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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

What Your Favorite Class in High School Says about You as a GRE Student

Manhattan Prep GRE Blog - What Your Favorite Class in High School Says about You as a GRE Student by Cat Powell

The good and bad news about taking the GRE is that it’s not a skill that’s taught directly in school, though it does draw on skills that are. This is bad news, because it means that most of us have to do some work to adapt to the test. It’s also good news, because it means that anyone can master this skill, no matter how long they’ve been out of school.

That said, students’ backgrounds in different subjects and preferences for different types of tasks can inform what they find harder or easier on the test. Here are a few ideas on how your favorite subject in school might shape your strengths and weaknesses as a GRE student.

ENGLISH – You’ll likely feel a lot more comfortable on the Verbal sections of the GRE. In fact, you might find that you tend to finish early. One challenge will be making sure that you don’t go so fast that you make careless errors. Writing down a few notes could help with this. You also might find yourself inclined to argue with the correct answer—couldn’t it also be this? If this happens, ask yourself: what kind of mindset would I need to be in to see this as the only right answer? The more you adjust yourself to the mind of the test, the faster you’ll boost your Verbal score.

Quant, on the other hand, could seem more daunting. It’s important that you re-familiarize yourself with the GRE math content as quickly as possible; flashcards are a great tool for this, as are simple math drills. The good news in Quant is that your strong Verbal skills will help you. Data Interpretation (DI) problems, the ones that ask about graphs, are actually very similar to Reading Comprehension (RC). Both DI and RC require that you stay focused while sorting through dense information. Word problems, too, will be made easier thanks to your Verbal strength.

MATH – You’ll be excited to see that, in terms of conceptual content, the GRE Quant section is a breeze. The topics tested are limited to materials you probably covered in middle school or early in high school, so no trigonometry, advanced algebra, or calculus.

For you, the challenge will be adapting your strong math skills to the format of the test. While the GRE Quant sections draw on math concepts, they’re using this material to test broader reasoning and decision-making skills. Make sure that you learn the tricks and strategies that save time on GRE question formats; the “proper” algebraic solution won’t always be the best.

You can also apply some of your quantitative skill to the Verbal sections. Try breaking down the fill-in-the-blank vocab sentences into simple, equation-like patterns. A similar technique can work for analyzing details in reading passages. If you make your approach to Verbal as methodical and analytical as your approach to solving a math problem, you’ll find your accuracy improves quickly.

HISTORY – Your precision and focus (and possibly your ability to stay engaged with tasks others might find dull) will make you an ace when it comes to the Reading Comprehension questions that deal with specific details in the passages. You’ll also be able to assess the big picture, though you might struggle with spending too long on reading the passages themselves, wanting to be precise about every detail. Your interest in history could also make learning etymologies a fun way to grow your vocabulary, giving you an insight into the evolution of the language (and culture) as you learn new words.

Don’t let Quant intimidate you. Remember that this isn’t a math test like the ones you took (and maybe didn’t love) in high school. Rather, the GRE Quant sections are using math concepts to test the logical reasoning and critical thinking skills you’re already using in the Verbal sections.

SCIENCE – You already have a leg up when it comes to some of the hardest GRE Reading Comprehension passages. For many students, dense and technical science passages can be daunting, but your interest in and familiarity with the material will help you breeze through these. Your challenge will be not getting so bogged down in the minutiae that you miss the bigger picture. You might find the humanities passages less engaging; doing some additional reading in humanities and social science topics will boost your overall comfort with the reading content.

Your ability to reason logically, and to identify logical fallacies and problems with the evidence used to support an argument, will help you both with the logic-based reading questions and with the argument essay.

As with those who are drawn to math, don’t become overconfident in your quantitative skills. In particular, watch out for making snap judgements on the Quantitative Comparison (QC) questions. These are often designed to catch people with strong math skills who make quick assumptions rather than applying a rigorous process.

FOREIGN LANGUAGE – If you studied a Romance, Germanic, or classical language, you’re going to have a big leg up when it comes to vocab. You can use your knowledge of these languages to figure out the meanings of the many English words that have ancestors or relatives in other European languages.

If you studied a language further away from English, or if you speak English as a second or third language, you might find the vocabulary part of the Verbal section more challenging. However, your experiences with working in a second language can still be a real asset on the GRE. Learning a new language requires that you figure out how to decipher meaning without knowing every word used; you know how to get the big picture even if you miss some of the details. This is an essential skill for doing well on Reading Comprehension, and one you’ve already cultivated in your language learning.

You can apply this skill to Quant, too. The GRE likes to use math terminology to disguise what questions are really asking. Even if you find this language intimidating or unfamiliar, you can often figure out what a problem is saying by disregarding distractors and making practical inferences from the context and question format—just as you would when first reading or speaking a new language. 📝


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 What Your Favorite Class in High School Says about You as a GRE Student 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

Can You Ace GRE Quant if You’re Bad at Math? (Part 1)

Manhattan Prep GRE Blog - Can You Ace GRE Quant if You're Bad at Math? (Part 1) by Chelsey Cooley

First, let’s get on the same page about what being “bad at math” really means. In my experience, GRE students who say that they’re bad at math tend to fall into these categories:

  1. People who don’t think math is interesting or fun.
  2. People who got bad grades in math as kids—or people who got good grades, but had to work harder than everybody else.
  3. People to whom math doesn’t feel natural or intuitive.
  4. People who feel anxious about math.

Instead of saying that you aren’t a math person, get specific. Which one of those groups describes you? Or, like many of my GRE students, do you fall into more than one of those categories? The more clearly you can describe the challenge you’re facing, the more power you have over it.

People Who Don’t Think Math is Interesting or Fun

It’s fine to think that math is boring—I think Reading Comprehension is soul-crushingly boring, and I’ve managed to make a career out of teaching the GRE. Learning to enjoy the GRE will make studying more fun, but I’ve also had a lot of successful students who thought of studying for the GRE as a boring but worthwhile job—or even as an annoying obstacle.

People Who Got Bad Grades in Math as Kids

As an adult learning middle-school and high-school math for the GRE, you’re in a strange position. You’re studying things that you once learned in grade-school math class. But you’re learning them from a totally different perspective: you’re smarter, more introspective, and have access to better resources. Getting bad grades in math as a kid says a lot about your middle-school math teacher, a little about your childhood level of patience and study skills, and not much at all about your “math aptitude.”

People to Whom Math Doesn’t Feel Natural or Intuitive

The idea that math should come naturally (or not at all!) is one of the nastiest myths in modern education. Math isn’t natural, and it isn’t intuitive. There’s actually a lot of evidence—which we’ll look at later in this article—that there’s no such thing as a “math person,” at least when it comes to GRE-level math.

Most people are more or less equally equipped to learn GRE math. But some people start the GRE process with more math experience, some people start out with more math confidence, and some people start out with both. Those people who seem to “get it” right away? It’s more likely that they’re just a little more familiar with the material than you are. Maybe they use math every day in their work; maybe they had a fantastic middle-school algebra teacher.

Think about it: when teachers and parents decide that a student is “good at math,” what do they do? They give them more and harder math to work on, creating a self-perpetuating cycle. Some people end up getting a lot of positive and varied experiences with math, which strengthens their abilities even further. The rest of us fall behind and focus on other topics.

People Who Feel Anxious about Math

A lot of us have had negative experiences with bad math teachers, bad grades, or seemingly impossible math problems. More of my students seem to have math anxiety than, say, “vocabulary anxiety”—probably because of the pervasive myth that some people are doomed to suck at math. Hopefully, by examining and rejecting that myth, you’ll find your anxiety being replaced by determination. Keep reading!

Bad at Math: The Evidence

This is the point where you stop saying that you’re “bad at math.” The language you use to describe yourself, even in your own head, makes a difference. It’s fine to say that you’re scared of math, or that you dislike math, or that you haven’t taken a math class in fifteen years, or that you absolutely hated your eighth-grade Algebra teacher. Those are facts! “Bad at math,” though, is a myth—here’s some evidence to prove that.

Here’s a chart summarizing the math performance of 15-year-olds around the world in 2012. If high-school math was always intuitive for some of us, and counterintuitive for others, we’d expect to see similar rates of high- and low-performers regardless of location. But the chart makes it clear that some ways of teaching and learning make almost everybody “good at math,” while other ways work for almost nobody. (So, why not sign up for GRE Math in a Day?)

There’s a common misconception, although fortunately it’s becoming less common as time goes on, that girls are naturally more likely to be bad at math than boys. But there are strong arguments to be made that this gap is completely explained by other factors, and when some of those factors are mitigated—as in single-sex schools—the gap begins to disappear.  

Twin studies have tried to determine whether mathematical ability is genetic. Here’s a study that leans more towards the “bad at math” side than what we’ve looked at so far. On the one hand, it suggests that genetics makes a “moderate” contribution to math ability at age 10. On the other hand, differences in mathematical ability due to social factors tend to be smaller for elementary school students than for older students—it’s possible that with older students, the pattern would change.

Finally, here’s one of my favorite articles addressing the “bad at math” issue. It contains a great description of where the “bad at math” myth comes from, and it’s worth a read just for that. It also introduces the idea that your beliefs about math influence how well you perform. People who believe that math ability can be improved, will improve! People who believe that they’re stuck where they are, won’t.

So, as you start or continue your GRE Quant studies, strive to convince yourself that you can get better at math. That belief alone may be enough to improve your performance. And remember that while you may feel anxious towards math or may dislike math, that won’t stop you from improving your Quant score. Want to know how to get better at Quant when you’re math-phobic? That’s coming up in the next article. 📝


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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 Can You Ace GRE Quant if You’re Bad at Math? (Part 1) appeared first on GRE.

Fuente https://www.manhattanprep.com

This Simple Visualization Exercise Will Help You Beat the GRE

Manhattan Prep GRE Blog - This Simple Visualization Exercise Will Help You Beat the GRE by Chelsey Cooley

When I’m not teaching the GRE or writing this blog, I like riding my bicycle absurdly long distances. For the last five months, I’ve been training for one of the hardest bike races of my life: the 206-mile, 14-plus-hour Dirty Kanza. And now I want to share the best piece of advice I was given while training, because it applies to GRE test day just as much as it applies to bike racing.

A couple of months ago, I was lucky enough to get to chat with a woman who’s won Dirty Kanza a couple of times—including a win on her very first attempt. The conversation turned to the strategies she uses to succeed on race day. When she brought up visualization, I immediately assumed that I was supposed to visualize myself winning. If you want to overcome an obstacle, whether it’s a 200-mile bike race or the GRE, you should picture yourself overcoming it, right?

Maybe not. Instead of picturing myself succeeding, she invited me to picture myself failing. I was supposed to imagine rolling across the finish line hours late, having had a terrible race. “Now,” she said, “try to think of all of the excuses you might be making if you don’t do well.”

I imagined trying to explain that my back was bothering me, that my bike had gotten a flat tire, or that I had forgotten to bring enough water. Any number of things could send my race completely off the rails.

Each of those imaginary excuses, she explained, was actually something that I could fix right now, before race day. If I thought I might run out of water, I should start measuring how much water I needed during my training rides. If I was worried about back pain, I should start stretching and work on my posture on the bike. Almost anything that could put an end to my race could be prevented, if I started working on it before race day.

So, let me extend the same invitation to you. Imagine finishing the GRE, and getting a score that you’re really unhappy with. What excuses can you imagine making? Make a list on paper. For each excuse, there’s probably something you could do to help right now, before test day.  

For instance, here’s one I often hear: “I didn’t have enough time to finish a section.” That doesn’t mean the GRE should have given you more time on test day. Running out of time isn’t something that happens to you—it’s a consequence of actions you take on and before test day. It means you didn’t guess enough, or you should have practiced your pencil-and-paper arithmetic, or you didn’t identify the problem types that take you the longest. There’s so much you can do prior to test day to avoid having to make this excuse!

Or, you might picture yourself saying, “I got really anxious during the test, and it threw me off.” A little anxiety might be unavoidable, but you can take steps now to ensure that it doesn’t derail your GRE. Read this article about anxious reappraisal and give it a try. Check out these tricks for staying calm during the GRE, and plan to use one or more of them on test day.

Something could happen during your GRE that you can’t predict. For all you know, a meteor might fall through the roof of the testing center! But it’s more likely that if you start thinking of the excuses you might make if you fail, you’ll come up with the situations that are most likely to cause you problems on test day. If those situations are unexpected, they could hurt your score. But if you anticipate them ahead of time, you can make sure they won’t cause you any problems.

What are you most worried about on test day? Feel free to share or offer your own advice 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 This Simple Visualization Exercise Will Help You Beat the GRE 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

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 Math Misconceptions

Manhattan Prep GRE Blog - GRE Math Misconceptions by Chelsey Cooley

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.


Math can be counterintuitive. There are a few GRE Math misconceptions that really seem like they should be true—but actually aren’t. Being prepared for them will keep you aware on test day.

Mistake: 1 is prime.

Fact: 1 isn’t prime. In fact, the smallest prime number is 2.

Why?: It seems like 1 should be prime, because you can’t divide it by any other integers. However, mathematicians have agreed to say that 1 isn’t a prime. This makes certain mathematical theorems much simpler and more intuitive. Even though you won’t use those theorems on the GRE (phew!), you have to deal with their consequences by remembering that 1 isn’t prime.

Mistake: 3-4-5 and 30-60-90 triangles are the same thing.

Fact: A right triangle can be 3-4-5 or 30-60-90, but not both.

Why?: Here’s a couple of 3-4-5 triangles next to a couple of 30-60-90 triangles. Even if the triangles get bigger or smaller, the triangles on the left all have different proportions from the triangles on the right. So, if the sides of a right triangle have the ratio 3-4-5, you know the angles aren’t 30-60-90, and vice versa.

Manhattan Prep GRE Blog - GRE Math Conceptions by Chelsey Cooley

Mistake: If the ratio of teachers to students at a school is 1 to 4, then 1/4 of the people at the school are teachers.

Fact: In this scenario, only 1/5 of the people at the school are teachers!

Why?: A fraction always represents a part of a particular whole. In this case, the part is the number of teachers, and the whole is all of the people at the school. So, the denominator of the fraction has to be the sum of the teachers and the students, not just the students alone.

Try it out with numbers to confirm. If there are 10 teachers and  40 students, then 10 out of the 50 people at the school, or 1/5, are teachers.

Mistake: The average of the numbers from 1 to 10 is 5.

Fact: The average of the numbers from 1 to 10 is 5.5.

Why?: Intuition tells you that 5 is halfway from 1 to 10. However, to find the average of a bunch of consecutive numbers, you need to average the smallest and largest numbers together. The right answer will be the average of 1 and 10, which is (1+10)/2 = 11/2 = 5.5.

Confirm this by actually averaging the numbers from 1 to 10. Here’s the sum:

1+2+3+4+5+6+7+8+9+10 = 55

There are 10 terms, so the average is 55/10, which equals  5.5.

Mistake: If x is 25% greater than y, then y is 25% less than x.

Fact: If x is 25% greater than y, then y is only 20% less than x.

Why?: This is one of the most counterintuitive math facts out there, but the numbers back it up. Suppose that a coat costs 25% more than a sweater. If the sweater costs $100, the coat would cost 1.25($100), or $125.

However, if a sweater costs 25% less than a coat, and the coat costs $125, the sweater only costs 0.75($125) = $93.75.

‘Percent more than’ and ‘percent less than’ aren’t interchangeable. Pay close attention to which term the problem actually uses. If it says ‘percent more’ or ‘percent greater,’ then use a decimal greater than 1, such as the 1.25 figure from the example above. If it says ‘percent less’ or ‘percent smaller,’ then use a decimal lower than 1, such as 0.75.

You can also prove this specific example using fractions. If x is 25% greater than y, then x is 5/4 of y. Use algebra rules to get y by itself:

x = 5/4 y

4x = 5y

4/5 x = y

y is fourth-fifths as large as x. Since the missing 1/5 is equivalent to 20%, y is only 20% smaller than x. 📝


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 Misconceptions 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