Are you preparing to take the GRE? This is the first of a series of five posts by Manhattan GRE’s Jennifer Dziura on study tips for the exam.
Tip #1: Start early and study often!
If you majored in philosophy and haven’t seen a polynomial since high school, be realistic regarding how much time it will take you to refresh your knowledge of algebra and geometry, and then how much time it will take you to study GRE-specific content (such as the Quantitative Comparison format) and practice under timed conditions and on actual Computer Adaptive Tests. If it took you two years to learn algebra the first time around and you feel like you’ve forgotten it all, you can expect to need several months (at least) to get back in the game.
Similarly, if you majored in engineering and haven’t been regularly reading and processing college-level material in areas such as social science, literature, and historical analysis, it’s going to take awhile to become comfortable with and confident about that kind of material – not to mention the time it will take to substantially augment your vocabulary.
Now that we’re talking about vocabulary, let’s be clear: you just can’t cram vocabulary, and there aren’t a whole lot of shortcuts. Sure, learning roots can be helpful – if you know that “con-” means “with” and “-dign” (the same root in dignity and deign) means “worthy,” you could make some reasonable inferences about the word condign (which means “just or appropriate, especially as related to a punishment fitting a crime”). But, for the most part, you will have to learn 500 – 2000 new words, so it is best to begin as soon as possible!
Fortunately, learning vocabulary is something you can do on your own at very little cost – and the benefits of having a prodigious vocabulary (being perceived to be smarter, for instance) will last you a lifetime!