Studying for the GRE

I didn’t study for the PSAT or SAT, and I used to think that people who study for standardized tests are cheaters.  As though if you study, your score is not worth as much as the score from a non-studier.  Now I think that perspective is incorrect, since taking standardized tests has a lot to do with understanding the tests.

I happen to really like standardized tests and I do pretty well at them, but when my husband suggested that we should consider going to grad school together I thought maybe we should study for the GRE.  I guess I thought it was going to be harder than the tests I’ve taken up to this point.

Happily I was incorrect.  In fact, from what I can tell, the GRE is actually easier than the SAT.  Especially the math sections.  I did need to study because I had forgotten middle school math and geometry, but a quick refresher was all I needed.  As I read, I could almost hear my geometry teacher, who had a great German accent, saying as she worked a proof “Und now vee are going to go and do ziss vone heah.”  Anyway, the math is much simpler than SAT math, or maybe I would have found SAT math easier had I studied for it.  Ahem.

Anyway, if you’ve been reading here long you know that when I want to know something, I read some books.  So I read some books about the GRE.  The first one I read, Crash Course for the New GRE, was immensely helpful to me because it is more of a general strategy book, giving an overview of each type of question and what they are really asking for.  On the other hand, my more literal/tactical minded husband was driven nuts by the theoretical nature of this book.  He much prefers to just work a set of problems, and then go back and figure out if he did them correctly.  To each their own, so we tried a bit of both approaches.

I won’t bore you with reviews of the various test study books we got, because those are a dime a dozen.  Actually they are way more expensive than a dime, unfortunately, but that is why we patronize the library.  In any case, I thought it might be helpful to mention the Crash Course because it was quite different from your average test study book, and if you’re a strategic, big picture kind of thinker it might be helpful to you too.


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3 thoughts on “Studying for the GRE

  1. When I studied for the the GRE in college, I used a Princeton Review book. I also like the approach (strategies, tells you what they are really looking for) although the writers were a little cynical about the whole standardized test process. And a little arrogant, thinking they could teach you to beat the system no matter how smart you were. But I found it useful and it helped me guess on the verbal part because no matter how hard you study, you just can’t make up for not having that big of a vocabulary as the test expects you to have. (I’m sure you won’t have that problem though.)

  2. I took the GRE right before they changed to the new format (I guess it’s not so new anymore, because that was 10+ years ago now that I think about it), and I was THRILLED to find out that, compared to the SAT, the GRE had harder vocab but easier math. And it had the logic section then (does it still?) which I loved. That probably makes me a big nerd, but I used to do logic problems for fun so having them as part of a test was great as far as I was concerned.

    I definitely thought the review book I used was worth it for the math brush-up if nothing else. It had been several years since I’d done some of those sorts of problems, and I was very rusty. I used the GRE for dummies book & thought it was great at having the quickest, easiest to find summary of essential math equations and other basic review material.

  3. I took a job after school, and didn’t go back to grad school until eight years later. I also did well at standardized tests, but thought that after so much time away from school I should prepare (“cheat”, as you used to say!) for the GRE. Long story short, time ran out, and I took the test with no preparation (I think I glanced through a study guide to confirm that the format was similar to the SAT in a book store). I was surprised I did so well – but I am a math geek who likes to read, so I guess that paid off.

    However, with our children we are having them go through a general prep course as well as one-on-one work to identify their weaknesses. Both saw a 2 pt increase in their ACTs afterwards – clearly worth it.
    EdH recently posted..Student Loan Default: It Might be the Borrower, not the School

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