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Seek Support as You Prep for the GRE

May 5, 2014 by

Remember high school when you were preparing for the SAT and/or the ACT? Almost everyone you knew was getting ready for a standardized admissions test—and when you took it, it was on a specific date when hundreds of thousands of other people your age all over the country were taking exactly the same test.  It may have been agonizing or annoying, but at least it was a shared experience. Everyone who knew you was supportive of your endeavors; no one questioned why you’d want to go to college.

Now you are getting ready to take the GRE. You may not know anyone else who is preparing for this test right now.  Even people who took this test before you probably took a much different test. Instead of having a shared test day, the responsibility for choosing a GRE Test Date is entirely your responsibility. At the test center, you … Read full post

When Is the Right Time to Take the GRE?

April 28, 2014 by

If you are preparing to take the GRE… Read full post, then one thing you might be wrestling with is when to take the test. Students often wonder if there is either an optimal year of school or time of year to take the test. While there is no one answer that will perfectly fit each person’s specific situation, keep the following in mind as you make your decision.
When Do You Plan on Attending Graduate School?
Some people suggest that the optimal time to take the GRE is during your first year of college. The argument goes something like this: since the GRE is so similar to the SAT, and because you’ve recently taken the SAT, it’s better to just take the GRE while those basic math and vocabulary skills are still sharp in your mind. While there is some validity to this argument, it fails to consider a pretty relevant

No Pain, No Gain: Mastering The GRE Takes Guts

April 24, 2014 by

This article, No Pain, No Gain: Mastering A Skill Makes Us Stressed In The Moment, Happy Long Term, is one that I’ve sent to many of my students over the past few years. It explains that although learning a new skill (like how to take a standardized test efficiently and effectively) may cause stress in the moment, it will pay off in greater long-term happiness. Ryan Howell, assistant professor of psychology at San Francisco State University, says “People often give up their goals because they are stressful, but we found that there is benefit at the end of the day from learning to do something well.”

So, in addition to the obvious benefit (getting in to grad school)  of learning to be an excellent GRE test taker, you’ll also enjoy the long-term benefit of a boost in happiness and well-being. This can be important to remember while preparing … Read full post

Make GRE Math Calculations Simple

April 17, 2014 by

ETS, the maker of the GRE, posted a guide to the on-screen calculator on their site. The guide itself is very good, but I’d like to give special attention to a few of its points. Correctly using — or, more importantly, not using — the GRE on-screen calculator on Test Day has a big impact on your performance.

My favorite bit from the test maker’s guide was this tantalizing suggestion:

Avoid using [the on-screen calculator] for simple computations that are quicker to do mentally, such as 10 – 490, (4)(70), 4,300/10, sqrt(25), and 30^2.

I call this advice “tantalizing” because it’s absolutely correct — but the author doesn’t specify why the example computations are considered “simple.” Some students may not know why, for example, (4)(70) should be computed mentally. Let me show you why all of the above computations are, indeed, simple.

Make GRE Math Calculations Simple

Use GRE Strategy on Your Grad School Applications

April 8, 2014 by

Studying for the GRE is critical to Test Day success. You must learn the structure of test, familiarize yourself with GRE strategy, master methods and strategies for every question type, and review content such as math concepts and vocabulary. With all the work that you’re going to be putting in to preparing for the GRE, you’ll be pleased to know that this prep work can help you accomplish more than simply doing well on the GRE.

Many of the skills that will help you succeed on Test Day can also help you succeed in your graduate school admission process. I recommend that you get your GRE studying in first, take the test and get the score that you need for the programs you are applying to, and then dedicate the time your graduate school applications.

Apply GRE Prep Tips to Your Grad School Applications

An Easier Approach to GRE Combination and Permutation Problems

April 7, 2014 by

“Paula is selecting some books from a collection of seven books. How many different groups of four books can Paula select?”

Does seeing a question like this fill you with dread and anxiety? If you’re like most GRE students, there’s a good chance that it does. Questions that ask you to determine the number of groups that can be selected from a larger group, or that ask you to determine the number of ways a smaller group of entities can be arranged, are called GRE Combination and Permutation problems. If you’ve been studying for the GRE, you know these problems. For many students, these questions seem extremely difficult, if not impossible.

Well, I have good news: these questions aren’t actually all that difficult. What’s difficult, for many students, is memorizing large, convoluted formulas like this:

Now, formulas are certainly valuable, and they serve an important service: by memorizing the formula, … Read full post

Grad School: When is the Right Time to Go?

March 21, 2014 by

When is the right time to go to grad school?

This is an important question that prospective graduate students like yourselves should consider, for many reasons. I suspect that many of you view going to grad school as a given, a step that you will inevitably take, often immediately after completing your undergrad degrees. There is the belief (not entirely unfounded) that to advance in one’s career, one must possess an advanced degree. I found myself being subjected to these pressures as I approached the end of college; family members and friends alike suggested that I go to law school or business school or grad school. When I replied, “Why should I go to law school or business school if I’m not really interested in a law or business career?”, the answer I received was never really convincing enough. Typical responses were, “Well, it’ll come in handy in the future,” … Read full post

The Vernal Equinox is for GRE Vocab and Study Tips

March 20, 2014 by

Today is the Vernal Equinox in the northern hemisphere. This marks the beginning of spring, which is a great time for change and celebration – and for us to share some GRE vocab and study tips.

Vernal Vocab

Vernal means of, relating to, or occurring in the spring. (For totally geeky fun, check out uses of the word vernal in classic literature – get extra reading comprehension practice if you click “Go To Page” next to any of the sentences and read more of the text.)

The word equinox is derived from the Latin aequus (equal) and nox (night), because around the equinox, night and day are about equal length.

Springtime Studies

When we think of the spring, we think of new beginnings. The trees and flowers are waking up (for better or worse, where allergy sufferers are concerned), the birds and frogs start singing again, and we’ve got new, … Read full post

Your Grad School Application Checklist

June 27, 2012 by

Everyone has a different timeline when it comes to applying to graduate school, but the to-dos are consistent across applicants.

At this point, it’s time for you—and us—to take stock of your progress and determine your next steps. Here’s a quick checklist to assess where you are in the process.

Have you…

If you checked all of them, our congratulations—you’re well on your way to graduate school.

If you’re not done with the GRE, then it’s time to get started. We’ve got free resources to support you … Read full post

GRE-Style Reading and Comprehending

November 16, 2011 by

Recently a reader asked me to post about strategies for long Reading Comprehension passages and Bolded Statement questions. (Mohamed also asked about vocab strategies, which I will discuss soon. Be sure to see previous vocabulary-related posts from my Kaplan colleagues.)

The Kaplan New GRE Verbal Workbook includes a chapter devoted to Reading Comprehension, as well as sets of practice questions and additional resources. One of these resources is a list of additional tips for tackling the Reading Comprehension section, including Bolded Statements questions. These tips are found on pages 78-80, and I’m going to borrow from them here.

There are differences between real-world reading and reading GRE passages is that on the GRE:

  • On Test Day, you don’t care about the facts in the passage — you only care about ideas. A passage might tell you that the character Superman first appeared in 1938. You don’t care what year
  • Read full post


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