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  • 5 GRE Myths

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    There are the Greek myths, and then there are the GRE myths. We don't have much to say about the first but we can help bust the second.

    Disregard these common misconceptions about the GRE and you'll be on your way to admission.

    MYTH #1: GRE scores are not as important as your personal statement and your relationships with faculty members at prospective schools.

    FACT: While the weight placed on your GRE score in relation to other factors (undergraduate GPA, letters of recommendation, relevant experience in your chosen field, etc.) will vary from program to program, poor GREs can seriously hurt your chances of admission. In addition, GRE scores are an important factor when it comes to awarding teaching and research assistantships and merit–based financial aid.

    MYTH #2: The GRE tests complex math concepts.

    FACT: GRE math is tough because of the way the concepts are tested, not because of the concepts themselves. The GRE tests math concepts you learned in the seventh or eighth grade–you won't see any calculus or trigonometry.

    MYTH #3: You can hone a number of skills to improve your math score, but you can't really raise your verbal score.

    FACT: The beauty of standardized tests is that they are, well, standardized. That means they are predictable. We know exactly what is tested and how. In a Princeton Review GRE course or tutoring program, you will be taught exactly how passages and questions are constructed and learn skills to master each question type. Verbal scores can be improved by any student willing to put in the time.

    MYTH #4: Test Prep is really just about taking practice tests. If I take enough practice tests my scores will go up.

    FACT: Not true! Taking practice tests without learning new techniques will only reinforce the test-taking habits you have now. In order to improve your score, you have to change the way you take the test. That means learning new techniques and practicing them until they become habit.

    MYTH #5: All test prep is the same, it's really just about practice.

    FACT: No! Taking a standardized test is a skill, and mastering that skill requires the right tools, the right coaching, and lots and lots of practice. If you are going to pay for test prep, please make sure of the following things:

    • Access to authentic adaptive tests. If you are not practicing on tests that perfectly mimic the content and functionality of the real test, you're not practicing. Make sure your tests are electronic, adaptive by section, and mirror the same conversion processes used by ETS to generate scores.
    • Extensive use of electronic tools both inside and outside of the classroom. You are preparing for a computer based test. You cannot prepare for this test using a book and a whiteboard alone. Any decent course will use technology in the classroom to mimic the experience of taking the actual test. This is the only way for a teacher to watch and correct your mistakes.
    • Lots and lots of practice questions. You are learning a new skill and all new skills require lots of practice. You must have access to hundreds of practice problems in all subject areas. Make sure that your performance on these practice items can be reviewed by your teacher.
    • One-on-one review of your practice test performance. Test prep is only partly about the mastering the content covered on the exam. It is also about your pacing and test-taking skills. To be completely prepared, you must have the opportunity to sit down with your coach, one-on-one, to review your performance on practice exams. Every student is different. Personalized coaching is essential to getting the most out of your prep.