In this mini-series, we have previously covered college entrance tests, the SAT and the ACT. Let’s now move on to graduate entrance tests, with the GRE as the next one.

Overall GRE

1. To cut down on any test-day surprise, memorize all test instructions beforehand. This will come naturally if you practice a lot of full-length tests.

2. All questions on a particular section can be solved in any order. So, attack the easy questions first!

3. Read the question closely. GRE questions are built to make students do careless mistakes. Don’t answer the value of X, if they are asking for X^2.

4. Make good use of scratch paper to solve quantitative questions. It also comes in handy while following the elimination technique to remove incorrect answer choices.

Verbal Reasoning

5. The simplest trick for Text Completion questions is this: think whether the missing word is a positive or a negative word, or a synonym or antonym of another word given in the sentence.

E.g.

Vain and prone to violence, Caravaggio could not handle success: the more his (1)_____ as an artist increased, the more (2)______ his life became.

Blank (1) : temperance OR notoriety OR eminence

Blank (2) : tumultuous OR providential OR dispassionate

It is clear that (1) and (2) signify opposite ideas, on the lines of ‘fame/expertise/wealth’ and ‘troublesome’ respectively. The correct answers are ‘eminence’ and ‘tumultuous’.

6. A similar trick for Sentence Equivalence questions is this: understand the relationship between the missing word and the rest of the sentence – know whether it is positive or negative or opposite in meaning.

E.g.

The corporation expects only _ increases in sales next year despite a yearlong effort to revive its retailing business.
A. dynamic
B. predictable
C. expanding
D. modest
E. slight
F. Volatile

The words ‘only’ and ‘despite’ make it clear that the corporate is not expecting a big increase. So, the correct answers are ‘modest’ and ‘slight’.

7. For Reading Comprehension, summarize every paragraph into your own words and understand the connection among ideas. On the GRE, questions on specific information in the passage are rare. So don’t stress too much on the details.

Quantitative Reasoning

8. In Quantitative Comparison questions, it is not necessary to find out the exact value – all you have to do is compare the two values. So don’t waste time solving complicated equations.

E.g.

Linden is Miranda’s younger brother.
Compare Quantity A: Twice Linden’s age and Quantity B: Miranda’s age

Linden = 3 and Miranda = 4, gives us ‘Quantity A is greater’ answer, but Linden = 1 and Miranda = 4, gives us ‘Quantity B is greater’ answer. The answer is ‘The relationship cannot be determined’.

We did this without actually finding any age (in fact, we cannot find any age as there is no actual data).

9. GRE answer choices are carefully crafted, considering mistakes that students are likely to make. So, double-check when irrational numbers, square roots, negatives, or zero are involved.

10. If possible, use the plug-and-play method i.e. select an answer choice and try to solve the given problem. If the answer fits, it is the right one! This is particularly useful when you know that solving the question may take a long time.

Analytical Writing

11. Know the elements that you are graded on: Clarity, Structure, Sentence Variety, Vocabulary, Language and Grammar, Reasoning, and Evidence.

12. Use the following step-by-step flowchart while drafting the Issue/Argument essays.
a. Understand the issue/argument. Write down the key aspects of the essay

b. Note different, non-overlapping causes/assumptions with specific examples.

c. Pick a theory that goes well with your chosen causes/assumptions and examples. Be confident about your research.

d. Outline the structure – the opening paragraph introducing your theory/positions, body paragraphs with specific reasons/assumptions and examples, and conclusion summarizing the essay. Note what you are going to write in each paragraph.

e. NOW start writing, after all this research. Make sure you focus on only the particular paragraph that you are writing. Aim for a tightly-built 600-word essay.

f. Proofread for consistency, language, grammar, and punctuation.

That’s it! This epic list of tips for the GRE will help you significantly improve your GRE score. What are you waiting for! Go practice, and share the tips with your friends!

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