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Take a GRE Break!

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Manhattan Prep GRE Blog - Take a GRE Break! by Cat Powell

You can attend the first session of any of our online or in-person GRE courses absolutely free. Ready to take the plunge? Check out our upcoming courses here.


Around this time of year, as people recover from the holidays and contemplate winter vacations, I tend to get a lot of questions from students anxious about taking a GRE break. Will a week- or month-long vacation hurt their scores? Will they forget all the new math content they’ve learned? Should they bring their 5lb Book of GRE Problems on the plane with them?

The short answers: no, no, and you don’t need to, it’s available as an e-book. Read more

Data Interpretation: Start by Understanding the Graph

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Manhattan Prep GRE Blog - Data Interpretation: Start by Understanding the Graph by Cat Powell

You can attend the first session of any of our online or in-person GRE courses absolutely free. Ready to take the plunge? Check out our upcoming courses here.


In each Quant section on the GRE, you’ll see three questions that ask about a graph or pair of graphs; these are the Data Interpretation (DI) questions. All three questions usually refer to the same graph(s) and show up about two-thirds of the way through the section. Read more

First-Time GRE Mistakes

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Manhattan Prep GRE Blog - First-Time GRE Mistakes by Cat Powell

You can attend the first session of any of our online or in-person GRE courses absolutely free. Ready to take the plunge? Check out our upcoming courses here.


Taking a practice test is one of the most important first steps that you can take as you embark on studying for the GRE—even (especially) if you feel totally unprepared or anxious about doing so. Confronting this anxiety can be an important hurdle to overcome. You’ll also likely find some surprises in your results, both positive and negative, that will shape your study plan. Read more

Play to Your Strengths on the GRE

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Manhattan Prep GRE Blog - Play to Your Strengths on the GRE by Cat Powell

You can attend the first session of any of our online or in-person GRE courses absolutely free. Ready to take the plunge? Check out our upcoming courses here.


In the first class of our GRE curriculum, we begin by talking about growth mindset vs. fixed mindset. If we approach a new task with a fixed mindset—i.e. I am or am not good at this—we’re a lot less likely to improve at it. When we believe instead that we can and will improve if we work hard, we get better faster. The stories we tell ourselves about our abilities shape what we’re actually able to accomplish. Read more

Guessing on the GRE and Moving On

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Manhattan Prep GRE Blog - Guessing on the GRE and Moving On by Cat Powell

You can attend the first session of any of our online or in-person GRE courses absolutely free. Ready to take the plunge? Check out our upcoming courses here.


Persistence is, in most endeavors, an admirable quality—just not when taking the GRE. For this test, knowing when to give up on a problem, guess, and move on, is a crucial skill. It’s important to remember that this is more than just a test of math knowledge or reading skills; it’s also a test of how one makes decisions under pressure. Read more

Preparing for the GRE: What the Test is Really About

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Manhattan Prep GRE Blog - Preparing for the GRE: What the Test is Really About by Cat Powell

You can attend the first session of any of our online or in-person GRE courses absolutely free. Ready to take the plunge? Check out our upcoming courses here.


In the first session of each GRE class that I teach, I ask students which sections they see as strengths and which they see as weaknesses. Almost all students have a strong preference for either Quant or Verbal. Often, these preferences aren’t based in actual test experience—rather, they reflect the student’s sense of him- or herself as a “math person” or a “language person.” Read more

GRE Quant Best Practices: Improving Problem Recognition

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Manhattan Prep GRE Blog - GRE Quant Best Practices: Improving Problem Recognition by Cat Powell

You can attend the first session of any of our online or in-person GRE courses absolutely free. Ready to take the plunge? Check out our upcoming courses here.


A number of students have recently told me that they struggle with “problem recognition,” particularly in the Quant section of the GRE. What many mean by this is that when they look at a problem, they don’t immediately see how to get to the solution. They might recognize some of the concepts involved, but the problem as a whole has aspects that make it look unfamiliar and difficult. When this happens on the test, in a high-pressure, time-sensitive environment, the resulting feeling can be paralyzing. Read more

De-Tangling Difficult Word Problems on the GRE

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Manhattan Prep GRE Blog - De-Tangling Difficult Word Problems on the GRE by Cat Powell

You can attend the first session of any of our online or in-person GRE courses absolutely free. Ready to take the plunge? Check out our upcoming courses here.


Let’s start with a problem that’s been giving my students trouble recently. Read it through, but don’t try to solve it—yet.

Manhattan Prep GRE Blog - De-Tangling Difficult Word Problems on the GRE by Cat Powell Read more

Recommended Reading for the GRE

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Manhattan Prep GRE Blog - Recommended Reading for the GRE by Cat Powell

You can attend the first session of any of our online or in-person GRE courses absolutely free. Ready to take the plunge? Check out our upcoming courses here.


When I was a kid, my mom read Don Quixote to me as a kind of cautionary tale: look at the crazy things you end up doing if you read too much fiction. I did read too much fiction—and I still do—and this probably does explain some of my major personality flaws. But it also turns out that one of the crazy things you can do if you read too much is answer most GRE vocabulary questions, because one great gift of reading is that you learn a lot of interesting words.  

The GRE favors words that are used broadly, across many disciplines, and that are appropriate for academic writing. This means that many of the words that show up on the GRE are rarely used in our everyday conversations, and I find that a lot of them I’ve seen used primarily in 19th-century fiction.

My colleagues have written some great posts about how to learn words effectively with flashcards and other toolsand so today I want offer an alternate strategy: read great fiction, preferably older stuff, but maybe some 20th-century books as well. It’s a fun antidote to study fatigue and a great way to find new words in their natural habitat. Here’s some recommended reading for picking up lots of GRE vocab. Read more

Solving GRE Problems in Multiple Ways to Build Flexibility

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Manhattan Prep GRE Blog - Solving GRE Problems in Multiple Ways to Build Flexibility by Cat Powell

Did you know that you can attend the first session of any of our online or in-person GRE courses absolutely free? We’re not kidding! Check out our upcoming courses here.


Recently, my colleague Tom and I decided that, since we were teaching in adjacent classrooms, it might be fun to combine our classes and co-teach a lesson. Tom and I have very different strengths, both as test-takers and teachers. I love algebra, and I’ll always seek out an algebraic solution to a problem (even when this might not be the most efficient method—my strength is also a weakness). Tom prefers non-algebraic methods, like drawing diagrams or picking numbers. And our strengths inform what we emphasize in class.

So, for our joint lesson, we chose a number of GRE problems that could be solved in more than one way, and then took turns demonstrating each method. First, we each used the method we preferred (algebra for me, picking numbers for Tom), and then we switched and demonstrated the method we were less comfortable with. Here’s one of the GRE problems we used: Read more