GRE Prep 2023 For Dummies with Online Practice book cover

GRE Prep 2023 For Dummies with Online Practice

By: Ron Woldoff Published: 05-30-2022

GRE Prep 2023 For Dummies has everything you need to get ready and do great on the GRE. You'll find practice questions for vocabulary and mathematics, detailed explanations, updated strategies for improving your score and testing well, and online practice tests.

Articles From GRE Prep 2023 For Dummies with Online Practice

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GRE For Dummies Cheat Sheet

Cheat Sheet / Updated 02-25-2022

Getting into the graduate school of your choice is a lot easier if you score well on the GRE (Graduate Record Examination). Turn to the book and specific articles to find GRE sample questions. This Cheat Sheet is a collection of tips for taking the GRE and key information that can help you score well on the test so that you can get into your graduate school and further your career goals.

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Lines and Angles on the GRE Test

Article / Updated 10-10-2019

Geometry is all about shapes: lines, angles, triangles, rectangles, squares, circles, cubes, and more. This article introduces you to the many basic shapes you’re likely to encounter on the graduate record examination (GRE) along with the strategies and equations that you’ll need to answer the questions. You also get hands-on practice answering a few example questions. The main parts of most of these shapes are lines and angles, so start with these. GRE images are typically drawn close to scale, well enough for you to get a sense of what’s going on in the drawing. The drawing or the description will always tell you everything that you need (such as side lengths, parallel sides, right-angle boxes), so whether it’s drawn to scale really doesn’t factor in. You wouldn’t eyeball the answer anyway, so always look in the description for clues to unravel the drawing. On that note, if the drawing has a label that reads, “Figure not drawn to scale,” then it’s way off. Lines You’ve probably heard the term straight line, but in geometry, that’s redundant. By definition, a line is straight. If it curves, it’s not a line. Once in a while the GRE splits lines — er, hairs — and forces you to consider whether the line goes on forever in both directions, is a line segment, or has one endpoint and an arrow at the other end, making it a ray that goes on in one direction. But most of the time, don’t worry about it: You can usually solve the problem without worrying about how far the line goes. Parallel lines don’t cross and are represented by the symbol, Ρ. Perpendicular lines cross at right angles and are represented by the symbol . A perpendicular bisector is a line that both passes through the midpoint of a line segment and is perpendicular to it. Angles Angles are a common part of GRE geometry problems. An angle is the space between two lines or segments that cross or share an endpoint. Fortunately, there’s not much to understanding angles when you know the different types of angles and a few key concepts. Finding an angle is usually a matter of simple addition or subtraction. Besides the rules in the following sections, these three rules apply to the angles on the GRE: Angles can’t be negative. Angles can’t be 0 degrees or 180 degrees. Fractional angles, such as degrees or 179.5 degrees, are rare on the GRE. Angles are typically whole numbers, rounded to be easy to work with. If you’re plugging in a number for an angle, plug in a whole number, such as 30, 45, or 90. Right angle Right angles equal 90 degrees and are represented by perpendicular lines with a small box where the two lines meet. Watch out for lines that appear to be perpendicular but really aren’t. An angle is a right angle only if the description reads, “the lines (or segments) are perpendicular” or you see the box in the angle (which is the most common). Otherwise, you can’t assume the angle is 90 degrees. Other than the words “right angle” and “bisect,” you will probably not see the following terms, so don’t worry about memorizing words such as “obtuse” or “supplementary.” But, review the definitions so that you understand how the angles work, because that’s the key to solving almost any GRE angle problem. Acute angle An acute angle is any angle greater than 0 degrees but less than 90 degrees. Obtuse angle An obtuse angle is any angle greater than 90 degrees but less than 180 degrees. Complementary angles Together, complementary angles form a right angle: 90 degrees. Supplementary angles Together, supplementary angles form a straight line: 180 degrees. Vertical angles Vertical angles are formed when two lines cross, and they always have equal measures. Bisectors A bisector, or line that bisects, cuts directly down the middle, and this is a term that you need to know. Yes, more vocab. If a line (or segment) bisects an angle, it divides that angle into two equal angles; if a first segment bisects a second segment, the first one cuts the second one perfectly in half. And if the first segment bisects the second segment at 90°, then it is a perpendicular bisector as mentioned previously, and yes, the GRE will expect you to know what that is. Don’t worry though — there will almost always be a drawing. Other key points Angles around a point total 360 degrees, just as in a circle. A line that cuts through two parallel lines forms two sets of four equal angles. In this drawing, all the x’s are the same, and all the y’s are the same. See also, "GRE Sample Math-Test Questions: Geometry," for some practice questions dealing with these concepts.

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Brush Up on Prefixes, Suffixes, and Roots for the GRE Test

Article / Updated 08-27-2019

You can’t get around it: You absolutely must know vocabulary to do well on the graduate record examination (GRE). The GRE tests your grasp of commonly used academic and intellectual vocabulary words. Mastering prefixes, suffixes, and word roots can bump up your Verbal score significantly. Although prefixes and suffixes abound, the ones discussed here are the most common. Take the time to memorize them. If English isn’t your first language, vocabulary may be the hardest part of the exam for you. Using roots, prefixes, and suffixes to tell a word’s meaning can help you. Prefixes to know when taking the GRE A prefix is one or more letters at the beginning of a word that alters its meaning. For example, if a feat is possible, then you can do it. With a simple prefix, you can change that feat to impossible, meaning you can’t do it. Knowing that in this case im- means not, you can narrow down the possible meanings of a word starting with im-, such as impermeable. Whatever the word is, the im- usually stands for not. (Because permeate means to pass through, impermeable means not capable of being passed through.) Following are the most common prefixes you need to know with several related examples: a-/an- = not or without: Someone amoral is without morals or conscience; someone atypical isn’t typical or normal. Someone apathetic is uncaring or without feeling. Similarly, an anaerobic environment is without oxygen, and anarchy is without rule or government. ambi- = dual: Someone ambidextrous uses both left and right hands equally well; an ambivert is both introverted and extroverted. Something ambiguous has dual meanings, but that word typically refers to something that’s unclear. ante- = before: When the clock reads 5 a.m., the m. stands for ante meridiem, which means before the middle of the day. Antebellum means before the war. Tara in Gone with the Wind was an antebellum mansion, built before the Civil War. ben-/bon- = good: A benefit is something that has a good result, an advantage. Someone benevolent is good and kind. Bon voyage means have a good voyage; a bon vivant is a person who lives the good life. contra- = against: A medical treatment that’s contraindicated for a certain condition is something that would make the condition worse, not better. Contravene means to deny or oppose. de- = down from, away from (to put down): To descend or depart is to go down from or away from. To denounce is to put down or to speak badly of, and demote means to reduce in rank or stature. Many unknown words on the GRE that start with de- mean to put down in the sense of to criticize or bad-mouth. Here are a few more: demean, denounce, denigrate, derogate, deprecate, and decry. eu- = good: A eulogy is a good speech, usually given for the dearly departed at a funeral. A euphemism is a good way of saying something or a polite expression, like saying, “Oh, dang!” instead of using certain other words. ex- = out of, away from: An exit is literally out of or away from it — ex-it. (The word exit is probably one of the most logical words around.) To extricate is to get out of something. To exculpate is to let off the hook — literally to make away from guilt, as culp means guilt. im-/in- = not: Something impossible isn’t possible — it just can’t happen. Someone immortal isn’t going to die but will live forever, because mortal means able to die. Someone implacable can’t be calmed down, because placate means to ease one’s anger. Similarly, something inappropriate isn’t appropriate, and someone inept isn’t adept, meaning he’s not skillful. Someone who’s insolvent has no money and is bankrupt, like most students after four years of college. Note that im- and in- can also mean into — (immerse means to put into), inside (innate means something born inside of you), or beginning (as in initial) — but these meanings are less common. ne-/mal- = bad: Something negative is bad, like a negative attitude. Someone nefarious is full of bad, or wicked and evil; you may read about a nefarious wizard in a fantasy novel. Something malicious also is full of bad, or wicked and harmful, such as a malicious rumor. post- = after: When the clock reads 5 p.m., the m. stands for post meridiem, which means after the middle of the day. Something postmortem occurs after death. There’s an exception to every prefix. For example, a-/an- may mean the opposite in most contexts, but with the word aver, it does not refer to the opposite of ver, which means truth. The prefix ambi- may refer to dual, but someone ambitious doesn’t necessarily have dual goals. Suffixes you should know before taking the GRE A suffix is usually three or four letters at the end of a word that give the word a specific inflection or change its type, such as from a verb to an adjective; for example, to transform the verb study into the adjective studious, you change the y to i and add the suffix -ous. Following are some common suffixes along with related examples: -ate = to make: To duplicate is to make double. To renovate is to make new again (nov means new). To placate is to make peaceful or calm (plac means peace or calm). -ette = little: A cigarette is a little cigar. A dinette table is a little dining table. A coquette is a little flirt (literally, a little chicken, but that doesn’t sound as pretty). -illo = little: An armadillo is a little armored animal. A peccadillo is a little sin. (You might know that pecar means “to sin.”) -ify (-efy) = to make: To beautify is to make beautiful. To ossify is to become rigid or make bone. (If you break your wrist, it takes weeks to ossify again, or for the bone to regenerate.) To deify is to make into a deity, a god. To liquefy is to turn a solid into a liquid. -ist = a person: A typist is a person who types. A pugilist is a person who fights, a boxer (pug means war or fight). A pacifist is a person who believes in peace, a noncombatant (pac means peace or calm). -ity = a noun suffix that doesn’t actually mean anything; it just turns a word into a noun: Anxiety is the noun form of anxious. Serenity is the noun form of serene. Timidity is the noun form of timid. -ize = to make: To alphabetize is to make alphabetical. To immunize is to make immune. To ostracize is to make separate from the group, or to shun. -ous = full of (very): Someone joyous is full of joy. Someone amorous is full of amour, or love. Someone pulchritudinous is full of beauty and, therefore, beautiful. Try saying that to your loved one. Word roots to know for the GRE test The root of a word is the core part of a word that gives the word its basic meaning. Recognizing a common root helps you discern the meaning of an unfamiliar word. For example, knowing that ver means truth, as in verify, you can recognize that the unfamiliar word aver has something to do with truth. Aver means to hold true or affirm the truth. Following are some common roots along with related examples: ambu = walk, move: In a hospital, patients are either bedridden (they can’t move) or ambulatory (they can walk and move about). A somnambulist is a sleepwalker. Som- means sleep, -ist is a person, and ambu is to walk or move. andro = man: An android is a robot shaped like a man. Someone androgynous exhibits both male (andro) and female (gyn) anthro = human or mankind: Anthropology is the study of humans, and a misanthrope hates humans. bellu, belli = war, fight: If you’re belligerent, you’re ready to fight — and an antebellum mansion, mentioned above with prefixes, was created before the Civil War. (Remember that ante- means before.) cred = trust or belief: Something incredible is unbelievable, such as the excuse “I would’ve picked you up on time, but there was a 15-car pileup on the freeway. I barely got out of there!” Saying something is incredible is like saying it’s unbelievable, and if you’re credulous, you’re trusting and naive (literally, full of trust). Be careful not to confuse the words credible and credulous. Something credible is trustable or believable. A credible excuse can get you out of trouble if you turn a paper in late. Credulous, on the other hand, means full of trust, naive, or gullible. The more credulous your professor is, the less credible that excuse needs to be. Furthermore, if you’re incredulous, then you doubt something is true. gnos = knowledge: A doctor shows his or her knowledge by making a diagnosis (analysis of the situation) or a prognosis (prediction about the future of the illness). An agnostic is a person who doesn’t know whether a god exists. Differentiate an agnostic from an atheist: An atheist is literally without god, a person who believes there’s no god. An agnostic hasn’t decided yet. greg = group, herd: A congregation is a group of people. A gregarious person likes to be part of a group — he or she is sociable. To segregate is literally to make away from the group. (Se- means apart or away from, as in separate, sever, sequester, and ) gyn = woman: A gynecologist is a physician who treats conditions and ailments specific to women. A misogynist is a person who hates women. loq, log, loc, lix = speech or talk: Someone prolix or loquacious talks a lot. A dialogue is talk or conversation between two or more people. Elocution is proper speech. luc, lum, lus = light, clear: Something luminous is shiny and full of light. Ask the teacher to elucidate something you don’t understand (literally, to make clear). Lustrous hair reflects the light and is sleek and glossy. meta = beyond, after: A metamorphosis is a change of shape beyond the present shape. morph = shape: Something amorphous is without shape, while morphology is the study of shape. mut = change: Something mutates from one state to the next, and something immutable isn’t changeable; it remains constant. Don’t confuse mut (change) with mute (silent). pac = peace, calm: Why do you give a baby a pacifier? To calm him or her down. To get its name, the Pacific Ocean must have appeared calm at the time it was discovered. path = feeling: Something pathetic arouses feeling or pity. To sympathize is to share the feelings (literally, to make the same feeling). Antipathy is a dislike — literally, a feeling against. phon = sound: Phonics helps you to sound out words. Cacophony is bad sound; euphony is good sound. Homophones are words that sound the same, such as red and And of course, there’s the phone you use to talk to someone. plac = peace, calm: To placate someone is to calm him or her down or to make peace with that person. Someone implacable can’t be calmed down. pro = big, much: Profuse apologies are big, or much — in essence, a lot of apologies. A prolific writer produces a great deal of material. Pro has two additional meanings less commonly used on the GRE. It can mean before, as in “A prologue comes before a play.” Similarly, to prognosticate is to make knowledge before, or to predict. A prognosticator is a fortune-teller. Pro can also mean for. Someone who is pro freedom of speech is in favor of freedom of speech. Someone with a proclivity toward a certain activity is for that activity or has a natural tendency toward it. pug = war, fight: Someone pugnacious is ready to fight. A pugilist is a person who likes to fight, such as a professional boxer. Also, the large sticks that marines train with in hand-to-hand combat are called pugil sticks. scien = knowledge: A scientist is a person with knowledge. Someone prescient has forethought or knowledge ahead of time — for example, a prognosticator. (A fortune-teller, remember?) One who is omniscient is all-knowing. somn = sleep: If you have insomnia, you can’t sleep. (The prefix in- means not.) son = sound: A sonic boom breaks the sound barrier. Dissonance is clashing sounds. A sonorous voice has a good sound.

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The 3 Reading Comprehension Question Formats on the GRE Test

Article / Updated 08-27-2019

Reading Comprehension questions on the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) comprise about half of the Verbal questions and therefore about half of your Verbal score. Each question concerns a single passage that is sort of like a graduate-level journal article on a science, social sciences, or humanities topic that you’ve probably never considered before and never will again. Being familiar with the question formats for the Reading Comprehension section helps you field the questions more confidently, because you know what to expect. The GRE presents each question in one of the following three formats: Multiple-choice: Choose one answer. Multiple-choice: Select all correct answers. Sentence-selection: Choose a sentence from the passage. The following sections describe each question format in greater detail and provide an example of each format based on the following short passage from Food Allergies For Dummies by Robert A. Wood, MD, with Joe Kraynak (Wiley): Anaphylaxis resulting in death is relatively uncommon among children and young adults, because their cardiovascular systems are so resilient. This does not mean, however, that younger people are immune to severe anaphylaxis. Anaphylaxis in younger people typically results in breathing difficulty — a constricted or blocked airway that causes a fatal or near fatal reaction. Multiple-choice questions: Choose one answer The following format is the traditional multiple-choice question. You get five answers to choose from, and only one is correct. Based on the passage, how common is anaphylaxis that results in death in children and young adults? Very common Relatively uncommon Practically nonexistent In theory only Not stated in the passage You pick one and only one answer. In this case, the correct answer is Choice (B), because the first sentence directly answers the question. Multiple-choice questions: Choose one or more answers The next question format is a spin on the traditional multiple-choice question. Three choices follow the question, and one, two, or all three of them are correct. You must pick all of the correct choices and no incorrect choices to receive credit for your answer. You don’t receive partial credit for picking only some of the correct answers. The GRE treats a partially answered question as a wrong answer. When anaphylaxis occurs in a child or young adult, what happens? Consider each of the three choices separately and select all that apply. Breathing difficulty Blocked airway Result of a bee sting You pick all answers that are correct. In this case, Choices (A) and (B) are correct. You can quickly tell whether to select only one answer or more than one answer by looking at the instruction that accompanies the question: The GRE always instructs you to choose either one or all answers that apply. Also, the selection bubbles near the answer choices are ovals to select one answer or squares to select multiple answers. Sentence-selection questions: Choose a sentence from the passage In sentence-selection questions, the GRE presents a description or question followed by instructions to click the sentence in the passage that most closely matches the description or answers the question. Clicking any part of the sentence selects the entire sentence. Choose the sentence in the passage that parents of young children are likely to find most reassuring. In the passage, you click the answer sentence, and it highlights on the screen, like this: The other sentences in the passage may not be so reassuring to parents of young children. Strategies for success on the Reading Comprehension questions Reading Comprehension questions on the GRE test can be the most time-consuming questions of the Verbal section. The best way to ace these questions is to master and use strategies for quickly reading the passages, identifying key facts called for in the questions, and drawing inferences based on subtle implications. Ask yourself the purpose of the passage — why is the author writing this? The following sections explain four useful strategies for effectively and efficiently arriving at the correct answers (and avoiding incorrect answers). The best way to master reading comprehension — meaning you can read the passage quickly and understand it on all its levels — is through practice. Make these graduate-level paragraphs something you read before breakfast, not something you force yourself through every few weeks. They don’t have to be GRE examples, but mobile clips from Instagram and LinkedIn don’t bring your reading skills up to par. Instead, read The Economist, Financial Times, or any number of intellectual publications on a topic you’re interested in, maybe even in your field of study. Use the context as your road map Read the passage lightly and get a general idea of where the key information is and what is going on in the passage. This helps you figure out where to find the information as you begin to answer questions. Don’t sweat the details (yet). After reading a question, you can quickly revisit the passage to locate the details for answering the question correctly. Usually the first paragraph or sentence and/or the last paragraph or sentence tells you what the passage is about (the main idea). The rest of the passage supports or develops this idea. As you read each body paragraph, pay attention to its purpose and how it supports the main idea. This is a key strategy to understanding the passage, and it becomes almost a habit with practice. Sometimes the entire passage is one giant paragraph. Don’t let that deter you from using this strategy. Look for where one idea ends and another begins and treat that as where the paragraphs should be separated. This can help you map the details as you would for a passage that is actually in separate paragraphs. Grasp the gist of the passage Understanding the main idea of the passage is the key to establishing the context of the paragraphs within. The main idea is typically the basis of one of the questions. If you can briefly sum up why the author is writing the passage, then you’ve not only developed a contextual understanding of the passage, but also answered one of the questions ahead of time.

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How Text Completion/Sentence Equivalence Questions Work on the GRE

Article / Updated 08-27-2019

On the Graduate Record Examination (GRE), Text Completion and Sentence Equivalence questions hold all the clues you need to answer them correctly. By using key strategies and avoiding common mistakes, you can breeze through these GRE test questions and rack up points in a hurry. Because Text Completion and Sentence Equivalence questions are so similar, the strategy is the same for both: Text Completion: A Text Completion question consists of a sentence or paragraph with one, two, or three missing words or phrases, along with a short list of word or phrase choices to complete the text. If the text has one word missing, the list has five choices, while if the text has two or three words missing, each has a list of three choices. Each choice gives the text a different meaning. Your job is to choose the word or words that best support the meaning of the sentence. If the text is missing more than one word, you don’t get partial credit for choosing only one correct word. Text Completion questions tend to have slightly easier vocabulary but are more challenging to interpret. Sentence Equivalence: A Sentence Equivalence question consists of a single sentence with exactly one word missing and a list of six choices to complete it. Your job is to select the two words that fit the sentence and mean the same thing, and, as with the Text Completion questions, you don’t get partial credit for choosing only one correct word. Sentence Completion questions tend to be easier to interpret but have more challenging vocabulary. The correct answers are always synonyms, so if you find a word that supports the meaning but doesn’t have a match, then you’ve found a trap word. Both question types: The answer choices always fit perfectly and have perfect grammar: Make your choice based on the meaning of the words. Each word you plug in gives the sentence a different meaning, so find the meaning of the text without the answer choices, and then eliminate the wrong answer choices. How many answers are expected? Don’t worry about knowing how many answers to select. When you're taking the GRE it’s clear, and just to be sure, at the top of the screen is always an instruction that reads something like, “Pick one answer for each missing word (in Text Completion),” or “Pick two answer choices that create sentences most alike in meaning (in Sentence Equivalence).” Also, the one-answer questions allow you to select only one answer, and the two-answer questions allow you to select more than one. Go through it once and you’ll be fine. Trying it out The following example of a Text Completion question shows how all answer choices appear to fit perfectly but only two specific words actually make logical sense. Directions: For each blank, select one entry from the corresponding column of choices. Fill all blanks in the way that best completes the text. Frustrated that the GRE question was actually so easy, Faye (i) _____ her book out the window with such (ii) _____ that it soared high into the sky, prompting three of her neighbors to grab their phones and post the video on Instagram. The key word in this example is frustrated, which conveys a strong negative emotion. Choices (B) and (D), hurled and ferocity, are the only choices that support such a negative emotion. Note that this is a single, two-part question. You may select any of the three answer choices for each blank, but you must choose both correct answers to earn credit for the question. Develop your skills for finding the correct answers Text Completion and Sentence Equivalence questions are designed to measure two core proficiencies: interpreting the text and using the vocabulary. These are two distinct skills that you build separately but must use together. Most of the vocab words that you encounter on the GRE are used commonly in most professional industries, including business and journalism. One student came in with a New York Times article that had three of the vocab words that we’d reviewed in class! Such words as ephemeral (fleeting), abscond (sneak away), and imbroglio (entanglement) stump exam takers every day but appear regularly in publications. Interpreting the Text 101 Interpreting the text means discerning its meaning in the absence of the key words. Doing this prior to looking at the answer choices is the best way to quickly eliminate choices that don’t make sense, and the GRE-makers have fun trying to trick you. Getting the gist of the text One way to figure out the meaning of a challenging sentence is to see whether it has a positive or negative connotation. This high-level perspective can help you find words that convey the correct meaning. Take the best and only approach Whether you’re taking on a Text Completion or Sentence Equivalence question, your approach is the same. These steps are the only way to knock out these questions so you can ace the exam and get on with your life. Interpret the text without looking at the answer choices. Complete the text with your own words. Eliminate wrong answer choices. The following sections explain these steps in detail. Interpret the text without looking at the answer choices First, figure out what the sentence is saying. If you know this, then you know the meanings of the words that go in the blanks. How else do you know which answer choices work, and more importantly, which choices don’t work? While interpreting the text, don’t look at the answer choices! Each answer choice not only seems to fit perfectly but also gives the sentence a very different meaning. Then, you have no idea what the sentence is trying to say, and you’ve turned a relatively workable question into something that’s impossible. Whoa, right into the trap. Instead, get the meaning of the sentence first and then look at the answer choices! To avoid involuntarily glancing at the answer choices, cover them up with your scratch paper. Hold that scratch paper right up on the computer screen. (You’re not working math now, anyway.) Silly? Yes. Effective? Absolutely. Students tell me it’s a lifesaver. Complete the text with your own words The next step is finding your own words to complete the text. Your words don’t have to be perfect — you’re not writing the sentence — but they do have to support the meaning of the sentence. This way, you know exactly what to look for and can eliminate answer choices (which is the following step). Right now, you’re still covering up the answer choices with your scratch paper. Try to picture what’s happening in the text. Even though you may arrange it differently, your key words will match the missing words in the question. Your own words may not fit perfectly or match the answer choices — but they don’t have to. Instead, they serve a more important purpose. They make the wrong answers clearly stand out. Now you go to the next step: Eliminate wrong answer choices. Eliminate wrong answer choices The final step to knocking out these questions is eliminating the wrong answer choices. Now that you know what the sentence is saying, the wrong answers are clear. These questions can be challenging, so if you’re not sure whether an answer choice should be crossed off, don’t spend time on it. Instead, mark it as “maybe” and go on to the next answer choice. Usually, you’ll finish reviewing the answer choices with one marked “maybe” and the others eliminated. Go with the “maybe” choice and move on. Worst case, if you have to guess, you’ve narrowed down the answers to guess from. Then mark the question for review and return to it later. These verbal questions should take you less than a minute each, saving you valuable time for the time-intensive Reading Comprehension questions. Interpreting trickier sentences If every Text Completion and Sentence Equivalence question were as easy, everyone would get a perfect 170 on the Verbal section, and testing would be pointless. However, the actual GRE questions can be more challenging to interpret. When you come across these sentences, start with the three basic strategies mentioned earlier and build on them with these steps: Use transition words to get the gist of the phrases. Start with the second or third missing word. Use transition words to get the gist of the phrases Transition words exist in almost all Text Completion and Sentence Equivalence questions (and other sentences) and serve as valuable clues to interpreting the meaning of a sentence. (Transition words connect two ideas in a sentence or paragraph and tell you whether the two ideas in the sentence agree or contradict one another.) Transition words help you decipher the meaning of a sentence with key words missing. For example, changing the transition word in the following sentence completely alters its meaning: Although he ran as fast as he could, Eric _____ the bus. The transition word although, indicating contrast, tells you that Eric missed the bus. Consider the same sentence with a different transition word: Because he ran as fast as he could, Eric _____ the bus. The transition word because, indicating cause-and-effect, tells you that Eric caught the bus. With a little practice, transition words become easy to identify and use to your advantage. They’re helpful when breaking the sentence into pieces (which is the next step) and are used frequently in the Analytical Writing portion of the GRE. Common transition words include the following: although and because but despite either/or however in spite of moreover nonetheless therefore or The English language has hundreds of transition words. Fortunately, you don’t need to memorize them, but you do need to be able to spot them. Most transition words can be divided into two categories: continuing and contrasting. Continuing transition words — and, because, moreover, and therefore — indicate that the one part of the sentence will continue the thought of the other part. Contrasting transition words — although, but, despite, however, in spite of, and nonetheless — indicate that one part of the sentence will contrast the other part. In the previous example with Eric and the bus, changing the transition from a continuing to a contrasting word (in this case, although to because) directly changes the meaning of the sentence. Note that the transition word isn’t always in the middle of the sentence. Now to work on the second step. Start with the second or third missing word Many Text Completion questions have two or three words missing. Often the first missing word could be anything, and the second (or third) missing word tells you the first one. Look at this example: Although she usually was of a (i) _____ nature, Patty was (ii) _____ when the professor assigned a paper due the day after spring break. The transition word although clues you in to the gist of the first phrase. It tells you that Patty’s usual nature is different from the way she felt when receiving her assignment. But this isn’t enough — Patty could usually be of any nature: good, bad, cantankerous (cranky), sanguine (cheerful), capricious (fickle). You need the gist of the second missing word to find the first one. Second missing word: Patty was _____ when the professor assigned a paper due the day after spring break. From the second missing word, you can infer that she was annoyed when the professor assigned a paper. It could be different, but probably not. Most people are usually some form of disappointed when assigned papers, especially over spring break. Anyway, knowing she wasn’t happy, the continuing transition word although tells you that she’s usually the opposite: First missing word: Although she usually was of a _____ nature, The opposite of annoyed is happy. Patty is usually happy but today is annoyed. Now take on the whole question: Although she usually was of a (i) _____ nature, Patty was (ii) _____ when the professor assigned a paper due the day after spring break. Eliminate answer choices that don’t match the words you used (happy and annoyed) to complete the text. Start with the second missing word. Using the word clue annoyed, which words from the second column can you eliminate? Enigmatic means mysterious or cryptic, which doesn’t match annoyed. If you don’t know what lugubrious and ebullient mean, you can guess that lugubrious is heavy and ebullient means upbeat, based on how the words sound. (Ebullient means very happy, and lugubrious means sad. Eliminate ebullient for not matching annoyed, so lugubrious remains and is the second missing word. Now for the first missing word. Using the word clue happy, which words from the first column can you eliminate? Frugal doesn’t fit based solely on its meaning (economical), and it has no opposite in the second column. Keen, which means intense, also doesn’t fit, so cheerful seems to be the remaining choice for the first blank. The correct answers are Choices (C) and (E).

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10 Mistakes You Won’t Make When Taking the GRE

Article / Updated 08-27-2019

Some common mistakes are made by those taking the Graduate Record Examination (GRE). Take a few minutes to read through these mistakes to see how other people have tanked the exam. By becoming aware of these catastrophes, you may prevent them from happening to you. You won’t cheat Cheating on the GRE simply doesn’t work, so don’t even consider it. They’re on to you. When you get to the testing center, and before you begin your test, the proctors separate you from anything that you can possibly use to cheat, including your phone, wristwatch, water bottle, jacket, and hat. On top of that, you’re monitored by a camera while taking the test. Any semblance of privacy goes right out the window. How would you cheat anyway? You can’t copy all those vocabulary words or write all the math formulas on anything accessible during the test. Besides, the GRE tests your critical-reasoning and problem-solving skills more than your memorization skills. Those caught cheating can be banned from taking the test for up to ten years! In the world of careers and education, that’s nearly a lifetime. You won’t run out of steam The GRE tests your stamina as much as anything else. Most people aren’t able to maintain these levels of concentration for four straight hours, so they end up petering out. Through preparation and practice, you have a definite edge over the other test-takers. Like preparing for a marathon, preparing for the GRE means slowly building yourself up. Practice for a few hours at a time and stop when you get tired. Repeat this exercise, and eventually you’ll be able to go the full distance without fail. Don’t push yourself too hard, though, because you’ll burn yourself out. As they say in the weight room, “Train, don’t strain.” You won’t neglect your breaks Some people don’t take advantage of the short breaks offered during the GRE. Be sure you don’t miss the opportunity to take a breather. You’re offered short breaks (in one- or ten-minute increments) between sections. If you don’t take these breaks, you’ll be sitting still for hours. Though your stamina may be good (because you practiced), you still want to stay hydrated, eat a power bar, and walk around every now and then to keep your mind clear. Don’t plan on studying during your breaks, though — the review of any GRE-prep materials during breaks is strictly forbidden. Pack some water bottles and power bars to keep in a locker for your breaks. You won’t have time to go grab something. Don’t drink too much water, though — you can’t pause the exam to run to the restroom. You won’t dwell on questions from the previous sections When skipping a question or marking it for review, let it go until the end of the section so you can focus on the other questions at hand. When you reach the end of the section (but before moving on to the next section or before the time expires), you may return to the questions you skipped or marked and check or change your answers. When you move on to the next section, however, that’s it: You can’t go back to a previous section. You have no choice but to move forward, so don’t waste mental energy by focusing on past questions you can do nothing about. You won’t sweat the time limit Some test-takers fret over the clock. The key to success is to be aware of the clock while remaining calm. Practice working with a timer, so you’re used to the timer on the GRE exam screen. As you become more accustomed to working with the clock during practice, you’ll eventually settle into a comfortable pace and be used to the timer on test day. The mistakes you make while relaxed are different from the mistakes you make while under pressure from the clock. Practice with a timer to get used to the pressure and become aware of the timer-pressure mistakes — and fix them before the test. You won’t rush through the questions Some test-takers think that they need to rush to answer all the questions in the time limit. This is true, if you want to get them all wrong by missing key details and making careless mistakes. I’d rather you get half the questions right and run out of time for the other half than rush through the questions and miss them all. But it shouldn’t come to that anyway: The time that the GRE gives you is more than enough to properly, correctly, and calmly answer all the questions — if you don’t get stuck. Remember the Other Golden Rule: The secret to working fast and getting it right isn’t rushing — it’s knowing what you’re doing. The way you know what you’re doing is by learning what’s on the exam and practicing it. You definitely won’t choke on the essays Choking, by definition (on the GRE), means getting stuck on something and becoming so flustered that you can’t focus on anything after that. This can happen at any point on the test, but because you can flag the multiple-choice questions and go back to them at the end of the section, you’re unlikely to choke on those. Essays, however, are another story. On the GRE, you have to write two essays within 30 minutes each. What’s worse, they’re at the beginning of the test, so if you choke on one, you’re toast for the entire exam. Of course, this won’t happen to you, because you have prepared beforehand. This makes writer’s block — and choking — something that happens to others, but not you. Practice writing the essays! Like any skill, essay-writing takes practice, and you don’t want to be at the start of the learning curve on test day. You won’t fret over the hard questions The GRE contains some seemingly difficult questions, and most test-takers don’t get perfect scores. Do the best you can, score in the high percentiles, and get accepted to graduate school! No one expects a perfect score, so you shouldn’t, either. The GRE is only one of many parts of the application process. Your GPA, work experience, essays, and any other relevant character-building experience (such as sports participation, military service, volunteer work, or leadership training) also count toward your chances of admission. You won’t take the exam with a friend You and your buddy may be able to schedule your tests for the same time. Big mistake. Two of my students from the same class took the exam at the same time, side by side, and both told me afterward that rather than providing support, the distraction was almost unbearable. Fortunately, they both scored well, but I wonder how different their results would have been had they tested separately. It’s good to study with a friend, and celebrate after, but don’t buddy up to take the test. You won’t change your morning routine The GRE is stressful enough. The last thing you need to do is add more anxiety to the whole nerve-racking experience by changing your morning routine. If you normally have one cup of coffee, should you have an extra cup for more energy or only half a cup to reduce anxiety? Should you have an omelet for more protein or just have toast to avoid the food crash later? Here’s a suggestion: Do what you normally do. It works every other day, and it’ll work just as well the day of the test. Don’t change your routine. If you’re tempted to try an energy drink or something unusual for an enhanced test-taking experience, try it first on a practice test! Make sure your new concoction doesn’t upset your stomach or give you a headache. You don’t need that distraction.

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Answering GRE Multiple-Choice Questions

Article / Updated 05-28-2019

Most questions on the GRE are multiple choice. Most require you to select the one best answer choice, but some require you to select two or more answers. The questions that require two or more answers are easy to spot because the answer choices have small check boxes (rather than ovals or words to select) and the directions say, “Pick two answers” or “Pick all applicable answers.” To help you select the correct answer(s), keep these tips in mind: If you don’t know the answer, rule out as many obviously incorrect choices as possible and guess from the remaining choices. Don’t spend more than 2 or 3 minutes on any one question. Guess an answer, mark the question for review, and come back to it at the end of the section. As long as you have time left in that section, you can revisit previous questions. Guessing an answer is better than leaving the question unanswered. A wrong answer counts the same as no answer, so there’s no harm in guessing. You may as well throw the mental dice and try to get it right—just mark it for review and come back to it later during that section.

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Tips for Taking the Computerized GRE

Article / Updated 05-28-2019

Though www.ets.org alludes to your choice between the paper-based and the computer-based GRE, you’ll almost certainly take the computer-based one. The paper-based exam is offered only where computer infrastructure isn’t available. It’s better this way, really; do you really want to hand-write your essay? Just remember these tips: You can go back and forth through each section. Within a section, each question is worth the same. If you’re stuck on a question, skip it! You can go back to it with the time remaining in the section. Keep an eye on the clock. On the GRE, with 35 minutes per quantitative section and 30 minutes per verbal, it’s easy to get distracted by your work and run out of time. Just remember that in each section, at 15 minutes, you should be roughly halfway through. Practice using the software. Although the GRE For Dummies software provides excellent, targeted practice, it’s still the Dummies mockup of GRE software, not the real thing. Practice GRE software is available for free from www.ets.org, and it perfectly mimics the actual exam, so you want to explore that and see how it works before the day of the exam.

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