GRE prep advice

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10+ Year Member
May 1, 2013
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Hey guys,

I plan on taking the GRE and I know some stuff about the exam itself but no idea how to start prep. What is the average recommended prep time for this exam? How long did you prep for before taking the GRE? What are some good prep materials? Any good online resources? I prefer to study for a month and take the exam but I'm open to suggestions. Thanks in advance for your input.

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I recommend it's about $100 for a year and has a dedicated study plan, videos that cover everything and over a 1000 practice problems. I found the study plan very beneifical if you don't really know where to start, will take you through everything.

No I do not work for magoosh, just a happy customer
I recommend it's about $100 for a year and has a dedicated study plan, videos that cover everything and over a 1000 practice problems. I found the study plan very beneifical if you don't really know where to start, will take you through everything.

No I do not work for magoosh, just a happy customer

I second this! It's formatted to give timed practice problems and tests in a way similar to the test itself, which I found to be a lot more helpful than the Kaplan books I was studying from before hand. It really helped me target problem areas I needed to review and work on, especially in math. The only downside is magoosh doesn't offer any help with the essays, so you still need the books/other resources for that.
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First thing is first, great login name! really depends on your own time and study habits. I gave myself about 7-8 weeks so I could really take my time, figure out my weaknesses, and know the material.

As far as materials...I bought the Manhattan GRE Books + vocab (basic + advanced) flashcards which all in all set me back about $150+ but imo are the best materials available because of how well written and well structured the books are. Further, each of the books has practice problems at the end of each chapter and difficulty-tiered reviews questions at the end of each book...the real kicker is that you can log into manhattan GRE online, type in the code from each book, and get access to a plethora of different review questions, along with a couple practice GRE tests.

There are about 8 total books so for the first 4 weeks, I worked my way through them. The next 2 weeks I studied all the vocab flashcards (1000 in total). Week 7 consisted of reviewing the books and any vocab words I was having a tough time with. Week 8 I took a couple practice tests and did any reviewing on topics I still found painful.

Just for reference, my GRE scores were: 167V, 160Q, 4.0 AW
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I used the Manhattan Prep books and their 5lb book of practice problems. Very easy to follow along and understand. Let me just tell you, in my opinion, the GRE is in no way indicative of how smart you are, but rather how disciplined you are in preparing for the exam.
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"but rather how disciplined you are in preparing for the exam"

Can't stress this enough. Implement the correct process w the right materials, buckle down, and you will get a good score
It really depends on what you need to focus on and what section you are struggling with the most. To be completely honest, I didn't really study much for the GRE but I did use Barron's 200 Essential Words for the GRE (I think that's what it is called). I needed help with vocab and found it to be very helpful. I also noticed that a decent amount of the words I had learned were on the GRE, so that made me feel good haha. I didn't study for the math section but have heard the Kaplan books are good :)
I am a weak GPA applicant that ended up scoring a 158 V 154 Q and 4.5AW my first time. I also had not taken trig yet, so I'd like to retake to see how much my Q score would go up (it's a lot of trig!). I used the Kaplan program and really liked it. Don't rest on the idea that you can just retake the test. Oftentimes even if you drastically change your study habits, you will score in the same range.
Using magoosh was helpful for me to understand certain quantitative concepts I was unsure of. I bought both Q and V sections but I really only needed to study quantitative. Take the practice tests to see what you are weakest in or what you need to work on the most and start there. They have videos on their website and try using other resources like khan academy. Do a bunch of practice problems!!
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I took a practice test from Kaplan about 7 months before planning to take the real thing. From my scores on that test, I tailored my studying appropriately. I ordered 4 books from Kaplan: the math one, the reading one, the one with like 8 practice tests, and the overall one. I found that the overall book had too much overlap, so I wouldn't buy it again. But, I found the other 3 to be very helpful. I also bought the Kaplan vocab cards. That, plus the 4 books was $62 from amazon, if I remember correctly. I started studying in May, spent about 2 hours a day studying, took 1 practice test a week, and took the real test in early August (probably about 10 weeks total of studying). I would definitely recommend the Kaplan books if you are a disciplined learner. I would also recommend taking as many practice tests as you can handle. For me, taking a weekly practice test decreased my stress/anxiety on the actual test day because I strictly timed myself at home, so it was nothing different from the habits I had established. Compared to the practice test that I took in February, after studying, my math and reading scores increased 13 points and 12 points, respectively. Moral of the story: I was pretty happy with the Kaplan prep!

I would also recommend downloading the powerprep software from ETS. You get 2 free practice tests, that are identical in format and timing to the real thing. I also found that my scores on the 2 tests from ETS were within 2 points of my test day score. My scores from the Kaplan tests were significantly lower than the ETS scores, so it could be argued that the Kaplan tests are hard and prepared me well (definitely debatable...)

And about re-taking the test... A) Its an expensive test ($180 or something like that). On top of the already expensive application process, try to save yourself some $$ if you can! B) I found the GRE to be pretty tiring on my brain, and honestly, I would not want to have to take another 5-6 hour test, in that tiny computer cubicle again. And C) I don't know this from personal experience, but I've also heard that most people who retake it don't actually improve more than a few points.
If you have a smart phone, search for GRE vocab study apps. There are some great ones out there for a few bucks or free. Studying a few of those on my phone each day really helped me on the verbal. I scored 161.
Thanks for the replies everyone! Im sorry I'm replying kinda late to this thread, i thought it had died out when i checked it the next day after posting with no replies, but I've got some really good responses from you all. Seems like the general consensus is Magoosh and Manhattan prep material.