What is the GRE?
The GRE stands for the Graduate Record Examinations. The exam is a graduate admission levels test for graduate school or business school. It is intended for applicants seeking a Master’s, MBA, or a specialized master’s in business or doctoral degrees. It exists both as a computerized test, as well as a paper version. It is designed to reflect the critical thinking skills that you will need for grad level institutions.
What are the 3 components of the GRE?
The GRE has 3 main components that basically translate to a Reading, Writing, and Math portion, very much resembling high school SATs.
- The Verbal Reasoning portion tests the ability to analyze and evaluate written material, synthesize information, analyze relationships among sentence structure, and making connections between words and concepts.
- The Quantitative Reasoning portion is about quantities! Think numbers and math. It will test problem-solving abilities with basic math concepts such as arithmetic, algebra, geometry and data analysis (statistics).
- The Analytical Writing portion tests critical thinking and analytical writing skills. It grades on how well you articulate and support ideas clearly and effectively.
Brief Overview of the GRE Categories
For the Verbal Reasoning section there are 3 question types:
- Reading comprehension
- Text completion
- Sentence equivalence
For the Quantitative Reasoning section, there are 3 question types as well:
- Quantitative comparison questions
- Multiple choice questions (single or multiple answers)
- Numeric entry questions
This section will involve arithmetic, algebra, geometry concepts, data analysis topics posed in real-life settings and math settings. You will encounter a lot of word problems in which you’ll have to translate and model mathematically.
For the Analytical Writing section, it is composed of two timed writing tasks:
1. 30 Min “Analyze an Issue” task: You will need to give an opinion on a issue of general interest. You will be expected to evaluate the issue, consider all parts of it, and develop an argument backed up by reasons and examples.
*In short, this is the “Construct Your Argument” portion.
2. 30 Min “Analyze an Argument” task: You will need to evaluate a given argument. You will have to consider if it’s logical and sound. This is not about whether you agree or disagree with the claim.
*In short, you are evaluating someone else’s argument by assessing claims and evaluating the evidence provided
There are many resources online and in print for your perusal. The GRE.org website is a good starting point to look up resources. There are two categories that you can take advantage of.
Visit the GRE.org website to learn more about study tips and free/purchasable prep materials.
- Available through the GRE website, there is a software called PowerPrep II, Version 2.2 Software. The software includes two full-length practice tests that are timed and simulated to the actual exam. It includes Math Conventions, which helps with learning about math assumptions, notation, and terminology used on the test.The software also includes a Math Review, which is a refresher of all basic math skills. It’s a free 100 page review that covers concepts you may see on the GRE. It focuses on definitions, properties, examples and sets of problems for your practice needs.
- Practice Book for Paper-based GRE is another option if you are taking the paper version. It contains one full-length paper delivered test, test taking strategies, answers with explanations, and sample writing topics. It also includes how the responses are scored.
Resources to Purchase
- The Official Guide to the GRE has four complete practice tests, comes with the PowerPrep software, test questions, solutions w/explanations, test taking strategies, and sample essay responses with reader commentary
- GRE Mobile App places the convenience of test prep right in your hands! It has test questions complete with answers with explanations.
- Need more individual practice? You can buy individual packets of questions designed for practice with the three portions of the exam. There is a Verbal Reasoning packet, the Quantitative Reasoning packet, and ScoreItNow Online Writing Practice, which is a service that allows you to practice writing the essays and receive an immediate score to see how well you did!
What do most people struggle with?
With the Verbal Reasoning section, there are a lot of unfamiliar words to know the definitions of. You must expand your vocabulary either by reading more complex reading material (newspapers, magazines, etc) or purchasing resources such as Barron’s 1100 Words You Need to Know. However, it is not just memorizing definitions, but also you must know how to use context clues. Use the sentence structure and connotation to help you deduct the meaning of a word.
For the Quantitative Reasoning portion, most people find the amount of review overwhelming, but spend more time on concepts that you are weaker on. Practice as many questions as you can on that concept until you feel “refreshed” on it.
For Analytical Writing, you need to get used to timed writing and being concise with your ideas.
*Overall, the GRE is not about how much you know, but how you approach the problem. It requires that you remain flexible in the way you think.
How can a tutor help?
A good math tutor can help with the wide expanse of math review you will have to do. The test taker should always provide the materials. The tutor may not have the GRE prep materials at hand. The tutor can help you review basic concepts, since the material does not go beyond high school math. It is encouraged that test takers try the practice problems on their own first and review the solutions/answers. If still confused or unsure afterwards, then a tutor is a good resource to ask.
Additionally, a tutor can help you build a study schedule and give you personal, valuable study tips and test strategies not included in the basic prep materials.
A writing tutor can work with you to help you convey the best answer within the timed writing environment. It is less about decorative writing but about getting the direct point and supporting your statements with evidence. Having another person evaluate how well you critically think may be very helpful. The tutor can help you pick topics from both the Issue and Argument Pool. They can go over essay samples with you and point out how the rubric grades specific portions. The tutor can go over how to best pre-write and proofread within a timed limit as well.