The GRE – 5 Great Tips for Success

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1. It’s Not So Black and White* Antonyms are Something You May Not Have Seen Before
As if analogies weren’t bad enough already, the GRE has antonym questions as well. And unlike analogies, which were on the SAT until 2005, antonyms haven’t been around for quite a while, so it’s possible that you’ve never even seen an antonym question before. The antonym section, as you may have surmised, will test your vocabulary by asking you to choose which word or phrase best encapsulates the opposite meaning of the given word or phrase. Sounds simple enough, but it’s not so piceous and alabaster. Trust us. In order to succeed on antonym questions, you will have to practice/review them and study your…

2. V for Vocabulary* Study Your Vocabulary!
Verily, a vast vocabulary is a vital virtue that vouches for victory over virtually any valuation of verbal virtuosity. Though the vicissitudes of vitality vouchsafe upon us a veritable vichyssoise of verbiage, invariably, various vittles of vernacular vanish from view, vaulting over even the most vigilant of vanguards. To vanquish this vexatious vulnerability, a verifiable verisimilitude: via a vigorous volley of verbal victuals, voila! — vindication from this voracious violation of volition.

3. Practice Makes…Well, You Know The Importance of Practice Tests
No revelations here. However, it’s important to note that the GRE is a computer-adaptive test (CAT). You can do as many practice questions as you want, but no amount of practice questions out of a book will accurately emulate the experience of taking a computerized exam. Rats. Fortunately the ETS is generous enough to offer practice CATs on their website (ets.org). Start off with the book, and get used to the questions; then, when you’re ready for the real thing, download the CATs and practice at home on your computer. Standardized tests always test the same concepts; the only things that change are the wording and numbers. The better you know the format and the questions, the more confident you will be on the real thing.

4. Circles and Triangles and Squares — Oh My! Math 101
Some of you, after your four years of college (plus however many years in the real world), can probably do triple integrations in your sleep. Hyperbolic differential equations? Please, that stuff is easy. If you can do that, you can probably handle the basic mathematical reasoning required for the GRE. However, those of you who weren’t engineering majors in college will still have to deal with the math section of the GRE. The math isn’t difficult, but for many of you, it will have been a good many years since you’ve laid eyes on a math problem. Don’t panic! It’s not too different from the SAT. Do some practice problems to gauge your level and then decide on a course of action. If a stroll down memory lane will be enough to grease the math wheels, good for you — if not, consider professional help!

5. Time is of the Essence Begin Preparation Early
Four years of college have (hopefully) turned you into a better and smarter thinker, but how long has it been since your last standardized test? When was the last time you had to sit down and power through four hours of questions about topics you (probably) couldn’t care less about? When was the last time you had to switch from reading comprehension to math to writing in that same amount of time? Don’t underestimate the GRE! Knowing that you could have done better is the worst feeling — ever.

*A Bonus Note, Just For You!
In August of 2011, the ETS will unveil the new (and improved?) GRE. Once these changes are in place, vocabulary will be less emphasized, and critical reading will be more important. Those of you taking the test before and around August of 2011 may want to think about which format you would rather take!

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