cracking the verbal section of the GRE

Discussion in 'Psychology [Psy.D. / Ph.D.]' started by applyingtograd, Aug 18, 2012.

  1. applyingtograd

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    Does anyone have any good tips for cracking the verbal section of the GRE, specifically the reading passages?
    Thanks!
     
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  3. undecidedman

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    heh, i have a hard time with the other stuff. the sentence equivalence and text completions, so if you have any advice on that, i'd gladly take it. :(

    as far as the passages are concerned, i've heard good things about using manhatten reviews book on that (it's like $20 on amazon, and than you get full practice tests too).

    i've also been using magoosh, and love it. it's online and they give you a video explanation of the right answers and also explain why the wrong answers are wrong.

    aside from that, i'd say your best bet is to read some difficult passages on your own (new york times, the new yorkers, atlantic, scientific journals, etc.) and every each paragraph, in your head determine the main purpose of the passage, the view points, things that the GRE tends to ask.

    best of luck.
     
  4. applyingtograd

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    thanks so much!
    the thing that has helped me the most with the sentence equivalence and text completions is just studying vocab. I have an iphone app I like called GRE smart vocab and it's great for studying on the go. I also bought a program from benchprep and it has a bunch of GRE exercises and tests and it also has vocab flashcards. It was on sale at the beginning of the summer, but I don't know if it still is. hope this helps.
     
  5. LivingOffLoans

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    Hi applyingtograd,

    I have been using the Princeton Review, which I really enjoyed the verbal section of. You're onto something with increasing your vocabulary. When it came to looking over the practice questions I got wrong, I could usually attribute it to that. In terms of 'cracking' the GRE though, and learning some 'tricks' to get you through the test, the Princeton Review does a great job I think...at least with the verbal section. The quantitative section and I do not get along so well.
     
  6. mewtoo

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    I second the Princeton review. I used Kaplan for the old gre so its not directly comparable, but so far I like Princeton more, especially for math (which I realize you didn't ask about).
     
  7. wigflip

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    Just curious, but what specifically are you liking better about Princeton, mewtoo? I too used Kaplan for the old GRE, and may have to update the darned thing one of these days...
     
  8. AcronymAllergy

    AcronymAllergy Neuropsychologist
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    From what I can remember, I believe I used Barron's, and actually liked it better than PR (the presentation in the PR book I had just seemed too "busy" and scattered). Then again, I didn't pay much attention to anything verbal other than the word lists, so my input might not be particularly useful.
     
  9. mewtoo

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    I think Princeton has more strategies in it than the old Kaplan, but it could also be that the Princeton strategies mesh better with me. I'm not really certain since it was over a year ago now that I took the old GRE and used Kaplan and my study habits have vastly improved since then.

    I think so far that Princeton offers more strategies for the quant section than Kaplan did (I'm just really delving into the math part now, so I'll know more later). I think Kaplan tried more to get you to understand the content and solve it the old fashioned way while Princeton tries to get you to understand the content and offers some really valuable strategies. I know that one of the tips Princeton gives about the quant comparison (one of the hardest types for me) pretty much rocked my world and since then I've been getting a lot more of those types correct. For the verbal part I think it outlined more strategies than Kaplan too.

    Hopefully that wasn't just some rambling mess.
     
  10. wigflip

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    Very helpful--thanks, mewtoo!
    And good luck with applications. The APA quandary sounds like a pain. I hope you find a strong research match at an APA school. :luck:
     
  11. mewtoo

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    Glad I could help! :D And I hope so too, haha. :luck:
     
  12. BubuB

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    I just took the GRE yesterday. I had taken the GRE in its previous incarnation and did much better this time. I noticed were that it was heavy on the reading comprehension (~2/3 of the questions) and that there was very little in the way of obscure vocabulary words. I've been studying off and on for a while (I've been on the fence about retaking it, decided I didn't need to and was now forced to take it) so I'm sure that's helped me a lot, but what I think was most important is that I've been reading the newspaper (new york times, maybe an average of an article a day) regularly for the past few years. I know you can't take a few years to start reading a paper, but I think that if you have a few months before the test or regularly read high quality content you can do very well on the verbal section. Magoosh actually have a post about this on their blog.
    On a related note, the math was very much conceptual. Some questions had few to no numbers. I liked it it because I didn't feel penalized for misremembering the formula for mortgage amortization, but I can imagine that others may really dislike it.

    Below are my thoughts on materials I've used to study for the test in case this is of use to anyone. All apps are on the iphone.

    Taken before first test:
    Kaplan class - Minimally helpful. I am not bad at math, but have a terrible memory and hate rote memorization. This was almost all math review and a little talk about how to approach the writing section. We were told to memorize the vocab (I didn't). I think tactics taught by these courses are somewhat of a scam. Does anyone really need to be told not to consider an option you know is wrong?
    Kaplan book that came with class (including practice tests) - Helpful. Hard to say how much. I didn't really study vocab words, but I think I did all the exercises (except for those essays)

    Taken before the second test:
    Watermelon Express GRE Connect (app) - Terrible. At the time this was the only app I could find and it was horrible. Very buggy, difficult to use and the answers were often wrong or incomplete. I don't know if they improved, but I wouldn't trust them. I didn't really use this to prepare, but I wanted to warn any other suckers out there.
    Kaplan vocabulary flashcards(app) - helpful. Something about doing this on my phone made it less terrible for me. Like most things, I think you need to spend a good deal of time with this for it to sink in (at least that's true for me). I mostly used this about two years ago when I thought I was going to retake the GRE.
    Smart Vocab (GRE) (app) - I liked this more than than the Kaplan app. I thought it was better organized by levels of difficulty and you have to correctly identify a word more than once, which is better at assessing long-term retention. I started using this about a month before the GRE.
    Kaplan GRE premier book - I got it because it came with free tests and I wanted a refresher. The best thing about it is that it came with a code that allowed me to take a bunch of tests and other materials online. They didn't have a couple of the verbal and quant practice sets so they gave me access to a free database of 2500 questions. I'm pretty sure they were mostly written with the old GRE in mind, but very helpful regardless. I also found the Kaplan verbal questions to be a lot more difficult than the GRE (I sometimes disagreed with their answer choices for the reading comp questions...). The math was more concrete, but I thought it was generally pretty good.
    ETS Powerprep II - A good simulation of the test. I took the 2 tests during the 2 days before my test, but I think I'd recommend taking the first one relatively early to test your strengths and weaknesses. Also, the test is adaptive in the sense that the second verbal/quant section difficulty depends on your performance on the first section. This means that after taking the test you can spend some time studying and then retake it. You will probably do better so there's a good chance you'll get a harder second section than you did previously.

    Good luck to everyone out there. I hope this is helpful.
     
  13. psych for path

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    I definitely agree with whoever said to try out Magoosh- they give you a bunch of questions for free, some practice sections, etc. I even ended up paying for it because it was so helpful (I only chose to pay for the quant section).

    Additionally- VOCAB. I know they have changed the test and it's not so focused on rote recall, but the vocab still sneaks up on you in reading comp and sentence completions.

    Also, my GRE prep teacher told my class the following, which was always helpful: if you think you have the answer, you better be able to point to where in the passage it tells you that answer...if anything about your response is outside the scope of the words on the page, you're making an assumption, and that is very dangerous territory. Beware of extremes like "the author stated that the ENTIRETY of the population...," "The only conclusion made by the protagonist was..." (Please excuse the ridiculous nature of those examples, it's late).
     
  14. mewtoo

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    Awesome post! Would you mind sharing your scores or just how much they improved?

    Also, I just wanted to share that Princeton right now has a free mock-GRE test out right now: http://www.princetonreview.com/grad/free-gre-practice-test.aspx

    I took it and I think it was pretty good. Only complaint is that I think the digital calculator that comes with it doesn't have all the functions that it was supposed to. I thought it was supposed to have a root function and a squaring function and the Princeton version did not. Feel free to correct me if I'm mistaken on it.
     
  15. BubuB

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    You get the root function but not square. There's a picture of it on one of the PDFs about the test on ETS's website and you will see it when you take the powerprep tests.

    I also read somewhere (Kaplan?) that test takers performance can be somewhat differentiated by the way they breath. I think better test takers breathed normally and performance dropped when breathing was shallow and rapid. I think taking the length of the GRE and taking practice tests makes us get in the habit of skipping over these breaks. I used all the breaks I had to close my eyes for a second, breath, and try to relax. I also got up, ate something, had a drink of water and went to the bathroom during the longer break. Because there were always questions I didn't answer or wasn't sure about I felt like I was doing poorly at the end of each section. I think doing that stuff helped me avoid having the feeling of bombing on a section affect my performance on the next one.
     
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  17. AcronymAllergy

    AcronymAllergy Neuropsychologist
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    I'd definitely recommend taking full advantage of the breaks, yep. After all, we recommend it for people when studying, why wouldn't we also recommend it during a major exam?

    As for the questions themselves, my "experimental" section was verbal and, to the best of my knowledge, was the first section I had to go through. It absolutely destroyed me; I don't think I knew a single word in any of the analogies or associated answer choices. Then, when I got to section three, it was another verbal portion, and this time I recognized the vast majority of the vocabulary. Made for a rather stressful math portion in between the two, believe me.
     
  18. mewtoo

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    Omg, yay, haha. I'm soooo glad it really does have a root function. I can live without the square but trying to do roots by hand... :eek:

    Good job on raising your score! I was messing around and looking at the concordance tables and what I'd need to get at least an 1100 (I got a 1040 on the old one) and I discovered I only needed to raise my total new GRE score by 2 points... That really shows how inflated looking the old scores were! I'm going to try to take a loooot of mock test this time around. I think I only ended up taking 2 or 3 my first time around and I scored lower in the testing center than I had at home. Hopefully this time will go better for me too.
     
  19. HealingGrace

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    are there any videos where someone is reading the passages and interpreting them as they go? That seems like it would be helpful to find errors in the way a student is reading the passages or finding key info, or where to focus in on...
     
  20. TheStruggleIsReal77

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    I know it's kind of old, but I found this video a good walkthrough of what to prepare for:
     

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