GRE Test Tips and Techniques

Test Tactics and Sectional Strategies for the GRE

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All Decks of Flash Cards Written by Judd Robbins, M.A., M.S., Licensed High School Teacher and Published Author of over 80 textbooks, videos, correspondence courses, seminars, and training CD ROMs.


The information offered in this Tactics and Strategies Report is intended for general educational purposes only. No warranty is either expressed or implied about the benefits to be obtained from using this information as a study aid for the GRE.
These tips should only be used as an adjunct mechanism for preparing to take the GRE and obtain the best possible score. Students should also study vocabulary words, as well as the fundamentals of arithmetic, algebra and geometry.

OVERALL TEST TACTICS:

  1. Learn the section directions now. Use the time saved during the test to work on questions.
  2. Be especially careful in the first portion of every section. Successful answers to the earliest questions will lead to higher scores.
  3. You can write on the scratch paper provided. You can also remember to bring some extra scratch paper. Use the process of elimination to cross out wrong answers; do scratch work.
  4. Easy questions usually precede hard ones.
  5. Double check your work and answer before you click on the screen bubble. You cannot skip any question and you cannot go back after you've answered a question.
  6. Answer every question, making educated guesses if you have to. Just try to eliminate one or more choices before guessing.
  7. Don't spend too much time on any one question. You should spend only seconds on the easiest questions, and hesitate to spend more than 1-2 minutes on even the hardest ones.
  8. Practice, practice, practice!
  9. Bring a watch to the test center. You can't be guaranteed that there'll be a working clock there.
  10. Don't bring a calculator since you're not allowed to use one.
  11. Bring a couple of IDs to the test center. Make sure at least one of the pictures actually looks like you. Also bring any authorization voucher you may have received from the Educational Testing Service.
  12. Read the words in the question carefully. Be sure to answer the question asked and not the question you recall from a practice test.
  13. Know the Question Types to Expect on the GRE: * analogies * sentence completion * reading comprehension * math multiple-choices * quantitative comparisons 
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SPECIFIC SECTIONAL STRATEGIES

VERBAL Section --- SENTENCE COMPLETION:

  1. Before looking at the answers, try to complete the sentence with words that make sense to you.
  2. Don't rush your selection. Consider all the answers to make the best choice.
  3. Use the context of nearby words to figure out unknown words.
  4. Don't overlook the reversing effect of negative words (like not) or prefixes (like un-).
  5. If you're really stuck for the meaning of a word, try to think of other words that have similar prefixes, roots, or suffixes.
  6. Eliminate choices in double-blank questions if the first word alone doesn't make sense in the sentence.
  7. Let transition words (like although and likewise) help suggest the best answer.

VERBAL Section --- ANALOGIES:

  1. First: create a sentence in your mind that uses the two capitalized words.
  2. Learn to recognize common types of analogies.
  3. Eliminate answer pairs that are clearly wrong.
  4. Beware of possibly correct answers that appear in reverse order.
  5. If more than one choice appears possible, analyze the words again.
  6. Consider alternative meanings of words, as well as alternative parts of speech.
  7. If you don't know the meaning a word, try to recall if you've ever heard it in an expression. The context of the expression may suggest the meaning of the word.
  8. Beware of obvious answers! They may be there only to mislead you.

VERBAL Section --- ANTONYMS:

  1. Use word parts (prefixes, roots, suffixes) to figure out the probable meaning of unknown words.
  2. Be aware of secondary meanings of words. For example, 'appreciation' can just as readily mean 'increase' as it does 'gratitude'. When no answer seems correct, look for an alternative (or 'secondary') meaning for your antonym/opposite choice.
  3. Consider the 'feel' of the word. It may create a sense in you of its meaning, such as a word like 'grandiose'. It may have a positive or negative connotation, which may help you to eliminate some choices.
  4. Try to think of similarly constructed words that you may recognize and that may give you a clue as to the meaning of an otherwise unknown word.
  5. Think of a recognizable context for a word you don't recognize. Let the context of the word in a phrase or sentence suggest its probable meaning.
  6. Think of an opposite meaning for the capitalized word, even before you look at the actual choices.
  7. Read all the choices before selecting your answer.

VERBAL Section --- READING COMPREHENSION:

  1. You should base your answers to the questions solely on what is stated or implied in the passages.
  2. Read the italicized introductory text.
  3. Skip questions you don't know. Return to them after answering other easier questions.
  4. First and last sentences of each paragraph are critical.
  5. Find the right spot in a passage by using any line reference numbers that appear in the questions.
  6. Answer questions on familiar topics before unfamiliar topics.
  7. Read the passages before reading the questions.
  8. Don't waste time memorizing details.
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MATH Section - STANDARD MULTIPLE CHOICE:

  1. Read the question well. Be sure to select the best answer for the variable, value, or expression that is requested!
  2. Learn in advance all of the critical definitions, formulas, and concepts that appear in common questions.
  3. Remember to use the test booklet for scratch work, as well as for marking up any diagrams/graphs.
  4. Early questions in this section are easier. Spend less time on them.
  5. Don't get carried away with detailed calculations. Look for a trick or a shortcut if the question seems time consuming.
  6. When a question contains a weird symbol, just substitute the accompanying definition when figuring out the best answer choice.

MATH Section - QUANTITATIVE COMPARISONS:

  1. Don't ever guess at Choice E. There are only four choices!
  2. Always consider values that are fractional (between 0 and 1), zero, negative, or non-integer.
  3. Factor out, then cancel, any common expressions or quantities in both Columns A and B. Remember that you are just trying to make relative comparisons.
  4. Questions are simpler and should take less time than the Standard Multiple Choice. Look closely. The answer is often apparent without any calculations.
  5. Write on any diagrams to help clarify any values, angles, sides, etc.
  6. Compare; don't solve!
  7. Simplify one or both sides whenever possible before comparing.

ANALYTIC Section:

  1. Read the entire question first. This enables you to get a better sense of the 'argument' and how best to approach the logic involved.
  2. Read the entire argument as well. This enables you to better understand the logic involved and the likely conclusions.
  3. Pay attention to key words, such as always or never (absolute terms) or sometimes or almost (relative terms).
  4. In trying to use the process of elimination, you should consider dropping from consideration an answer choice if it goes beyond the contents (ie. scope) of the argument.
  5. You should also consider eliminating choices that are more extreme (ie. using absolute terms).

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