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Best GRE Prep

lkf725lkf725 Posts: 4,781Registered User Senior Member
edited October 2013 in GRE Prep
Kaplan? Princeton Review? Barrons?

Is self-study even helpful as compared to a formal course? Is a formal course worth the money?
Post edited by lkf725 on
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Replies to: Best GRE Prep

  • WilliamCWilliamC Posts: 785Registered User Member
    I personally liked Barrons. The courses are, IMHO, a waste of money if you have any kind of study skills.

    That said and before you do anything else, download the PowerPrep software from ETS. It contains 2 practice tests that are virtually identical to the real thing.

    Pick up one of the prep. books in the library, career services office or bookstore and read the chapter about how the test works. There are a couple of tricks you need to know.

    Take the first practice test in PowerPrep and determine where your weakness (if any) is.

    Go back to the library, career services office or bookstore and look over the prep. books and then buy the one that seems to best address your weakness and your learning style.

    And relax - the GRE is not that big of a deal.
  • lkf725lkf725 Posts: 4,781Registered User Senior Member
    Thanks for the advice! :) I didn't know about the PowerPrep resource, but I can see how it would be very helpful to guide the actual study time.
  • joshnewcollegejoshnewcollege Posts: 95Registered User Junior Member
    Courses for these types of things tend to be directed at low-scorers with poor self-discipline. But if you hope to break 1200, you're going to have to devote a lot of personal time.

    I felt that the Princeton Review guide had the best strategies. The Barron's math was way harder than that of the actual test. And this is coming from someone who got a 750Q, 600V. Barron's verbal section is very good, however, if you want to get a high verbal score. Learning the high frequency words is necessary, but not sufficient, for breaking 600. I felt that my strategy of using all the guides simultaneously was effective. Don't forget to pick up the official ETS book in addition to the Powerprep software. I also found the Kaplan CD ROM to be extremely helpful. Take practice test results with a grain of salt: There's absolutely no way these companies have the data that ETS uses to determine one's score. The Powerprep software, however, is predictive.

    I tend to be more verbally proficient, but my overcompensation for the math resulted in a complete switcheroo. Make sure to research which section your particular graduate program cares about more.
  • RacinReaverRacinReaver Posts: 6,598Registered User Senior Member
    Math is easier to score high in because it's the same math that you took on the SATs. It's probably one of the reasons why I did worse on the GREs than the SATs, I hadn't even touched the material since 9th grade.

    Dunno how much help studying word lists will be, I've never been that great at straight memorization of things. I spent a few nights reading over some list of 100 or 250 most common words and I didn't remember seeing any of them on the GRE, though I still managed to get a 620.

    I'd say the most important thing I read was the essay format. If I didn't know what I was aiming to write about going into the test I'm sure I would have done considerably worse. The GRE writing section graders don't care nearly as much about technique or eloquence as your English professor did, what they care about is your ability to get your point across concisely and coherently (at least, that's the only justification I can come up with for me getting a 5.5 on it).
  • xnormajeanxxnormajeanx Posts: 93Registered User Junior Member
    i have never used prep. i bought two books -- princeton review and barron's. i personally feel that the only thing prep is good for is to force you to keep on studying. if you have good studying skills though -- and if you're applying to grad school, you better -- i don't think it'll make much difference. the one thing it might help you with is writing.
  • a_hardcasea_hardcase Posts: 4Registered User New Member
    Is there a book that one could read to get ideas and/examples for the issue essays? One that helps with brainstorming? I guess facts and statistics as examples make essays sound substantial. Thanks.
  • WilliamCWilliamC Posts: 785Registered User Member
    a_hardcase - don't worry too much about having facts and figures for the essays. The readers are mainly interested in how you structure your work. The idea is to show that you can produce a coherent argument and support it, not spew out predigested material.

    Anyhow, you want to have a solid basic structure. This is what I used (I got a 5.5):

    Intro paragraph: re-state the prompt and indicate your position. State how you will support your position (3 or 4 points)
    Support Paragraphs: one for each point mentioned in Intro.
    Conclusion: re-state the prompt and your points, explaining how each supported your position

    You want to write in complex sentences, i.e. with subordinate clauses.
    You want to have fairly smooth connecting sentences between paragraphs.
    You DO NOT want to overthink the prompts - there are no hidden agendas or political motivations.

    They give you a pencil and a blank sheet of paper - I used mine to scribble an outline so I wouldn't forget to cover each point in all 3 sections.

    All that said, I never came across a book dedicated to the essays, but all the prep books will have have some examples.
  • ElderpegasusElderpegasus Posts: 58Registered User Junior Member
    is the order of the sections are totally haphazard?

    I thought Kaplan oversimplified...it's quantitative part was overwhelming for me (perhaps cuz i haven't done math since 11th grade).

    Barrons always seemed excessive...I never did half the problems in barrons for SAT.

    Princeton Review seemed sparse... Spark Notes..too new to tell.
  • randomname01randomname01 Posts: 114Registered User Junior Member
    I found Princeton Review to be a pretty good review of the Q basics (if you have a science background), but it was lacking in counting and summation rules. For V, I used Princeton Review's Word Smart booklet and most "harder" words I encountered on the actual test are covered in there.
  • a_hardcasea_hardcase Posts: 4Registered User New Member
    Cheers Will C. Thank you so much.
  • califacalifa Posts: 329Registered User Member
    I took the GRE before they added the writing section (780V, 650M) - the last paper and pencil administration - so don't know how much my advice will help. I took an old GRE as a diagnostic & based on that prepared only for the math (didn't have much time). I hadn't looked at math since barely squeaking through freshman calc in college, and although GRE math covers only high school algebra and geometry, I had forgotten that too.

    So I went through the ETS material and the Princeton Review's math section. Also, I avoided using a calculator. Just getting faster at basic arithmetic made a difference in finishing the math section. Took another practice test slowly and went over all the explanations. Worked on that and then took another practice test, this time under actual test conditions. Then another - would have done more but ran out of time.

    Bottom line - if you have limitied time find out what your weaknesses are and focus on improving there. Good luck!
  • a_hardcasea_hardcase Posts: 4Registered User New Member
    With the computer based exams, you have to select 3 tertiary institutes you want your GRE score to be sent to right? Is it better to not report the score, if it's bad, since the score remains in the system for 5 years or does it not matter? Can the score be sent to a university, other than the ones you selected on the exam day, later? Cheers.
  • RacinReaverRacinReaver Posts: 6,598Registered User Senior Member
    The three you get to send scores to while you take the test are "free" scores. If you want to request for them to be sent afterward you have to pay a certain amount of money for each school. I think it was something like $10-$20 a score report.
  • a_hardcasea_hardcase Posts: 4Registered User New Member
    Thank you very much for the reply
  • RacinReaverRacinReaver Posts: 6,598Registered User Senior Member
    Oh, also, be sure to request those reports early. If you want to get them expedited you have to call them by phone and there's an extra surcharge on that way (it also takes forever going through their voice menus).
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