can I ace the GRE when I don’t know how to study math? Or even How can I get over my math anxiety and get excited about the GRE?

Don’t Panic

There’s a lot of common sense involved in solving GRE Quant problems. If the price of a couch is marked up by 15%, it shouldn’t end up costing $180,000. If you want to know how many eighth-graders are in a classroom, you shouldn’t end up with 2/3 of a student. But when you let math anxiety get the better of you, it’s easy to lose that common sense.

When you start a GRE Quant problem, take a deep breath. This reduces anxiety—and gives your brain some oxygen. Read the problem slowly and calmly. Don’t immediately start asking yourself which equations to use. When you start trying to do the math immediately, you stop trying to understand the story the problem is telling you.

It’s okay to slow down at the beginning of a GRE Quant problem. On the GRE, you don’t run out of time because you read math problems too carefully! You run out of time because you don’t understand the problem, but you try to solve it anyway.

If you struggle with math anxiety—and a lot of people do!—you probably won’t fix it by studying more. Actually, things tend to work the opposite way: studying and practice will be far more effective if you reduce your math anxiety first. Staying calm makes you better at GRE Quant, not the other way around. Here’s another article with some great tips for reducing test anxiety.

Don’t Go from Zero to a Hundred

One huge study mistake I see from “bad at math” students is this: you choose one topic, say, solving linear equations. You drill away at that topic during a killer multi-hour study session, or even over a period of days. You watch videos, read articles, and do practice problems. When you’re finished, you’re exhausted, but confident that you totally understand how to solve an equation. So, you move on to the next topic.

Then you see a linear equation on your practice GRE a week later, and you get it wrong.

The study style described above is called “blocking.” I’ll be the first to admit that there’s something satisfying about it. It’s nice to feel like you’re finally done with a topic that’s challenged you for a long time. But your brain hates it.

This analogy might be a little crude, but just work with me: teaching yourself GRE Quant is a little bit like training a dog. If you want your dog to learn to sit, you start when it’s calm and relaxed, and you don’t try to get it to master the trick in a single marathon session. Instead, you interleave, which is what you should do when you study basic math.

Here’s a great rundown on interleaving. (The article is from our GMAT blog, but everything there applies to the GRE as well!)

In short, give yourself permission to walk away without 100% mastering something. In the long run, that’s actually better for your brain.

Where Should You Start on GRE Quant?

Some math-phobes get along just fine in our 8-week GRE course. If you have a lot of time to devote to the GRE, and you’re confident that you’ll pick up the basics quickly—for instance, if you always did well in math in school, but you’ve gotten rusty—go ahead and dive in!

However, if you’re weak on the math foundations, you might struggle to get as much as possible out of the course and the homework. Consider starting with something like Khan Academy, which has great videos and problem sets on all of the topics covered on the GRE. Good math topics to start with:

  • Working with fractions, decimals, percents, and ratios
  • Writing, simplifying, and solving basic equations
  • Working with equations that have exponents or quadratics
  • Knowing some basic statistics definitions: average, median, range, quartile, and standard deviation
  • Basic geometry formulas, dealing with circles, triangles, squares, and rectangles

You could even begin with the Foundations of GMAT Math Strategy Guide: it’s written for GMAT students, but the content heavily overlaps with what’s on GRE Quant, and the book is a fantastic guide to math basics for adults.

Also, start developing your “math instincts” as soon as you can. You get a calculator on the GRE, but the more confident you are with numbers, the better. Take every opportunity to do simple math or estimation: guess the number of people in a large auditorium, or calculate your tip at dinner in your head, or estimate how much it’ll cost to fill your car up with gas at a certain price. Try out some arithmetic games, like this one. Download the Manhattan Prep GRE app, and start getting in the habit of thinking about math every day.

Next time, we’ll take a deeper look at how to study GRE Quant. You may have been studying inefficiently for your whole life! That could have a lot to do with why you aren’t a math expert—and with a few simple changes, you can start becoming one. 📝


See that “SUBSCRIBE” button in the top right corner? Click on it to receive all our GRE blog updates straight to your inbox!


Chelsey CooleyChelsey Cooley Manhattan Prep GRE Instructor is a Manhattan Prep instructor based in Seattle, Washington. Chelsey always followed her heart when it came to her education. Luckily, her heart led her straight to the perfect background for GMAT and GRE teaching: she has undergraduate degrees in mathematics and history, a master’s degree in linguistics, a 790 on the GMAT, and a perfect 170Q/170V on the GRE. Check out Chelsey’s upcoming GRE prep offerings here.

The post Can You Ace GRE Quant if You’re Bad at Math? (Part 2) appeared first on GRE.

Fuente https://www.manhattanprep.com

S is for Summer AND GRE Studying!

Manhattan Prep GRE Blog - S is for Summer AND GRE Studying! by Cat Powell

I am, without question, a summer person. As soon as the weather gets warm, I emerge from my perpetual crust of low-grade gloom and become the person I know I’m really meant to be: cheerful, energetic, relaxed (sort of), and ready to spend as much time as I can in the sun, near the ocean, and with friends. Ironically, the season in which I have the most energy is the one in which I’m least inclined to get anything done.

Now, not everyone is a summer person (I have friends who swear their Seasonal Affective Disorder hits hardest in July). But whether or not you thrive in the warmest months, you can harness the general good cheer, longer days, and relaxed atmosphere of the season to make the most of your GRE studying. Here are some thoughts on how to do that.

1. Allocate travel time productively.

Weddings, beach trips, camping, family vacations: for a lot of us, the summer is packed with travel. Whether you’re taking a train, bus, or plane, commit to always using travel time for GRE studying. You can get many resources online or as e-books, so you don’t have to lug around anything besides a laptop. You’ll be surprised by how much you can accomplish using travel or commute time alone. When I was in grad school and working nearly full time, I used all of my subway commutes for reading, and I was able to get a big chunk of my schoolwork done that way. It’s a pretty painless way to put serious hours toward your GRE studying. If you’re going to be driving, this becomes a bit more challenging, but not impossible. Listening to audiobooks or podcasts that use GRE-level vocabulary is a great way to build both vocab and verbal comprehension skills.

2. Create a reasonable GRE studying schedule and stick to it.

For many, work schedules can be a bit lighter in the summer, making this a great season to tackle the additional challenge of preparing for a standardized test. If this applies to you, commit now to a summer study schedule.

Decide on how many hours a week you can realistically put toward GRE studying. A realistic schedule is one that you can stick to without it being unduly painful. Then portion these hours out into a regular weekly pattern (I often recommend at least 5 hours per week and ideally 10-15, depending on how much time you have and how quickly you work).

Don’t let all your hours pile up on weekends. Half an hour a day each weekday will add up and save you from unproductive marathon sessions on Sundays. Give yourself at least one day a week entirely off. If you find that you are consistently not sticking to your schedule, decide: is the schedule unreasonable, or do you need to be more committed?

3. Use outdoor exercise to manage stress.

Preparing for the GRE can be exhausting and stressful, and many of the students I work with grapple with test anxiety. For this reason, regular stress-reducing routines are just as important as regular GRE studying habits. Being in the sun, exercising and playing, spending time near trees and water: these are all great ways to relieve stress, and summer is the perfect time to enjoy outside activities. So don’t get so invested in your GRE studying that you forget to take care of yourself, and remember that taking some time to enjoy the season will actually improve your memory and overall test performance.

4. Stick to an end-of-summer deadline.

Many test centers start to get busy in the late summer and early fall, so sign up for an official test now. Pick a late August or early September date, so that you have a hard deadline for your studying (for my part, if I didn’t have deadlines, I’d never get anything done). An end-of-summer date is a good choice for a few reasons.

First, if you begin your GRE studying in June, this will give you about two-and-a-half to three months to prepare, which, if you’re committed and consistent, is a good timeline for many students. Second, you’ll still leave plenty of time to take the test again before most application deadlines. In an ideal world, you’d only need to take the test once. Bad days do happen, though, and I see many students take the test twice (and most do better on their second sitting). Third, you’ll get the test out of the way with plenty of time left to work on the other, equally important aspects of your application.

5. Remember that a change of scene is a great antidote to burnout.

It turns out that GRE studying in different places and at different times actually helps you to better retain material. Changing up habits and routines can also help re-energize you if your enthusiasm starts to wane. So, take some time this summer to visit a new place, whether close to home or far-flung. And when you do, bring a few GRE resources along for the ride.

Good luck in your studies, enjoy the sun, and remember: there’s no time like now, because winter is coming! 📝


Want more guidance from our GRE gurus? You can attend the first session of any of our online or in-person GRE courses absolutely free! We’re not kidding. Check out our upcoming courses here.


cat-powell-1Cat Powell is a Manhattan Prep instructor based in New York, NY. She spent her undergraduate years at Harvard studying music and English and is now pursuing an MFA in fiction writing at Columbia University. Her affinity for standardized tests led her to a 169Q/170V score on the GRE. Check out Cat’s upcoming GRE courses here.

The post S is for Summer AND GRE Studying! appeared first on GRE.

Fuente https://www.manhattanprep.com

Math and the Growth Mindset

Manhattan Prep GRE Blog - Math and the Growth Mindset by Tom Anderson

Do you consider yourself a “math person?”

Actually—hold on a second. Whether you answer yes or no, you’re expressing a potentially harmful thought. Such thoughts reflect a fixed mindset about oneself—a belief that you’re born good at some things and bad at others. Carry that line of thinking a little further:

“Math people” grew up solving quadratic equations in their heads as toddlers. They always just “got it.” Everyone else had to work hard to get there. “Non-math people” could more easily run 10 miles backwards than calculate a tip at a restaurant. If you’re a “math person,” congrats on the easy grades and high GRE scores for the rest of your life. If you’re not, then too bad. It’s hopeless.

I believe that such thoughts are not just untrue, but downright harmful. There’s a growing body of research on this issue. Many readers of this blog entry will no doubt have heard of Carol Dweck, her book Mindset, and her TED talk, which currently has over 7 million views. Dweck argues that the way you view yourself has a huge impact on your success. It’s not just those who think they’re “naturally bad at something” who are at risk, by the way. One of the most negatively-impacted groups seems to be very high-performing students who think it’s all about being “naturally good at something.” I would encourage you to leave behind those fixed ideas of being a “math person” and instead adopt a mindset of growth.

In this entry, I’ll share with you a few ideas from research in educational psychology about growth mindsets and what you can do to develop one. In particular, I’ve been reading a book called Mathematical Mindsets by Jo Boaler. I’ll share with you some ideas from this book.

You Can Rewire Your Brain (to Become a “Math Person”)

First of all, know that your brain can be changed. In one intriguing study, researchers looked at the brains of cab drivers in London who had to memorize over 25,000 streets and 20,000 landmarks in order to qualify for their jobs. During the intensive training process, cab drivers showed dramatic growth in the hippocampus—the area of the brain that is used to acquire spatial information. Their brains were so affected by their practice that they showed measurable growth in the very brain matter inside their heads.

This concept that the brain can change and adapt in dramatic ways is called neuroplasticity. There are abundant examples of it. Stroke victims can sometimes regain their speech by rewiring a new region of their brain. People paralyzed in accidents can sometimes regain their movement; in one extreme case, an individual even lost the entire left hemisphere of her brain and was then able to regrow its functions in the remaining right hemisphere.

Aside from these extreme examples, we all experience neuroplasticity when we learn. Your brain is more like a muscle that can grow with exercise than like a computer that’s stuck with the processor it was built with.

Mistakes Matter

Take a few minutes and watch this video of a Swiss watchmaker who has been making watches by hand for 50 years. He tells us, “It’s not easy because you learn all your life. Even at my age, I learn every day and very often by making mistakes.” An expert in nearly any field will tell you the same thing: they’ve made their most significant learning through mistakes rather than successes.

The research backs them up. Not only do experts learn from making an incredible number of mistakes, they seem to learn more when making mistakes than when doing something correctly. Jo Boaler summarizes some research on the issue:

“Students’ brains reacted with greater […] electrical activity when they made mistakes than when their answers were correct. Second […] brain activity was greater following mistakes for individuals with a growth mindset than for individuals with a fixed mindset. The study also found that individuals with a growth mindset had a greater awareness of errors than individuals with a fixed mindset, so they were more likely to go back and correct errors.” Mathematical Mindsets (p.12)

It may not always feel this way, but mistakes are not something that should make you cringe. They’re probably the most worthwhile tidbits from any study session. And they’re even better for you if you open yourself up to growth, log them, and go back to correct them.

Think of it this way: your brain grows a synapse every time you make a mistake. A good practice session shouldn’t be easy. Get out there and start making some mistakes!

Process > Product

A good teacher will make it clear: the route to a right answer is much more important than the right answer itself. Of course, on an exam like the GRE, you want to get as many points as possible. But you get those points by carefully thinking about the problem in front of you and the solution paths it beckons you to use.

In the same way that you don’t improve your free throws by focusing on the “whoosh” a basketball makes when it goes through the net, you shouldn’t try to improve your problem-solving process by going straight to an answer key. Instead, focus on the steps to get there.

When you practice on your own, try thinking of your answer keys and explanations less like the finish line and more like consultants to whom you can turn for feedback along the way. Rather than just checking the right answer, peek at the explanation to see if the work you’ve done is on the right track. If so, continue onward. If not, go back and revise. Try to lead yourself to the correct answer rather than just reading what it is.

Believing You Can Grow is Part of the Recipe for Growth

On the first day of my GRE class, I often ask my students a similar question to the one I asked at the beginning of this blog entry—I ask them to raise their hand if they’ve come into my classroom with an idea floating around in their subconscious that they are “bad at math.” Every time I ask this question, a few reluctant hands pop into the air, followed by an avalanche of others, until a huge majority of hands silently confess this belief.

It’s easy for me to believe that there is no such thing as being “bad at math”—for years, I’ve seen my students bring up their GRE Math scores, sometimes to levels they never thought possible. That said, I’m well aware many folks have been traumatized by math in their prior education. Even many well-meaning teachers may have conveyed the notion that math is a gift, and either you have it or you don’t. Take heart and do what you can to throw out these “fixed” notions that may be rummaging around in your brain. Just like your math ability can be changed, so can your mindset.

Believing that you can get smarter is part of the process in doing so. 📝


Want more guidance from our GRE gurus? You can attend the first session of any of our online or in-person GRE courses absolutely free! We’re not kidding. Check out our upcoming courses here.


tom-andersonTom Anderson is a Manhattan Prep instructor based in New York, NY. He has a B.A. in English and a master’s degree in education. Tom has long possessed an understanding of the power of standardized tests in propelling one’s education and career, and he hopes he can help his students see through the intimidating veneer of the GRE. Check out Tom’s upcoming GRE courses here.

The post Math and the Growth Mindset appeared first on GRE.

Fuente https://www.manhattanprep.com

GRE Math for People Who Hate Math: Cracking the GRE Code

Manhattan Prep GRE Blog - GRE Math for People Who Hate Math: Cracking the GRE Code by Chelsey Cooley

The GRE will never lie to you—but it doesn’t always tell you what you really want to know. The GRE is a little bit like my friend in this exchange:

Me: “What do you think of this outfit?”

My friend: “Well, it’s very… creative.”

Sure, it’s not like she lied (zebra-striped leggings are pretty creative). But she also didn’t come right out and call me a fashion victim. In order to work that out, I had to crack the code.

You already know how to “crack the code” in English. Codebreaking is how we figure out what people really mean, even though we exaggerate, simplify, avoid touchy topics, and change the subject. And on the test, codebreaking is how you start to understand a GRE Math problem.

Here’s an example of a GRE Math problem that’s full of code:

What is the largest integer n such that 5n is a factor of 10!?

1. …

2. …

This problem looks fairly intimidating, but if it just said what it meant in plain English, it’d be a lot easier. The people who write GRE Math problems want to intimidate you a little, if they can—that way, they can reward people who calm down, take a deep breath, and focus on what the problem really means. Let’s do exactly that right now.

10! is pronounced as “10 factorial,” and it’s code for a very large number: the number you’d get by multiplying 10, times 9, times 8, times 7, and all the way down to 1.

If something is a factor of 10!, you can divide 10! evenly by that number. For instance, 2 is a factor of 10!. So is 20.

We really want to know whether 5n divides evenly into this large number. 5n is code too. An exponent just refers to a number such as 5, 5×5, 5x5x5, 5x5x5x5, or any number of 5s multiplied together. Since the problem asks about the largest integer n, you’re looking for the largest number of 5s that you can possibly divide evenly into 10!.

So, here’s what the problem says now:

10x9x8x7x6x5x4x3x2x1 can be evenly divided by 5x5x…x5. What is the largest number of 5s that can be evenly divided into the larger number?

“Divisible” or “evenly divided” is code as well. If you want to know if one number is divisible by another number, here’s a great way to do it. Write a fraction, with the bigger number on the top and the smaller number on the bottom. Start simplifying that fraction, a little bit at a time. If you can cross off the entire bottom of the fraction, you know the number is divisible. If you can’t, it isn’t divisible.

If we were solving this problem, we’d write our fraction like this:

Manhattan Prep GRE Blog - GRE Math for People Who Hate Math: Cracking the GRE Code by Chelsey Cooley

How many 5s can be crossed off on the bottom? As many 5s as there are on the top. Notice that 10 can be rewritten as 5 times 2.

Manhattan Prep GRE Blog - GRE Math for People Who Hate Math: Cracking the GRE Code by Chelsey Cooley

So, there are exactly two 5s on the top of the fraction. The answer to the problem is 2: 10! is divisible by 5².

Here’s what the GRE Math problem really said, ignoring all of the code:

In total, how many 5s can be divided out of the numbers 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, and 1?

You aren’t supposed to go through all of that codebreaking on GRE test day. There just isn’t time. If you see a GRE Math problem that has code you don’t know how to translate, consider guessing and moving on. But, here’s why codebreaking is still important: if you do it ahead of time, you’ll recognize the code quickly when you see it on the test.

If anything about the problem we just did was surprising or challenging for you, take a moment to make some flashcards. On the front of the flashcard, write a piece of code you could see in a problem. On the back, write out what it really means. Here are the flashcards that I’d make for this GRE Math problem:

Manhattan Prep GRE Blog - GRE Math for People Who Hate Math: Cracking the GRE Code by Chelsey Cooley

Let’s practice some codebreaking and get a few more flashcards made. Here are some snippets of “GRE code.” Take your time and work out what they’re really saying, in plain English. Then, make a flashcard or two for each one.

  1. xy ≠ 0
  2. x is divisible by 6, but not by 12
  3.  + 1 is odd
  4. p has exactly two factors
  5. p has an odd number of factors
  6. /b < 0

Try it out, and let us know what you think in the comments! 📝


See that “SUBSCRIBE” button in the top right corner? Click on it to receive all our GRE blog updates straight to your inbox!


Chelsey CooleyChelsey Cooley Manhattan Prep GRE Instructor is a Manhattan Prep instructor based in Seattle, Washington. Chelsey always followed her heart when it came to her education. Luckily, her heart led her straight to the perfect background for GMAT and GRE teaching: she has undergraduate degrees in mathematics and history, a master’s degree in linguistics, a 790 on the GMAT, and a perfect 170Q/170V on the GRE. Check out Chelsey’s upcoming GRE prep offerings here.

The post GRE Math for People Who Hate Math: Cracking the GRE Code appeared first on GRE.

Fuente https://www.manhattanprep.com

Interact for GRE, Our New Adaptive & Interactive GRE Prep, is Here!

Manhattan Prep GRE Blog - Interact for GRE, Our New Adaptive & Interactive GRE Prep, is Here! by Manhattan Prep

We’re extremely excited to announce that Interact for GRE—our on-demand, interactive GRE self-study experience that’s been in the works for years—has officially launched. 🎉

Starting at just $249, Interact for GRE is a revolutionary learning experience made just for you, the busy grad school applicant who needs flexible and comprehensive GRE prep. Using branching video technology, Interact for GRE adapts to your performance by providing you with prompts and delivering customized feedback based on your responses.

With Interact for GRE, you will:

  • learn from top 1% GRE scorers with years of teaching experience
  • be an active participant in the study experience—you won’t just watch instructors lecture you from slides.
  • work with videos that adapt to your strengths and weaknesses so that you spend the right amount of time on each topic.
  • get all the practice problems you could ask for (100,000+) to ensure that the lessons did their job.

Check out Interact for GRE here—you can learn what it’s all about, see what’s included, and even try it out for free. 📝

The post Interact for GRE, Our New Adaptive & Interactive GRE Prep, is Here! appeared first on GRE.

Fuente https://www.manhattanprep.com

GRE Sentence Equivalence: Charge Traps

Manhattan Prep GRE Blog - GRE Sentence Equivalence: Charge Traps by Chelsey Cooley

In this article, GRE instructor Tom Anderson asks a smart question: is it better to sort of know a lot of GRE words, or to really know a few GRE words? It turns out that you’re better off if you learn fewer words, but really learn them well. If you don’t, here’s one way the GRE could trick you.

Most of the toughest GRE words are adjectives: descriptions of people, situations, or things. Adjectives are a bit like cupcakes. A sweet cupcake is good, but a cupcake that’s too sweet can make your teeth ache. They’re both sweet, but one is tasty, and the other is, well, gross.

Likewise, lots of GRE adjectives have “evil twins.” One word is sweet, but the other is too sweet. Here are some examples.

thrifty – miserly

sentimental – mawkish

respectful – obsequious

devout – priggish

ornate – ostentatious

All of these pairs share the same relationship. Someone who’s miserly is too thrifty. If a poem is mawkish, it’s too sentimental. If an employee is obsequious, she’s not just respectful, she’s so respectful that it’s kind of weird. And so on. The second word is a “too sweet” version of the first word.

If you only sort of know these words, you can see how you might assume they mean the same thing. After all, thrifty and miserly both mean “cheap,” and ornate and ostentatious both mean “fancy.” But do they mean the same thing on the GRE? Nope.

So, what if you see both of them in the answer choices? It depends.

Suppose you’re doing a GRE Sentence Equivalence problem—the type of problem where the two right answers will be synonyms. Here’s one possible set of answer choices:

crafty

gawky

hardy

miserly

stingy

thrifty

The first three answer choices are right out, since none of them has a twin. That leaves us with miserly, stingy, and thrifty. Let’s call this ‘situation number 1’—where you have three answer choices that sort of mean the same thing.

This is what we call a charge trap. The three words have similar meanings, but one of them has a different “charge”—thrifty is a neutral word, while miserly and stingy are much more extreme, and therefore bad. Since only two of the words really match each other, you should choose miserly and stingy, regardless of what your fill-in was.

When you learn a new word, take note of whether it has a strong charge, either good or bad. This is especially true if it’s a more extreme version of some other word you already know. If you’re not sure what the charge of a word is, search for it online and check out how people are using it!

Okay, here’s situation number 2, with a different set of answer choices:

elaborate

gaudy

ornate

ostentatious

pragmatic

rustic

Two answer choices—pragmatic and rustic—are definitely out, since they have no twins. That leaves four possibilities, of which you need to choose two. Take a moment and divide those four words into two pairs, based on their charge.

Ready? Here we go. Elaborate and ornate have the same (neutral) charge, while gaudy and ostentatious share a negative charge. Other than that, they basically mean the same thing: fancy.

To choose a pair, let’s go back to the golden rule of GRE Verbal: Find the Proof. Every GRE Verbal problem has one and only one right answer, and you can always prove that the right answer is right.

If you can’t prove that a strong word is right, you should choose a neutral one. However, if the sentence contains proof for the stronger word, the stronger word is the right answer. Here’s a sentence that might go with those answer choices from above:

“Gilding the lily” is a 19th-century expression that was first coined to describe the ________ décor adopted by those who were too eager to display their recently acquired wealth; some owners of Beaux Arts homes, for instance, would cover up the beautiful but subtle carvings of flowers around their entranceways with a layer of flashy gold gilt.

There’s a lot of proof here for ostentatious and gaudy. The homeowners were too eager to display their wealth; they covered up beautiful but subtle features of their homes in favor of something more flashy.

This next sentence doesn’t have proof for a strong word, so you should pick the neutral pair:

In the late 19th century, architecture and decoration took a turn for the ________, with many owners of Beaux Arts homes embellishing their entryways with intricate carvings of flowers inscribed with gold gilt.

There’s no proof here that the decoration was too ornate—and if you can’t prove the stronger answer, you can’t pick it. If this is the sentence you’re dealing with, choose ornate and elaborate.

In short, here’s how to avoid charge traps:

  • Pay attention to charge when you learn new GRE words;
  • If you see three similar words in the answers, ask yourself whether they have different charges;
  • If you see two pairs with different charges, only pick what you can prove using the sentence.

If you follow those guidelines, you’ll deepen your vocabulary knowledge and protect yourself against trap answers on GRE Sentence Equivalence! 📝


See that “SUBSCRIBE” button in the top right corner? Click on it to receive all our GRE blog updates straight to your inbox!


Chelsey CooleyChelsey Cooley Manhattan Prep GRE Instructor is a Manhattan Prep instructor based in Seattle, Washington. Chelsey always followed her heart when it came to her education. Luckily, her heart led her straight to the perfect background for GMAT and GRE teaching: she has undergraduate degrees in mathematics and history, a master’s degree in linguistics, a 790 on the GMAT, and a perfect 170Q/170V on the GRE. Check out Chelsey’s upcoming GRE prep offerings here.

The post GRE Sentence Equivalence: Charge Traps appeared first on GRE.

Fuente https://www.manhattanprep.com

What Should I Look for in a GRE Trial Class?

Manhattan Prep GRE Blog - What Should I Look for in a GRE Trial Class? by Tom Anderson

As you may know, we open up the first session of our 8-session Manhattan Prep GRE Complete Course as a free GRE trial class for anyone to attend. What happens in a GRE trial class? Why bother attending one? I’m sure every class is a little bit different, but there are some things you can expect to see, as well as a few things you should make sure to look for.

1. Why take a standardized test class in the first place?

When I was a high school student preparing for the SAT, I never really considered taking a test prep class. In retrospect, I really should have—I just never considered it at the time. I have a hunch that it had something to do with my own deep misunderstanding of how standardized tests work. I thought that the SAT tested how smart you were. It was called the “Scholastic Aptitude Test,” after all. Surely, smart people just did well on it and that was that. Actually, in the 1970s, the SAT was renamed the “Standardized Achievement Test.” Why the name switch? I think they realized such a silly test could not and should not pretend to test someone’s innate ability. Rather, it tests a set of discrete, learnable skills. In many ways, the SAT just tests how well you prepared for the SAT.

Likewise, the GRE—at its core—is just testing you on how well you prepared for the GRE. And you will almost definitely do better on it if you put in some deliberate practice. When I approached the GRE as an adult, I did so in a much different way than I’d studied for such tests in the past. I dug deep into the problems I missed, ironed out weaknesses in the 5 lb. Book, and noticed that the problems were usually much easier when I pushed past the content to look for time-saving and efficiency strategies.

After years of considering myself “a bad standardized test taker,” I surprised myself with how well I did on my GRE. I also recently went back and took the SAT again. (That might seem peculiar—30-year-old me sitting there with a bunch of teenagers getting ready to go to college—but sometimes you’ve got to do such things if you’re a test prep instructor.) After years of teaching the GRE, I was surprised at how much easier this test felt compared to when I was in high school.

When I was younger, I really struggled on it; I took it twice and got the same mediocre scores on both attempts. When I went back and took it as an adult with lots of relevant practice, I scored about 200 points higher. What was the difference? There may have been some maturity and a college education at play. But I think the most significant factor was that somewhere along the way, I learned how to prepare for standardized tests. They’re not intelligence tests, and they really do keep testing the same few themes over and over again.

However you prepared for tests when you were younger, consider approaching the GRE with a mindset that embraces your potential to grow. Even if you never considered yourself a “good test taker,” you can learn to become one. A good test prep class will show you how to begin that transformation.

2. What’s covered in a GRE trial class?

In a Manhattan Prep GRE trial class, you can expect to look at the structure of the test, analyze the way it’s scored, and then spend the brunt of the three-hour class actually solving and talking about problems. Along the way, you’ll learn (or re-learn) some things about how exponents and triangles work.

In a good class, though, your teacher won’t just stop at the content and rules. A good class will also introduce you the personality of the test. In my class, we refer to this GRE persona as “Ethel”—a peculiar and exacting spirit who knows some common errors in thinking and tries to induce those mistake patterns in similar ways, over and over again.

Take, for example, a simple comparison:

Manhattan Prep GRE Blog - What Should I Look for in a GRE Trial Class? by Tom Anderson

Ethel knows that your first instinct is probably to simplify quantity A and B, rewriting each as “x.” She knows that you’ll probably want to pick answer choice C. And she’s messing with you.  

This is a pretty common move. If the two sides seem equal and it seems really easy to prove that… then C is probably a trap answer. Pause for 10 seconds and ask yourself whether they’re still equal when you plug in a negative number. The correct answer to this question should be D.

A good test prep class will introduce you to such situations, and will make you aware of the “personality of the test” and themes that come up in such tricky questions. Many of us Manhattan Prep teachers have actually grown to enjoy these little puzzles. (I sometimes write about them in blog entries like this one.) Once you’ve had these patterns highlighted for you, you’ll find that your awareness makes you sidestep all sorts of common pitfalls you weren’t really noticing before. Who knows, you may even find yourself having a little fun doing so.

3. What kind of teacher do I want?

I’m sure you know that an ideal teacher is somewhat a matter of personal taste. And while I do think my colleagues are all fantastic teachers in their own ways, I’d encourage you to attend a GRE trial class before you commit to 8 full weeks with any of them in particular. Any teacher can tell you how the content works; a good teacher will also leave you feeling inspired and will give you a fundamentally different way of thinking about something than you had before.

For some of you, you’ll find that you gravitate toward a benevolent, kind teacher who knows how to encourage you. Others will find that you need a tough personality—a teacher who holds you accountable, challenges you, and gets you out of your comfort zone. If you attend my GRE trial class, you’ll probably find that I’m far from that “drill sergeant.” I certainly hope you’ll enjoy the class, but I’m sure many folks will find they need a teacher who’s a little tougher on them. If that’s you, I know a few other teachers I’d highly recommend. One way or another, you should try a GRE trial class to determine whether your teacher is a good fit for you.

4. Not just the what, but the why.

Finally, a GRE trial class should leave you not just knowing what to work on, but how and why. If you really understand how your memory works, for example, you’ll spend about 1/3 as much time memorizing vocabulary as someone who just makes simple flashcards and churns through them repetitively. In your first class, you may learn the definitions of the words “arcane” and “archaic.” Ideally, you’ll also learn how to tell them apart and how to generate some good flashcards for them:

Archaic = old (like this old arch)

Arcane = mysterious (like the magic spells of a cane-wielding wizard)

I’ve written a little bit about such memory moves in blog entries like this one. A good class will consistently make you aware of how your brain works and how to use it best.       

In your GRE trial class, your teacher will also introduce you to your course books, videos, flashcards, and apps, as well as give you some guidance on how to best approach studying them (hint: it’s definitely not just plowing through page by page, trying to do everything). Ideally, you’ll leave that first class with a crystal-clear game plan for what you should be doing before the next class starts.

5. Let us know what you think.

Hopefully I’ve got you thinking about whether or not you want to attend a GRE trial class and about what you should look for if you do. If you’ve been to a GRE class (whether with Manhattan Prep or some other test prep company), be sure to let us know what you thought about it. Shoot us an email or post about it in the comments below. 📝


Want more guidance from our GRE gurus? You can attend the first session of any of our online or in-person GRE courses absolutely free! We’re not kidding. Check out our upcoming courses here.


tom-andersonTom Anderson is a Manhattan Prep instructor based in New York, NY. He has a B.A. in English and a master’s degree in education. Tom has long possessed an understanding of the power of standardized tests in propelling one’s education and career, and he hopes he can help his students see through the intimidating veneer of the GRE. Check out Tom’s upcoming GRE courses here.

The post What Should I Look for in a GRE Trial Class? appeared first on GRE.

Fuente https://www.manhattanprep.com

Why Bother Predicting a GRE Verbal Answer?

Manhattan Prep GRE Blog - Why Bother Predicting a GRE Verbal Answer? by Chelsey Cooley

One habit of Verbal high-scorers is predicting the GRE Verbal answer before checking the answer choices. Here’s why this works, and how you can do it yourself.

1. Predicting the GRE Verbal answer makes sure you really read the sentence (or the passage).

Think about how you read in the real world.

When you read a book or an article, you usually don’t do a deep read of every single sentence. Unless you’re a lawyer, small misunderstandings don’t matter that much.

You have to read more closely to succeed on the GRE. You’re not only trying to get the basic idea, you’re also trying to answer questions, some of which can be downright nitpicky. But close reading doesn’t come naturally to a lot of us.

One way to force yourself to read closely, especially on Text Completion and Sentence Equivalence problems, is to predict the right GRE Verbal answer after you read. On these two problem types, we call this prediction a “fill-in”—you fill in the blank(s) in the sentence with your own word(s), before you look at the actual answer choices.

If you finish reading the sentence and you can’t come up with a fill-in, your brain is letting you know that you didn’t really “get” the sentence!

If you can’t predict the GRE Verbal answer at all, reread the sentence more closely. You may have missed an important clue. Sure, looking at the answer choices can give you a nudge in the right direction—but you shouldn’t rely on them as a crutch. Instead, practice reading closely. After all, looking at the answer choices can be dangerous…

2. Predicting the GRE Verbal answer protects you from “confirmation bias.”

Have you ever noticed that sometimes, certain answer choices just “look right”?

Sometimes, these great-looking answer choices are actually right. However, a great-looking answer could also be a really smart wrong answer.

Confirmation bias is the cognitive bias that makes us look for support for what we already think is correct. If you look at the answer choices too soon, and one of them looks great, your brain will start looking for evidence to prove that answer and ignoring evidence that supports other answers.

If the GRE Verbal answer you noticed is the right one, this is a good thing! But if you got tricked by a nice-looking wrong answer, it’s easy to talk yourself into picking it, even if it’s not really correct. Once you decide which answer is right, it’s hard to change your mind.

When you predict a GRE Verbal answer ahead of time, you’re protecting yourself against confirmation bias. By the time you look at the answer choices, you already know what the right answer should look like. Since you’ve already done the thinking, you (hopefully) won’t talk yourself into a wrong answer. You’ll go straight to the right answer that best matches your prediction.

Of course, sometimes our predictions are wrong or don’t match any of the answer choices. Prediction is a skill that you can practice. Every time you do a GRE Verbal problem in practice, predict an answer before you check the choices—if it helps, you can even write down your prediction. Once you check the answer choices, evaluate your prediction. Gradually, you’ll get better at anticipating right GRE Verbal answers.

3. Predicting the GRE Verbal answer protects you from some of the most common traps.

What makes a wrong GRE Verbal answer a “trap”? A trap is any wrong answer that you’d arrive at by making a common, simple mistake.

For instance, on Verbal, you might get overwhelmed and focus too much on the jargon in a sentence, ignoring the underlying structure. There’s a trap for that: it’s called a “theme trap.” Here’s an example:

Contrary to the assumptions that many Westerners hold about mindfulness practices, meditation is often anything but ____________; while using various methods to calm the mind, meditators frequently experience intense periods of restlessness and doubt.

Manhattan Prep GRE Blog - Why Bother Predicting a GRE Verbal Answer? by Chelsey Cooley

The theme trap here is mystical. The sentence talks about mindfulness and meditation, which can be somewhat mystical practices. If you focus too much on what the sentence is about, and not enough on what it says, you could fall for this trap. (By the way, the right answer is idyllic, which means peaceful and joyous.)

If you predict the GRE Verbal answer first, though, you hopefully won’t even notice mystical. After all, there isn’t much evidence in the sentence that would lead you to mystical before you look at the answer choices. You should fill in the blank with something like restful or relaxing, which are great matches for the right answer.

Hopefully this has convinced you to try predicting the right GRE Verbal answer, if you weren’t already! It might feel a bit unnatural or time-consuming at first, but there are a lot of good reasons to keep working on it. If you can master this skill, you’ll be on your way to improving your GRE Verbal score. 📝


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Chelsey CooleyChelsey Cooley Manhattan Prep GRE Instructor is a Manhattan Prep instructor based in Seattle, Washington. Chelsey always followed her heart when it came to her education. Luckily, her heart led her straight to the perfect background for GMAT and GRE teaching: she has undergraduate degrees in mathematics and history, a master’s degree in linguistics, a 790 on the GMAT, and a perfect 170Q/170V on the GRE. Check out Chelsey’s upcoming GRE prep offerings here.

The post Why Bother Predicting a GRE Verbal Answer? appeared first on GRE.

Fuente https://www.manhattanprep.com

Read an Article a Day to Boost Your GRE Verbal Score

Manhattan Prep GRE Blog - Read an Article a Day to Boost Your GRE Verbal Score by Cat Powell

You can attend the first session of any of our online or in-person GRE courses absolutely free. Ready to take the plunge? Check out our upcoming courses here.


I have a very vivid memory of taking the GRE and realizing that, in the middle of “reading” a Reading Comp passage, I was actually staring at the wall. I often share this anecdote in my first GRE class and ask how many students have had a similar experience; most hands go up.

Boredom and distraction are two of the biggest enemies many of us face when doing Reading Comprehension on standardized tests. We’re being asked to read a number of different passages on topics that may not interest us and that often use language that’s difficult to decipher. Plus, the test is long, and the more fatigued we get, the harder it is to sustain attention.

The good news, though, is that attention can be trained through practice, much as one would build endurance by running regularly. One simple way to build attention (and boost your GRE Verbal score) is to read one article a day that deals with a topic you’re not already familiar with.

Here are a few guidelines for structuring this outside reading so you can work towards improving your GRE Verbal score.

  1. Read articles from disciplines that are outside your comfort zone. For example, if you’re a humanities person, read science articles.
  2. Pick articles that are GRE-like. This means they should be fairly sophisticated in style, vocabulary, and content. I’ll include a few examples below.
  3. Read with a purpose. You should never just read for the sake of reading on the GRE. As you read each article, focus on finding the answers to these questions: What is the author’s main point? Why did the author write this article? You may even take this exercise a step further by jotting down brief answers to these questions after you’ve finished reading.

If you work full-time, outside reading is a great way to get in some study time on weeknights, when you might be too tired for more intense work, like solving difficult math problems. Added bonus: you’ll learn some cool new things.

To jumpstart your reading, here are a few articles from GRE-level sources. Since science and technology passages are often the trickiest for many students, all of these articles are on scientific topics. Enjoy!

SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN

Say hi to ’Oumuamua, our first interstellar visitor! Astronomers on Maui spotted this weird-looking object last October. Learn more about its origins here.

THE NEW YORK TIMES

“Rewilding” sounds pretty cool. This article discusses the ecological impact of reintroducing predators like wolves in places where they’d previously been eradicated. There are some adorable pictures included, too.

PHYSICS TODAY

For a more challenging read, check out this article on why life on Earth looks the way it does. Why do most organisms have legs and not wheels? And what might this tell us about what we could expect from alien life forms?

THE ATLANTIC

The ability to pay close attention to complex tasks is a core GRE skill—and one that’s hardly encouraged by our high-tech lifestyle. Check out this article to learn more about how to improve your attention span, while also practicing Reading Comp to boost your GRE Verbal score. 📝


Want more guidance from our GRE gurus? You can attend the first session of any of our online or in-person GRE courses absolutely free! We’re not kidding. Check out our upcoming courses here.


cat-powell-1Cat Powell is a Manhattan Prep instructor based in New York, NY. She spent her undergraduate years at Harvard studying music and English and is now pursuing an MFA in fiction writing at Columbia University. Her affinity for standardized tests led her to a 169Q/170V score on the GRE. Check out Cat’s upcoming GRE courses here.

The post Read an Article a Day to Boost Your GRE Verbal Score appeared first on GRE.

Fuente https://www.manhattanprep.com

Study Like an Athlete: What Rock Climbing Taught Me about the GRE

Manhattan Prep GRE Blog - Study Like an Athlete: What Rock Climbing Taught Me about the GRE by Tom Anderson

You can attend the first session of any of our online or in-person GRE courses absolutely free. Crazy, right? Check out our upcoming courses here.


I’ve written before about how it’s healthy to think of GRE study more like an athletic event you’re preparing for and less like run-of-the-mill studying. If you study for the GRE by memorizing formulas and glancing at written explanations, you’ll likely get very little out of your study.

As a student with some pretty terrible study habits, I first attempted the GRE in the same way I’d always studied. I didn’t do that well. When I prepared to take it a second time, I tapped into my experiences an an athlete and used them as a model for my study. To my happy surprise, I did much better.

I would encourage you to think about GRE prep more like an exercise routine than a typical study session. In this entry, I’ll share a few insights about GRE study from the world of rock climbing. I am by no means an expert rock climber, but I’ve gone from embarrassingly bad to relatively competent in the couple of years I’ve been climbing. Surprisingly enough, I’ve found that climbing has taught me a lot about prepping for the GRE.

You’re Going to Fall

When you decide you’re going to learn how to climb, you have to accept something: you’re going to fall. A lot. In a sport that is fun because it’s challenging, failure is a normal part of the game. Some failures are elegant, and others are really awkward. One way or another, embracing wrongness is an important step toward becoming an expert.

I’ve made mistakes on more GRE problems than I can count. And whenever I do make a mistake, I’ll admit, my first impulse is to sweep it someplace dark and dusty where no one will see it again.

Over the course of my GRE study, that impulse has gradually changed. I started getting more comfortable with being wrong. Unlike in one’s personal life or career where mistakes can be embarrassing and harmful, mistakes on standardized tests are totally benign. Nothing bad happens to you when you forget a vocabulary word or fail to carry a negative sign. In your GRE study, embrace your wrongness and listen for whatever it has to teach you. Start by making an error log.

Repeat the Hard Stuff, Over and Over

When a climber completes a hard route for the first time, it’s often pretty sloppy. Fingers slip around awkwardly on a little hold. Toes go flying off the wall. But somehow, miraculously, the climber reaches the top. At that point, they might be tempted to check it off the list and then move on to another climb. Not so fast. Good climbers do repeats. They might do this 3 or 4 or even 10 times before they move on to something else.

I frequently see my GRE students make a similar study mistake. Rather than go back and re-solve problems that gave them trouble, they just try finish each chapter in their books. Even worse, they spend their time reading explanations of how to solve the problems rather than actually going back and doing them again.

Even if you theoretically understand how to do a problem, you really have to go through the motions—and do it a few times—before you master a problem. A good rule of thumb: do every missed problem a second time, 4 days after your first try. Do this problem a minimum of four times before you check it off your list.

Consider keeping a folder full of problem screenshots. You can pull them straight from your CAT exams and from the e-book versions of the Strategy Guides. If you keep your target problems in a special place and come back to them routinely, you’ll improve so much faster than you would if you just moved on.

Make It Look Easy

If you ever watch really good rock climbers in action, you’ll notice something curious: they make it look incredibly easy. I’m often inspired enough by this sight that I’ll take a crack at the same route, only to collapse on the floor, unable to get off the ground.

Sometimes it may feel like “expert test takers” do the same thing. They have such an easy time taking a test like the GRE that it appears as if they put no effort into it at all. While it might be tempting to write it off as “being a good test taker,” what we’re really seeing is the product of lots of deliberate practice. Whether whizzing through standardized tests or looking like Spiderman on a rock wall, experts master their respective fields in remarkably similar ways: they repeatedly come back to their particular weaknesses—anything that feels slow or funky—and work on them until they feel easy.

In the world of the GRE, this means you shouldn’t just be repeating the problems you got incorrect. The most important ones to work on are the ones you almost got wrong. If you can get a problem correct in an ugly way, you can probably learn to get it correct in a faster, smoother, and easier way.

If fraction mechanics like the ones in the back of the Fractions, Decimals, and Percents Strategy Guide usually take you 30 seconds to complete, time yourself until you can get them down to 10 seconds apiece. Not only will this make all sorts of related problems feel easier to you, but you’ll save a lot of time as well. 20 seconds saved here and there throughout the test adds up to a few problems you would have never been able to attempt if you were moving slowly.

And the really cool part about this? Research seems to indicate that stuff really does become easy when you practice it enough. Compared to novices, expert chess players and problem solvers show less activity in their brains while they work.

Don’t Look Down

After climbing for a few years, I somehow convinced my 58-year-old mother—a woman with a healthy fear of heights and a strong desire to stay alive—to come out and do a day of rock climbing with me. To my utter astonishment, she not only tried it, but shot up the rock wall with ease. Then, about 60 feet off of the ground, she turned around to wave at those of us back on the ground. In a flash of terror, she realized where she was, panicked, and demanded to be brought down immediately.

Later, after she was down safely on the ground, she remarked at how carefree she felt while climbing and how suddenly the fear took hold of her when she realized where she was. Most of us have had some kind of experience like this: as long as your attention is on the move in front of you, you’re fine. The second you start thinking about the big picture, panic sets in.

The same thing can definitely occur during a GRE exam. It is a challenging exam that is tied in to your grad school future—a fact that has a way of inducing tunnel vision and sweaty palms. Halfway through your test, you’ll be solving a problem about something random, say, circles. As long as you’re thinking about circles, you’ll be fine. But you may find yourself plagued with less helpful thoughts:

“There are only 10 minutes left in this section.”
“What if I’m only in an easy section right now? I can’t be doing well.”
“What will my friends think when I tell them my score?”

First, know that a little bit of stress can actually be healthy—it fuels you to do better than you would if you didn’t care so much about the test. If the stress becomes too great, though, you can center yourself by taking a deep breath and taking a moment to be mindful of the present. Give yourself a brief internal mantra: “I’m getting this one right.” In other words, you don’t care about the problem you just saw or the problem you’re about to see. You’re focused only on the one right in front of you.

Keep on Climbing Toward Those 170s

There are numerous analogies for study—from running a marathon to preparing for a piano recital. One way or another, think of it more like a performance you’re preparing for and less like a study checklist to move through. And whatever your metaphor of choice, remember these few big ideas from the world of rock climbing:

  1. Do old problems over again. Try any missed problem a second time 4 days later.
  2. Repeat old problems until you can do them without all the missteps along the way.
  3. Work on mechanics until they feel easy. You’ll want all the brain power and time you can get for the hard problems.
  4. Keep focused on the problem at hand. If your mind wanders or anxiety overtakes you, center yourself with the mantra “I’m getting this one right.”

Happy studying! 📝


Want more guidance from our GRE gurus? You can attend the first session of any of our online or in-person GRE courses absolutely free! We’re not kidding. Check out our upcoming courses here.


tom-andersonTom Anderson is a Manhattan Prep instructor based in New York, NY. He has a B.A. in English and a master’s degree in education. Tom has long possessed an understanding of the power of standardized tests in propelling one’s education and career, and he hopes he can help his students see through the intimidating veneer of the GRE. Check out Tom’s upcoming GRE courses here.

The post Study Like an Athlete: What Rock Climbing Taught Me about the GRE appeared first on GRE.

Fuente https://www.manhattanprep.com