Posted on
21
Jun 2022

Everything You Need to Know About the GRE Analytical Writing Assessment

If you are currently prepping for your GRE or want to do so soon, this article is just what you are looking for. Knowing your test’s sections will give you an overview of how you should prepare and divide your time. Not to mention, getting a glimpse of what’s to come on your exam day will for sure help put your nerves at ease.

Today’s headliner is the GRE’s Analytical Writing Section. Continue reading to get introduced to the third section in the GRE.

Today’s main topics to be discussed will be the following:

  1. What is the GRE Exam?
  2. What is the GRE Analytical Writing Assessment Section?
    • What is this section testing?
    • What is this section made up of?
      • Analyze an Issue
      • Analyze an Argument
      • Duration
    • What are the GRE Analytical Writing Assessment Section scores like?
      • Score Percentile 2021
    • Apex’s GRE Analytical Writing Assessment Section Studying tips

What is the GRE Exam?

The GRE, also known as, The Graduate Record Examinations, is a standardized exam done for the sake of testing the test-taker’s ability to think outside the box when it comes to analytical writing, mathematics, and vocabulary. The majority of GRE test takers are students looking into Business Schools and in some cases Law Schools and also students considering  Master’s (M.A., M.S., M.Ed.), MBA’s, or Doctorate (Ph.D., Ed.D.).

This GRE test consists of three main sections. These sections being Quantitative, Verbal, and Analytical Writing Assessment Section. 

All these sections’ scores will, later on, sum up and make a minimum total of 260 and a maximum total of 340. 

What is the GRE Analytical Writing Assessment Section?

Now that the bigger picture is clear, let’s talk about our main focus for today, The Analytical Writing Assessment Section.

This section aims to test your ability to critically think and write analytically. It also aims to assess your skills when it comes to articulating, supporting complex ideas, constructing and evaluating arguments, alongside your ability to discuss coherently. 

The GRE Analytical Writing Assessment has two separately timed tasks. These two different sections are:

    • Analyze an Issue task
    • Analyze an Argument task

Now, let’s break down these two different tasks asked of the GRE test-taker to complete. 

Analyze an Issue task

In this task you are given a particular point of view on a specific issue, which is then followed by instructions on how to respond to that issue. You are expected to evaluate the issue at hand while considering its complexities. You should also develop and present an argument, backing it up with reasoning and examples.  

This task in specific aims to assess your ability to express your thoughts in the form of writing, while linking different points together to make a solid point. These types of questions can be discussed and interpreted in many different ways. You are asked to present your point of view on this issue, as well as your stance on it. 

Before anything, make sure to read the issue and the instructions that follow carefully. Take a minute and see the issue presented from several different points of view. After that, make an outline of what you want your essay to look like. Do not forget your examples and supporting details!

Analyze an Argument task

Similarly to the “Analyze an Issue” task, you are to evaluate a particular argument while following specific instructions. However, what makes this task different is the fact that you are asked to consider the logical soundness of the argument given, rather than agree or disagree with the provided stance. 

Like the whole GRE Analytical Writing Assessment, this task aims to test your critical thinking and analysis. Your writing skills, when it comes to voicing your opinion, are also under the telescope here.

As mentioned before, in this specific task, you are expected to discuss the logical soundness of the provided case by examining critically and providing reasoning and evidence. 

While reading the given argument, take note of the following:

    • What is mentioned, and what is not.
    • What is used as support or proof.
    • What is clearly stated, and what should be inferred. 

Make sure to keep a close eye on the structure of your argument and how you linked pieces of evidence together. While doing that, assess the harmony of the points and if they are linked logically, and in a way that makes sense. You do not want your argument to fall short and sound blocky. 

Each task in the GRE Analytical Writing Assessment Section is allocated half an hour to be completed. That means that these two tasks are timed separately, meaning that once you are done with the first task, the half an hour timer starts again for your next task. 

These two different tasks complement each other. That is, one task requires you to put together your own argument, and that is through taking a position and backing it up with supporting details. The other one requires you to assess another person’s argument by evaluating the argument’s evidence and claim. 

What are the GRE Analytical Writing Assessment Section scores like?

As we all know by now, the GRE Analytical Writing Assessment Section includes two different tasks, but that does not mean that these tasks will have two different scores recorded. For a more reliable score, you are provided with one single score that ranges from 0 to 6, in half-increments*

* In half-point increments: Suppose you got a 4/6 on the Issues essay and a 5/9 on your Argument essay. This then means that your total GRE Analytical Writing score would be 4.5. Your final Writing score—the average of the two essays— is then rounded up to the nearest half-point.

GRE  Analytical Writing Assessment Section Percentile (2021):

Score 1.0 1.5 2.0 2.5 3.0 3.5 4.0 4.5 5.0 5.5 6
Percentile 0 0 1 5 13 37 54 80 91 98 99

Apex’s GRE Analytical Writing Assessment Section Studying tips

  1. Choose your words carefully:  When writing during this part of your GRE Exam, make sure to pick the best words that would best express what you mean to say. Focus on using strong words, and avoid using weak words. That would then result in strong, declarative statements. Keep in mind that having your two tasks written perfectly with strong vocabulary would sure help in boosting your final AWA score!
  2. Focus on your transitions: Moving from one point to the other can be difficult and sometimes challenging. For that reason, use just the right transition word when shifting from one idea to the other. Transition words like, “Moreover, On the contrary, Not only, Similarly”, would help a harmonious essay seem organized and coherent. Which is exactly what you should be aiming for while writing your AWA tasks.
  3. Refute the opposing view at the end: When it comes to your GRE ISSUE ESSAY, do not forget to refute the other point of view. Considering that this specific task provides you with a certain point of view that you are considered to evaluate, a lot of GRE test-takers tend to forget to refute the opposing point of view at the end of your essays. Remember, the structure is similar to that of an argument essay. 
  4. Practice: To mentally feel at ease, you need to feel like you have grasped the GRE Analytical Writing Assessment Section’s material and type of questioning. Knowing what you will be asked and getting the gist of this section will for sure help you in acing this section. 
  5. Avoid using the First Point of View: While providing reasoning and backing up your argument, and even when you are stating your stance, avoid at all costs, using the First Point of View. That is, do not use self-reference. Avoid statements like, “I believe”, “I found that”, or “I say” at all costs. Using such statements will weaken the credibility and trustworthiness of your tasks. Your readers want to see how you are utilizing professional sources and where you fit them in your essays.

Long Story Short 

Every GRE Test-taker should take the AWA section in their GRE seriously, and allocate ample time for prepping before the big day. Knowing the skills that you will be tested on will guide you into knowing what and where to spend time on while studying for this specific section. 

Take your time to fully understand and grasp the GRE Analytical Writing Assessment Section material. With the right amount of dedication and hard work, acing your GRE is more than possible.

If you are looking for professional help to boost your GRE performance, head to our official website and book your 30 minutes complimentary assessment session, now!

Contributor: Lilas Al-Sammak

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Posted on
07
Jun 2022

How Does the GRE Scoring Work?

You’ve booked to take your GRE or you have already taken it, you have quite the number of questions that you would like to get the answer to. More specifically, you’re probably concerned about how GRE scoring works. 

If that is the case, then this article is just the one for you.

We will touch bases on the following topics: 

-The GRE Exam
-The GRE Scores
-The GRE Score Calculation
-The GRE Percentiles
-Top MBA Universities and their Average GRE Scores

1. What is the GRE

The GRE, also known as  the Graduate Record Examination, is a standardized test created and is still administered by the Educational Testing Service (the ETS). Just like any exam needed for graduate school admissions, the GRE is there to test and assess the level of readiness, academically and intellectually, for grad school.

Along with undergraduate transcripts, recommendation letters, and other requirements, the admissions will be able to estimate whether or not you will be capable of doing well in the program you applied to. Your GRE score is used as a common tool to compare your application to the other applicants’ applying as well. 

Some of the GRE test takers are worldwide applicants that are looking to pursue a master’s in business, MBA JD, or doctoral degree. Your GRE test score is required in thousands of schools. Schools like

    • Business Schools
    • Law Schools
    • Institutions and fellowship sponsors. 

The GRE takes exactly three hours and 45 minutes to finalize. These three hours and 45 minutes are divided between 3 main sections. Between these different sections, you are given a 10-minute break. The different sections in your exam will appear in the following order:

Section Number of Questions Time Needed
Analytical Writing  “Analyze an Issue” task, and “Analyze an Argument” task. 30 Minutes/task
Verbal Reasoning 20 questions per section  30 minutes/section
Quantitative Reasoning  20 questions per section 35 minutes/section

2. GRE Score

The GRE total score ranges between a minimum of 260, a maximum of 340, and a midpoint score of  150. Let’s break it down even further. Each of these three different sections has a certain minimum and maximum score, which is as follows: 

Section  Score Scale
Verbal Section 130-170, 1-point increments*
Quantitative Section 130- 170, 1 point increments
Analytical Writing  0-6, in half-point increments**

* In one-point increments: This means that there are 41 possible scores. In other words, you are receiving one point for each question you get right in both the Verbal or Quant sections. These points will be added up to get your raw score (0-40) for each section.

** In half-point increments: Suppose you got a 4/6 on the Issues essay and a 5/9 on your Argument essay. This then means that your total GRE Analytical Writing score would be 4.5.

After 10-15 days from your test date, your GRE test scores should be available. These same test scores will still be reportable after five years following your test date. You have the choice to pick which test scores you want to send out to your desired institution(s). For that, you have two options:

    • On Test Day: You can either send your Most Recent GRE score or All your GRE scores. (For four FREE GRE score reports
    • After Test Day: In that case, you have three choices you can pick from 
      • Most Recent GRE score
      • All GRE Scores
      • Any GRE Score. (For a FEE of US$27 per score recipient)

3. GRE Score Calculation 

Now that the basics are covered, it’s time to look into the different sections of the GRE and their grading system. 

    • GRE Verbal and Quant Score System: The more questions you get right, the higher your raw score is. You will not be penalized for the questions you got wrong. This raw score you ended up getting will, later on, be converted into a scale score. This means that GRE uses equating. What is meant by this term is that the GRE ensures that the different versions of the exam and their difficulty level do not affect your score. The process of equating makes sure that your score isn’t lower than that of previous GRE test takers.
    • Analytical Writing Score System: Upon the quality of your writing, a trained reader and an e-rater (which is defined by ETS as a “computerized program developed by ETS that is capable of identifying essay features related to writing proficiency”) will be able to score your essays. You will have to focus on bettering your critical thinking and analytical writing skills to ensure a higher score in your AW Section.

In other words, your Total GRE Score is not the summation of all the scores you got on its three sections. Each section in the exam is scored separately.

4. GRE Percentile

The percentile is there to give you an overview of how well you’ve done. Through your percentile, you will be able to see the percentage of test-takers that scored lower or higher than you. The higher your total GRE score is, the higher your percentile is, which means the more impressive your score is. In the GRE however, there are different percentile ranks. Unlike the GMAT, the GRE is ranked upon its sections, and not its overall score. The percentiles are distributed on its three sections. 

For example, if your scaled score was that of a 152, then that means that you’re ranked at a 54 percentile on your verbal section and a 45 percentile on your quant section. In other words, this shows that your verbal section score was 54% higher than the other test-takers, and your quant section score was 45% higher than the other test-takers. 

Here is a list of officially published GRE Percentiles 2022:  

Scaled Score  Verbal Reasoning Percentile Ranks Quantitative Reasoning Percentile Ranks 
170 99 96
165 96 84
160 85 70
155 67 54
150 44 35
149 39 35

Here is a list of officially published GRE Percentiles 2018: 

Score Analytical Writing Percentile Ranking
6.0 99
5.0 93
4.0 60
3.0 18
2.0 2

5. Top MBA Universities and their average GRE Scores

The following table includes a list of Top MBA universities and the average GRE scores of their applicants. Get a glimpse of how the GRE scores range from one university to the other.

Business School  Verbal Score Quant Score Writing Score
Yale SOM 165 164 4.7
Stanford GSB 165 164 4.9
Harvard  164 164 NA
UCLA (Anderson) 164 164 4.5
UC-Berkeley (Haas)  164 161 5.0
NYU (Stern)  162 161 4.4

To Conclude

To ensure a groundbreaking GRE score, take your prep journey one day at a time. Make time to know what your strengths and weaknesses are, and prepare the perfect study schedule tailored just for your needs. Once everything is set and ready, your prep journey starts with confidence and hard work and ends with victory and rejoice.  

ApexGMAT offers private one-on-one GRE tutoring with one of the top instructors. Reach out and book your complimentary 30 minutes assessment session, now!

Contributor: Lilas Al-Sammak

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GRE Study Plan Top 3 Mistakes To Avoid When Drafting It
Posted on
29
Apr 2022

GRE Study Plan – Top 3 Mistakes To Avoid When Drafting It

The GRE (Graduate Record Examination) is a very popular exam that thousands of students take every year. A large percentage of these students find the GRE extremely challenging, so don’t worry if you feel the same way. However, if you are determined to succeed in your exam, you should have a well-developed study plan. An important aspect to consider when drafting your GRE study plan could be some of the most common mistakes that test-takers make in the creation of their study plan or schedule. In this article, we’ll give you more information on some of the most common mistakes in drafting GRE study plans and tips on how to avoid them.  

1. Dedicate enough time to preparation in your GRE study plan

The GRE is not an exam for which you can prepare within a matter of days. Although some students may be lucky enough to pass the exam with only 2-3 weeks of studying, do not rely on that. Most of them probably won’t get a satisfactory grade that will help them get into their dream school. To avoid such unpleasant situations, we suggest spending sufficient time and attention on your GRE prep. Different people take a different amount of time to prepare, so there is really no ultimate rule that applies to how early you should begin your preparation. However, it may be a good idea to start at least 3-4 months before your planned exam day in order to have enough time both for the exam preparation and the documentation part.  

The most important thing to remember is that preparing for the GRE should be a methodical process. You can’t cram it all in two weeks and expect to achieve a satisfactory result. Give yourself the time you need to succeed. Start your preparation on time and go with the pace that fits your abilities. Eventually, your persistent gradual work will pay off.

2. Prepare equally for every section of the GRE exam

While drafting their GRE study plan, many students make the mistake of devoting too much time to the section they find the hardest. When they start preparing, they get carried away with this particular section and underestimate the others. Unfortunately, this mistake often hurts their overall score. No single section should be avoided or paid less attention to. Each section is equally important for your overall score and you have to spend as much time on it as you feel you need. 

For example, the Quant is often considered the most difficult section by many students who tend to spend an enormous portion of their GRE prep time on it. However, you should not forget that you also get a large portion of your points from, for instance, the Verbal section. This means that you cannot overlook this section because you risk losing valuable points from your final result. Try to balance the different sections and spend enough time and effort on each of them, so that you can make sure you will achieve the highest result possible.

3. Take time to destress 

We have already mentioned the importance of hard and consistent work while preparing for your GRE exam. It’s now time to turn our attention to something very important, which many students wrongly neglect. Many students are very ambitious and they want to achieve a high GRE score. They are ready to work for hours and hours to perfect their knowledge and skills. However, they often end up overworking themselves and forgetting to put their minds to rest and recharge. This is a major mistake. It doesn’t matter how skillful or knowledgeable you are when you can’t put into practice what you know because you are overworked. Pushing yourself too far will not only negatively affect your score but also your mental health.

You should learn to take care of your emotional and physical health because they are crucial for gaining knowledge and building long-lasting skills required for acing the GRE. Make sure to not underestimate the power of good rest and separate enough time for it when drafting your GRE study plan. By doing this, you will be able to improve your memory and learning skills in the GRE prep process.

Conclusion

Knowing the most common mistakes that test takers make when preparing and undertaking their GRE study plan can help you avoid or deal with them effectively. Here at Apex, we know that preparing for the GRE exam day may be a challenging task. For this reason, we are more than happy to support you on your GRE journey and assist you in every step of the process. You can sign-up for a 30-minute complimentary consultation call with one of our instructors who can help you with every stage of your GRE journey!

 

Contributor: Diana Materova

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5 GRE Memorization Technique
Posted on
14
Apr 2022

5 GRE Memorization Techniques

Preparing for the GRE exam requires dedication, constant effort, and determination in order for one to achieve a satisfactory score. While there is theoretical knowledge that should be acquired and cannot be neglected, there are a few tips and tricks that you can learn relatively easily. The latter can save you some precious time so that you can focus on what is more difficult for you on the exam. Our tutors at Apex are 700+ scoring professionals who tailor their approach according to the mental and cognitive abilities of each client. Through this method of Cognitive Empathy, they help our clients learn tips on how to deal with the GRE exam and find simple solution pathways. Here are four of these GRE memorization techniques that our clients are taught.

1. Memorize the answer layout.

Some question types have the same responses. On the GRE, answers to the Data Completion Questions are presented in the same way. These being: 

  1. Quantity A is greater.
  2. Quantity B is greater.
  3. The two quantities are equal.
  4. The relationship cannot be determined from the information given.

As a test prepper, you can memorize these statements, given they remain the same throughout the entire GRE. We suggest memorizing a more simple form of these answer types. For example: 

  1. A is bigger
  2. B is bigger
  3. Both are equal
  4. Cannot know 

By using this as a memorization technique it will cut down on the time you spend on the test. You won’t need to reread the answer types each time you come in contact with them. 

2. Practice the vocabulary in everyday life.

Specialists argue that people can easily improve their English language skills if they broaden the size of their vocabulary by transferring words from their passive to active vocabulary. When a person knows what a certain word means but doesn’t ever use it in everyday life, this word is in their passive vocabulary. Once this word gets used when speaking or writing, it can be easily recalled from memory whenever it is needed. In this way, people can learn to use the word in a sentence while also considering the appropriate context and suitable collocations. This can be an immense benefit when preparing for the GRE, as the vocabulary section on the exam is quite challenging.

What many people do and what we would also suggest is using flashcards for memorizing the words and engraining them in your memory. Then commit to using a handful of them during the week. You can also keep a notebook with the most difficult terms, their dictionary definitions, and examples to revert back to them as your vocabulary grows.

3. Use Acronyms and Mnemonics.

If you are a couple of years out of school or if you are just having a hard time remembering mathematical concepts and formulas, the Quantitative portion on the GRE can seem like a daunting task. We understand this, which is why we avoid using math on the GRE all together! But sometimes, the best path is the most direct. Remember some basic math equations and formulas using the following tricks: 

  • Simple Interest Formula
    • Interest = principal x rate x time 
    • I = prt 
    • Remember the equation as: I am Pretty! 
  • Distance Formula 
    • Distance = rate x time
    • D = rt
    • This equation can be remembered as the word: dirt
  • Linear Equation
    • Y = mx + b 
    • B for begin / M for move 
    • To graph a line, begin at the B-value and move according to the m-value (slope) 
  • Multiplying Binomials 
    • (x – a)(x + b) 
    • Remember FOIL for the order: 
      • First
      • Outside
      • Inside
      • Last 
  • Order of Operations
    • When answering an equation which looks something like this: 7 x (4 / 6) + 2 = remember: PEMDAS or Please Excuse My Dear Aunt Sally 
    • Parentheses 
    • Exponents 
    • Multiplication
    • Division
    • Addition
    • Subtraction

4. Apply a visual meaning to things.

It is a common fact that people’s brains process visual stimulation much faster than textual information. That is why some people who have superior visual memory can recall visual information easily. Their brains have established relations between visual objects and data. This type of memory is very important when it comes to many academic tasks including doing reading comprehension exercises and mathematical operations. Naturally, it can be used on the GRE as well. So, if you are one of these people, or if you have never consciously used your visual memory to your advantage, this is your sign to try.

While studying, look at what is around you and apply meaning to objects. For example, when you are working on a particular math problem, stare at the radiator in your room. Then, during the exam (if you are taking the GRE online), look at the radiator once you come in contact with a similar problem. This trick will help your brain in remembering what you learned beforehand. If you are taking the GRE onsite, consider pieces of clothes or jewelry which you will wear during your test. Perhaps fiddle with a ring on your finger while memorizing words, or wear a favorite sweater which you associate with certain mnemonic devices.

5. Apply the knowledge you are learning often.

Reading information out of a textbook and taking notes is the approach most people have when learning. Although this may seem useful, people seem to forget most of the information they read about. For this reason, applying what you just read about in real life can be very useful. One way to do this is to practice doing questions in different locations – at a restaurant, while riding into work, while cooking dinner, etc. This will challenge your brain to think strategically in various situations and prepare it for the dynamic environment of the testing facility. You can do this both with the quantitative and qualitative portions of the exam. Plus it would look extra cool if you are seen jotting math equations down on a napkin while waiting for your food at a restaurant. 

These GRE memorization techniques may seem straightforward, but they require work. However, hard work does pay off in the long run! The amount of work you put into your studying can dictate where you end up attending school, and thus the job you receive after graduating. While you are not your GRE, your test score does play a large role in your overall application to your dream school! If you are looking for extra help in preparing for the GRE, we offer extensive one-on-one tutoring with high-achieving clients. You can schedule a complimentary, 30-minute consultation call with one of our tutors to learn more! 

Contributor: Dana Coggio

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GRE Tips
Posted on
25
Feb 2022

Top 5 GRE Tips For The Exam Day

If you are interested in attending graduate school, you may have already started considering taking the GRE exam. This is a standardized exam that not only tests your knowledge and skills but also reveals your potential when applying to graduate schools. If you want to earn a high score, you have to consider different aspects during your preparation, including useful strategies to use on the day of the test. Below you can find our top 5 GRE tips to keep in mind during the exam!

1. Answer every question

There is no negative marking on the GRE. This means that you will face no penalty if you guess on some of the questions. If you aren’t sure about a particular question, it would be better to guess what the correct answer is rather than leave the question unanswered. Try to make a quick, but also educated guess. Even though it may not be the correct answer, by trying you can only gain points. In comparison, leaving a question unanswered will definitely bring you no points. Try your chance, it may be your lucky day, and you may even get it right!

2. Starting with the easy questions

All GRE questions in one section are worth the same points. Thus, you should start answering the questions that you are sure of and collect the “easier” points first. Whenever you come across a hard question, skip it for the moment and go back to it later. You can always use the marking function during the GRE exam to indicate which questions aren’t answered yet. When you are done with the rest of the questions in the section and have earned “all the easy points”, complete your marked questions. Then, review the questions you were unable to answer since you may be able to answer them when you return to them a second time.

3. Use the process of elimination

When you are not sure of the correct answer to a particular question, use the process of elimination. When you eliminate the incorrect answers you are closer to getting the correct answer. This increases your odds of picking the correct answer and getting some extra points from the question.

4. Read every question carefully

Reading your questions carefully and understanding what you are expected to do is crucial for success on the GRE exam. Many students often make careless reading mistakes which result in awkward answer choices. Some of them include misreading a word like “not” or “except” or formatting an answer to a math problem in the wrong way. All this can be avoided if you adopt the essential GRE tip of reading closely! 

5. Keep your pace

You have to keep an eye on the time and have a clear plan on how to organize it while taking the GRE test. The Verbal and Quant sections have 20 questions each. The Verbal section is 30 minutes long, which means you have about 1:30 minutes per question. The Quant section is 35 minutes, meaning you have about 1:45 min per question. You may want to practice sticking to these time limits so that you can ensure that you will have enough time for every question. Some questions may take you longer, but still, this is a good general guideline to follow in order to organize your time effectively.

 

To Review

Learning useful GRE tips and tricks for solving the exam can become a game-changer and help you skyrocket your score. Here at Apex, we know that preparing for the GRE exam day may be a challenging task. For this reason, we are more than happy to support you on your GRE journey and assist you in every step of the process. You can sign-up for a 30-minute complimentary consultation call with one of our instructors who can help you ace your GRE exam!

 

Contributor: Diana Materova

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Successful GRE Prep
Posted on
18
Feb 2022

Successful GRE Prep – The Dos and Don’ts

Studying for the GRE can be nerve-racking and pressuring. Preparing for something that important can be anxiety-ridden. But this feeling is normal. With proper help and planning, your GRE prep can be easier than you think. Before doing anything, getting introduced to the GRE can be very beneficial. Here we let you in on the major Dos and Don’ts of Successful GRE Prep.

1. Do take GRE practice tests

Practice tests give GRE takers a full overview of what to expect during the exam. This includes the types of questions you’ll encounter, time management, or even tricks hidden in certain questions. Taking practice tests while preparing for the GRE has a lot of benefits, but one of its main benefits is identifying certain techniques and gaining an eye to the GRE’s exam questions. After taking mock tests, you will familiarize yourself and your brain with the exam’s style. You will understand the pattern of particular question types and learn how to answer them. This can save you time during the actual GRE.

2. Don’t concentrate on certain sections on the GRE while prepping

Make sure you give every section its well-deserved time. Concentrating and giving your full energy and time on one section of the exam while studying can be meaningless and wasteful. While taking the practice exams, make sure the questions you are answering are diverse and different. That way, you are getting all that you need to ace your GRE. 

3. Do know your weaknesses and strengths

By reviewing your answers and results, your weak and strong points will be revealed. What is great about that is that you can know what you should be focusing on early on in your successful GRE prep. Daily practice of questions which challenge your weak areas, will help you reach the end of your GRE prep ready to tackle almost anything! That way too, you can construct a tailored GRE study plan. 

4. Don’t underestimate the vocabulary in the GRE

Vocabulary on the GRE verbal section is like the charger to your phone. And your phone without the charger is pretty much useless, right? And that is the case here too. The more vocabulary you know, the more points are guaranteed. However, memorizing the words and their definitions, simply extracted from the dictionary, is not enough. GRE takers should be able to know how to use and understand the words in certain contexts. It is about understanding and benefiting from the usage of the words learned, not just memorizing their meanings without being able to effectively use the words later on.

5. Do know what you are working for

Setting goals is scientifically proven to keep us, humans, on track. Having a solid target will remind you of why you are going through this process when things get tough! The power of goal setting is underestimated. When you have a vision, you will have the power and motivation to go through anything to get to it. All the long hours of studying can be sweetened with the help of a vision.

6. Don’t stress

The last and most important Don’t is, Do. Not. Over Stress. Regardless of the situation, stressing will do more harm than benefit. Stressing to the point of hair loss, sleepless nights, and restricting your personal life will make you underperform on the GRE. Successful GRE prep means you have a healthy work-study-life balance. Always remember, whatever you are stressing about, is probably not as bad as you think it is.

Closing Thoughts

Your GRE prep is the foundation of your performance for the actual GRE. Having a solid start is crucial. You need to know what you should focus on first, then divide your time and be able to manage all the tasks at hand. Your successful GRE prep can be simple and easy if you make it so. 

 

Contributor: Lilas Al-Sammak

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GRE Verbal Section
Posted on
14
Jan 2022

GRE Verbal Section – All You Need To Know

The business world is dominated by numbers, charts, and graphs. Thus, most business school hopefuls understandably focus on developing their analytical thinking and math skills when preparing for the GRE exam. But it’s a mistake to neglect the GRE verbal section. Effective GRE test prep requires a balanced, well-rounded approach.

Here’s what you need to know about the GRE verbal reasoning section. 

What is the GRE verbal section and what does it test for?

The verbal section of GRE primarily evaluates the test taker’s overall command of standard written English, their ability to analyze and evaluate arguments, and critical reading skills. As such, the verbal section is made up of three types of problems: reading comprehension, text correction, and sentence equivalence

The 3 sections have a total of 36 questions, with a time limit of 65 minutes. This leaves, on average, 1 minute and 50 seconds per question.

How Is GRE Verbal Section Scored?

The verbal section of GRE, like the quantitative section, is evaluated on a scale of 130 to 170 in one point increments. A 162 on Verbal and a 166 on Quant is considered an excellent score – it is a 90th percentile score that will be competitive for most graduate programs. 

“What are GRE percentiles?” you may ask. Basically, the GRE ranks test takers by percentile. The percentile system uses GRE scores from the previous three years to calculate how applicants performed compared to their peers. For example, if an applicant scores in the 80th percentile, it means he or she performed better than 80% of test takers over the last three years. 

Although the GRE scaled scores don’t change over time, the percentiles do. Graduate schools assess both the scaled and percentile scores to get an adequate understanding of the applicant’s strengths and weaknesses. 

Language on the GRE Verbal Section

The language on the verbal section is more sophisticated and academic than what is used in everyday vocabulary. If you aren’t accustomed to reading formal English, your verbal prep might require some extra time and energy. 

It will be easier to identify errors, main points, and bias statements once you’ve trained your ear to formal English. Practice reading formal texts efficiently and effectively, and avoid vernacular texts. Instead, choose sources that are known for using elevated writing styles, such as The New Yorker or The New York Times. 

GRE Reading Comprehension

The reading comprehension subsection of GRE evaluates not only the candidate’s understanding of words and statements, but more importantly, the underlying logic behind them.
In this subsection, you’ll find passages of texts followed by several questions about the text’s details and implications. Some passages draw from various disciplines, such as the physical, biological, or social sciences, while others refer to business-related fields. 

Here are some tips to make the process less tedious and more efficient:

  1. Read the whole passage without taking too much time to memorize details
  2. Analyze the logical structure of the passage
  3. Ask yourself:
  • What’s the main argument?
  • What does the author state explicitly? What is implied?
  • How would you describe the author’s tone and attitude?

Keep an eye out for opinionated words–for example, “clearly,” “obviously,” or “apparently”–these words hint at the author’s attitudes, and they’ll help you suss out the main point. 

GRE Text Completion

Text Completion is another subsection of GRE consisting of questions designed to test candidates’ abilities to build coherent and meaningful sentences. What test-takers should do is to read short passages that miss crucial words in them. Then, based on the remaining information, they need to choose the word or short phrase that would best fit the blank and thus, construct clear and logical texts.

Here are a few tips to nail the GRE Text Completion subsection: 

  • Don’t focus only on the sentence with the blank space, read through the whole passage to learn the context.
  • Don’t waste too much time on the first blank – if you can’t think of anything at the moment, continue filling the rest and then come back to it.
  • Keep an eye on words like although, therefore, as they are connective words setting the direction of the passages.

GRE Sentence Equivalence

Similarly, the sentence equivalence subsection of the GRE aims at assessing a candidate’s ability to formulate a meaningful “whole” by choosing the proper way to fill in the blank spaces. Test-takers will have to complete a sentence by choosing two of the six answer options to fit one blank. The two words must be synonyms and lead to the constructing of a sentence with, more or less, the same meaning. No credit is provided for partially correct answers. 

Here are some tips to consider while doing the GRE sentence equivalence subsection:

  • First and foremost, you need to equip yourself with rich vocabulary, as you need to identify perfect synonyms. 
  • As there may be more than one set of synonyms among the answers, make sure that the words chosen by you are appropriate for filling in the blank.
  • After you’ve made your choice, make sure to read the sentence again in order to ensure it is grammatically and logically coherent.

Conclusion

Taking the GRE quantitative section into account, there are a number of score combinations that will lead to the same overall score, which leaves plenty of room to maneuver. However, given the rise in GRE quantitative scores in recent years, total scores and percentile rankings have shifted. This gives candidates an opportunity to boost their overall scores by mastering the verbal section of the GRE.

 

Contributor: Bilhen Sali

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GRE percentiles
Posted on
31
Dec 2021

GRE Percentiles – Understanding Your GRE Score

ETS, the official makers of the GRE, compile and publish statistics on the GRE. We have reviewed the statistics and organized them for you to peruse below. If you are in the middle of studying for your GRE exam and are looking for expert help, our professional tutors at Apex GRE are available anywhere in the world. You can set up a 30-minute, complimentary consultation call with one of our instructors if you are considering a private GRE tutor. 

The following data has been collected by ETS between July 1st, 2017, and June 30th, 2020. 

Performance Statistics on the GRE

When applying to graduate school, the GRE is often an inevitability. Most top-tier business schools require students to take the exam. While many programs claim that they do not have a GRE minimum for admissions, it is important to aim for a score that lands you in a top percentile. Achieving a top score may not guarantee admission, however, it will offer you a better shot at getting into the school of your dreams. 

GRE Quant & Verbal Reasoning Percentiles 

Below is a chart of recent GRE percentiles (Collected between 2017-2020). When looking at potential graduate programs, take a look at previous admissions statistics.

GRE Quant Reasoning Percentiles

Knowing the average GRE score of previously admitted students can give you a baseline to aim for. Striving for the average, means you have a better likelihood of getting a score above or around this. Giving you a higher chance at admissions. 

Interpreting the GRE percentiles requires knowing how the GRE is scored. The total score comprises the Verbal and Quantitative sections plus a third analytical writing portion. These scores show the admissions committee your higher-order reasoning skills. These scores are able to predict a student’s success in graduate school.

The scores range from 130-170, with the analytical writing portion being scored from 0-6. When comparing your score to other test-takers, it is important to look at percentile rankings. When reading a percentile ranking chart, find your score on the chart.

GRE Verbal Reasoning Percentiles

Let us assume you scored 156 on the verbal portion. This lands you in the 72nd percentile. Meaning your score is higher than 72% of test-takers. Those scoring a 170, for example, are in the 99th percentile. This means that they achieved a score higher than 99% of all test takers. Important to remember is that percentile rankings change each year. This is because as more and more students take the exam, the total scores achieved change, and your percentile ranking changes with it. 

Contributor: Dana Coggio

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GRE Procrastination
Posted on
17
Dec 2021

Overcoming GRE Procrastination

You have everything prepared. Your desk is neat and tidy, your books are placed perfectly within reach, your computer is on, and your flashcards are written. Perhaps you have brewed a fresh cup of coffee and have just settled in with every intention to study for the next few hours. But lo and behold, 3 hours later, you find yourself glued to your phone, having wandered down the YouTube rabbit hole and watching your fifth 20-minute video on how paint dries! 

You can’t help but be frustrated with what just happened. And it happens more often than people would like to think. Whether it is spending hours cleaning your room or gazing wistfully out the window, procrastination is every student’s worst nightmare and biggest foe. When studying for the GRE, you will encounter opportunities to procrastinate around every corner.

So how do you overcome these distractions?

We have 5 tips and tricks which you can incorporate into your study schedule to avoid GRE procrastination Whether you are just starting out, or you are already months deep into your study schedule, these habits can be incorporated now and follow you throughout your GRE journey and into your professional future. 

1. Acknowledge when you procrastinate

Maybe you are staring out the window because it is a beautiful day, or you are maddeningly vacuuming your home because it’s been needing to get done. Regardless, you’re procrastinating. And the first step in overcoming procrastination is to admit when you are procrastinating. If you find yourself in the middle of a cleaning session, there is no need to stop in the middle of your task. Rather, re-evaluate why you are cleaning. Is it to avoid studying or is it because you’ve been meaning to vacuum for a while. Regardless, finish what you are doing. Finish vacuuming, finish staring out the window, finish cooking or cleaning. While completing your task, however, begin thinking about your study schedule. What will you be studying and for how long? Once you complete your procrastination task, sit down and begin studying. You should have spent the last hour(s) mentally preparing for the studying session, and by the time you are ready to begin your body and mind should be fully primed. 

2. Create a list and a reward system 

Yes, this may sound cliche, but lists (and rewards) help! Before sitting down to study, write out what you are planning on doing during the session. Create a list with high-priority and low-priority tasks. Establish a rewards system. What do you crave most when studying? Do you want to take a walk? Clean? Chat with a friend? After completing a high-priority task, reward yourself with a cleaning session, or a quick walk around the block. This will keep you on your toes and create a rhythm which your body adapts to. 

3. Free yourself of perfectionism 

It’s important to expect the best for and from yourself. However, striving for perfectionism on a daily basis can lead to stress and anxiety. Be realistic in what you can accomplish while studying for the GRE. Not every day will be a perfect study day. But studying every day, whether perfect or not, will bring you one step closer to achieving your GRE goals. Also, recognize that you may not find the perfect time to study every day. Some days are more full than others. On days where studying is difficult to sit down and accomplish, find time in between the chaos to review old concepts. Whether it is flipping through vocab flashcards or attempting a couple of math problems, any form of studying is worth doing (whether perfect or not). 

4. Improve your surroundings

The age of technology is full of distractions. We suggest putting away unnecessary technology. If necessary, put your phone in another room, set it to silent, and close all unnecessary tabs on your computer. If you study better with music, we suggest listening to music which is calm and without lyrics. Lo-Fi study beats, for example, are opportune for the studying brain to zero in and focus on the task at hand. Additionally, make sure your desk and study center is free of clutter. This removes visual distractions and forces you to focus on the studying materials lying directly in front of you. If you live with multiple people, let them know that you have blocked out a certain number of hours for studying and ask them to not distract you during this time. 

5. Forgive yourself

Shoulda, coulda, woulda. We hear this a lot. But what is in the past is already behind you! So don’t fret about trying to fix what has already passed. Instead, train your focus on the task that lies in front of you, and trust that you will make the best decisions for your study schedule going forward. 

Your GRE score and future graduate school opportunities are dependent on how hard you are willing to work for it. GRE procrastination is a normal part of studying. Developing habits now which can help you manage your procrastination will make a world of difference during your GRE journey.

 

Contributor: Dana Coggio 

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90th percentile on the GRE
Posted on
10
Dec 2021

How Those Who Score In The 90th Percentile On The GRE Actually Do It

You’re on your GRE journey, and your exam is a few weeks away. You start talking to people who went through the same experience as you, and you look for some answers. You notice that many people have scored in the 90th percentile on the GRE, and you start to doubt yourself,  wondering if you are also capable of achieving that score. Of course, everyone aiming to take the GRE exam will want the highest score possible. And, as you could guess, this is no easy task.

So, how do those people who score in the 90th percentile actually do it?

Is it because of their study plan? The critical-thinking skills they learn before even starting to prepare for the GRE? Is it just genetics? Are some people born to excel in exams? 

To say you want to score in the 90th percentile is just the beginning of actually achieving one. You need to have a long-term plan in mind and be ready to face some challenges. First of all, you need to figure out what score the university you’re applying to actually wants. If the average is 150, you’ll probably have a good chance of getting in with a 150! Thus, scoring in the 90th percentile isn’t always a necessity for getting into your dream school. Do your research first. Then you can start implementing a plan for achieving a 90th percentile GRE score. Be warned, before you lies a rocky road on your way to ace the exam. Those who do score 90th percentile do not just say they want the score. They work hard and organize their time efficiently to get where they want to. 

1. Start with a GRE Diagnostic Test

Take a test before you start your journey, see what the GRE is all about and how it is structured. Look at your score, and from there, you can already tell which sections you need to work on. This way, you have a baseline on what you need to do.

2. Know how long  studying for the GRE Exam will take

It is crucial to manage your time in a way where you can complete your study plan in time. Each person is different in the way they comprehend things. Thus, it would help if you were realistic about how much time it will take to be ready. Maybe it will take you 130+ hours, or even 300+. You need to know YOUR abilities and track your time.

3. Be consistent with your GRE plan

Those who score 90th percentile do not change their study plan each week. You need to stick to a specific book/material/group study so that you do not go off track! But be flexible to change things up if you are realizing that something isn’t working for you. We are all unique learners. 

4. Create a board for time allocation

Know how much time you’re going to spend on each section. For example, “I have to spend no more than 3 hours a day on quant, two on verbal, etc.”. Try to use online whiteboards or create a mood board for yourself so that it is easier to track and remind yourself of the GRE plan.

5. Get to know your mistakes and improve them

It is very crucial to take note of your mistakes and try to improve them. It is one thing to know your mistake and just move on, and another to actually work on it and make sure it does not happen again. You have to track your GRE progress, and learning from your mistakes is one way to go!

6. Learn from other GRE test-takers 

Listen to successful people who got 90th percentile on the GRE, try to take each piece of advice from each one, and you’ll come up with your own. It is essential to learn from others’ mistakes as well as your own. See what they did, how they did it, what it took them to get there. Be curious and ask questions, always. As Steve Jobs once said, “Stay Hungry, Stay Foolish.”

7. Take GRE mock tests

At last, mock tests are your friend! Take them as much as you can, and you’ll more or less know where you stand.


Final Thoughts 

To conclude, it is easier said than done to score 90th percentile on the GRE. It works differently with different people, so make sure to try as best as you can to learn from others, and more importantly, from yourself as well. If you would like to start with a tutor, check out our tutors at APEX GRE to help get you started. Most successful GRE test takers hire a private tutor to push them past the 90th percentile mark after taking the test without a tutor. It is shown to be effective, you can take a look at this article about private tutors and why you should consider hiring them.


Contributor:
Sarin Sulahian

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