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Building Good GRE Habits

Building Good GRE Habits

A car is parked parallel to the footpath on the left of a road.  The driver follows these are the steps to start it and join the traffic:

Get in and adjust the seat position so that your feet reach the pedals easily. Adjust the backrest so that your arms reach the steering wheel comfortably. Adjust the rearview mirror and the two side-view mirrors to get a clear view of the road. Fasten your seatbelt. Release the handbrake. Put the key in the ignition and turn it just enough to unlock the steering wheel… Wait till the road is clear, then press the clutch all the way, and change to first gear. Release the clutch slowly till the car is just about to move… Press the accelerator to gain more speed.

At least, this is how a competent, experienced driver gets his car on the road. And this may be what a driving instructor says to a learner. Are you wondering how this verbiage about driving is related to the GRE? Not if you know anything about Manya – The Princeton Review!

A novice driver needs to recall all the steps and consciously follow them. The experienced driver, however, does it all without effort, seemingly, without even thinking. The expert GRE test taker behaves exactly the same way on the GRE!

It’s a habit all the way

A good GRE score is built on a foundation of techniques and building good GRE habits. A Manya – The Princeton Review teacher teaches the necessary techniques and imparts good habits that help students score high on the GRE. Your task is just to follow the instructions and develop the habits!

Let’s talk about a few good habits

Use the Scratch Paper

You may react, “But that is unrealistic! I will be just too slow!” Is that really so? Remember that accuracy is always more important than speed. Experts at Manya-The Princeton Review say that one minute spent on a question that you get right is more worthwhile than half a minute spent on a question that you get wrong. If you do all the work in your head and get it wrong, you will not be pardoned just because you did it in your head. Not registering your thoughts and workings on your Scratch Paper only increases the probability of getting the answer wrong! Further, if you want to come back to a question, the scratch paper will help you re-start from where you left.

What’s worse than not knowing how to answer a question? Knowing how to answer it and still getting it wrong! Reading the question carefully and working out every step on your scratch paper will save you from that ordeal!

RTFQ – Read The Full Question

Not that you were going to read only half of the question if we didn’t ask you to RTFQ; what we mean is that you must read the questions carefully, particularly, the critical terms and note what the question is asking. Hasn’t everybody made blunders of the type where you miss something in the question and get the answer wrong?

Next, fine-tune the habit. Add an extra step – after you get the answer, re-read the question to make sure that you have answered the QUESTION asked! Once you start doing this for every question, it will soon become a habit. The second check will not take more than a few seconds, and it will ensure that you make no more blunders of this type.

Mark and Move

At times you will come across questions that you do not know how to solve or that would take too long to solve. Within a section, every question contributes equally towards your score. Therefore, it doesn’t make sense to spend time on difficult time-consuming questions before you are done with the easy and medium difficulty questions. Mark and Move. Come back later. When you come back to a question that you couldn’t solve in the first attempt and look at it with fresh eyes, you may be able to answer it easily. Or make an educated guess and Mark and Move on again.

Let us go back to the driving metaphor. A good driver is one who has learnt and internalized the techniques and habits, who always drive safely, who knows the routes and the short cuts, and who knows what to do when there is a traffic jam or roadblock – take a detour!

Fortunately, GRE has given us this very useful tool – the Mark button and the Review page! Make use of it.

Do Not Panic

A wise man once said, “Examinations are formidable even to the best prepared, for (someone) may ask more than the wisest man can answer.” The GRE is a challenging exam, so why be surprised or unnerved when you are challenged? The key to success is how we respond to the questions we cannot answer, and that is where Manya – The Princeton Review’s advice comes into play. Do Not Panic. Why worry about and waste time on a question that you don’t know how to solve? Better spend time answering the questions that you can answer.

Don’t Leave Any Question Unanswered

A skipped question and a wrong answer count the same. Why leave any question unanswered because you don’t know how to solve it or because you have run out of time? There is no additional penalty for guessing, even if you get it wrong. Pick a Letter of the Day for every unanswered question – yes, it’s better that way – and make sure that you have clicked on an answer for every question before you end a section.

Remember to use the review screen to check that you have answered all the questions.

Practice the Techniques You Learn and Use Them on the Test

At Manya-The Princeton Review, you learn a lot of techniques. Techniques serve three purposes –

  • they make sure that you answer correctly the questions that you should get right,
  • they turn hard questions easier,
  • they help you manage your time more efficiently.

You need to practice using the techniques. Practice helps develop habits.

“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence then is not an act, but a habit,” thus spake Aristotle.

Learn top experienced tips to ace the GRE: Download our FREE, Complete Study Guide to the GRE!

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