If you have been prepping for the GRE and have found yourself in the middle range of scores, you are not alone. Indeed, most people taking the test fall within the middle range (a phenomenon explained by the Bell Curve). Getting over 155 or higher, in either math or verbal, will help you break from the pack. But doing so, especially if you are starting in the mid-140’s, can be challenging. Here are some tips to keep in mind.
1. You are not trying to get a perfect score—only a better score
So just how difficult is the GRE? Well, it depends on just what is a good GRE score to you. If you only need to answer two more questions correctly in the first verbal section, you don’t have to worry about the really difficult questions.
See, the more difficult questions aren’t worth more than the easy questions. So don’t despair when you see a triple blank Text Completion with brutally difficult vocabulary, thinking, “I’ll never be able to answer that.”
Learn strategies that will help you correctly answer those few questions that are within your ability. That will make the difference test day.
2. Try to do practice questions slightly outside your comfort zone
So don’t tackle the uber-hard reading passages or geometry questions. Practice questions that are slightly difficult for you. That is they should make you squirm a little bit, but you should be able to get somewhere close to the answer in two minutes. If upon seeing the answer and explanation, you still have no idea what is going, then that question is probably too challenging. Let it go, and focus on the easier stuff. If you find yourself completely in the dark, try your hand at some varied level GRE math practice questions to see where you stand.
3. Don’t just use one source
There are countless GRE materials out there, some good and some bad. But no GRE source is that good that it is the only one you’ll need. Use a combination of the best sources, especially the ones that target your weakness.
A good place to start—in terms of learning more about the GRE landscape—is the new GRE guide from Magoosh. It describes the best books to use, and the best ways to go about preparing for the GRE. Who knows? Maybe the resource(s) you are using, can be part of the reason why your score is stuck somewhere in the middle.
You will improve bit by bit. A point at a time or two. Sometimes your score will even go down. While such dips can seem very frustrating, they are a part of the process of improving. The key is to stick with it and not let a negative score—or an ostensible lack of improvement—stop you from prepping with vigor. Just edge up to the 155 range; that’ll put you in the GRE score range of some of the more competitive schools in the country.
This post was written by Chris Lele, resident GRE expert at Magoosh, a leader in GRE prep. For more advice on taking the GRE, check out Magoosh’s GRE blog.