Learnist: How to Interpret your GRE Score

In August of 2011, the GRE completely changed its scoring. Here’s everything you need to know about scoring on the GRE before you take the test!

The GRE (as of 2011) consists of four sections:

  • Verbal (2 sections)
  • Quantitative (2 sections)
  • Analytical Writing (2 essays)
  • Experimental (can be Verbal, Quant, or AWA)

The complete exam takes approximately 4 hours, depending on what type of experimental section you see. As this Kaplan video points out, the GRE is definitely a test of endurance!

The first step is to get ahold of your scores after you take the exam is to create your GRE account on ETS’s website. Official scores will be received 10-15 days after the test. On Test Day, you will get your score, but it is technically an “unofficial” score. You can view your official scores a couple weeks later for free online from your account!

The Verbal and Quantitative sections of the GRE are on a 130-170 scale. The scaled score on the GRE is the most noticeable difference between the older GRE and the revised GRE (as of August 2011). The scaled score is in increments of 1 point. (Previously, the GRE scaled score was between 200-800, like the GMAT).

In this Kaplan video, you can see that since the scores are so clustered together over 40 points, tiny incremental improvements in your performance can make a dramatic difference in your score!

Check out more resources about how to interpret your GRE score on Learnist!

Learnist: How to Achieve Perfect Pacing on the GRE

Finishing all sections is essential to a high GRE score. Even if you come to the end of a section and realize you have more questions than you have time to work on, make sure to click an answer for each one before the time runs out. This discipline on your GRE practice tests will set the right habit for Test Day, even if it’s painful at first to answer questions you can’t solve quickly. You can download TWO FREE GRE practice tests at gre.org!

For each Verbal section, you will have approx. 20 questions to answer in 30 minutes. This is approx. 1.5 minutes per question. But remember, that you’ll need a few extra minutes for Reading, so try to do the Text Completion and Sentence Equivalence questions in less than that time. Try to do pacing drills where you work on doing them in 1 minute each. Don’t rush and lose accuracy, but remember the importance of finishing the entire section. If you feel up to the challenge, Major Tests.com offers 7 free GRE reading comprehension practice tests with explanations.

The Quant sections of the GRE will each contain approx. 20 questions and you will have 35 minutes to answer them. That works out to 1.75 minutes a question. Divide the section into 4 parts:

Around 9 minutes, you should be on question #5.
Around 18 minutes, you should be on question #10.
Around 26 minutes you should be on question #15.
Around 34 minutes, you should be around question #20

Review some basic Quant tops on this blog before you attempt you next full-length exam. A combo of great benchmarks and strong content knowledge will help you move quickly and confidently through each section.

Check out more tips for GRE pacing on this Learnboard!

Learnist: 7 Ways to Rock the GRE’s Quantiative section

Each GRE quantitative section consists of 20 questions to be completed in 35 minutes. Here’s how to get the most points possible!

When you practice for the GRE, avoid using a calculator unless you really need one. Most GRE Quant questions can be solved within 1-3 minutes without one. It’s provided on the GRE and allows for simple calculations, but don’t use it as a crutch. You should only need it for a couple of questions. You’ll save time if you can do simple conversions in your head.

Review the allowable functions here on the GRE’s official website‘s instructions for using the calculator!

Check out more ways to rock the GRE’s Quantitative section on Learnist!

Learnist: 8 Ways to Earn an Extra Point on the GRE Issue Essay

Learnist_8WaysGREEach Issue topic on the GRE AWA section consists of an issue statement — on which you must form an opinion and write an essay in support of it in 30 minutes. Here’s how to take your GRE Issue Essay from “good” to “great”!

This Introduction to the Issue Essay video from Greenlight Test Prep covers the basics you need to know: timing, instructions, and basic strategy advice.

As the video wisely points out, there’s no “right” side — so brainstorm for BOTH before you choose the one you’d like to support. Choose the position that is the easiest to defend (i.e. the one for which you can come up with the strongest logical arguments and most specific, relevant supporting examples).

Practice makes perfect! You can best study for the GRE online by looking up the AWA prompts and practicing writing several of them within the 30 minute guideline. The only way to get comfortable with the time constraints is to practice them, so set up test-like conditions and get to work. You can see the Issue essay prompts here on the official GRE website!

Make sure you write then on the computer — a simple program like WordPad or Microsoft Word will help you mimic the test-like conditions.

Choose one side of the issue only, and don’t try to “have it both ways.” Even if you don’t believe in the side you choose, you’ll only have time to argue one side effectively. If you take a middle-of-the-road approach you won’t sound as confident or clear.

Remember, according to ETS, the “readers are evaluating the skill with which you address the specific instructions and articulate and develop an argument to support your evaluation of the issue.” What exactly you say (what side you choose to defend) is less important than how you defend it!

This article also does a great job outlining the possible types of support you can include in your body paragraphs:

  • Examples
  • Statistics
  • Expert opinions
  • Anecdotes
  • Observations
  • Precedence
  • Consequence

You’ll probably use examples, unless you happen to already be familiar with the issue. But, remember, statistics alone won’t impress — it’s your argument skills and ability to explain how each piece of support bolsters your conclusion that will really take your GRE Issue Essay to the next level!

GRE Quant Question of the Day: Rates!

Try this “rates” question on your own!

A hiker walked for two days. On the second day the hiker walked 2 hours longer and at an average speed 1 mile per hour faster than he walked on the first day. If during the two days he walked a total of 64 miles and spent a total of 18 hours walking, what was his average speed on the first day?

(A) 2 mph
(B) 3 mph
(C) 4 mph
(D) 5 mph
(E) 6 mph

First, let’s consider Day 1 and Day 2’s hours.

If x = hours on Day 1, then x + 2 = hours on Day 2. The question said he walked 18 hours total, so we can set up a simple equation:

x + (x + 2) = 18
2x + 2 = 18
2x = 16
x = 8

Therefore he walked 8 hours on Day 1 and 10 hours on Day 2.

We are told he went 1mph FASTER on Day 2. So if Day 1’s mph is y, then Day 2’s mph is y + 1.

Let’s look at the D = R x T formula.

D1 = R1 x T1

D2 = R2 x T2

If we plug in what we know:

D1 = (y) x 8 hrs

D2 = (y + 1) x 10 hrs

We know that D1 + D2 must equal 64, so we can sum the two equations and set them equal to 64.

(y) x 8hrs + (y + 1) x 10hrs = 64

Simplifying…

64 = 8y + 10y + 10

64 = 18y + 10

54 = 18y

3 = y

The answer is (B).

How to Get Every Vocab-in-Context Question Correct on the GRE

Every day, we learn something new – from the discovery of the supergiant amphipod to the latest innovative cancer treatments, humans are constantly discovering that there is more to our world than meets the eye. Your GRE test prep might not feel as exciting as some of these other breakthroughs, but Vocab-in-Context questions are good opportunities to discover new vocabulary in your GRE test prep, and like these discoveries, there is also more to this question type than meets the eye. V-in-C questions look simple, but can be deceptively challenging. Don’t you just have to know the definition of the word? Nope! In fact, the common definition is often wrong (but usually one of the answer choices).
Let’s look at how a question might appear on the GRE test.

In line 19, the word fathom means?

You may see this question and think, I know what “fathom” means. It’s like to be able to understand or comprehend. Scanning the answer choices, you’d see the following options:

A. plaintive
B. secondary
C. understandable
D. measure
E. florid

If you did not go back to the context of the word in the passage, you’d likely choose C quickly and move on to the next question, only to find out later that C was incorrect! This is because many words on the GRE have multiple meanings. You don’t have to know all of them, but you DO have to check to make sure the meaning you think is truly how the word is used in context. Remember, the question-type isn’t called “Vocab Definitions,” it’s called “Vocab-in-Context!”

English words often have many meanings, and can change meaning based on what part of speech they are. For example, “a fathom,” used as a noun, is a measurement of six feet. But “to fathom,” used as a verb, means to comprehend or understand. If the word “fathom” was not being used as a verb in the context, then you could guess C was incorrect, even if you did not know another definition for “fathom.”

When you practice GRE reading passages, always be out the look out for the part of speech of vocabulary words, and memorize words that have multiple or uncommon meanings! You may want to keep a notebook to help you organize these new words – add to it every time you practice!