# GRE & Graduate School Blog

While you may be taking the GRE to get into graduate school, it may relieve you to know you won’t have to use math that you’ve learned past your sophomore or junior year of high school. Long-winded and drawn out problem solving and arithmetic is not the style of the GRE. So what’s the catch? If the math is so easy, why are you even reading this article on how to tackle the math section? The challenge behind this section draws from the way these limited mathematical concepts are presented to you. In a sense, you need to often systematically deconstruct the problem in the way it’s presented, to determine what is really being asked of you. Once you are able to determine what the question is asking, the actual “number-crunching” or math involved is much less than you might think.

In part one of our “Common Test Taking Strategies” series, we noted that strategy is an intrinsic part of preparing for standardized tests, and that without the proper strategies even the most advanced students find themselves performing below their full potential.  We discussed several proven test taking strategies, including using official test prep materials produced by the same company administering the exam (i.e., the Real ACT Prep Guide if you’re taking the ACT), focusing on what the question is actually asking, scanning all potential answers before choosing one, assuming nothing when deciding which answer is best, and making abstractions concrete.

In part two, we’ll cover five additional test taking strategies:

• Time management
• Providing overly structured responses
• Test “mentality”

Of all the different questions that students work on as they prep for the GRE Verbal, none seem to routinely cause as much trepidation as the Text Completion. If you’ve taught the GRE as much as I have, then you know the particular sigh of fear and pre-emptive defeat that students give when they turn to page to see a sentence riddled with long underscores.

Vocabulary is one of the biggest and most important aspects of the GRE. You will need to start studying vocabulary well before you take the test, because it is a slow process. There is a limit to how many words you can effectively study at one time; it is impossible to learn thousands of words by cramming at the last minute.

There are no real shortcuts, either. Some people try to learn root words in an attempt to minimize study time, but this technique does not work very well on the GRE, for various reasons:

I often hear people wonder whether it is possible to increase one’s GRE score. They believe that a standardized test score is more or less set in stone, one’s score changing plus or minus two points depending on the day. This line of thinking is actually woefully inaccurate; with a combination of diligence, resources, and the proper approach, you can greatly increase your score. Indeed, I’ve seen a couple of Magoosh students increase their scores by 29 points.

With so many GRE test prep options available, it can be hard to know where to start looking.  Hopefully this outline of the types of options available will help you get an idea of what would work best for you.