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From 162Q/157V to 167Q/166V: r/GRE success story

From 162Q/157V to 167Q/166V: r/GRE success story


The guy is a non-native English speaker who took about 3 months to study for the exam. He worked full time, and so could only study 2 hours a day.

For quant: he found ETS math review helpful. He did the Magoosh questions, then took notes on the explanations. He was also a fan of the official ETS materials and, strangely enough, the Official Guide to the GMAT. He also took a ton of practice tests.

For verbal: he reviewed vocab from Magoosh, but he reviewed it on Quizlet because he dislikes the Magoosh app. Also, he read magazines like the Atlantic for reading comprehension.

He took a practice test every weekend (which is overkill, in my opinion). But, he liked seeing the scores go up.


Original post

Hi everyone, I’ve frequented this sub in the past three months and what an invaluable resource this sub has been for my preparation! I decided to create an account and make this post to thank everyone for all the advice and help. I’m overjoyed to score Q167 V166, which is a significant improvement from the previous score of Q162 V157 I got 2 years ago.

As a non-native English speaker I’m very surprised that I got over 160 on verbal, so thank you for recommending the high-quality reading resources which I now greatly enjoy reading every day!

Edit: Here’s how I prepared for the exam.

I have always sucked at math and so I had been working through the Mastery Challenges on Khan Academy from 1st Grade to 8th Grade to rebuild my math foundation prior to studying for GRE.

I started preparing on Feb 26 and took the test on Jun 7. I have a day job and I get up every morning at 6 to prepare for about 2 hours before heading off to work.

My study plan is loosely based on the 90-day Advanced GRE study plan from Magoosh and I also read u/dmahr‘s walkthrough. Let me walk you through my prep:

  • I skipped most of the math lesson videos on Magoosh. Aside from the quantitative comparison strategies and mental math videos, I found that the ETS Math Review was more helpful in explaining concepts that are useful on the exam.

  • I did all of the problems on Magoosh. Most problems classified as Hard or Very Hard on Magoosh seem to be harder than the actual problems on the exam, but they are useful in identifying my weak areas. For every problem that I got wrong, I watched the accompanying video to understand why I got wrong. Sometimes it’s because I was careless, other times it’s because there were concepts or strategies that I was unfamiliar with. In the latter case I would write down what I learned from the mistake in my notebook. For problems that I got right, I still read the accompanying text to see if there was any quicker method that I was unaware of.

  • The primary materials I used to study for the GRE were the official ETS GRE guide (3rd ed.), ETS Verbal practice questions book, ETS Quant practice questions book, the Manhattan 5lb study book (1st ed.), and the GMAT Official Guide. I would say that the ETS books and the GMAT guide were the most useful, though the Manhattan practice problems, while sometimes more difficult than the ones on the actual exam, were quite helpful, too. Repeatedly exposing myself to the material helped to solidify the concepts.

  • Because I have a day job and I’m a slow learner, there were times when I couldn’t finish all the material I planned for myself in the morning. I dedicated Sunday mornings to catching up and reviewing what I wrote down in the notebook during the week.

  • The Magoosh vocabulary app is VERY buggy and I hated every bit of it. Luckily some people extracted all the words and put them on Quizlet. I just used Quizlet app and the long-term learning mode (which I think uses the spaced repetition technique to aid memorization) to learn instead. I studied the flash cards whenever I could—on my commute to work, when I was waiting in line, etc. Do a search on Quizlet and you’ll find the decks. I still used the Magoosh math flashcard apps because I couldn’t find anything similar on Quizlet.

  • I read articles and magazines during lunch breaks at work. I didn’t read books because I felt that articles would be closer to what I would get on the exam. My favorite websites are NautilusArts & Letters Daily, and Scientific American. I also read The Atlantic. Usually I read 2-3 articles per day.

I took practice tests every Saturday, and I could see my scores dramatically improving in the final weeks:

  • First test (Magoosh): Q160 V156

  • Second test (ETS Practice Test 1): Q162 V156

  • Third test (ETS Practice Test 2): Q162 V158

  • Fourth test (Manhattan 1): Q159 V160

  • Fifth test (Manhattan 2): Q161 V158

  • Sixth test (Manhattan 3): Q161 V159

  • Seventh test (Manhattan 4): Q161 V158

  • Eighth test (Manhattan 5): Q161 V158

  • Ninth test (Manhattan 6): Q161 V161

  • Tenth test (ETS PowerPrep I): Q170 V162

  • Eleventh test (ETS PowerPrep II): Q166 V162

  • Twelfth test (Magoosh): Q169 V163

Hope this helps you guys! Good luck on your exam!

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