As you may know, we open up the first session of our 8-session Manhattan Prep GRE Complete Course as a free GRE trial class for anyone to attend. What happens in a GRE trial class? Why bother attending one? I’m sure every class is a little bit different, but there are some things you can expect to see, as well as a few things you should make sure to look for. Read more
Are you prepping for the GRE? Thinking of taking the GRE? Considering purchasing practice tests to help you study? Well, this news is going to blow your mind—our bundle of six GRE practice tests (normally $39) has now been discounted to just $10! Read more
Whenever you do practice GRE problems, you should spend significantly more time reviewing each problem than you spent doing it. Many students have asked me this very reasonable question, though: “What am I supposed to actually do when I review?” Here’s the answer. This review process will help you squeeze more out of every problem you do. Read more
GRE high-scorers might not be smarter than everyone else, but they do think about the test differently. One key difference is in how high-scorers do algebra. They make far fewer algebraic mistakes, because, either consciously or subconsciously, they use mathematical rules to check their work as they simplify. Here’s how to develop that habit yourself. Read more
There’s a better way to learn GRE vocabulary, and it’s based on scientific principles that have been demonstrated by researchers since the 1800s. It’s called spaced retrieval, and the basic idea is this: Read more
They found the course to be so informative that they published a nifty piece featuring a decision tree for prospective b-school students grappling with the age-old (or 2-years old, as it were) GMAT vs. GRE quandary; check it out below!
Imagine that you asked a friend of yours what she got on the Quant section of the GRE. Instead of answering you directly, she said “let’s just say that 4 times my score is a multiple of 44, and 3 times my score is a multiple of 45.”
Could you tell what score she got? If not… you may need to work on your GRE translation skills! Read more
Do you work for a non-profit? How about promote positive social change? Manhattan Prep is honored to offer special full tuition scholarships for up to 16 individuals per year (4 per quarter) who will be selected as part of Manhattan Prep’s Social Venture Scholars program. The SVS program provides selected scholars with free admission into one of Manhattan Prep’s Live Online Complete Courses (a $1299 value).
These competitive scholarships are offered to individuals who (1) currently work full-time in an organization that promotes positive social change, (2) plan to use their degree to work in a public, not-for-profit, or other venture with a social-change oriented mission, and (3) demonstrate clear financial need. The Social Venture Scholars will all enroll in a special online preparation course taught by two of Manhattan Prep’s expert instructors within one year of winning the scholarship.
The deadline is fast approaching: July 6th, 2015!
Today the second edition of our 5 lb. Book of GRE Practice Problems comes out. Oodles of hours of hard work have gone into this edition, and we’re proud to share it with you.
You’re getting more problems—over 2,000—in a slightly lighter package (still over 5 lbs, of course). How?
Technology! We’ve put close to 500 of these problems online. Almost two hundred of these beauties are brand-new, so register your book and check them out.
In the physical package, you’ll still get your fill of solid problems, both new and re-written. We closely examined every first-edition problem for its GRE-likeness. Problems that needed an overhaul got one. In verbal, for instance, you’ll still find tough vocabulary—just as you will on the GRE itself. But you’ll find a better balance of tough sentence structures and fact patterns—just as the GRE presents.
In small ways and large, we’ve labored to make the look and feel of every problem ever more GRE-like. We replaced slash fractions (such as 1/2) with horizontal-line versions. We slid the numbering of QC questions so that the given information is actually above the number, because that’s how the Official Guide does it. We scrubbed and buffed the text of questions to a fine shine, in order to reflect the tiniest nuances of GRE style.
We also thoroughly edited our explanations. Where things were a little unclear before, we clarified them. The “voice of the teacher” comes through even better now.
In all of this work, we listened to you. We studied what you liked—and didn’t—about the first edition. Our endeavor has been to correct deficiencies and build upon strengths. We hope you find the second edition an even better resource than the first.
So, you’ve taken a practice test! Maybe you’re closing in on the score you want, or maybe you still have some distance left to travel. Regardless of which scenario applies to you, “reading” your practice test data is an incredibly crucial element to GRE progress!
I write this assuming I don’t need to discuss looking at your score, comparing overall quantitative to overall verbal, etc. Everyone looks at the ‘big’ numbers. The question is, what eureka moments can we gain from a deeper analysis?
There are three components to analyzing a practice test: analyzing timing, analyzing accuracy by question type, and analyzing accuracy by topic tested.
You can’t analyze your timing until you know what your timing should look like.
Does anything stand out to you in image above? Why do some questions take you less than one minute, while some take more than three? We expect some variation across different questions – Reading Comprehension should take longer than Text Completion or Sentence Equivalence, and Data Interpretation questions (especially the first DI question) will usually take longer than Quantitative Comparison. But why are there such wide swings in question time within the QC question? And I can’t help but notice that the two Discrete Quantity questions both took less time than the vast majority of the QC questions. Perhaps this is someone who is skilled in math, but doesn’t yet truly grasp the logic underlying the QC questions.
A review of QC as a question type is probably called for from this practice test.
Another element of timing is more fundamental (and the above image captures this concept also). Do you know when to let a question go, guess, and move on to the next question? Any time you spent three minutes on a question, you had a problem letting go. Right or wrong, that question hurt you.
Bottom line, when you analyze timing in a practice test, you want to see two things: 1) question by question timing – were you able to let a question go when needed, and 2) question type timing – do you have the desired timing for each question type?
Now it’s time to Generate an Assessment Report!!! (It’s exciting because it’s got three exclamation points 🙂 )
Analyzing Accuracy by Question Type
Take a few moments and see what you can find in the image above. Don’t worry, I’ll wait 🙂
Seriously, there’s a lot you should consider here. If you haven’t been looking for at least 5 minutes, you haven’t spent enough time. And although I *said* this is the Accuracy analysis portion of this post, we’re not done with timing.
First, let’s talk good decisions vs poor decisions. Good decisions – on TC, you know when to get out of a question. Look at the Average Time Wrong vs Average Time right for the Harder and Devilish TC questions. That’s what we want to see! This indicates you recognize when more time will/won’t pay off. (Maybe… more on this in a moment.)
So why aren’t you making the same decisions in SE?
Finally, why, why, why are you spending five minutes – on AVERAGE across three questions – in RC? What’s going on here? There’s some leeway in RC, because of the time needed to read and process a longer passage, but not five minutes leeway.
On the Easier RC question that you missed, you missed it in one minute. This indicates you were confident in your answer. Confident in the wrong answer – somewhere in this question is a trap that you fell for, and you need to figure out what that trap was!
Back to the TC timing: one possibility is you know when to get out of TC, and that’s why your wrong answers take less time than the right answers. Another, more disturbing possibility, is you’re cheating yourself on TC time. How do I know this? Look at the variation between TC and SE accuracy – it’s not huge, but the discrepancy is there. Why is TC accuracy lower?
Finally, the most obvious element of this analysis is that RC is your lowest accuracy. Time to go back and study!!!
Analyzing Accuracy by Topic Tested
This issue cannot be addressed by looking at one image – you will generate an assessment report, and view the Analysis by Content Area and Topic. There are a few things you’re looking for here.
First, and foremost, are you seeing accuracy and speed in topics you’ve studied? If you haven’t studied Geometry yet, who cares if your Geometry accuracy is 20%! But you’ve spent two full weeks reviewing algebra, so why are you missing 2 out of 3 function/formula questions? Bright side though, your accuracy in Quadratics is through the roof!!
Obviously that paragraph is a hypothetical, but notice two things: first, you need to decide which area(s) deserve your analysis; second, you need to look not just at the overall topic, but also at the subtopics.
You’re looking for improvements and discrepancies. Which areas are strong? Which are weak? Do you have a mix of strong and weak areas in one major topic? These are all question you need to ask yourself.
BUT you need to take this with a grain of salt – don’t neglect to consider the difficulty of the individual questions! Yes, maybe you missed 2 function questions. But they were both Devilish difficulty! You’re not weak in this area, you just got hit by some of the worst questions.
Finally, don’t neglect to examine timing in this area of analysis. Yes, you were accurate in Rates questions. But you spent 4 minutes on them. Time to study!!
I hope you’ve found this helpful. If you go back and look at my previous GRE blog posts, I think you’ll notice that this post contains many, many more rhetorical questions. That’s the point of practice test analysis. In the test, and when you’re studying, the computer, or the book, or whatever study source you’re using is asking you questions.
Analyzing your practice tests is the time for you to ask the questions. What are the weak areas? Strong areas? Why am I performing differently in Word Problems vs Geometry?
And there’s one question you must ask, which I haven’t addresses, simply because of how much space it would require – Are you seeing improvement???
Every time you take a practice test, from the second practice test on to the last, look at the most recent test, do all this analysis. Then look at the test prior – what’s changed? What has stayed the same? Have you improved in your weaknesses, and have strengths remained strong?
A practice test doesn’t teach you anything in and of itself – but it tells you where you are, and where you’re moving, and what you *should* be teaching yourself.