We love hosting events for all of you intrepid GRE preppers: We regularly run full-length practice GRE tests, classes on how to strategically approach the test, seminars on your graduate school personal statements, and much more. I’m happy to announce that next week, one of my favorite events is happening on Tuesday, May 14th, at 7:30 pm ET: the GRE Bootcamp.
As the name implies, the Bootcamp is not for the faint of heart: It will feature a series of some of the toughest problems that you can see on the GRE. While you need to be ready to tackle questions on all topics and of all difficulty levels for Test Day, this event will give you insight into how to prepare for the any situation that you could potentially face.
The Bootcamp will be hosted by Gene Suhir, one of Kaplan’s top faculty members. Gene has coached thousands of students to GRE success, and is well-versed in the nuances that can make the difference between getting an okay score, and blowing the competition out of the water. He’s ready and waiting to show you what you need to know in order to reach your fullest potential.
To sign up, just go here and click the “Register Now” button next to the listing for the event. Start doing some jumping jacks to prepare, and we’ll see you on Tuesday!
Professional athletes review game tape to improve their performance. Students review professors’ notes on papers to get advice on how to better present arguments and ideas. Business people constantly review new strategies, to determine how well they’re working.
What’s the common theme? No matter what you do, a major component of success is getting consistent feedback and using it to adjust your approach as you proceed. This rule applies to your GRE studies as well.
For every hour that you spend learning new material and doing new practice questions, you should spend at least another hour reviewing material and questions that you’ve already done. Here’s how you can best use that time:
- Create “Why I missed it” charts:
As you review each question that you got incorrect, identify what went wrong. Was it not knowing the right formula? Was it misidentifying what the question asked you to solve for? Making specific notes will allow you to see patterns that you can then use to focus your studying.
- See if there was a faster way to solve:
As you review the explanations to every problem in a quiz or practice test, ask yourself: “Is the approach described in the explanation the one that I used?” If not, what “triggers” can you identify in that problem to remind you of the most efficient plan of attack the next time you see a similar problem? This is where the real benefits of consistent practice kick in: Every new problem that you see will start to look like problems that you’ve done before, and you get to reap the benefits.
- Do a second round of review:
After you’ve gone through a quiz or practice test once, come back to it after another week to see if you remember how to solve the problems that you got incorrect. You often need to see a problem a few times before you can instantly recall how to solve it, so don’t shortchange yourself.
If you incorporate these techniques into your practice, it will help you focus your studying and will drive results – let us know how it goes, and if you have any questions!
For many years, I didn’t know what to do when students asked me, “How much should I study?” I would cough and hem and always start some answer with, “Well, it depends …” Because it did depend! The population of GRE test takers is so diverse, and the range of ability they bring to the test so disparate, that a GRE test taker chosen at random might need anywhere between 0 and 200 hours of preparation to achieve her goal, and I say that without exaggeration.
But students would keep asking that question, class after class after class, and I realized that I needed to upgrade my answer. My hedging answers were technically true but not very helpful.
So here’s a practical, helpful answer to that question.
First of all, you should never study seven days a week. You need a day of rest to recharge, guard against burnout, and let your brain do some dot-connecting in the background. Once you’ve established your day of rest, study six days a week, 1-6 hours a day. If you study more than three hours at a stretch, take an extended break. And if you’re taking a class to prep for the GRE, remember that class time counts toward your daily limit!
This is a flexible framework that lets you ratchet anywhere between 6 and 36 hours a week. So what number of weekly hours should you reach for? I’d recommend 20. Consider the GRE a part-time job. However, while 20 hours is a good target to shoot for, you shouldn’t regard it as a ceiling. When you plan your study schedule for the week, add more or fewer than 20 hours as your professional and personal commitments allow (or don’t allow!).
This week we have something special for our readers.
Whether you’ve seen us in class, in a free event, on this blog, or elsewhere, Kaplan always presents a unified front, as though we agree on everything. In fact, the smart, opinionated people who work for Kaplan disagree about lots of things, and today we’re offering a glimpse of our intellectual disputes.
Kaplan’s GRE bloggers Boris and Teresa take to their chairs to debate a common topic: does a GRE calculator make the test easier, or harder? Hear their arguments, pro and con, in the video below!
As always, let us know what you think in the comments below!
I hear this from a lot of you. Unfortunately, as I explained recently, having more time on the GRE wouldn’t actually help you get a higher score, since the GRE is a scaled test. So let’s leave the complaining to our competition, shall we? Instead of moaning about the clock, strive be as awesome as you can at solving problems. If you’re great, you’ll also be fast. Here’s a quantitative comparison that’s pretty simple, but also a nice illustratration of the fact that speed isn’t something that comes independently of problem solving skill.
This problem, like several I’ve been looking at recently, comes from our GRE Bootcamp event:
Quantity A: The sum of all integers from 9 to 29, inclusive
Quantity B: The sum of all integers from 12 to 30, inclusive
At a glance, the “math” way to solve this problem is time-consuming but direct: add up the sums in both columns, then compare. Since there’s an on-screen calculator on the GRE, some of your competition will solve the problem this way. And boy does it take a long time.
Let me be very clear: directly totaling both columns isn’t just a slow way to solve the problem. It’s a BAD way. Someone who solves the problem in this head-on, brute force fashion, then says to themselves, “I’m fine with the problems, it’s the timing that kills me,” is being dishonest with themselves. They are not ”fine with the problems.” They are very much unfine!
Instead, when you have to compare two quantities, start by eliminating what they have in common. If a quantity appears in both columns, then it isn’t helping either one to be bigger than the other.
Here, both columns include the range of numbers 12-29. Thus, totaling that range would be a waste of time. Ignore it and look instead at what’s different:
Quantity A: The sum of all integers from 9 to 11, inclusive
Quantity B: The of all integers from … never mind, it’s just 30!
And since 9 + 10 + 11 clearly equals 30, you can click choice (C) — “The two quantities are equal” — in under 10 seconds and score the point. That’s the beauty of the GRE: if you’re awesome, speed comes for free. Practice will get you there!