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Taking the GRE (Questions, rants, advice, etc)

Discussion in 'Pre-Veterinary' started by MooSuga, Dec 29, 2008.

  1. MooSuga

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    I will be preparing for the GRE, as of right now I have no clue about the test. I will be researching the test, it's topics, methods, sections, etc.

    What is the best preparation for the GRE?

    I am actually going to purchase a few books and start cracking down on studying for the test and hopefully, I can take it in the summer or so.

    Is it really worth it to pay for a course?
     
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  3. david594

    david594 The-OSU CVM c/o 2013
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    Depends on the applicant. How are you at standardized testing?

    What did you think of the SAT you took in high school. The GRE was a similar format and if you were comfortable with the SAT, you will probably be fairly comfortable with the GRE.
     
  4. Truth74

    Truth74 DVM
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    I did pretty good with the Kaplan book and the flashcard book also from Kaplan.
    However, it depends on your learning style. I would definitely get a book that comes with access to a few of the tests online. The ETS disc you get when you register for the exam made it a lot easier on test day, as well. It had full length exams, to help you get a feel for the process.

    I highly recommend number2.com. They give you strategies for the test and the vocabulary builder is pretty much flashcards with hints. It is also free.
     
  5. MooSuga

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    To both David & Truth74

    I took the SAT's back in 2003 or so, it has been a while. I dont think I was as prepared or comfortable with the test. Which makes me extremely nervous to the GRE. I dont plan on taking the GRE until next year but I want to fully prepare myself so that I can be satisfied with the score to take it just once.

    To be quite honest, I dont even know where to start studying for this test. cracking open a book and trying to learn the techniques and stuff would be a start for me. Also, is memorizing vocabulary words benefical? when i get a word that I dont know the meaning for...I begin to panick and then just guessing (which isn't even an educated guess)
     
  6. DVMorBust

    DVMorBust UW SVM Class of 2013
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    It really does depend on the way you learn best. I'll forever recommend the Princeton Review's 'cracking the GRE'. I used three books - that, the kaplan one, and a Barrons - but in the end the Princeton Review book helped most with the test, the others were just extra practice questions for me.
     
  7. Ben and Me

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    I took a Kaplan class...and ended up getting my money back because my score didn't go up any. I think it was because I had a really tough verbal section though--I got the lowest score that I had ever gotten on test day. I do think it helped me with the math, since I didn't really take any math-based classes in college. My math score went up right much from the practice test to the exam. It also helped me stay on schedule and keep motivated--I'm a terrible procrastinator about some things, so it was helpful in that regard. It was also nice to have all the practice tests, all in the same format (on the computer) as the actual exam.

    If I had to do it again, I think I'd register for the online class so that I would have access to the tutorials and online tests, but save the money on the classroom portion.
     
  8. Truth74

    Truth74 DVM
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    I guess you could start with one of those free GRE exams that Kaplan gives out on campus. That is usually a paper one, and the can give you an idea of the areas you need to work on.

    You don't need to memorize, if you have time to go over the list of common words every once in a while. If you have a close deadline, you will need to memorize. I had a pretty big vocabulary to begin with, so the majority of the Kaplan cards weren't much help. The number2.com list will make the words you know disappear and give you the ones you need to work on.

    There is also the "word a day" program that you can sign up for at most dictionary sights.
     
  9. ImaJerseyGirl

    ImaJerseyGirl WesternU CVM c/o 2014
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    #8 ImaJerseyGirl, Dec 30, 2008
    Last edited: Feb 15, 2010
  10. ImaJerseyGirl

    ImaJerseyGirl WesternU CVM c/o 2014
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    #9 ImaJerseyGirl, Dec 30, 2008
    Last edited: Feb 15, 2010
  11. BodhiBird

    BodhiBird TCSVM c/o 2013
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    I suggest beginning with a good math review. I forget which book I used for this, but it was black and had a large pi in red on the front. It teaches you math starting from the basics and works through algebra and geometry. Work on math daily cause you have to be fast and accurate for the GRE. Once you go through a math review start taking practice math sections, multiple sections daily! I think it is harder to prepare for the verbal section, but you want to be sure you are familiar with each verbal question type and know the "tricks" for getting them right even when you are unsure of some word meanings. I'd also suggest finding out how the school of your interest looks at the GRE. For example, Tufts will take the highest score for a section from the tests you take. I took it twice, first time I did well on verbal, second time I did well on quantitative. And if you didn't do so hot on the SAT don't be discouraged, collectively I did way better on the GRE than I did on my SAT back in the day... Goodluck!
     
  12. BodhiBird

    BodhiBird TCSVM c/o 2013
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    ps... pretty certain it's only available on a computer... but the plus side is that you get your score instantaneously!
     
  13. robeezy08

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    Hi there - sorry this is kinda long but just wanted to chime in regarding the dreaded GRE exam....with me, math was my weakness - it was like I had to go back to grade school or something :p
    I studied the math section more b/c most schools want at least over 600 on math and at least over 500 for verbal - but if your GPA isn't so great (like me, sigh) then try to get close to 700 on the math section. I got a private tutor w/ kaplan and it cost me a small fortune but was well worth it - I requested a tutor only for the math section. She really tuned into what I was doing wrong and how to answer the question most effectively given the time constraints. You can probably find someone on craigs list too.
    Books: this one really helped me out - Kaplan "GRE Premier Program 2009 edition" - comes w/ a CD and has a total of 5 full length practice tests. Most books will only come w/ 1 or 2 computer tests. For me, this was key in learning to pace myself on the exam; taking as many computer adaptive tests as possible and knowing how much time to spend on each question so I didn't leave any question blank.
    You can practice paper based tests but you should practice not writing in the booklet. On test day they give you a few pieces of paper so I used it to write down formulas and notes. Also, I like crossing out answer choices, so on the paper, before the exam, I wrote "A B C D E" like a hundred times.
    PS - know the tricks of computer adaptive tests - like try to answer the first 10 questions (math or verbal section) correctly b/c that gives you a better chance at scoring high and don't ever leave a question blank, it'll count against you!
    More on pacing:
    Pacing, again is so important...seriously, I can't stress this enough! for math questions it breaks down to like 1 min per question for QC, 2 min/Q for Word Problems and graphs about 3 min/Q.
    For verbal it was like 40 sec per question for Analogies, Sentence Comp and Antonyms. For Reading Comp about 3 min to skim paragraph then 1 min per question.
    Got all that!?! Now...get to studying and kick butt on the exam! :D
    Good LUck
     
  14. flyhi

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    OHHHHHH....the GRE. Where to start? First of all, i agree with the previous posters - it really depends on the individual on how you will best be served preparing for the GRE. Deep down you already know - are you a procrastinator? Do you need someone to 'teach' it to you? Can you self-learn/study? Once you are honest with yourself concerning how you should attack the studying, just do it. I can only speak from the experience of taking a prep class, but many have been much more successful than me by self-studying.

    I was a really good high school student, semi-studied for the SAT and did mediocre. I was an athlete, so my SAT scores probably were not held against me, as i was recruited for college. I did good enough that they weren't prohibitive. Having said that, i knew i needed to do really well on the GRE.

    I just took the GRE at the beginning of December after being out of college for 13 years :eek:. I decided that i would definitely utilize the professionals for this endeavor. I signed up for a 9 week Kaplan classroom (with online access) course. Prior to the deciding on the course, i bought a study guide at the bookstore and started with Math review since I knew this was my weaker suit. I also bought the Kaplan flash card (500 words). I studied for about a month before I decided to sign up for the class.

    The class met twice a week. We were given the Kaplan book, a syllabus and online access. Unfortunately, there were only two of us in this class. The other student was taking it for the 3rd time and was only going to be in class once a week. I felt very awkward having a private tutor for the other sessions because i really just wanted the classroom setting to get me used to being in the classroom again and also to have others ask questions that would make me think in a different way.

    I went to 3 classes and then found every reason not to go to the class. However, i was diligent with the online syllabus, lessons and practice. You can even listen to the lectures online. Their online material is excellent. It is capable of showing you your weaknesses so that you can concentrate more on them. It's pretty high tech stuff.

    The course taught me some great strategies regarding the types of questions asked. These strategies should not be underestimated and can literally help you narrow down answer choices to a 50/50 guess if you have no clue whatsoever as to what the answer is.

    Anyways, my advice regardless of whether you choose a formal program or not, is this:

    1. Follow a structured study program (Kaplan recommended 2-3 hours a day). Do NOT waiver from your plan.
    2. Schedule your test within a week, if possible, of the end of your course. I scheduled mine before the course began - it made it all more 'real' for me. If you are not taking a formal course, still schedule the test based on your personal plan of study. I believe it is recommended to not try and stretch out the studying over too long a period of time. You can study a year in advance, but then i would recommend doing 2-3 months of concentrated study to cover everything prior to the exam.
    3. Take as many practice online tests as possible. These are absolutely key. It will teach you how to work problems on scratch paper and most importantly TIME MANAGEMENT. No matter how comfortable you feel answering the questions, it won't matter if you run out of time on the test! Getting used to the pace is about as important as the material......no joke.
    4. Yes, memorize vocabulary unless you have a dictionary in your head. The vocab will break you if you don't know your words. It is impossible to figure out a relationship between two words if you don't know what they mean. The test-taking strategies you learn will still help you in this instance, but there is nothing better than actually knowing the answer.
    5. Follow the same rules as when you took the SAT - don't study the day before the exam, get plenty of rest, follow your normal habits the day of the test, eat something sensible in the AM, do not freak out during the test and know that you are well prepared.
    6. The test is adaptive....really try and do well on the earlier questions of a section for it can help you get a higher score in the end.
    7. Practice, practice, practice tests online (did i mention this already?)!

    So, how did i do? Well, considering i've been away from this type of information for so, so long (high school) ......not too bad. I did better than the SAT, but not as good as i would have liked. Respectable. I absolutely did freak out during the test for the first time ever. I remember the math questions getting easier and it was hard to concentrate after i convinced myself that i was bombing the GRE and would have to take it over. Do NOT do this to yourself! Take a big ole deep breath and relax. I do not plan on taking it again (unless it is recommended to) even though i feel I would do much better.

    So sorry for the novel, but the GRE is important in the grand scheme of things and you should do whatever it takes to make sure you set yourself up for success.

    Good Luck to you!! :luck:
     
  15. HopefulAg

    HopefulAg Texas A&M CVM c/o 2014!
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    I believe the book I used was Princeton Review's 'Cracking the GRE' and it was pretty good. The math section is excellent. The verbal section, eh not so great. And it kind of shows in my score: did much better on quantitative than verbal. But then again, I've always sucked at defining ridiculously obscure words.


    But for math I'd go with the Princeton Review. Not only do they give you strategies for the section, but they review how to solve every single problem type, offer 'short cuts', how to eliminate answers that are 'obviously' wrong, and IIRC even goes step by step on how to get to the answer.

    I can't really comment on the verbal. Something I need to work on myself. Going to try answer2 though and see how that works out.

    Good luck! It's really not that bad. Just long. And, unlike vet school letters, you get your results right then and there.
     
  16. BodhiBird

    BodhiBird TCSVM c/o 2013
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    Cleaning out my closet and I found the great math review book. It does not have a giant red pi on the front like I thought it did. But, the title is in red, it is called "The Ultimate Math Refresher for the GRE, GMAT, and SAT" and it really is. If you are studying for the GRE I highly recommend this book! Good luck everyone... and Happy New Year!!!
     
  17. TrocarKarin

    TrocarKarin WesternU 2014
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    The first time I took my GRE, I didn't really study at all. I got a decent verbal score, and a bad math score. I bought a few books, and spent about 2 weeks studying. I got two Kaplan books - Crash Course for the GRE and Cracking the GRE. I also got Barron's GRE book and The Ultimate math refresher. I retook the test yesterday, and raised my verbal from a 540 to a 550, (didn't really study that part,) and I raised my math score from a 580 to a 760. So definitely put some study time in ahead of time.
     
  18. sumstorm

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    I agree with a lot of what has been said. If ANY of your basic math skills are rusty, review "Math Source" by Kaplan. It is a smallish paperback that gives a solid review without being GRE oriented. "GRE for Dummies" gave me some strategies that I didn't pick up in any of the other GRE prep books. I also know that I answered at least 4 math questions correctly just based on my notes from that book. There are really useful math strategies in several books, but the GRE for Dummies was a very quick read.

    I strongly recommend picking up at least one book with computerized test CD. I personally took the SAT on paper, not computer (is it on computer now?), and the adaptive nature of the GRE is obnoxious. Also, the answer confirmation can slow you down a bit, plus I hate flipping from screen to scratch paper and back, so for me the CAT version is far more problematic than paper-based exams.

    If you question your writing skills, there are books out there aimed at GRE/GMAT that I found helpful. Also, you can find ALL of the writing questions on the GRE website. I wouldn't suggest trying to formulate answers for all of them, but strongly recommend flipping through them and getting a feel for how they are worded. Realize that the writing questions are very distinctive; I know a lot of students who score poorly in this section because they treat the writing problems as similar challenges. If there was anywhere I considered spending money, this was it, and that was with the ETS review on the website.

    If your vocab isn't stellar, drill on it. There are some vocab strategies you can get out of the books/classes/etc, but eventually it really does come down to knowing words. www.flashcardexchange.com is a great site for review (and many options are free.)

    The other area that I know of people struggling with is reading comprehension. I found decent strategies in 'Cracking the GRE' and 'GRE for Dummies.'

    I didn't pay for the classes. They seem way to expensive, and I don't think they took care of this issues I had, which as just needing to memorize vocab and formulas that I hadn't used in a decade. I might have considered them if I was a very weak test taker OR if I really needed a huge math review.

    One last suggestion: take it early enough to repeat if your really need to. I was burned this year because I had to cancel a test due to a family (cross country) emergency. I had a choice, take a test, or be at a relatives bedside before brain surgery with a low survival rate. So I took my exam on Sept 2nd, 2 days after at least one school will accept a score from.
     
  19. MooSuga

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    Really appreciate all the great responses to this thread.

    Since I just decided to go for a veterinary career, I have to get started on my pre-req's and all. Given the amount of time, let's say I have about 3-4 year until I can apply for vet school. I'm trying to graduate with an accounting degree also.

    I am planning on taking the GRE within the next year or so. I'm not that great when it comes to taking tests and such so I am trying to prepare myself.

    I will try to study vocabulary words and also catch up on some math. Afterwards, review and study for each section that is on the GRE.

    btw, is there any websites that I can see past GRE exams? even the most recent ones?
     
  20. BeeBee82

    BeeBee82 CSU c/o 2013!
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    Hello,

    I'm not sure about website for old exams, but a lot of the books you can buy advertise having old exams in them or in their CD counterparts. I used the Kaplan book and definitely suggest it. Plus it's full of these hilarious little pep talks like "you can do it", which I found very entertaining!

    The most important suggestion I would give you is to take it early!!! It seems as though you are, which is good! I took it the year before my application and it really took a lot of stress of knowing that I had already gotten a score I was happy with when app time came around. Contrary to some of my peers who were taking it for the first time in Sept, (app due in Oct.)!!! SCARY! So do yourself a favor, take it early, and don't loose any sleep over it!
     
  21. Truth74

    Truth74 DVM
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    I would also look at the schools you like to see when those GRE deadlines are. The deadline for Illinois is August 31st or something close to it, every year. People miss out on that school, because they didn't know about the early time.
     
  22. sumstorm

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    Also, if you are several years out from applying, note that your scores are only good for 5 years, and some schools may require more recent scores.
     
  23. NycVet

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    Everyone has given alot of nice advice here, but which would be safer, to study really hard and just give it one strong strike?, or work hard on one section then take it and then with the other and take it again.
    Thanks, I kinda made a riddle there :D.
     
  24. david594

    david594 The-OSU CVM c/o 2013
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    The former is your only real option.

    Most schools will take the best score you have earned on any single testing date, but none that I know of will take the best individual scores from different testing dates.
     
  25. nyanko

    nyanko 360noscope squidkid
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    UC Davis does. :D

     
  26. NycVet

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    Sweet, thanks :)
     
  27. Skillet9886

    Skillet9886 UFCVM c/o 2013!
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    Honestly, I'm a pretty good standardized test taker, my biggest problem is my tendency to overthink things, so I took the test once without really studying much at all. I was working full time at the time, not taking any classes (summer), and the thing that helped the most was I made all the other techs let me do the math in my head. Whenever we had dosage calculations, conversions, etc. I would always do them without a calculator, since it had been a while since I'd had to do math without one. We would always double check my numbers, of course, so I didn't, you know, kill anything, but after a few weeks of that all day I got a lot faster and more accurate. I didn't study for verbal at all, really, and that's all I did for math the first time. I planned to take it once cold and a second time a few months later after studying. I got a book and some flashcards, none of which really helped me, signed up for dictionary.com word of the day email, spent some time on freerice.com, did a lot of crossword puzzles, and read the newspaper every day. My math score was good, so I didn't do anything for that.

    In the end, my instinct was right to take it once without studying first. I got a lot more nervous for the second one, and all 3 scores went down slightly.
     
  28. NotAngie

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    Do vet schools even look at the writing section? That was my best area when I took it but the schools I've looked at didn't mention the writing portion at all.
     
  29. jop21

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    I can;t say for sure how much emphasis vet schools put on the writing portion of the GRE. Vet schools love students with good communication skills, so I would assume that the witting portion could represent your ability to communicate and present ideas.

    Just my opinion.
     
  30. nyanko

    nyanko 360noscope squidkid
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    The writing portion of the GRE is a horrible measure of anything. :mad:

    Some schools average the percentiles for all three sections.
     
  31. EqSci

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    I got a 3.5 on the writing (both times), I agree that it's a horrible assessment of anything!! :laugh: But I think the vet schools can clearly see that I write and communicate well by my essays, so I don't worry about it too much.
     
  32. MooSuga

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    Ok...I just bought the Kaplan GRE 500 Vocab words flashcards, Kaplan 2009 Premiere Ed and the Kaplan Math Review/workbook.

    This should be a good start, I dont plan on taking the GRE until summer of 2010. I'm pretty sure by then, I have already gone through most of the GRE prep books.

    But what I am nervous about is the writing part of the test. I don think my writing is as strong...any suggestions to strengthen it?
     
  33. StayingHopeful

    StayingHopeful UC Davis Class of 2013
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    That's exactly what I was worried about. I took a Princeton review course and in their books (as I'm sure with Kaplan's if you take the course, but I didn't check theirs) there is a big section on practice questions with responses and how well they did and then a section of essays for you to practice. I think that helped the most.
     
  34. Truth74

    Truth74 DVM
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    Have you taken a mandatory creative writing course, yet? That can help in the form of the essays, but not in the content. ETS has a list of common questions and directions. It helped to go through them and think of my take on the answers. Kaplan has online examples of 6 grade essays and 3 grade essays. I think it's unlocked with the registration of your book. (You know the little schedule thing that comes up when you're on the online site.) I didn't really find that very usual. The best thing you could do is have a class where you have to write. Oh, and The Little, Brown Handbook, which hasn't been brown for about twenty years. :D The newest edition is this strange yellow color.) is always useful whether you have to take the GRE or not.
     
    #33 Truth74, Jan 7, 2009
    Last edited: Jan 7, 2009
  35. NotAngie

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    I have nothing at all against the writing section. But I got a 5.5 so I'm probably biased.
     
  36. sambone

    sambone Cornell 2013
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    I HATE the writing portion too. I'm pretty OCD when it comes to writing. I edit and edit and edit every single sentence. I'll have rewritten my introduction 6 times before I start the next paragraph. Unfortunately it is VERY BAD to do this during the GRE. I didn't finish either essay, and my grade showed it!
     
  37. nyanko

    nyanko 360noscope squidkid
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    That's what gets me too, sambone. Not only did it net me a 4.0 on the AW portion both times, but it also dropped me down to an A- rather than an A in a course this quarter that had a timed essay final worth 40% of the grade. :(
     
  38. GellaBella

    GellaBella Penn Vet V'14
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    wow I actually really like the analytical section of the gre. but like someone else above me, i did really well on it (I got a 6) so I'm probably biased about it. Of course, that was 5 years ago so my previous score expired and I have to take it again. I'm curious to see how I get scored this time.
     
  39. DVMorBust

    DVMorBust UW SVM Class of 2013
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    I hated the writing portion, but I might be biased in the other direction. Finished my essay, hit submit, and there was a 'fatal error'. Had to start the entire test over again!

    My 'screw this' attitude at rewriting the entire essay section didn't help my score much...but I was SO SICK of the writing at that point.
     
  40. twelvetigers

    twelvetigers stabby cat
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    DVMOB, if I recall right, I would eat my Danskos for a GRE score like yours. So no complaining. :D
     
  41. Malhi

    Malhi UW-Madison SVM 2013
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    I hated the writing portion too. But again... I got a 4.5 on it so I am biased. :mad:
     
  42. StayingHopeful

    StayingHopeful UC Davis Class of 2013
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    I got a 4.5 too -- but I was happy with it bc I know writing isn't my thing
     
  43. BR549

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    I didn't like the analytical or the english section. The topic I got was lame! I am a Latin major, with a pretty extensive vocabulary as far as roots of words go, and I did horribly! I thought I might have to take the TOFEL because they wouldn't believe that english was my native language.:D The words are just ridiculous. No one uses the word "vituperative" in vernacular speech.

    Did anybody take the Biology subject test? I know UGA requires it. I did pretty decent, even though I didn't answer any of the in depth genetics questions because I hadn't taken the course yet.
     
  44. sumstorm

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    Something else to note...ETS is constantly change the GRE. Keep an eye on thier information page, so you know what changes are happening. They were planning huge changes for this year, then delayed them (fill in the blanks instead of multiple choice.)
     
  45. gone2dogs

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    Am I the only one that misses the old analytical reasoning section? I am such a dork that I enjoyed that section during the test (I've always loved logic puzzles) when I took it 12 years ago. Not sure when it was replaced, but I was most dismayed to find out last summer that it was gone and I'd have to write some essays instead!:eek: I was happy enough with my score, but I didn't get much "entertainment" out of writing about some random tourist problem.

    And to echo what others said, since I personally had never taken a computer based test I found the most useful preparation to be taking practice computer tests (on disk from a study book and online). I was happy with my scores, but may try again next summer pending admissions decisions the year!
     
  46. sumstorm

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    I, too, miss the analytical section! I missed a perfect score in that section by 1 question! I actually treat the writing sections like a geometry proof. Had a standard 'style' of essay set up for each type of question. I then just plugged stuff into the basic essay for the questions. Guess it worked out, I obtained a 6.
     
  47. DVMorBust

    DVMorBust UW SVM Class of 2013
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    My comment is strictly writing-section specific. Got a 4.5 on it. I would never complain about the others! Talk about skipping over the mouth look-see and going straight to a complete pre-purchase with ex-rays...
     
  48. twelvetigers

    twelvetigers stabby cat
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    Uh? I guess I just misunderstood your comment.

    At any rate, it doesn't matter now! You're in!
     
  49. DVMorBust

    DVMorBust UW SVM Class of 2013
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    ...you know, now I have no idea what I was responding to in particular. ha! Spending waaaay too much time on here.

    Wait - the first part about hating the writing portion? Or the response that took the 'don't look a gift horse in the mouth' creativity a bit too far?
     
    #48 DVMorBust, Jan 8, 2009
    Last edited: Jan 8, 2009
  50. twelvetigers

    twelvetigers stabby cat
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    I dunno, when I responded I was about 20 minutes short of realizing that yes, I do have the flu, and yes, it will be bad. I understood the gift horse comment I think. Haha. Don't worry about it!
     
  51. MooSuga

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    First I am gonna start off with reviewing math concepts and studying vocabs...I think I can tackle their writing, and english related questions with a more extensive vocab.

    So far, making great progression with the vocab learning about 15-20 words a day...math, ehhh I understand the material but the questions in the book...ekk
     

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