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# BenchPrep's GRE Playbook

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Prepare smarter with the GRE Playbook. Review a breakdown of the test, study useful GRE-specific strategies, and learn expert tips.

* Practice questions and sample essay prompts
* Learn what a good GRE score is
* Prepare yourself with question type explanations
* Learn what the GRE essay graders are looking for
* Read the 10 GRE Commandments
* Get reviews of GRE test prep courses and books

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### BenchPrep's GRE Playbook

1. 1. BenchPrep’s GRE Playbook 2014 The one-stop resource for everything GRE.
4. 4. Chapter 1 Introduction Introduction to BenchPrep’s GRE Test Prep Program Games, Flashcards, BenchPrep’s Adaptive Nature, and Other Features How BenchPrep Can Improve Your Score
7. 7. BenchPrep | GRE Playbook 2014 | 7 Chapter 1 – Introduction ∞∞ 108 Lessons ∞∞ 510 Practice Questions ∞∞ 7 Quizzes 4. GRE Math Practice Questions by Allen Prep Allen Prep’s online GRE Math Prep course offers over a thousand practice questions to help you ace the Quantitative Reasoning section. Get a handle on the basic math skills and elementary concepts you’ll need to know before the test, and enhance your ability to reason quantitatively and to solve problems with proper quantitative methods. ∞∞ 1045 Practice Questions
8. 8. BenchPrep | GRE Playbook 2014 | 8 Chapter 1 – Introduction The BenchPrep GRE Course is Smart and Adaptive At BenchPrep, we think test preparation technology should move off the page and into the 21st Century! Because we are an online service, we are able to collect and analyze millions of data points every week to identify techniques and learning pat- terns that can help you get a better score. We use these learnings to create a person- alized study plan that lays out step-by-step weekly tasks for you. The plan adapts to your schedule and goals and will tell you exactly what to do next. Unlike most cook- ie-cutter, one-size-fits-all programs, we personalize the entire course around you! Select a date, and BenchPrep will figure out what you need to do. After you select a date, BenchPrep’s algorithm will calculate what the important con- cepts you need to learn before your test date. Whether you have one month or one year to prepare for the GRE, BenchPrep can adapt to suit your needs.
11. 11. At BenchPrep, we think test prep should move off the page and into the 21st Century!
12. 12. BenchPrep | GRE Playbook 2014 | 12 Chapter 1 – Introduction Even More Features Connections Instantly jump to related lessons while reviewing solu- tions to practice questions so that you can understand the concept better. Discussions Start a conversation with thousands of other students studying for the same test and are ready to help. Ask-an-expert Ask any question to our army of experts and expect a de- tailed answer within 24 hours. Rest assured that help is always just a click away. Confidence Levels Personalize the course by marking lessons and questions with confidence levels so that you can focus on parts that re- quire most attention. Notes & Bookmarks Create bookmarks and write custom notes to remind yourself of tips, questions, or concepts that you want to revisit later. How BenchPrep’s Subscription Can Improve Your Score At BenchPrep we firmly believe in listening to you, the student, when we make changes to our platform. And, we listen in different ways. Sometimes we get written and verbal feedback and other times we dig into data to better understand what you like and what you don’t. Data not only helps students and educators gain insight into performance, it also guides us in making decisions that will make studying easier, more efficient and more productive for you.
13. 13. BenchPrep | GRE Playbook 2014 | 13 Chapter 1 – Introduction Last year, we introduced a subscription model. With this new model, a student can access all courses related to a test in our library and pay a monthly or yearly fee, rather than having to purchase them one at a time. We wanted students to explore more courses and do more without worrying about paying every time they wanted to try a course. We have found that with this new model, students enroll in more courses and scores improve by over 20%. We measured score improvement by comparing performance on test of students who finished more than 60% of a course vs students who finished less that 20%. With more engagement and en- rollment in courses, BenchPrep subscription users have the highest score improvement at 20.5%. This is by far the most ex- citing finding for us of offering the new subscription model. So sign up now!
14. 14. Chapter 2 GRE 101 Overview of the GRE Why You Should Take the GRE What the GRE Measures What Programs Accept the GRE Infographics Comparing GMAT, MAT, and GRE How the GRE is Scored What the “Adaptive” GRE Means What is a Good GRE Score?
18. 18. BenchPrep | GRE Playbook 2014 | 18 Chapter 2 – GRE 101 The three sections of the the GRE—Verbal, Quantitative, and Analytical Writing—try to measure just this. In the list below, I’ll look some of the main things that ETS claims the GRE measures, along with a much simpler translation of what you need to know for the test. #1 The ability to “analyze and draw conclusions from discourse” Translation = can you read and understand arguments in text? In the Verbal Section, the GRE features a number of multiple-choice ques- tions following a short passage that makes some sort of argument. The ques- tions ask you to identify the overall logical flow of the passage. #2 The ability to “understand the meanings of words, sentences and entire texts” Translation = how good is your vocabulary? The GRE has variety of fill-in-the-blank questions (sometimes called “Text Completion” questions) asking you to identify the correct words to use in a given sentence or short passage. “Sentence Equivalence” questions are simi- lar: they basically ask you to identify synonyms. #3 The ability to “interpret and analyze quantitative information” Translation = can you understand charts and graphs? In the Quantitative Section, you’ll be presented with various forms of quanti- tative information, including graphs, charts, shapes, and tables. You will need to know how to analyze this information quickly and effectively to get to the right answer. #4 The ability to “solve problems using mathematical models” Translation = can you apply formulas correctly? Distance = rate * time. Remember?! Many questions in the Quantitative Sec- tion will ask you to apply a mathematical formula to get a correct answer.
23. 23. MATMATGREGRE vs Which test is right for you?Which test is right for you? Over +1000 MBA Programs Grad School Programs Grad School Programs If you are applying to MBA and/or graduate school programs Time Section 30 min. × 2 30 min. × 2 35 min. × 2 30 min. Analytical Writing Verbal Quantitative Experimental (math or verbal) or http://psychcorp.pearsonassessments.com/haiweb/Cultures/en-US/site/Community/PostSecondary/Products/MAT http://www.ets.org/gre http://benchprep.com 5 yrs score valid 1 yr score valid Can be taken anywhere and anytime of year 120 questions 100 will count towards your score 20 experimental items You won't know which are experimental. ? ! MAT ONLY has one question type - analogies. The test has a broad range.! There are math, verbal, AND essay sections to study for. avg 400 600200130 Verbal Quantitative Writing 170 130 170 0 6 If your program accepts it and if you are weaker in math and strong in reading comprehension 0 . = + - ×÷±c 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 1 hr1 hr3 HRS. 45 MIN. 3 HRS. 45 MIN.
24. 24. BenchPrep | GRE Playbook 2014 | 24 Chapter 2 – GRE 101 How is the GRE Scored? When you take the GRE, you’ll get three scores reported back to you: (1) your Verbal Reasoning score; (2) your Quantitative Reasoning Score; and (3) your Analytical Writ- ing score. The Verbal Reasoning and Quantitative Reasoning scores are based on the number of correct responses you answer, called the “raw score.” As you may remember, all questions on the GRE are equally weighted within sections. However, the GRE is section-adaptive, meaning that the second Verbal or Quantitative Reasoning section you see may be more difficult than the first, and may be more difficult than another test-taker’s second section. To adjust for these differences, ETS converts the raw score into a “scaled” score using a process called “equating.” This process attempts to ensure that no matter the diffi- culty of your specific test or sections you saw, the same scaled scores should identify the same performances across time and place. Scaled scores on the Verbal and Quantitative Reasoning Sections range from 130- 170, graded in 1-point increments. The statistics listed below are based on the re- vised GRE general test taken by 417,000 students between August 1, 2011 and April 30, 2012. For the Verbal Section, the worldwide average score is 150.8. A score of 159.3 places you in the 80th percentile, while a score of 167.8 places you in the 97th or 98th percentile. For the Quantitative Section, the worldwide average score is 151.3. A score of 160 corresponds to the 81st percentile, while a score of 168.7 places you in the 97th or 98th percentile. The Analytical Writing Section is scored differently, on a scale from 0-6, in half-point intervals. These essays are first graded by humans, who assess the essays on overall quality. The essay score is then reviewed by a computer- ized program to monitor the human reader. If there is a discrepancy between
27. 27. BenchPrep | GRE Playbook 2014 | 27 Chapter 2 – GRE 101 ∞∞ 168.7 is 2 standard deviations above average, corresponds to the 97th or 98th percentile Verbal worldwide average as provided by ETS. ∞∞ 150.8, with standard deviation 8.5 ∞∞ 159.3 is 1 standard deviation above average, corresponds to approximately the 80th percentile ∞∞ 167.8 is 2 standard deviations above average, corresponds to the 97th or 98th percentile. Worldwide Averages By Field of Study as provided by ETS: Analysis As you can see, anything at least one standard deviation above the average is a solid score, and anything at least two standard deviations above the average is an excep- tional score. Also note that students pursuing graduate degrees in Physical sciences and Engineering might look more favorable with a higher Quantitative Score than a Verbal score as shown by the results. A score that is one or two standard deviation above the average could be considered a good score, depending on your own indi- Intended Grraduate Major Verbal Score (Mean) Verbal (sd) Quantitative Score (Mean) Quantitative (sd) Analytical Writing (Mean) Analytical Writing (sd) Life Sciences 151 7 151 7 3.8 0.7 Physical Sciences 153 9 158 7 3.8 0.8 Engineering 150 9 159 6 3.6 0.8 Social Sciences 153 7 150 8 4.0 0.7 Humanities & Arts 157 7 149 7 4.2 0.8 Education 157 7 149 7 4.2 0.8 Business 150 7 152 8 3.7 0.8
29. 29. BenchPrep | GRE Playbook 2014 | 29 Chapter 2 – GRE 101 Keep in mind, however, that even if you don’t have to achieve a minimum score, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t set a target score and strive hard to reach it. To help determine your target score when no minimum score is given, check to see if the school provides information on average GRE scores of successful applicants, as well as other information that paints a profile of the qualifications/backgrounds of suc- cessful applicants. That information will help you to determine your target “Good GRE Score,” and also help you to determine what you need to do to make your over- all application as solid and well-rounded as possible--something that will stand out from the crowd. Of course, the higher your GRE score is, the better it will make the rest of your ap- plication look, so set goals and pay attention to details when prepping for GRE and when preparing your other application components.
30. 30. The GRE boils down three pretty simple concepts: it tries to test how well you can (1) read, (2) do math, and (3) write”
31. 31. Chapter 3 Taking the GRE When Shoud You Take the GRE Infographic How to Register for the GRE What’s the Difference Between the Paper-Based and Computer-Based GRE? About the GRE Subject Tests Should You Take the Subject Tests?
36. 36. BenchPrep | GRE Playbook 2014 | 36 Chapter 3 – Taking the GRE example, it would be smart to scout out the location ahead of time, because some GRE testing locations are in places you wouldn’t really notice other- wise. Plan to be at the testing center for about four and half hours, and know what to take with you. There is a \$50 fee to change your testing location or your date, and these changes must be made four days in advance. Finally, after registration, now is a great time to assess how much time you have to prepare, and budget a sensible study plan. BenchPrep offers a num- ber different study plans, depending on how much time you have. What is the Difference between the Paper-Based and Computer-Based GRE? Okay, you’re taking the GRE, but you see there’s both a computer-based test and a paper-based test. What’s the difference, and which one should I take? I’ll break down the differences into four main reasons, and provide a little more background info on the test. #1 The computer-based GRE is much, much more common. Let’s start here: if you are located in the United States, you will take the computer-based GRE. The paper-based test isn’t offered in the same places where the computer-based test is offered. The paper-based test is offered for the GRE subject tests, but that’s a different story. If you are located outside the US, there is a chance you may take the paper-based test, but it’s still most likely that you will take the computer-based test. In 2012, ETS begin to phase out the paper-based test, so it’s not really offered as much anymore. The GRE is offered year-round as a computer-based test in most locations around the world. Paper-based tests, on the other hand, are offered only up to three times per year. #2 The computer-based test is way more convenient. With the computer-based test, you will get your unofficial Verbal Reasoning and Quantitative Reasoning scores at the test center, but not your Analytical
38. 38. Unlike other standardized tests where you need to know specialized content which you might only learn in the later years of college, you already learned most of the content on the GRE in high school (hopefully!).”
39. 39. BenchPrep | GRE Playbook 2014 | 39 Chapter 3 – Taking the GRE About the GRE Subject Tests The General GRE is to the GRE Subject Tests are much like SAT is to the SAT Subject tests. Just as the SAT assess more general skills, and the SAT Subject Tests measure more specific knowledge about a particular subject, the General GRE and the GRE Subjects act in the same way. The GRE Subject Tests are used by Grad Schools as a measure of how much you know about a specific field of study. There are some key ways that the GRE Subject Tests differ from the General GRE, and I’ll outline some of these differences below. #1: The GRE Subject Tests are more specific. The GRE Subject Tests are more specific than the GRE General Tests, and test your knowledge in a specific field of study. #2 There are 7 GRE Subject Tests. There is only one General GRE (though of course there are different versions). There are, in contrast, 7 GRE Subject Tests: Biochemistry, Cell, and Molecular Biology; Biology; Chemistry; Literature in English; Mathematics; Physics; and Psychology. #3 GRE Subject Tests are paper-based. It’s very likely that you will take the General GRE on a computer, while the Subject Tests are only given in paper-based format. #4 GRE Subject Tests are only offered three times per year. The General GRE is offered year-round, but the GRE Subject Tests are only offered three times per year: in September, October, and April. #5 Not all Grad School Programs require GRE Subject Tests Most Grad School Programs (that aren’t medical school or law school) require the General GRE, but not all Grad Programs require the GRE Subject Tests. #6 GRE Subject Tests are one section, of 2 hours and 50 minutes. The structure of the GRE Subject Test depends on the specific test you need
40. 40. BenchPrep | GRE Playbook 2014 | 40 Chapter 3 – Taking the GRE to take. For example, the Biology GRE Subject test consists of 194 five-choice questions. The test is split into three major content categories: cellular and molecular biology, organismal biology and ecology and evolution. However, each GRE Subject Test is 2 hours and 50 minutes of continuous examination. #7 You get your scores back later. With the General GRE Test, you get your unofficial scores immediately after you take the test, and your official scores approximately 10-15 days after you take the test. With the Subject Tests, you don’t get your scores back until one month after you take the test. You might have to take the GRE Subject Test to complement your application to Grad School. Be sure to check the requirements for each school you’re planning on applying to. Should I Take the GRE Subject Tests? Just as the SAT assess more general skills, and the SAT Subject Tests measure more specific knowledge about a particular subject, the General GRE and the GRE Subjects act in the same way. The GRE Subject are used by Grad Schools as a measure of how much you know about a specific field of study. If you are applying to a Grad School Program related to the topics of the seven GRE Subject Tests, then there’s a chance you might have to take the GRE Subject Tests. The seven GRE Subject Tests are: ∞∞ Biochemistry, Cell, and Molecular Biology, ∞∞ Biology, ∞∞ Chemistry, ∞∞ Literature in English, ∞∞ Mathematics, ∞∞ Physics, and ∞∞ Psychology
42. 42. Chapter 4 Quantitative Section GRE Quantitative Basics Multiple Choice Questions Quantitative Comparison Questions Numeric Entry Questions 25 Things to Know for the Quantitative Section Quantitative Section General Strategies and Tips A Special Note on the Quantitative Section
44. 44. BenchPrep | GRE Playbook 2014 | 44 Chapter 4 – Quantitative Section Some GRE multiple-choice questions involve straightforward calculations, while others require you to evaluate a word-problem in a real-life setting. Still others may be part of question sets called Data Interpretation sets. All of the questions in a Data Interpreta- tion set are based on the same data presented in tables, graphs, charts, or figures. To solve GRE Multiple-choice questions, you typically will not be required to perform complex calculations. However, you will be given scratch paper for whatever figuring you wish to do, and you will also be provided with a calculator to assist you when necessary. (In the computer-based test, the calculator will appear on screen.) Example: B. Quantitative Comparison Quantitative Comparison questions ask you to compare two quantities and deter- mine whether: (1) one is larger than the other, (2) the quantities are equal, or (3) there is not enough information to determine a relationship between the two quantities. Some questions include additional information that is centered above the two quan- tities that concerns one or both of the quantities. Quantitative Comparison questions generally require more logic skills than math skills. Q. If 5x - 6 = 14, then 8x = A. B. C. D. E. 4 20 32 8 5 64 5 Q.The ratio of two quantities is 4 to 5. If each of the quantities is increased by 3, which of the following could be the fraction of theses two new quantities? Indicate all answer choices that apply. A. B. C. 7 8 23 28 11 13
45. 45. BenchPrep | GRE Playbook 2014 | 45 Chapter 4 – Quantitative Section You will be asked to select from answer choices A through D. ∞∞ If you decide that Quantity A is greater than Quantity B, select answer choice A. ∞∞ If you decide that Quantity B is greater than Quantity A, select answer choice B. ∞∞ If you decide that the quantities are equal, select answer choice C. ∞∞ If there is not enough information to determine a relationship between the two quantities, select answer choice D. It’s smart to memorize the order of these answer choices before the test, as they will always be the same. In each Quantitative section, the Quantitative Comparison questions always come first. The other question types do not appear in any predetermined order, nor is there any set number of each question type on every GRE General Test. The best way to handle the Quantitative Comparison questions is to simply determine the value of each quantity. It is often better to estimate values because you are really just trying to decide if one value is greater than the other. After you have calculated the values, you can easily determine the relationship, if one exists. If one quantity is sometimes greater than or sometimes less than the other quanti- ty, the relationship cannot be determined from the information, and so you should select answer D. Example: This question gives you two quantities, Quantity A and Quantity B. Compare the two quan- tities and choose one of the following answer choices: Q. A \$25 CD was bought on sale for \$17.50. A. B. C. D. if Quantity A is greater; if Quantity B is greater; if the two quantities are equal; if you cannot determine the relationship based on the given information. Quantity A Quantity B The difference between the original price and the price of the CD during the sale 75% of the original price
47. 47. BenchPrep | GRE Playbook 2014 | 47 Chapter 4 – Quantitative Section 25 Things to Know: Quantitative The Quantitative section of the GRE (the “math” section) doesn’t really have many complicated math concepts. But there are a lot of concepts that you might have learned in high school that are handy to catch up on. Try to memorize as many of the math tricks below to make your GRE Quantitative section a breeze! 1 2 3 4 5 6 3:4:5 Triangle is a “Pythagorean triple” with a 90° angle and sides lengths of 3:4:5 or 6:8:10 or 12:16:20 . . . you get the picture. 30°-60°-90° triangle has sides of lengths of s - s√3 - 2s. 45°-90°-45° triangle has sides of lengths s - s√2 - s. (n-2 =180) = The sum of all interior angles of any polygon a²+b²=c² = the Pythagorean Theorem 1/2(base × height) = area of a triangle
48. 48. BenchPrep | GRE Playbook 2014 | 48 Chapter 4 – Quantitative Section 13Πr³ = volume of a sphere 12Πr² = area of a circle 11C=2Πr = circumference of a circle 8 10 9 7length×width = area of a rectangle base×height = area of a parallelogram 1/2(base1 + base2) × height = area of a trapezoid side² = area of a square
49. 49. BenchPrep | GRE Playbook 2014 | 49 Chapter 4 – Quantitative Section 14 16 17 18 19 15 length × width × height = volume of a rectangular solid (1/3)³ = (1³/3³) = 1/27 Distance between two points = √[(X2-X1)²+(Y2-Y1)²] Fraction tip: 1/y + 1/x = x + y /xy. Example: 1/2 +1/3 = 2 +3 / 3 × 2 = 5/6 Simple interest = P[(1 + rt)/100], where P= Principal, r=rate, and t=time. So the interest on \$100 at 5% for two years = 100[(1 + .05×2)/100] = \$11 edge³ = Volume of a cube
50. 50. BenchPrep | GRE Playbook 2014 | 50 Chapter 4 – Quantitative Section 20 21 22 23 24 25 Compound interest = P[(1 + r/100n]^nt, where P= Princi- pal, r=rate, n=number of periods, and t=time. So the com- pound interest on \$100 at 5% for two years, compounded monthly = 100[(1 + .05/100×12]^12×2 = \$110.49 Work rate formula = (1/time taken by both) = (1/time taken by person A) + (1/ time taken by person B) Distance = rate × time Order of operations = PEMDAS = Parentheses, Exponents, Multiplication, Division, Addition, Subratction Solving an inequality: when multiply- ing both sides by a negative number, always switch the direction of the in- equality sign. So -2x > 6 yields x<-3. Standard deviation: the greater the standard deviation, the more spread out a set of values is. The small the standard deviation, the more closely the values are to the mode.
51. 51. On the Quantitative section, your ability to apply reason and logic to solving the quantitative questions is more import- ant than your ability to recall mathematical for- mulas and principles.”
54. 54. Chapter 5 Verbal Section GRE Verbal Basics Sentence Equivalence Questions Reading Comprehension Questions Text Completion Questions A Special Note about Vocabulary 25 Things to Know for the Verbal Section Verbal Section General Strategies and Tips
58. 58. BenchPrep | GRE Playbook 2014 | 58 Chapter 5 – Verbal Section Example: A Special Note about Vocabulary A special note about vocabulary is appropriate. While the GRE Verbal sections require different types of analytical skills from the reader, a critical element in each of these questions is vocabulary. The GRE and SAT have always been vocabulary intensive, and GRE vocabulary on the revised GRE is no different. It may seem easier because the vocabulary all appears in context, but learning lots of new vocabulary can still improve your score significantly. There are several resources to find the most often used GRE vocabulary words. An- other strategy is to write down words you do not know while you are practicing for the GRE and memorize those. Unlike math skills, vocabulary skills are more difficult to increase in a short period of time. You must start several weeks before the test and continuously learn new words before the test. Once a word is learned, continue to review with your new words. Vocabulary should be a key element of your study plan throughout your preparation process. Experts believe that humans have 10 trillion cells in their bodies that (i) any number of essential genetic elements; scientists often marvel at what incredible (ii) would ensure should the cells become jumbled or misunderstand their purpose. Blank (i) Blank (ii) A - govern D - order B - organize E - method C - dislocate F- chaos
59. 59. The GRE Verbal section is designed to measure the skills required to carefully read and understand sentences and passages in standard written English, skills vital to success in graduate school.”
60. 60. BenchPrep | GRE Playbook 2014 | 60 Chapter 5 – Verbal Section 25 Things to Know: Verbal 1 2 3 4 5 6 Use roots, prefixes, and suffixes to determine the meaning of words you don’t know. Vocabulary is essential. When it comes to the GRE Verbal section, that’s the bottom line. Be proactive: look up words you don’t know! On definition questions, guess quickly! Many questions re- quire you to know the definition, and because it’s likely that you can’t use much logic to get to a better answer, select one and move on. You can always come back if you have time. Find your personal reading passage strategy. If you read the questions first, when you read the passages, you can focus on find- ing the right answers most quickly. However, some students find that reading the passage first helps them understand the argument more generally first, before delving into the specific questions. Pay special attention to the first and last sentences. They provide important clues to the meaning of each passage. Questions with Roman numeral answers are often confus- ing and difficult. They ask you choose one more more or to find an exception. If you’re running low on time, mark down a guess and move to the next question.
65. 65. BenchPrep | GRE Playbook 2014 | 65 Chapter 5 – Verbal Section Text Completions ∞∞ Read through the text once to get an idea of context. ∞∞ Pay attention to “clue” words in the text, such as transition words, that will help you to identify the structure of the text. ∞∞ Start with the blank that seems the most simple to fill, and then work on the others. ∞∞ Once you’ve made your selections, check the text for logic and grammar.
66. 66. Chapter 6 Analytical Writing Section GRE Writing Basics “Analyze an Issue” Task “Analyze an Argument” Task Sample Essay Prompts 25 Tips for Analytical Writing What the GRE Graders are Looking For How to Get a 6 Writing Section General Strategies and Tips