GMAT vs GRE Question Types and Content Comparison
Posted on
Mar 2023

GMAT vs GRE: Question Types and Content Comparison

If you’re considering business school, one of the first decisions to make is whether to prepare for the GRE or the GMAT. While the preferences of the admissions offices at your target schools should take precedence, there are many test-specific considerations as well. The tests vary substantially in terms of content, and this article will overview each test to help you make an informed decision for GMAT or GRE preparation. 

GMAT vs GRE: Quantitative Sections Head-to-Head 

The GRE and the GMAT take different approaches to measure candidates’ quantitative reasoning skills. The GMAT does not allow the use of a calculator on the quant section, but the GRE provides a built-in calculator for its quant sections. Some standard mental math proficiency is helpful on either test (you don’t want to have to use the GRE calculator every time you need to perform basic arithmetic operations), but if developing non-calculator proficiency is a big hurdle for you, put one check in the GRE column.

The GMAT and GRE quant sections cover almost the exact same content, but the balance of topics is different between the tests. The GMAT is heavily focused on algebra (whether pure notational algebra or word problems) and features more work/rate and speed/distance problems than the GRE, while the GRE mixes in more geometry and statistics. The GRE also requires knowledge of certain statistics topics that are lacking from the GMAT, like quartiles and normal distributions, but these topics can be learned easily and shouldn’t impact your decision.

Both tests have unique question types in their quantitative sections. On the GMAT, it’s data sufficiency; on the GRE, it’s quantitative comparisons. These questions represent a departure from the standard multiple choice model employed across virtually all standardized tests and usually require some extra practice from test-takers, but neither is necessarily more difficult or prep-time-consuming than the other.

Overall, most people who take both the GMAT and the GRE report that the GMAT has the harder quant section. And it is true that the GMAT problems tend to be a bit more complex than their GRE counterparts. Still, diligent preparation (especially with the help of an expert tutor) makes either quant section conquerable.

GMAT vs GRE: Verbal Sections Head-to Head

Here the GMAT and the GRE part ways. Both tests have reading comprehension in their verbal sections, with the passages and accompanying questions being largely the same in character and difficulty, but that is where the similarities end.

On GMAT verbal, reading comprehension questions account for only about ⅓ of the total, with critical reasoning and sentence correction making up the balance.

Critical reasoning questions are about recognizing the structure of an argument, especially its assumptions, and knowing how to strengthen, weaken, or complete it.

Sentence correction questions are a choice among five versions of the same sentence, only one of which is grammatically, idiomatically, and stylistically correct. In general, out of the 36 sections on the GMAT verbal reasoning section, about 10 are critical reasoning, about 12 are reading comprehension, and about 14 are sentence correction.

On each of the GRE’s two scored verbal reasoning sections, 10 of the 20 questions are reading comprehension, 6 are text completion, and 4 are sentence equivalence.

Text completion and sentence equivalence questions involve reading sentences and using context clues to fill in their blanks with the most appropriate words from the answer choice set. Where the GMAT requires English grammar knowledge for sentence correction, the GRE requires English vocabulary knowledge for text completion and sentence equivalence.

Generally, the learning of vocabulary for the GRE takes more prep time than the learning of grammar for GMAT sentence correction. Most English speakers with grammatical proficiency for GMAT sentence correction still need to liven up their vocabularies to get to the GRE level.

People who excel at memorizing lots of information – like the definitions of a few hundred words – will be well-suited to GRE verbal prep. People who struggle with memorization but like to think conceptually might be better suited to prepare for critical reasoning and sentence correction on the GMAT.

There is no verdict on which test has an easier or harder verbal section. The sections are too different for any such comparison to make sense. It all depends on your own personal strengths and weaknesses – both in terms of content knowledge and in terms of thinking/learning style.

GMAT vs GRE: Writing Sections Head-to-Head

The GRE writing portion, called Analytical Writing, comprises two thirty-minute tasks: analyze an issue and analyze an argument. The “analyze an issue” task requires you to take a position on a brief statement and to construct your own argument in support of your position. The “analyze an argument” task provides you with a short paragraph in which an author supports their own position on an issue.

For this task, you will not construct your own argument but critique the argument in the prompt, identifying the assumptions and facts upon which it relies for strength and validity.

The GMAT has only one thirty-minute writing portion, called the Analytical Writing Assessment (AWA), which is functionally identical to the GRE’s “analyze an argument” task.

Here the main difference is in the amount of time you have to spend writing. The GRE writing portion takes an hour and always comes before your quant and verbal sections, which can leave you feeling worn out while you still have almost three hours to go.

The GMAT writing portion is only half an hour and can be done after all other sections of your test. Still, the writing portion, while not altogether meaningless, is not mainly what these tests are about, so the difference in the “stamina factor” on this portion shouldn’t weigh heavily in your decision for one test or another.

GMAT vs GRE: Integrated Reasoning on the GMAT 

The GMAT includes one section for which the GRE has no parallel: integrated reasoning. This thirty-minute, separately-scored section involves processing information from paragraphs, tables, and graphs in order to answer questions on the data.

The idea is for the section to integrate the quantitative reasoning and verbal reasoning skills showcased independently on the other sections. If you develop these skills in the course of preparing for those sections, you’ll probably handle the integrated reasoning section without much difficulty.

It doesn’t require you to learn any additional content and essentially comes down to processing information fast enough, which comes with a bit of practice. Don’t let this scare you away from the GMAT.

Final Analysis

Let’s review some key points in a helpful table:

Unique GMAT prep challenges Unique GRE prep challenges
learn non-calculator skills master geometry and statistics
learn grammar for sentence correction learn 100-500 vocab words
learn critical reasoning build extra stamina (longer test)

In the end, the choice may come down to (1) your current strengths and weaknesses and (2) the differences in your aptitude for learning the content/building the skills for each test. The aim of this article is not to steer you toward one test or the other, but to provide you with the information to help you take the right first step in choosing the right test for you.

If you are interested in speaking with one of our GRE private tutors, you can sign-up for a complimentary, 30-minute consultation call. You can also learn more from our past clients who were able to achieve their cumulative 325+ score with us!

Contributor: Elijah Mize (Apex GRE Instructor)

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How To Learn GRE Vocabulary Quickly and Effectively
Posted on
Mar 2023

How To Learn GRE Vocabulary Quickly and Effectively

By now you know that GRE preparation, for almost everyone, involves studying vocabulary words. Half of the questions on the GRE verbal reasoning sections are vocabulary-based. You will have to select from an answer choice set of vocabulary words to appropriately fill in the blank/blanks in a sentence. It’s hard to get these questions right without knowing the vocabulary. Unless you are an edacious reader with a prodigious vocabulary, you’ll most likely need to learn a few hundred words.

GRE Vocabulary Preparation Lists

How can you complete such a rebarbative task efficiently? Well, there are myriad GRE vocabulary lists out there for you to study, but I recommend making your own flashcards.

As you practice reading comprehension, both from official GRE practice materials and from other good sources like peer-review journals and college textbooks in the sciences and humanities, make a flashcard for every word you encounter and don’t know.

Don’t worry about sciency words that would only ever be used in one context, like phototransduction. You want nouns, adjectives, and verbs that have broad applicability. Even when you come across an unknown word in the course of working or reading for pleasure, jot it down somewhere (digitally or physically) and make a flashcard later.

Once you get into this habit, you’ll be amazed how often you encounter unknown words in everyday life. Most of us just filter these words out or circumvent them by using context clues to get the gist of what was said. A useful skill – but in this case a deleterious one.

Make a Flashcard for Each Unknown Word

And of course, make a flashcard for every unknown word you encounter in any vocabulary-based GRE practice question.

The very act of making these flashcards will reinforce your memory of the words’ definitions, but as you keep shuffling your deck and studying it over time, your retention will multiply.

It’s important to do this regularly. Build it into your daily routine, and take advantage of odd moments. Waiting for the bus/subway/train? Don’t scroll TikTok – study vocabulary words. Go over some definitions mentally while you brush your teeth. See how many flashcards you can get through while your chicken florentine is in the microwave.

Connect Words that are Synonyms or Antonyms

Another reinforcing practice is to connect words in your flashcard deck that are synonyms or antonyms. You don’t have to group them together for study, but if you’re reviewing a word and realize that it has a synonym or antonym relationship to another word in your deck, see if you can list any other synonyms or antonyms in your deck.

This way your individual “definition knowledge bits” can become mutually reinforcing. And as you know, the two correct answer choices on any sentence equivalence question are synonyms, or at least words that can function synonymously in the given context. You’ll be surprised how often sentence equivalence questions feature synonym pairs you identified in your study deck.

If you get into these vocabulary-building habits, you’ll find that they serve you long after you’ve trounced the GRE. A robust vocabulary makes you a more effective communicator, a clearer thinker, and an all-around cooler person – as long as you don’t flaunt it too much.

To supplement your vocabulary-building efforts, it’s important to have a thorough understanding of the structure and content of the GRE verbal reasoning section. The section includes two types of questions: reading comprehension, sentence equivalence, and text completion. Understanding the different question types and their respective formats can help you approach each question with confidence and efficiency.

If you are interested in speaking with one of our GRE tutors, you can sign-up for a complimentary, 30-minute, consultation callYou can also learn more from our past clients who were able to achieve their cumulative 325+ score with us!

Contributor: Elijah Mize (Apex GRE Instructor)

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Master the GRE Reading Comprehension Section
Posted on
Feb 2023

Master the GRE Reading Comprehension Section

Reading comprehension accounts for half of the questions on the GRE verbal reasoning section. To do well on these questions, you need a framework for understanding the purpose and structure of the passages.

Some passages are very short – really more accurately termed “prompts” than “passages” – and present isolated scenarios followed by a single question about the scenario. For those familiar with the GMAT verbal reasoning section, these are roughly equivalent to critical reasoning questions. But these account for only 4 of the 20 scored reading comprehension questions on a GRE.

The remaining 16 questions are attached to longer passages, and you must accurately comprehend these passages at the “wide angle” level in order to answer most of their questions correctly. 

Reading comprehension: understanding the purpose and structure of the passages

The “wide angle” level means that you understand what the passage is doing, or what the author is trying to do in the passage. To understand the author’s purpose, always think in terms of what the author would like you, the reader, (1) to know/understand, (2) to believe/agree with, or (3) to do. Passages of this third variety – the kind that call for action – are rare on the GRE. Even so, you should understand the existence of the category. Let’s call these degrees of purpose. A passage may exhibit more than one of these three degrees of purpose. But any passage – especially one short enough to be a GRE reading comprehension passage – will conform mainly to one of the three.

This is your starting point for understanding not only the passage’s main idea or purpose, but also how the various references and details contribute to achieving the purpose. In other words, this is your key to correctly answering almost every reading comprehension question on the GRE.

However, you need something more. In order to clearly and accurately express the author’s purpose as a useful key to the passage, you need the Levels of Engagement paradigm.

Levels of engagement

The best way to explain this paradigm is to define each of the three levels of engagement:

Level 1: The author/passage interacts directly with the topic.

Level 2: The author/passage interacts with another treatment of the topic, presenting it, critiquing it, or commending it.

Level 3: The author/passage interacts with the scholarly conversation on the topic, perhaps taking a side but mainly presenting the record of discovery or opinion.

To help clarify these three levels, let’s practice with some examples:

Practice Problem 1

Passage: In a plausible but speculative scenario, oceanographer Douglas Martinson suggests that temperature increase caused by global warming would not significantly affect the stability of the Antarctic environment, where sea ice forms on the periphery of the continent in the autumn and winter and mostly disappears in the summer. True, less sea ice would form in the winter because global warming would cause temperatures to rise. However, Martinson argues, the effect of a warmer atmosphere may be offset as follows. The formation of sea ice causes the concentration of salt in surface waters to increase; less sea ice would mean a smaller increase in the concentration of salt. Less salty surface waters would be less dense and therefore less likely to sink and stir up deep water. The deep water, with all its stored heat, would rise to the surface at a slower rate. Thus, although the winter sea-ice cover might decrease, the surface waters would remain cold enough so that the decrease would not be excessive. 

Is this a first-level, second-level, or third-level passage? It is quite clearly a second-level passage. Right off the bat, the passage mentions Douglas Martinson’s suggestion and deems it “plausible but speculative.” This is mainly a presentation of Martinson’s theory, but the author does offer his assessment of the theory. So this passage occupies the second level of engagement and the second degree of purpose.

Purpose statement: The author wants me, the reader, to agree that Martinson’s theory regarding global warming and the antarctic environment’s stability is plausible but speculative.

Let’s try another one:

 Practice Problem 2

Passage: Scientists formerly believed that the rocky planets – Earth, Mercury, Venus, and Mars – were created by the rapid gravitational collapse of a dust cloud, a deflation giving rise to a dense orb. That view was challenged in the 1960s, when studies of Moon craters revealed that these craters were caused by the impact of objects that were in great abundance about 4.5 billion years ago but whose number appeared to have quickly decreased shortly thereafter. This observation rejuvenated Otto Schmidt’s 1944 theory of accretion. According to this theory, cosmic dust gradually lumped into ever-larger conglomerates: particulates, gravel, small and then larger balls, planetesimals (tiny planets), and, ultimately, planets. As the planetesimals became larger, their numbers decreased. Consequently, the number of collisions between planetesimals decreased.(Separate Paragraphs)

First-level, second-level, or third-level? This is a textbook example of a third-level passage. It is tracing the history of scientific discoveries and scientific opinion regarding the formation of the rocky planets. Third-level passages generally have a first-degree (knowing/understanding) rather than a second-degree (believing/agreeing) purpose.

Purpose statement: The author wants me, the reader, to understand why 1960s observations of moon craters swayed scientific opinion about the formation of the rocky planets away from the then-popular deflation theory and towards Otto Schmidt’s 1944 accretion theory.

This is probably more specific about the science than you really need to get, but it is good practice to write such detailed statements in your preparation.

Now that you’ve seen some good examples of second-level and third-level passages, let’s try reading and classifying two passages at once!

Practice Problem 3

Passage: Was Felix Mendelssohn(1809-1847) a great composer? On its face, the question seems absurd. One of the most gifted prodigies in the history of music, he produced his first masterpiece at sixteen. From then on, he was recognized as an artist of preternatural abilities, not only as a composer but also as a pianist and conductor. But Mendelssohn’s enduring popularity has often been at odds – sometimes quite sharply – with his critical standing. Despite general acknowledgement of his genius, there has been a noticeable reluctance to rank him with, say, Schumann or Brahms. As Haggin put it, Mendelssohn, as a composer, was a “minor master . . . working on a small scale of emotion and texture.”

Historians credit repeated locust invasions in the nineteenth century with reshaping United States agriculture west of the Mississippi River. Admonished by government entomologists, farmers began to diversify. Wheat had come to nearly monopolize the region, but it was particularly vulnerable to the locusts. In 1873, just before the locusts’ most withering offensive, nearly two-thirds of Minnesota farmland was producing wheat; by the invasions’ last year, that fraction had dropped to less than one-sixth. Farmers learned that peas and beans were far less vulnerable to the insects, and corn was a more robust grain than wheat. In addition to planting alternative crops, many farmers turned to dairy and beef production. Although pastures were often damaged by the locusts, these lands were almost always left in better shape than the crops were.

Make your decisions before reading on. Although both passages mention some other view (Haggin’s view in the Mendelssohn passage and historians’ view in the locusts passage), neither passage is second-level! The Mendelssohn passage is third level. Here’s the key line: “there has been a noticeable reluctance to rank [Mendelssohn] with, say, Schumann or Brahms.” The author is presenting the scholarly verdict on Mendelssohn; Haggin is merely an example provided for this verdict. Notice that the author does not weigh in himself or react to Haggin or the prevailing view. If you were given a question about the purpose of this passage and you chose an answer choice saying either “Mendelssohn was a great composer” or “Mendelssohn was not a great composer,” you would be wrong. The correct answer must mention the scholars who hold the view on Mendelssohn. 

Purpose statement: The author wants me, the reader, to know that scholars are generally reluctant to rank Mendelssohn among the greatest composers.

How about the second passage? Again, it might be mistaken for a second-level passage, but it is actually first-level. The author mentions “historians” but gives no opinion on whether these historians are right or wrong to credit locusts as they do. Instead, the passage just starts telling us the history. It seems that the historians were right to give credit to the locusts, but that’s not the point of the passage. It’s about events themselves.

Purpose statement: The author wants me, the reader, to understand how locust invasions in the nineteenth century reshaped United States agriculture west of the Mississippi.

Sometimes when writing a purpose statement, you simply copy a key line that functions more or less as the passage’s thesis, framing it in terms of the author’s purpose.

Now you’re ready to “plot” GRE reading comprehension passages in terms of degrees of purpose and levels of engagement, creating the key to correctly answering every kind of RC question.

If you are interested in speaking with one of our GRE private tutors, you can sign-up for a complimentary, 30-minute consultation call. You can also learn more from our past clients who were able to achieve their cumulative 325+ score with us!

Contributor: Elijah Mize (Apex GRE Instructor)

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What Kind of Math is on the GRE? A breakdown of the quant section
Posted on
Jan 2023

What Kind of Math is on the GRE?

Unless you’re a math major, chances are that when you start preparing for the GRE, it’s been a while since you took a math class. Your algebra skills, once sharp and shiny, are rusty. Formulas you once knew are getting mixed up and mixed around. Your times tables have been tabled indefinitely. If you are to regain your mathematical form, you must begin by surveying the range of content to be (re)learned.

Thankfully, the GRE quantitative sections are built entirely from concepts and topics that you probably learned in high school at some point, even if your exposure to them was brief. Very few, if any, of the concepts will be completely new.

Below is a categorized list of topics you should expect to encounter. Think of this as the table of contents to a rather thorough GRE math syllabus.

GRE Math Topics


Basic operations/order of operations

Exponents and radicals/powers and roots

Units digit cycles

Fractions, decimals, percents, ratios

Absolute Value

Place value


Number Properties

Even and odd properties




Least Common Multiple (LCM) and Greatest Common Factor (GCF)


Prime numbers/prime factors/prime factorization

Arithmetic series properties


Linear (first-degree) equations

Quadratic (second-degree) equations

Foiling and factoring quadratics



Sequences and series

Applied Problems


Combinatorics (combinations and permutations)

Percentage change and profit/loss


Age problems


Rate/work /time



Polygons and sum of interior angles: 180(n – 2)

Quadrilateral types (parallelogram, trapezoid, rectangle, square) and area formulas

Triangles types (equilateral, isosceles, scalene, right) and area formulas

Pythagorean theorem

Special right triangles and Pythagorean triples

Circles and formulas for area and circumference

Arcs and sectors


Rectangular prisms

Area and perimeter

Volume and surface area

Similarity and congruence

Angles at intersections of lines

Coordinate Geometry


X and Y intercepts

Line equations and slope-intercept form (y = mx + b)

Graphs of functions

Midpoint and distance between points


Mean, median, and mode

Standard deviation


Quartiles and interquartile range

Normal distributions

You can use this list as a starting point to gauge how much learning (and relearning) you’ll have to do on the quantitative side of your GRE preparation. If any of these topics are only half-remembered or only vaguely familiar, you’ll have to do a fair bit of studying. If you are still well-versed in the majority of these topics, you may have a good head start on GRE quant. But note that this is simply a list of topics, not an exhaustive list of terms and formulas you must know.

A cheat sheet of formulas – without accompanying explanations – is actually less helpful than you might think, and the explanations of all the formulas you should know for GRE quant are too lengthy for these articles. We provide you with a handy glossary of terms to know as you begin your preparation for the GRE quantitative sections.

If you are interested in speaking with one of our GRE private tutors, you can sign-up for a complimentary, 30-minute free consultation callYou can also learn more from our past clients who were able to achieve their cumulative 325+ score with us!

Contributor: Elijah Mize (Apex GRE Instructor)

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Posted on
Dec 2022

GRE Analytical Writing Measure: What to Expect and How to Prepare

Before you begin your battery of Quantitative Reasoning and Verbal Reasoning sections on the GRE, you will have to complete the GRE Analytical Writing measure. Read on to learn about this important section of the test and for useful preparation tips.

The GRE Analytical Writing measure has two tasks timed at thirty minutes each. The first task asks you to “analyze an issue” by taking a position on a brief statement. For this task, you will have to construct your own argument in support of your position. Here is a sample Analyze an Issue task:

As people rely more and more on technology to solve problems, the ability of humans to think for themselves will surely deteriorate.

Discuss the extent to which you agree or disagree with the statement and explain your reasoning for the position you take. In developing and supporting your position, you should consider ways in which the statement might or might not hold true and explain how these considerations shape your position.

While the instructions following the prompt provide a general direction for your essay, this task is very open-ended. You can probably imagine many ways to address the issue and many points on both sides. The best way to sort through all this is to be authentic about your opinion. Don’t search for what you are supposed to write; write your actual thoughts and views about the issue, and then explain and defend them. Remember, you will not be scored on whether you have a certain “correct” opinion or analysis – you will be scored on how well you explain and defend your position. So take the position you actually believe and for which you can make the best case.

Some writers fall into the trap of remaining ambivalent about the issue. You should never simply discuss the points on both sides as an impartial observer. The instructions in this sample did tell you to “consider ways in which the statement might or might not hold true,” but they began by telling you to “discuss the extent to which you agree or disagree with the statement.” You will have to come down on one side or the other, even if the extent to which you agree (or disagree) is not especially far from the “center” of neither agreeing nor disagreeing. Take a side. Remember, you won’t be penalized for doing so. You will be penalized if you fail to do so.

The second task of the GRE Analytical Writing measure asks you to “analyze an argument,” providing you with a short paragraph in which an author supports their own position on an issue. For this task, you will not construct your own argument but critique the argument in the prompt, identifying the assumptions and facts upon which it relies for strength and validity. Here is a sample Analyze an Argument task:

In surveys Mason City residents rank water sports (swimming, boating, and fishing) among their favorite recreational activities. The Mason River flowing through the city is rarely used for these pursuits, however, and the city park department devotes little of its budget to maintaining riverside recreational facilities. For years there have been complaints from residents about the quality of the river’s water and the river’s smell. In response, the state has recently announced plans to clean up Mason River. Use of the river for water sports is, therefore, sure to increase. The city government should for that reason devote more money in this year’s budget to riverside recreational facilities.

Write a response in which you examine the stated and/or unstated assumptions of the argument. Be sure to explain how the argument depends on the assumptions and what the implications are if the assumptions prove unwarranted.

You can probably see some of the assumptions behind this argument’s assertion that use of the river for water sports is “sure to increase” (“sure” is such a strong word!) and its recommendation that the city government “devote more money in this year’s budget to riverside recreational facilities.” This argument is plagued by “what ifs.” First of all, what if the state doesn’t follow through on its plans to “clean up” Mason River? Anyone who assumes that state governments always follow through on their plans probably doesn’t live in the real world. What if the state follows through on its plans, but the “clean up” project improves neither the river’s water quality nor its smell? What if these things improve, but the residents of Mason City don’t increase their use of the river for water sports because they prefer to swim, boat, and fish in a more rural setting? What if the residents increase their use of the river for water sports but do so without increasing their use of the riverside recreational facilities? Are the facilities in question even connected to water sports? Or are they parks or amphitheaters or walking/cycling paths? Even if these facilities are connected to water sports, what if an increase in the use of these facilities doesn’t lead to an increase in the cost of maintaining them?

A list of “what ifs” like this one is not a good essay, but it’s a good demonstration of the assumptions that the instructions asked you to identify. You would want to write an essay about how the argument simply assumes that all of these loosely-connected logical dominoes will fall, explaining the consequences in the event that one of them doesn’t fall (or, as the instructions put it, “the implications if the assumptions prove unwarranted”).

Official prompts available as practice/prep material for the GRE Analytical Writing measure are few and far between, but don’t despair – you can practice by writing essays on any issue or any argument you come across! The exact nature of the prompts and instructions is less important than the core skills of clearly expressing your well-reasoned view (Analyze an Issue) and clearly discussing the assumptions or weaknesses of an argument (Analyze an Argument). In the age of media and social media, arguments are everywhere. You can’t avoid them. If you are watching a show or reading an article about sports, politics, entertainment, food, or virtually anything else, you will encounter opinions backed up, with varying degrees of skill and success, by arguments. Superhero movies are canned experiences that have long since passed their sell-by date. Sushi is the best food. The Jacksonville Jaguars will be a top-five team in the NFL within five years. That one candidate representing that one party should not be running for office again. For one or more of these statements, you can probably say immediately whether you agree or disagree with it, and to what extent. If you clearly express the reasons why you agree or disagree, you’re analyzing an issue. If you critique the points and premises used by the speaker or writer in support of the statement, you’re analyzing an argument. You will never run out of practice material.

Each writing task will be scored on a range from 0 to 6 in half-point increments, both by a person and by a program, with the two scores being averaged. If the scores given by the person and by the program are significantly different, another person will take the place of the program, and the two human-generated scores will be averaged. (This person/program scoring approach is the same as on the GMAT). Once each of the two tasks has its averaged score, those two scores are in turn averaged into your final Analytical Writing score.

If you are uncertain about your writing skills and concerned about how your essays would be scored, the official GRE prep platform on the ETS website offers services for having your Analytical Writing essays scored by the program used in the scoring process described above. You can purchase this service a la carte or along with a full official practice test. Don’t write essays before purchasing this service, either alone or as part of a practice test; you will be provided with prompts and timed as you write essays responding to them.

Your goal should be to become so skilled in writing these essays that the act doesn’t tire you out mentally. You still have five sections of Quantitative Reasoning and Verbal Reasoning (the “real” GRE) after your one-hour Analytical Writing measure! Even if the Analytical Writing score is less important than the quant and verbal scores, you should practice writing enough to still be at your sharpest for the more important sections of the test.

If you are interested in speaking with one of our GRE private tutors, you can sign-up for a complimentary, 30-minute consultation call. You can also learn more from our past clients who were able to achieve their cumulative 325+ score with us!

Contributor: Elijah Mize (Apex GRE Instructor)

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GRE Quantitative Reasoning: A Glossary of Math Terms
Posted on
Nov 2022

GRE Quantitative Reasoning: A Glossary of Math Terms

Have you begun studying for the GRE quantitative reasoning sections? Are you being held up by the recurring appearance of math terms whose definitions you don’t fully understand? We are here to help! Read through our glossary of math terms to know for GRE quantitative reasoning.

If you really need help learning these terms, consider turning them into a flashcard deck. (We would provide you with one of these, too, but the act of making your own flashcards is half the benefit.) And if you really need help getting ready for the GRE quantitative reasoning sections, sign up for a free consultation call with one of our expert instructors.

GRE Geometry Terms

Acute angle – an angle of less than 90 degrees

Area – a measure of the two-dimensional space enclosed by a circle or polygon

Bisect – to divide into two equal lengths or areas

Complementary – of two angles with a sum of 90 degrees

Congruent – having the same shape and size (for polygons, sides, or angles)

Coordinate plane – the two-dimensional grid network formed by the X and Y axes

Cube – a regular rectangular prism (each of the six sides is a square)

Cylinder – a prism with circular ends

Equidistant – of two points, being the same distance from another point or line

Interior angle – an angle inside a polygon formed by two sides meeting at a vertex

Intersect(ion) – of two lines, to meet and cross, or the point at which two lines meet and cross

Obtuse angle – and angle more than 90 degrees and less than 180 degrees

Parallel – lines, segments, or sides that run exactly the same direction

Perimeter – the distance around a polygon, the sum of the lengths of its sides

Perpendicular –  lines, segments, or sides that meet or would meet at a 90-degree angle

Polygon – an enclosed shape of line segments (sides) meeting at angles

Prism – a solid made by adding height/depth to a circle or polygon

Regular – of a polygon, having sides of equal length and angles of equal measure

Rectangular prism – a box of six rectangular sides

Reflex angle – an angle greater than 180 degrees and less than 360 degrees

Right angle – a 90-degree angle

Similar – having the same shape but not necessarily the same size (for polygons)

Slope – the “steepness” of a line, its ratio of upward “motion” to rightward “motion”

Solid – a three-dimensional shape

Supplementary – of two angles with a sum of 180 degrees

Vertex – a point on a polygon where two sides meet

Volume – a measure of the three-dimensional space enclosed by or taken up by a solid

X-axis – the horizontal axis of the coordinate plane

X-intercept – a point at which a line or graph crosses the x-axis

Y-axis– the vertical axis of the coordinate plane

Y-intercept – a point at which a line or graph crosses the y-axis


Arc – a segment of a circle’s circumference

Central angle – an angle formed between a circle’s center and two points on its edge

Circumference – the distance around a circle

Diameter – the longest distance across a circle (through the center)

Radius –  the distance from a circle’s center to its edge

Sector – a “pie slice” of a circle created by a central angle


Parallelogram – opposite sides parallel and of equal length

Rectangle – angles each 90 degrees, opposite sides of equal length

Square – angles each 90 degrees, sides of equal length

Trapezoid – one set of parallel sides


30-60-90 – a right triangle with angle measures of 30, 60, and 90 degrees

45-45-90 – a right isosceles triangle (with angle measures of 45, 45, and 90 degrees)

Base – the length of a side perpendicular to a height

Equilateral – all sides are the same length

Height – the measure of perpendicular distance from a side designated as a base to the vertex opposite

Hypotenuse – the longest side of a right triangle, across from the 90-degree angle

Isosceles – two sides are the same length, and the third side is a different length

Legs – the two shorter sides of a right triangle, meeting at the 90-degree angle

Right – one angle is 90 degrees

Scalene – no sides are the same length

GRE Arithmetic/Algebra Terms

Absolute value – a value’s distance from zero (always positive)

Base – a value or variable being raised to a power by a notated exponent

Coefficient – in an expression or equation, a value in multiplication with a variable

Constant – in an expression or equation, a value not in multiplication or division with any variable

Denominator – the lower part of a fraction

Equation – a mathematical “statement” of the equivalent value of two expressions

Exponent – a superscripted value or variable indicating the power to which a given base is to be raised

Expression – mathematical notation of operations to be performed between values and variables

Index – a value or variable used in conjunction with a radical to indicate the root to be taken from a given value or variable

Inequality – a mathematical “statement” of the comparative values of two or more expressions

Numerator – the upper part of a fraction

Power – a number of times for a given value to be multiplied by itself

Radical – a symbol used to indicate a specified root of a given value or variable

Reciprocal – the “flip” of a fraction, or the fraction resulting when a value or variable is made the denominator of a fraction with a numerator of 1

Root – a value that, when raised to a specified power, equals a given value

Units digit – the digit in the “ones place,” the digit immediately to the left of the decimal

Variable – an “unknown” or “replaceable” value, represented by an italicized English or, sometimes, Greek letter

GRE Number Properties Terms

Arithmetic sequence – a sequence of values differing from one to the next by the same amount, equidistant on a number line (6, 8, 10, 12, 14) (27, 35, 43, 51, 59)

Divisible – able to be divided evenly into a given number of groups or pieces

Divisor – in integer by which a given integer is divisible (interchangeable with factor)

Even – an integer divisible by 2 (a multiple of 2, but 0 is also even)

Factor – an integer that, when multiplied by some integer, produces a given value (interchangeable with divisor)

Geometric sequence – a series of values changing by the same factor from one to the next (5, 15, 45, 135, 405) (8, 32, 128, 512, 2048)

Greatest common factor – the largest integer that is a factor of each integer in a given set

Integer – a whole number (whether positive, negative or 0)

Multiple – an integer that is divisible by a given integer (15, 84, and 321 are multiples of 3)

Least common multiple – the smallest integer that is a multiple of each integer in a given set

Odd – an integer nor divisible by 2 (not a multiple of 2)

Prime number – a number with no factors besides 1 and itself

Remainder – the number left over or left out when an integer does not divide evenly into a given number of groups (17 / 5 has remainder 2 because if 17 things are split into 5 equal groups (of 3), 2 things will be left over)

GRE Statistics Terms

Mean – the value that results from dividing the sum of the values in a data set by the number of values in the set (sometimes “arithmetic mean”)

Median – the “middle value” in a data set, or, in the case of an even number of values, the mean of the two middle values (1, 1, 2, 3, 5 has median 2;   1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21 has median 4)

Mode – the value with the most instances or occurrences in a data set

Percentile – a measure of the percentage of values in a data set that are equal to or less than a given value (in a data set comprising the integers from 1 through 100, inclusive, 34 is at the 34th percentile, 79 is at the 79th percentile)

Quartiles – the values at the 25th, 50th, 75, and 100th percentiles: Q1, Q2, Q3, and Q4, respectively (in a data set comprising the integers from 1 through 100, inclusive, Q1 is 25, Q2 is 50, Q3 is 75, and Q4 is 100)

Range – the difference between the highest and lowest values in a data set

Standard deviation – the average (positive) amount by which a value in a data set differs from the mean of the set.

If you are interested in speaking with one of our GRE private tutors, you can sign-up for a complimentary, 30-minute consultation call. You can also learn more from our past clients who were able to achieve their cumulative 325+ score with us!

Contributor: Elijah Mize (Apex GRE Instructor)

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GRE Test Dates 2022-2023
Posted on
Oct 2022

GRE Test Dates 2022-2023

If you’re thinking about taking the GRE, it’s important to know when the test is offered. The GRE is offered throughout the year, so there are plenty of test dates to choose from. 

GRE Test Dates: How often is the GRE offered?

The GRE has two testing options – at home or in a test center.

if you decide to take the GRE at home, 24/7 with testing dates available around the clock.

Things to consider:

  • The GRE at-home test option is not available in China and Iran.
  • You can take the GRE every 21 days if you need to. If you’re not happy with your GRE score, you can always retake the test.
  • The GRE at-home exam is identical to an exam that you would sit for at a testing center.

if you decide to take the GRE at a testing center, you can choose to take a paper-based exam or a computer-based one, which most people do. For computer-based exams, testing dates are widely available at your convenience, except on national holidays and weekends.

For a paper-based exam, there are select testing dates for 2022-2023. The registration started on July 1, 2022. All the dates are listed below.

Keep in mind that paper-based exam is not available in all test centers.

All dates shown are (MM/DD/YYYY).

For Paper-Based Testing in the United States and Puerto Rico:

Test Date Regular Deadline Late Deadline *
09/17/2022 08/12/2022 08/19/2022
10/29/2022 09/23/2022 09/30/2022
04/08/2023 03/03/2023 03/10/2023

*Late registration is available for online registration only for a fee of US$25.

For Paper-Based Testing in All Other Locations, Including U.S. Territories:

Test Date Regular Deadline Late Deadline *
09/17/2022 08/05/2022 08/12/2022
10/29/2022 09/16/2022 09/23/2022
04/08/2023 02/24/2023 03/03/2023

*Late registration is available for online registration only for a fee of US$25.

To register for the GRE you need to create an ETS account, and you need to provide a method of payment and a passport or an ID. You can choose to request ETS disability services.

If you are interested in speaking with one of our GRE tutors, you can sign-up for a complimentary, 30-minute, consultation call. You can also learn more from our past clients who were able to achieve their cumulative 325+ score with us!

Contributor: Cynthia Addoumieh

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GRE Stress
Posted on
Sep 2021

How To Keep Your Sanity While Preparing For The GRE

By: ApexGRE
Contributor: Nemrout Safarian
Date: September 24, 2021

The Hows:
1. Taking a GRE Preparation Course
2. Creating an Effective Study Schedule
3. Controlling Your Emotions
4. Maintaining Connection to Your Support Team
5. Resting and Getting Good Sleep
6. Celebrating Your Big and Little Achievements
7. Meditate
8. Doing Things You Love

Experiencing too much anxiety over the GRE Exam might cause a negative impact on your mental health and make it difficult for you to keep your sanity. Moreover, it might even make it more challenging to concentrate when studying and disrupt your sleep schedule. However, with the correct test stress and anxiety-busting tactics, as well as an effective studying schedule, your GRE exam preparation may become much simpler.

Here are 8 tips we recommend in order to make your GRE exam preparation stress-free and effective.

1. Take a GRE Preparation Course

Everyone’s GRE story is different. Some people can get a high score based on everything they already know, without opening a GRE book. But, for most students, a preparation course or one-on-one prep time with a GRE personal tutor is necessary for two reasons: first, it puts you in the right direction in terms of exam content, strategies, solution paths, and tactics to tackle problems, by helping you structure a concrete and designated studying plan; secondly, it makes you feel much more confident and emotionally calm, as you work with a trustworthy and an experienced professional who knows the ins and outs of the exam and preparation for it, and can assist you with anything necessary throughout the process. Apex GRE, for example, offers complimentary consultation calls for interested individuals, looking for structured and personalized GRE preparation. 

2. Create an Effective Study Schedule

Don’t wait for the perfect time to take the GRE. This moment may never reveal itself! Life will always throw you curveballs and can end up curtailing well-thought-out plans. Situations may arise which may interfere with your GRE preparation. During your GRE prep, you should take the extra effort to harmonize any unexpected situations with your study schedule. One effective method you could try is to divide your studying schedule into multiple time frames throughout the day so that you can concentrate in smaller doses rather than studying for 5-7 hours straight and losing your ever so vital focus. Study the materials during the weekdays and devote some part of your weekend to practice tests where necessary. Those, in turn, will help you to assess your progress and help you to understand your main strengths and weaknesses.

3. Control Your Emotions

At some point, the GRE will stress you out, making you feel disappointed and frustrated. This is natural! Whether it is an unsatisfactory score on a practice test or the feeling of giving up, the GRE can make it easy to have an emotional breakdown. However, it is important to be able to take control of your emotions, and have a “never a failure, always a lesson” attitude. Every time you make a mistake, try to dive deep into that specific concept and figure out why you made that particular mistake, and learn from it. This is exactly how you make progress. Whenever you feel like you can’t go on anymore, remember your goals and aspirations, and that this test is a key to the completion of those. With the proper frame of mind, you will find yourself studying again in no time.

4. Maintain a Connection to Your Support Team

The people you communicate with during your GRE preparation process are very important and can hugely affect your frame of mind. Try not to isolate yourself too much from them, spending your whole time in your room cracking all those GRE books and practice tests. Instead, spend time with the people whose presence is pleasing to you, who support and believe in you – whether it’s your family, your best friend, or the new acquaintance that has no idea what the GRE even is. Constant communication with the people you love will positively affect your overall mentality and help you stay positive when preparing for the test.

5. Get Some Rest and Good Sleep

Another essential thing to remember is to arrange your sleeping schedule. When you need to get up at a certain time, subtract half an hour from the number of hours you wish to sleep. This time becomes the designated moment for turning off the lights. The extra half-hour is crucial, as we frequently overlook the time it takes to get ready for bed, set the alarm clock, and so on. This being said, be cautious as to what you are eating or drinking as an unhealthy diet can negatively affect your sleep schedule. Although the effects of caffeine may differ from person to person, try to avoid all sources of caffeine after 3 p.m. and modify accordingly. Aside from coffee, caffeine is found in a variety of foods and drinks, including tea, chocolate, and carbonated beverages. However, there are benefits to caffeine products when consumed thoughtfully. 

6. Celebrate Your Big and Little Achievements

Your GRE preparation process aims to help you reach your goals! Reward yourself a little – take a moment and celebrate your achievements – whether it is seeing progress on practice test scores or a complicated Math concept that you finally mastered. It will help you feel more positive and confident about your overall knowledge and skills and be brave enough to challenge yourself with tougher concepts. As you progress down your GRE journey, be sure to celebrate your short- and long-term accomplishments.  These moments of celebration will undoubtedly assist you in keeping yourself on top of your game.

7. Meditate

Studying hard and spending time on your GRE study materials is very important. However, you need to keep in mind that during this process, your mind should be at ease as much as possible, and mediation can provide you with that!

The goal of a study done by Santa Barbara academics was to find an answer to the question of whether meditation can increase students’ test scores on a test. The researchers gave a group of students a two-week mindfulness training course to determine if effective mindfulness practices may help them perform better. Following the program, participants were required to take a GRE reading comprehension test. The test takers who followed the mindfulness training protocol fared better on their examinations, with considerably higher average marks, according to the researchers. So, you can be sure that by meditating you will definitely improve your overall performance on the test.

8. Doing Things You Love

Nothing can ever make you happier than doing what you love. Whether it’s singing, dancing to your new favorite pop song, or watching movies, you should devote some time to distracting yourself from studying by doing the things you enjoy. Not only will this help you not to feel pressured and overwhelmed by all those GRE materials, but it will also make you feel much more energetic, full of life, and HAPPY. These are absolutely necessary for you to perform as well as possible on your GRE test.

Good luck studying and remember to believe in yourself!

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GRE Guide
Posted on
Sep 2021

9 Daily Practices For GRE Success

By: ApexGMAT
Contributor: Ruzanna Mirzoyan
Date: September 10, 2021


1. Visualize success and the value you will get in the end
2. Review the GRE sections
3. Set a time limit for each day
4. Do not forget to reward yourself
5. Forget about the target score only focus on improvement
6. Give yourself a pep talk
7. Be your own critic
8. Strategy is important
9. Be confident and remember that everything is in your hands


     Studying for the GRE exam can be an extensive burden on your shoulders, especially if you are a non-native English speaker. For making your time manageable, you definitely need to come up with a study plan. So how do you design one that works? The paramount thing that you should consider is keeping you on track and studying not less than intended. You need to have specific goals for each day to become more accountable for your daily actions. We offer 9 tips for GRE test preparation that will help you address your lowest and weakest points. Even though every individual taking the exam has different expectations, you should gain greater focus by prioritizing your day along with GRE preparation. Sticking to a daily routine is an integral part of life; the most difficult thing is adhering to it, avoiding procrastination, and maintaining motivation. Therefore, after learning all the exam basics, such as the timing, the sections, and the preparation materials, it is worth creating a checklist by using our recommended tips.

1. Visualize success and the value you will get in the end

The thought of success can create happiness! Once we attain something that seemed hard initially, the suspense wears off, and the excitement rapidly comes in. By taking time every day to imagine achieving your goal you can stay motivated and on the right path. When we experience happiness our brain releases serotonin, the hormone responsible for happiness. By keeping the picture of accomplishment in our mind’s eye each time, the happiness never fades away. Hence, if every day contains even a tiny drop of happiness, even the most complex struggles seem to be a joy. Whether the GRE exam is a struggle or not, happiness and motivation are something that one undoubtedly always lacks. Do your best to look at the bigger picture and think of the steps that will expedite reaching the top.

2. Review the GRE sections

As GRE might imply struggles and confusion in your head because of your previous lack of math or verbal knowledge, by reviewing sections daily you need to make sure that the question types and the overall format are a piece of cake at the end. Whether you have a private GRE tutor or are studying on your own, be sure to review the format every day before going through your study materials. You may do short quizzes on analytical writing, verbal or quantitative reasonings to keep pace with timing and question types. You can consider this form of revision as stretching your brain muscles before the main exercise. Doing a simple GRE quiz each time will make you more cautious about time management and remind you about the type of questions that might pop up afterward. You can even shortly look into some question types from the unscored section to acquaint yourself with the question types.

3. Set a time limit for each day

As it is said, time is the only non-redeemable commodity, so proper allocation is a fundamental key to success. Hence, determining how much time you exactly need to allocate each day will foster productivity and make you avoid GRE burnout. Try to study every day at the same time by finding the right spot in the day when your brain picks up and retains the most out of the bunch of materials and information, which rapidly sinks in. You can even think of studying some time for weekday preparation and extending on the weekends. Just know that GRE preparation takes around from 4 to 20 weeks in general. As the hour allocation differs from person to person, it can range from 5-6 hours per week to 2-3 hours a day or even 120 hours studying ten hours a week. The answer here is that it depends. You may even do quizzes for testing your knowledge to define a daily hour limit. You can search for a large number of those quizzes on the internet. Besides, ensure the limit you set for yourself is reasonable because procrastinating one day and doubling the hours the next day does not seem plausible. It does not matter how many months you have on your hands; the significant thing is precise allocation. Remember that time is the most expensive investment you are making. Never forget that your study-life balance should be of utmost importance. 

4. Do not forget to reward yourself

It is no secret that the GRE, besides being burdensome and overwhelming, is also not considered to be an ordinary exam. This is why you cannot exhaust yourself by wasting time without scheduling mind gainful breaks. Sometimes your body just needs to do nothing for the sake of evading GRE scoring plateaus. Even though this might sound counter-intuitive, there are times when you need to prepare without studying. Therefore, not having small rewards in front of you every day will drain your energy. As GRE is mainly concept-focused and tests your understanding of certain structures and techniques, breaks ease your mind allowing better integration and memorization of concepts. Those rewards are things and rejuvenate your broken concentration. You can try something like the Pomodoro Technique. This technique helps break down time into intervals with short breaks. Instead of breaks, you can think of something ‘non-GRE related’ that will make you regain focus. For example, by grabbing a quick snack, meditating, or walking around the house. Even though small rewards are significant, the GRE strategy also involves a larger reward; a big break. As depleting yourself over some time is a grind on your body and mind, even leading to serious fatigue, taking a break for one or two days can sometimes be the best action. Whichever works best for you, make use of it; even those brief respites retain your stamina. Finally, never forget about the grandiose reward; your final score. During small daily rewards or even larger breaks, always remind yourself of the one thing you are putting arduous effort into. Remember possible competition; maybe your friends are also preparing, think about the bragging rights after you have a successful finish! 

5. Forget about the target score, only focus on improvement

GRE preparation practices do generate plight both in physical and mental states. It is crucial to remind oneself of the improvement phases. We agree that everything you are going through is for the final score, but focusing too much on it deteriorates the mental support you could get by concentrating on what you are gaining from that infuriating experience. All successful practices dictate that you should focus on one thing at a time, which improves every day until the exam day. When the exam day comes, you will utilize all the knowledge and effort to get the highest GRE score possible. Keeping daily track of your improvements relieves some of the weight. Even the tiniest advantage acquired can be a game-changer. For instance, finishing each section a minute earlier than before will eventually contribute to achieving more significant results on the exam day. 

6. Give yourself a pep talk 

I am sure you receive a lot of support from the people surrounding you. However, self-encouragement is of the utmost importance. Look around, see what others are doing at your age and inspire yourself. Choose wisely between the tradeoffs. Such as choosing to study instead of partying. Giving a short talk to yourself every day will make you more enthusiastic about reaching your objectives. A recent scientific study has shown that talking to yourself dwindles anxiety and stress while boosting performance. This is no less true for exam and test prep. Give yourself motivational and instructional speeches and reiterate the same order daily. Both methods promote positivity as motivational talks cheer you up and keep up the eagerness to study and strive for more, while self-instructional talk directs detail-orientation and accentuates what exactly you need to do for that particular day. For example, start every day by loudly stating what should be done for the day. It helps with thinking about the mechanisms of every individual task and visualizing methods to complete them correspondingly. 

7. Be your own critic

Of course, you need all the encouragement and self-support to reach your goals, but especially during GRE exam preparation, you need to criticize yourself. If you need a 330+ GRE score, you should be aware that it will not come effortlessly. Give yourself credit on what you are doing right, but also consider aspects of the GRE problems that you need to elaborate on and master additional skills. The GRE is not the only requirement in applying to an MBA program. Top graduate schools do not come easy, which is why learning to grow from the beginning will come in handy even after taking the GRE and being admitted to the desired university. The dominant thing is separating the action from the person because you are criticizing your actions and not you as a person; you should not humiliate yourself, detect the triggers of low performance and failure and make yourself accountable for such actions. Ultimately, the ability to discern your flaws and work on personal evolution is an inherent quality for capacitating your abilities and aptitudes and pulling it off in life. 

8. Strategy is important 

As you already might know from applying to an undergraduate program, preparing for a test that measures your critical, analytical, and problem-solving abilities is bothersome. Coming up with a plan puts you on a strategic path. Your organization efficiency and strategizing skills will be the first and foremost things to aid in your success and aim. You need to think like you are taking the test in 12 hours for example. Which sections would you work on the most? How fast can you adapt yourself to the exam pace? In order to have the answers to these questions, you must spend huge amounts of time on your strategy review and have a clear mindset on what you are working on.

9. Be confident and remember that everything is in your hands

Have you ever thought about the law of attraction? It is basically a belief that everything you imagine is accomplishable. As positive thoughts bring in positive outcomes you should believe in yourself. Of course, maintaining a solid focus on your weaknesses is important, but you should intuitively know that you are the one who is capable of transforming weaknesses into strengths. Sometimes during practice tests and even the exam, you can trust your gut feeling, because if you have studied enough your instincts may sometimes subconsciously rationalize your final decision. So whenever your consciousness hesitates, the subconscious mind comes into play by literally forcing you to choose the correct answer. Just make sure to dedicate enough of yourself to set up a study and practice plan for executing some of the most significant strategies. The thing is to never doubt confidence and face the situation with your head up. 


We do understand that you may be struggling with GRE preparation. However, make sure to follow our recommendations. Create a daily checklist and think of other tips that may be useful to you. GRE prep will help you use time more productively and make you become strategic. Of course, physical preparation is essential, but the mental direction is just as important, as you need to have the mental focus on your goal and the determination of how you will reach it. Whether you have a GRE private tutor or not, you are your tutor, and it is on you to maintain motivation during the entire process and ace the exam. We suggest you develop a GRE strategy along with these nine tips to attain greater productivity, address your weaker points, and eventually manifest superb performance. Make studying for the GRE a daily habit, and keep yourself posted on the GRE advice, techniques, and instructions APEX always provides you with as concentrating only on the score will not amplify the methods and techniques you use to approach each question. Building up more practice is something that will retain your track and focus.

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GRE Studying
Posted on
Mar 2021

How to GRE: Efficient Learning

By: Apex GMAT
Contributor: Ivan Minchev
Date:  March 1, 2021

Studying can be a daunting task for many, especially when there is a limited amount of time, and when the exam – like the GRE – isn’t a standard standardized test. Lack of interest (it’s ok to admit it… not everyone is as excited as we are about the GRE), stress, and exhaustion can be distractions that hinder one’s concentration and progress. There are a myriad studying techniques out there to tackle these obstacles, with some more effective than others. This is why this list of 8 studying tips is aimed to assist you in preparing for the GRE in the most efficient manner possible.

1. Avoid Last-minute Cramming

Make sure you have enough prep time before the exam: our tutors recommend spending about 90-120 days on your GRE preparation from start to finish. Shorter time frames can work too, but if you can, give yourself the privilege of not having to rush.

Last-minute cramming is the most inefficient way of preparing for an exam, and can be counterproductive for the GRE, which tests your flexibility, not your knowledge. Cramming can result in added stress and anxiety, which can further detract from your performance. Moreover, the GRE doesn’t lend itself to cramming, meaning that you’ll need to dedicate some time to get used to its format, the types of questions, and most importantly the skills required to tackle the test to achieve a successful outcome.

2. Designate A “Study Spot”

Find a place where you feel relaxed, but alert – cozy but serious, without the presence of any stress-inducing or distracting factors. Be sure to keep your spot clean and tidy, and only use it for studying or similar mental work. The more you become accustomed to studying in your spot the easier it will be to transition into ‘study’ mode and you’ll be able to get the optimal yield of your GRE prep time.

3. Listen To Music (Optional)

Some people don’t fancy studying in silence, while others do. In fact, many people find it harder to concentrate due to the lack of background noise. The solution is simple – music. Play some calm background music to go with the study session. The genre depends solely on one’s musical tastes but typically jazz, lo-fi hip-hop, and classical music are go-to’s. Try to focus on instrumental music and avoid anything distracting.

Keep in mind that on the GRE itself no music is permitted, so your use of music is only to get into a flow state for studying. This means that on the GRE you’ll most certainly have to contend with annoying noises that you’d typically not notice. Especially when the testing room is silent and crowded, even the smallest of noises can become irritating. To counter this, also try studying in places that mimic the test environment in this negative sense. Total silence on test day is not a realistic expectation.

4. Don’t Forget To Rest

Taking a break is an essential component of progress. When somebody works out, they don’t train for 3 hours straight without any rest. Build a routine. Determine the best and most productive time of the day to study and take regular breaks to let your brain rest. For most people mid-morning and mid-evening are peak times for productivity in this regard. When preparing for the GRE try to spend 45 minutes to 1 hour and 15-minute units.

good night’s sleep is also crucial for a sharp mind, especially with mentally exhausting tasks such as the GRE. However tempting it might be to stay up late at night, not getting enough sleep will lower a person’s ability to concentrate and will greatly hinder your brain’s functionality when the time to study comes around. In fact, sleep has been shown in many scientific studies to be essential for long term retention of information and new ways of doing things, meaning that a good night’s sleep can actually be more valuable than a few more hours of studying.

5. Maintain A Healthy Diet

Food has an enormous impact on energy levels and focus; two things essential for success on the GRE. Keep your brain fueled by snacking on healthy and nutritious food.

Ideally, snacks should be slow energy release foods, such as nuts, some fruits like blueberries, green vegetables (avocados, broccoli, spinach, celery), yogurt, and even high protein foods like fish and eggs.

Avoid junk food, especially things that will cause fluctuations in your blood sugar. Also watch out for highly processed products (chocolate, cookies, doughnuts, and even fruit juice). Such food might give your body an energy surge for a while, but a crash will follow soon after.

6. Hydrate 

Just as eating the right way is of vital importance, staying hydrated is equally essential. Around 60% of the human body is water, with the brain being composed of almost 73% water. While this isn’t a scientific argument, numerous studies point out that in order to retain a higher level of focus and cognition, the brain, and the human connected to it, needs to be well hydrated. Make sure to drink enough water during study sessions and exam day. On test day, be sure to be hydrated, but don’t get stuck having to “go” in the middle of the test. There is nothing as distracting and hindering performance as being under pressure.

7. Try To Explain New Concepts Out Loud And In A Clear Way

As soon as a new strategy, concept, or technique is learned you should try to explain it out loud as if trying to teach it to someone else. Better yet, find someone to teach! And this doesn’t only apply to GRE prep but to efficient learning in general. This is a great way to make sure that it is thoroughly understood and can be successfully implemented. It also forces you to develop a vocabulary so that you can speak to yourself about a challenging problem in a productive way. Try doing this multiple times until you are able to explain it so effortlessly that another person can grasp it without much trouble. This is easier said than done but will accelerate your preparation immensely, even if imperfectly implemented.

8. Learn From Your Mistakes

Go over past GRE practice tests and redo them to see if there are still problematic sections that need extra focus. Keep track of past and current scores to measure progress more comfortably, and maintain an error log to track the types of problems that challenge you most frequently, as well as those that you understand but tend to sink a lot of time into due to inefficient solution paths.


Well, there you have it: 8 great techniques to enhance your study time. This isn’t a comprehensive list, though. Always actively try out new tactics to find what works best for you. At the end of the day, everybody has a unique way of learning, and your strategies should reflect your unique approach. If you have difficulty figuring out what works best for you and are in need of some guidance on your GRE prep journey you can schedule a complimentary call here

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