How to Study for the New GRE?
Many GRE test takers in Pakistan have this tendency to pick up a popular GRE book such as Barrons or Kaplan and start reading it from page 1. Slowly they keep on reading until a few days pass by and they realize that they haven’t made any significant progress. Infact most of the times it becomes so frustrating for them, that they either decide to quit GRE or go and take the test with no preparation at all.
The fact is that you cannot prepare for the GRE by reading a GRE book page by page. You must have a strategy on how to study for the new GRE, as this will help you improve your GRE scores significantly.
Always do the important topics first
It is a natural tendency to open a GRE book and go through it page by page topic by topic in a linear fashion. While there is no problem with this approach, but it has been observed that with the passage of time the motivation and commitment to study for the GRE exam goes down. And on all GRE books available out there, the most important topics come at the end of the book. This implies that when you start prepping for the GRE, you are super motivated but at the same time you focus a lot more on the easier topics since they come first in the book. Hence this approach does not work very well.
I would always suggest that initially spend sometime going through the topics at random. So for example you can start off by looking at geometry and statistics and later move randomly to other topics. Do not go through each chapter thoroughly, just glance and do basic learning and questions associated with each topic very quickly.
With this approach you will be able to identify you biggest weaknesses and strengths on the GRE within the first 10-15 days of random skimming and skipping. After this initial exploration, you will be better prepared to focus on the most critical areas of the GRE test initially. Leave the topics of least concern for the end.
Use several books for your GRE preparation
Many students from all across Pakistan ask me “which is the best book for GRE preparation?” or “which book should we use for our GRE prep?”. Well my answer as always is, there is no single book that can fully prepare you for the GRE exam. You must use multiple sources for your preparation and if you use only one book then you will be in for a very bad surprise on the test day.
This does not mean that you start preparing for the GRE test from all the twenty or more books available – use the ones that offer good strategies, practice questions and full-length mock exams. You can go here to read my book reviews for the revised GRE books,
Avoid conceptual & carless mistakes on the GRE
Many GRE students are perfect when it comes to knowing the concepts – however they make frequent calculation errors that lose them points on the GRE. I have seen Math wizards score less than 160 very often on the GRE test. Reason being that they simply cannot avoid making silly mistakes. Whether the mistake is careless or conceptual, in either case you must identify it and work hard on improving it. Don’t move to the next topic unless you ensure that you have gotten rid of the problem you are having.
Give yourself frequent breaks
Never try to study for the GRE test for many consecutive days. If you do that you would know that after a week or so you will start feeling burned out and lose determination and focus. I would strictly advise you to not study for the test for more than 3 days in a row; after 3 days give yourself a break of 1-2 days in which spend no more than 1 hour revisiting what you did recently.
Same applies to learning vocabulary as well. After doing 150-200 words give your brain some rest during which don’t learn new words. Instead focus on revising the ones you have already done in the past. Make sure to maintain a separate list of words that you frequently tend to forget so that you can focus on them often.
Practice, practice, practice……
Remember to keep practicing. The more you practice the GRE verbal and quantitative portions the better off you would be. Through out your preparation keep track of your weaknesses. Every now and then focus more on them and don’t spend much time honing your strengths. Remember the GRE is an adaptive exam, it may adapt on your weaknesses and give you an even tougher time doing well on the GRE test day.