I’m Vince Kotchian, and I’ve been a private tutor for the GRE for about eight years. I’ve seen students who’ve scored 170 on a section without my help and students who could barely answer any of the questions correctly. I thought it might be interesting to give you a few pieces of advice I commonly give students no matter what level they’re at – advice that I find that almost everyone can benefit from. The GRE is an important test, so creating smart study habits is crucial.
- Practice the essays more.
The most difficult part of the GRE to practice for most students is the Analytical Writing Assessment, better known as the essays. It is usually much more fun to pick up a book and do some math problems or to study some vocabulary than to sit for 30 minutes and write. To make matters worse, when you’re done with your practice essay, you may not have any idea if it’s good or not, since you may not know anyone who can grade it!
Here’s what I recommend: First, read what ETS has to say about the essay and how it’s graded, and read all of the sample essays that ETS provides, along with the grader commentary. This advice is the most accurate you can find, since ETS writes the test. You can model the high scoring essays to improve your own writing.
Next, locate the pools of essay topics on the GRE’s official website. Practice brainstorming as many topics as you can, so that you increase the chances you’ll get a topic on test day with which you’re familiar. After you’re more comfortable brainstorming, write some essays untimed. Compare them to the ETS sample essays. Even better, find someone who is a good writer to critique your work.
Finally, practice writing timed essays until you’ve written a few good ones within the 30-minute time limit. This will make the essays tasks go much more smoothly when you take the real GRE.