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Top GRE Tips — Quantitative and Verbal Reasoning

This page provides a list of GRE tips and strategies that apply to the exam's Quantitative Reasoning and Verbal Reasoning sections. Though you may have read similar points of advice elsewhere, they're well worth reinforcing.

  • Don't resort to random guesswork. When answering multiple-choice questions, try to eliminate at least one answer choice before confirming your response. By eliminating answer choices you know are wrong you improve your odds of selecting the correct one.

  • Avoid careless errors in answering Quantitative Reasoning questions. If a Quantitative question asks you to work to a solution and select among multiple choices, some wrong answer choices may reflect common computational errors. So use the on-screen calculator and/or pencil and scratch paper for all but the simplest calculations, and be sure to double-check your work.

  • Beware "runner-up" choices when answering Verbal Reasoning questions. Sentence Equivalence, Text Completion and Reading Comprehension questions often come with not only a best answer choice but also a runner-up, or second-best, choice. The qualitative difference between the two can be subtle. So never hasten to select and confirm an answer until you've weighed all the choices carefully.

  • Pace yourself so you have enough time to consider every available question. Each Verbal and Quantitative section provides approximately 20 questions. For most test takers, the optimal strategy is to attempt a reasoned response to each and every question without rushing. The questions in each section are numbered by the order in which they're presented. Check your progress after every five questions and adjust your pace as needed. But try not to be a constant clock watcher.

  • Reserve time to go back to questions you want to work on again. The testing system allows you to return to any question in the current section and to change your answers. You can use the mark-and-review feature (see below) to tag questions you'd most like to return to later. Pace yourself to allow enough time — perhaps five minutes — to review those questions.

  • Use the mark-and-review feature, but don't overuse it. With this testing feature you can earmark (tag) questions you'd most like to review later. But the feature isn't very useful if you earmark too many questions. Mark a question for review only if you think that spending a bit more time on it may very well make the difference between answering it correctly and incorrectly.

  • Don't succumb to perfectionist tendencies. When it comes to an exam as important as the GRE, it's all too easy to dwell too long on each question for fear of answering it incorrectly. This sort of stubbornness can prove self-defeating by reducing the number of questions you have time to attempt, which in turn is likely to lower your score. Moreover, you run the risk of over-analyzing questions and going against your initial hunch, which more often than not is correct. Remember: You can miss quite a few questions and still score high.

  • Don't waste time reading test directions. Just before the first question of each format, and while the testing clock is running, the testing system will display the directions for that format. Save valuable time by dismissing the directions right away. (This advice presupposes that you already know the directions, which you will if you've prepared for the exam.)