GRE Strategies (mostly for Quantitative)

I would like to write about GRE Quantitative(Math) section. I guess someone who is taking GRE preperation find this mail helpful.

GRE Quantitative(Math) section

I guess you all know the most important part of GRE is math for Engineering students. Even 750 is not enough. It is quite achievable to reach near 800 if you practice well and learn techniques to solve problems quicker(A lot of people make it 800.).
You should find mostly secondary level questions and some higher secondary level questions. And they will put only those questions which are possible to solve without calculator. So do not worry about not being allowed to use a calculator. For the difficulty level, I guess they test how fast students are with calculation. (I mean if you know multiples of 12 to 20[Namta] that is good. If you know square root of 5, 7, 11...13 that is good)

And know 25% of any amount is just 1/4 *(Amount) do not solve it like 25/100 * (Amount). Just multiply 3/4(75%) or 1/2(50%). Try save time in as many ways as you can.

Practice the  Data Analysis(Graph) questions and those take time to solve. Before you jump to questions analyze the graph at least 1/2 minutes and this will help you to quick pick up the answers for the Graph.

Do a lot of geometry problem. Know the basic rules of Ellipse, Parabola, Hyperbola and circle of course. Do a lot of probability and and basics of statistics. At least spend a month for Math. Now a days no math comes which is of standard of Barron's Book and definitely Big Book is obsolete (Do not do even a single math from Big book.). Then what book to follow? Well finish every lines from Barrons to get a raw idea on types of math that people find at real GRE Exam. But believe me you will get much more tougher math questions in real exam on your test date. Then why Barrons? Because it will give you a lot of strategies and tricks to solve common problem types. Finish doing Barrons Math section first. Then I would go for "Kaplan GRE" for math tricks. Then the most important thing is practice test. DO as many practice test as you can. Very lengthy math questions are to be found in GRE exam now a days. So I would recommend practicing tests for Math from "Cambridge GRE" CD.You will learn how lengthy questions are possible. Do not practice from Kaplan/Barrons CD. Then the most valuable resource is practice all the tests from here. And definitely go for Power Prep(In power prep there is not only 2 tests. They have a question bank so I guess there is 10 tests. So every time you give Power Prep you would find new questions and some questions from your last tests.). Another good resource for real time GRE math questions should be They have a good discussion on math and test question analysis. See those. 

Now "28 questions in 45 minutes"  
You should definitely follow some strategies to meet the time constraints.As the 1st 10 questions are most important and on those you should be put into a score range I suppose. So be careful for answering those questions and allocate more time on those first few questions. There should be some questions that would require 3/4 minutes and  30 seconds or less for some other questions. So you can not allocate same time for all questions. What you can do

First 10 Questions ---- 15 min
Next  9 Questions ---- 15 min
Next  9 Questions ----  15 min

But if you make delay on one part then hurry on second part. For example if you take 17 min to First 10 Questions then make the next 9 for 13 minutes.(1st 10 questions are really important for getting good score as computer adapt your skill and score level mostly on those questions so you may make a bit delay on 1st 10 questions but do not take 20 minutes). If you are stuck with any question for more than 4 minutes then immediately leave it with answering the best option that comes in your mind. And remember you can score 800 even if you answer 1/2 questions wrong. So do not worry. But be careful. Math test is not too tough but tricky and trapped with silly mistakes. So be careful not to make silly mistakes. Do not try to recheck your answers after you got your answer because it will eat up a lot of your time unless you are confused with your answer.

And for difficult questions they will give you more score than easier one. So allow more time to difficult questions. One difficult questions may have 60 score where as 3 simple questions may have 3*20(for each question) = 60. And different type of difficult questions should come but most of them should be easy. But there might be 2/3 questions that should be really hard to solve in small amount of time or you can also find one or two questions that you might not be able to solve even after the GRE exam.:) So leave those very hard questions if you do not find answers in the exam even if you spend 3/4 minutes on those. Just leave those answering any options that you feel as correct answer. Do not get stuck even it is your 1st question. Leave it. Because 4/5 wrong answers might give you 780 score but if you spend 7 minutes on a particular question and ran out of time and at the end if you find you could not answer 7 questions and its 45 minutes you might get a score not above 700. So time management is very very important. Keep in mind it is not necessary to correct 28 questions to get a score of 800 as it is an adaptive test. You will get a score for your overall performance. So do not worry of answering 2/3 wrong questions but be sure finish in time. But both speed and accuracy is important. As much as you practice as you will be used to make a good score. 

Probably you should not find any unknown question. But if you find one/two questions which you think is really impossible to solve or you are not finding any clue to solve simply leave these hard questions. And do not allocate more than 2 minutes as you know you might not be able to solve it. Again you will find some questions that you for sure know how to solve but you are not getting right answer right now in the exam time. Do not be crazy "Why can not I solve it? What is wrong with me? I am good at mathematics." It will downward your score as you will spend good amount of time and probably not be able to solve it even after 5 minutes and it will bring tension on you mind and your exam will hamper a lot. If you can not solve your known questions even in 3/4 minutes simply leave those. Leave those I say.:)

Always remember two points.
#1. You can get 780+ even if you miss 3/4 questions. So leave impossible(unknown) questions and known questions those you can not solve even in 4 minutes. (Try not to spend more than 3 minutes and 1/1.5 min is standard time on in average  but answer some easy questions even in 10-30 seconds.)

#2. You will try hard to reach upto 28 questions to answer as answering (wrong or right) all questions also has an impact on your score.

Some thing about Verbal Section:

Practice from Kaplan GRE and give practice tests from and
Let me tell you resources for particular topic of verbal section after you finish Kaplan Book and  those two websites above.

Reading comprehension- read literary articles from not scientific articles or not from news papers. Read fast and try to pick up the meaning of any sentence fast. There should be at least three passages to answer in verbal section. Unless you can read first you will not be able to answer those passages (commonly 40-80 lines) quickly. You should definitely practice from Big Book Reading comprehension.

Analogy - Kaplan sample analogy questions, majortests and test questions and analogy part of Big Book.

Sentence Completion - Barrons sample sentence completion questions and and Power Prep's sentence completion is good.

Antonym- Its easy. As you know meaning so antonym is easy. Practice from Big Book.

For verbal section Big Book is Good to practice.

Writing Section 

I would also recommend you to prepare for the Writing section- Issue & Argument. 
You can buy Arco GRE for writing. Remember there is no spell checker in the Editor in GRE exam. So be careful for spelling and be sure to revise the writing and do not forget to  allow 10 minutes for revision after you complete the writing. Do not panic for few spelling mistakes. Its Ok. Revision is most important. When ever you are giving any opinion try to give some practical example to support your opinion. This will give you good score. I would recommend you to see the sample answers for Issues and Argument that Power Prep generate after you finish taking the practice test. See how to write and what carries good score.

And one thing is that there is a topics list(Issue Pool & Argument Pool) in ETS/GRE site for both issue and argument. Probably here
You will find Issue & Argument questions from this list in your real exam date. So I will recommend you to look into each topic and try to guess what you will write to these topics on the real exam date. Doing so you will feel good as you will get the same question from this pool given in GRE site. At least be familiar with the topics and think about them. 

*Do not forget to see this mail before your real exam date.* :) Best luck.

Md. Raihan Masud
PhD Student & Graduate Fellow
Computer Science Department
University of Oregon,USA

1 comment:

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