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The GRE only Mantra...

Updated: Oct 7, 2019

Akanksha, GRE Quant Coach

College studies, internships, extra curriculars....and the list refuses to end.....wonder how you will manage to achieve your target score in GRE in the midst of this never-ending madness?

Take it easy! Your time constraint will not stop you anymore, if you follow a simple Mantra...

'Believe in smart work, forget the hard work'

Don't take it otherwise but when you can achieve a 170 by just being smart (*pat yourself*), then why worry about doing all the hard work! GRE is all about two things: accuracy & speed. You should consider yourself lucky that you're about to write one of the most fun and exciting test because you don't really have to worry about the heavy concepts that come with it, rather focus on the techniques. That's where the accuracy comes from. And once you master the techniques, speed will follow. So, you're sorted!

This course is recommended for students who wish to gain from structured learning and are aiming to start from basic. I believe that one should never chase results. If you have a right direction- the right approach, results will automatically follow. So, all you need to worry about GRE is to be able to develop the skill that it requires and the right approach for the test.

Let us look at some global techniques that one should know.

1. Two Pass system: Within a section, each question is worth the same score. However, some questions will be easy and some will be difficult. Best thing about this online test (GRE) is that you can go back and forth within the section. A question you can nail in 30 seconds is worth as much as a difficult question. You should always do the math section in two passes. On the first pass, do all the questions that you are confident about and to maximise your score, leave the questions you don't like for the second pass.

If you are going to run out of time, make sure you answer those questions too even with a random answer and also those questions are the ones you didn't want to work on anyway, Skip early and skip often.

2. Scratch Paper: One of the genuinely few helpful tools ETS gives you on the GRE is scratch paper. Scratch paper can help you stay organised and efficient over the course of a four-hour test. For each different question type, you will learn new design to set up the scratch paper in order to organise the information and answer all questions as efficiently and accurately as possible.

There are four different question types on GRE math:

a. Problem Solving

b. Quantity Comparison

c. Multiple Select

d. Keyboard Insert

Each question type has its own set up on the scratch paper that you will learn in the classes and will see for yourselves how it helps in a long run.

3. Mark Button: Making no calculation errors on a 4-hour test is unavoidable. The problem is that a misread question or a calculation error completely changes the way you see the question, and once you see a question wrong, it becomes very difficult to see it correctly. As long as you stay with a misread question, you will continue to see it wrong. Meanwhile, time is running and you're not getting any closer to the answer. It is now very difficult to get out of this situation if you don't realise it in time.

On the other hand, once you have identified the error, solving the problem correctly is often a straightforward process. The trick is to change the way you see the question while you still have the opportunity to fix it.

There are certain ways to see a question with fresh mindset:

a. See if there are different ways to express the information

b. Can you use the answer choices to help? (it is a great way)

c. If it is still not clear on a second viewing, guess and move on. Why stick to a question you don't know how to solve?

Take note that just returning to a question isn't enough. You need to think about the problem differently. And don't confuse the terms 'marking' and 'skipping'. Mark questions when you don't understand the concepts involved. You're just stuck there. Also, mark questions that you expect to be time consuming. Skip questions when you don't know the formulas involved. Don't waste time! Just fill in an answer and move on.

4. Pacing: We know that GRE is a section adaptive test. That is, the level of the second section depends on the result of the previous section. In short, the better you do on your first section, the higher the level is of the second section and hence the score. Given the way that the same total number of questions correct can produce up to three different overall scores depending on the difficulty of the second section, one size fits all pacing charts don't work very well for the GRE. So, pacing advice for this test consists of:

a. Do the easier, less time intensive questions before tackling the hard, more time intensive questions.

b. Don't get stubborn! Be willing to mark a question and move on the next question.

c. Prioritise accuracy over speed.

d.Don't leave any question unanswered.

These are some general tips for all GRE aspirants that come handy with the test. Let's catch up for more conceptual techniques.