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GRE Classroom Prep Courses. Worthwhile?

nervous1nervous1 Posts: 340Registered User Member
edited April 2009 in GRE Prep
Anyone with any experience with GRE Classroom prep courses? If so, which course and was it worthwhile? I know that there are lots of books for self study but am particularly interested in the classroom courses such as Kaplan or Princeton Review.
Post edited by nervous1 on

Replies to: GRE Classroom Prep Courses. Worthwhile?

  • dfh932dfh932 Posts: 86Registered User Junior Member
    Hello nervous,

    This is going to sound crazy but I actually brought my GRE score up 400 points. It took me three tries. I took the Kaplan course and found that it was useful to me, and helped raise my score.
    The only thing is, if you take one of those classes...from my experience, it is only helpful if you do all the homework and prep work and outside of class work they assign and suggest. otherwise just going once a week and listening to a lecture isnt that helpful.
  • dfh932dfh932 Posts: 86Registered User Junior Member
    So I guess I mean to say, it's as helpful as you make it...and to see a real improvement in your score...you have to work really hard. But I found that the class taught me exactly how to raise my score.
  • MasterMoeMasterMoe Posts: 238Registered User Junior Member
    If you work best in a class-based setting, it may be useful. If you are self motivated and can organize your time, it won't be worth it.
  • AceflyerAceflyer Posts: 252Registered User Junior Member
    I think MasterMoe's hit the nail on the head. I don't think a prep class is essential to GRE success. However, taking a prep class may well be helpful for people who prefer class-based learning over independent studying.
  • Joel418Joel418 Posts: 33Registered User Junior Member
    I've got to disagree with MasterMoe. The preparation classes give you your best chance to succeed, and here's why. Success on a standardized test is roughly 30% aptitude and 70% knowing the test, and these classes reflect that ratio with the amount of time spent on each. The more time you spend studying under the guidance of a group that knows how to prepare you for that one test, the more successful you will be on that test.

    Good luck!
  • AceflyerAceflyer Posts: 252Registered User Junior Member
    I respectfully disagree. While I agree that a prep class may well be useful, I feel that one can get to "know the test" quite thoroughly without taking a prep class.
  • mitmittenmitmitten Posts: 38Registered User Junior Member
    To do well on the GRE, here is what you do: download 20 sample tests, take them, repeat.

    You don't need a GRE prep course unless you honestly can't figure out how the questions work. When you miss a math problem, review the math that's required to solve that problem. You don't even need to review beforehand -just by working on the areas that you keep missing problems in, you will get much better at taking the test.

    For the vocab, there is no substitute. You need to buckle down and learn the words. If your vocab isn't very good then get some flashcards. If you can score a 650 or so, then I wouldn't worry too much (unless you are getting into English or something)
  • BrownParentBrownParent Posts: 5,208Registered User Senior Member
    I have to disagree. Not for most people, not for everyone, but people who did very well on the SAT and people who do well on tests in general may not have to study at all to do well. Just take enough practice tests not to be nervous.

    I must say that my daughter just said she did a practice test or two the week before, she did not have time to do anything more, surely no studying. I guess if it wasn't good enough she would have done some prep before retake. She did not have to retake.

    So if you are busy, and I guess you are, then don't waste a lot of time. Unless you are a lopsided person, then do the boning up on the side you are not good at. But if you are not so good at verbal, and you are an engineer, they may not care much, and vice-versa. But for the subject tests, if you have to take one, I'd would think it would be better time spent in study for.

    And....650 in Verbal is about 93 percentile, so I don't know why that would be knocked....!!
  • satrianicsatrianic Posts: 53Registered User Junior Member
    my personal opinion is that its better to stick to barron's for verbal section
    while nova is usually preferred for quant section
  • gigi16gigi16 Posts: 17Registered User New Member
    I've got to disagree with Joel418 on this.

    I took the GRE about 2.5 years ago. I took a prep book out from the library with practice tests, math skills to review, and vocab. While I was on vacation a couple of weeks before the test, I browsed through the book for an hour or two a day, and I think I took a practice test. Most of my time was spent brushing up on the math skills -- hadn't been in a math class in three or four years, and hadn't gone without a calculator for probably ten years -- and if I had it to do over again, I probably should have worked on the vocab a bit. But I got an excellent score, and am very happy with where I've now been accepted.

    Unlike the LSAT, for example, you can't really "learn" it. You can get comfortable with the test, and you can certainly brush up on your math skills and your vocab, but you can't really expect a prep course to raise your score by a ton. And if you're not great at something, admissions offices are still going to see it in your essay or your undergrad grades.
  • nervous1nervous1 Posts: 340Registered User Member
    Aside from Dfh932, has anyone actually taken any of the classroom prep classes? I am trying to determine which, if any, of the classroom prep classes are any good. Kaplan vs. Princeton Review...etc.
  • FutureGradStudntFutureGradStudnt Posts: 13Registered User New Member
    I can tell you this....that I took the Kaplan course and paid $1100+ for the course and was very disappointed with it. In my opinion, your study book that is given to you and taught throughout the course is more detailed than necessary and actually gets you off track a bit. You most likely will NOT have enough time to go through each individual exercise that you are supposed to do each week for the course, in order to be able to get your money back at the end of the course if you do not improve your score from the diagnostic test at the beginning of the course. There are so many exercises to complete online for each individual type of question that it is actually a bit ridiculous and almost like they are trying to make the book/online exercises longer than necessary just to provide you with more materials to seem of value. The Kaplan course teaches mostly what the test consists of exactly and strategies for answering questions, however it is NOT a good math review course and it will NOT significantly increase your vocab or math skills alone just from attending the class. They do provide you will some online practice tests which DEFINITELY are a GREAT help when practicing/studying for the test....that was the only true positive of the class/materials provided, along with another general sheet very similar to the one below that I described which has all of the information summarized for you to study more easily.

    I found the best resource to be one sheet that you can print out online for free which has short summary of all of the information you need to know for each section. This gives you the major math equations/problems which will most likely show up on the GRE as well as some very solid step-by-step methods for answering the Issue and Analytical Essay Questions. However, you will need to purchase some sort of book that gives you the most frequently asked vocabulary words and try to memorize as many of those as possible. It is very difficult to try to learn all of the words that could possibly show up on the test, since there are thousands and thousands of words in the English language. But my advice is to find that list of the top 200, 300, 400 or however many you want to learn from Kaplan or Princeton Review. That will truly help you on the test, some of the words you studied will definitely come back to you. Also, get that overall review sheet online (check the GRE Website and the Kaplan Website) print that off and learn EVERYTHING on there....all of the math formulas and the essay steps. As long as you have a good understanding of how the sections/test is set up you don't really need the class.

    If you can attain the book from the course, that is really all that you will need if you want to receive the upside from the course....that, the online practice tests, and the overall review sheet provided were the only true valuable materials. The teacher for my class was actually not very helpful at all and I felt like I wasted $1100 and they wouldn't give me my guaranteed refund b/c I didn't complete every single online exercise before a certain date.

    I absolutely despise the GRE, as it is a truly arbitrary exam...always depending on which question they ask you and your score could drastically fluctuate depending on the questions. Also, the math section is absolutely unnecessary for those who are going into a field which doesn't require math. Anyway, learn the necessary formulas, memorize the sections and how they are set up, learn as many vocabulary words on that top 2,3,400 list (can obtain in Kaplan books), and do as many practice tests as you possibly can (also can get them free on the GRE Website). Also, just use some basic common sense to figure out how to cancel out certain answers on certain sections, this is something Kaplan teaches but I found it to be kind of obvious and I ended up not using many of their methods on the test anyway.

    Good Luck!! You'll do fine...I think if the rest of your application is strong the GRE won't completely stop you from getting in to some of the top schools!! But do your best!
  • FutureGradStudntFutureGradStudnt Posts: 13Registered User New Member
    Oh yeah, and the free practice test program that you can download or will get for free when you register for the GRE is called GRE PowerPrep...get that and do the practice tests they provide!! The online CAT (computer adaptive tests) are better than any book test because the test is CAT as well....the questions will get harder as you get them correct and vice-versa. Good luck and relax!
  • apumicapumic Posts: 1,529Registered User Senior Member
    I'm a pretty big "NO" on taking the prep classes as well unless you are a very weak test taker. Most students applying for PhD programs are going to be near the top anyway and courses like PR's GRE prep course are very much designed for people around the 50th percentile. As a result, they teach a lot of gimmicky "techniques" to make basic algebra easier and simple texts easy to decipher. These techniques are helpful for the lower and midrange questions, but once your scores are above around 600, these techniques are no longer particularly helpful as the questions become more advanced and are generally easier to solve the "regular way" (and often by applying some common sense to the problem and recognizing patterns in an equation, etc.).
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