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 1d. GRE Strategies

The Art of Guessing

At the end of the test, when time is about to expire, you have to hurry to make sure to review every question (or else face the severe penalty for not finishing all the test's questions). Many students have to do this last-minute sprint and are often left guessing on the last few questions.

P.O.E.

The key guessing strategy is P.O.E. (process of elimination). A big asset going into test day is knowing that one of the five possible answers must be right (some GRE questions don't have 5 choices, intentionally to make guesses and POE harder!). If you can eliminate two of the choices, you can increase your chances of getting the right answer by 65% (from 20% or 1 in 5 to 33% or 1 in 3). Here's how to do it:
1. Eliminate answer choices you know are wrong. Even if you don't know the right answer, you can often tell that some of the answer choices are wrong.

2. Avoid answer choices that look suspicious. For example, in the Quantitative Section, you can usually eliminate any answers that are negative when all the other answers are positive.

3. Once you have narrowed down the list of answer choices, pick one of the remainder. It is a myth that some answer choices, like A or C, are more often correct than other choices.

Draw a Grid

If crossing off answer choices on paper tests helps to clarify your thinking (using the P.O.E), you might want to consider making a grid on your scratch paper. By drawing a simple grid and labeling the rows A through E, you can keep track of which answers you have eliminated by putting an X in that box.

The Importance of Scratch Paper

Another big asset you have going into test day is virtually unlimited scratch paper. Use it and make sure you have lots of it on test day.

You'll need scratch paper because you are taking a test off of a computer screen, and you can't write on the screen. The result is that you'll often have to carefully copy much of the question down onto paper without miscopying the information. This is awkward and difficult. It takes valuable time to recopy information and it increases the chance of a hurried error, so you have to be careful about what you copy and what you don't copy. Try to use scratch paper extensively on your practice tests to get a feel for this.

Don't Panic

If you have a bad day, don't panic; you have the option of canceling. The computer will offer the option of canceling the test or accepting it when you finish the test. If you cancel the test, neither you nor any school will see your score. If you accept the test, the computer will display your score, and it will be available to all schools. Make sure to schedule the test far in advance of when it is due to the graduate schools so that you have time to cancel and reschedule the test if necessary.

Experiment with the strategies suggested to see what works best for you. Now that you know the CAT basics, you can progress to the specific subject areas.

You have just completed chapter 1 of the GRE CAT Online Prep Guide. Chapters 2 through 8 are available by purchasing the GRE CAT Online Guide.

 Order the 800score.com Complete GRE Prep Course to access Chapters 2 through 7 of the Online Prep Guide. Chapter 2. Reading Comprehension How to actively read texts How to analyze essay structure 7 Principles of reading comprehension The major question types A. Recall questions B. Synthesis C. Comprehension How to identify trick questions Additional practice questions Chapter 3. Mathematics Comprehensive Math review of all subjects on the GRE Basic Math Algebra Geometry Probability (NEW) Probability questions are becoming increasingly common on the GRE. Most test guides are obsolete and do not address these questions. Additional practice questions Chapter 4. Math Word Problems How to read math questions A. Percentages B. Interest, Discount, and Markups C. Progressions D. Uniform Motion E. Ratio and Proportion F. Ratio and Proportion G. Grouping and Counting H. Data Interpretation I. Symbols J. Progressions 4-Step technique to Word Problems Math review Standard Deviation (NEW) On recent GRE tests, advanced students can expect at least one standard deviation question. Additional practice questions Chapter 5- 7. Sentence Completion New GRE Question types