Isn’t it irritating to discover that one of the mistakes you made was actually a careless mistake that you could have prevented in the first place?
It is true that anybody can make a mistake. But there are avoidable mistakes. This is through vicarious learning. This is when people are about to do something new. They ask people who have done it before for their own personal experiences, including their mistakes. This may also be through mere observation of a behavior’s consequence. Through this, the former gets to have an idea of what mistakes to avoid. Sometimes, there may be extra precautions to take to avoid going through what the latter did. This can be applied to standardized tests, particularly for GRE preparation and test day. Prospective graduate school students ask previous GRE test takers for tips and tricks to ace the test.
Everyone makes mistakes. That’s a fact. But the good thing is, mistakes can be avoided by practicing and training in these usual areas. Below are the common mistakes made while taking the GRE:
- Overestimating the use of calculators and not being able to think more logically.
- Lack of persistence in answering difficult questions leads to giving up.
- Answering the test quickly may cause an examinee to overlook certain points in the question and options.
- Spending too much time on certain areas, like reading comprehension.
- Not making a pre-writing plan covering the outline of thoughts to be put in the essay.
- Leaving some questions unanswered.
- Not double-checking the test answers.
- Not fully understanding a question and quickly jumping to looking for the right answer from the list of options.
- Letting the feelings get in the way, which may interfere with test-taking.
Listed above are the common mistakes committed by previous GRE test takers. This includes the flaws in both the prep time and the actual exam day. When a test taker is familiar with these, one should make an effort to look for better, practical, and achievable ways to avoid doing these.
There are a couple of mistakes committed in the GRE verbal reasoning section. These are the following:
1. Reading the reading comprehension (RC) passages before reading the verbal questions.
This is a common mistake done by test takers. Reading the whole RC passage consumes more time than doing the opposite. That is, reading the question stem first before the actual passage. With this, the verbal questions act as a guide whilst reading. This also saves time because you already know what points you are looking for and the answer choices.
2. Trying to consider each possible combination of answers.
In the completion or text completion questions, trying out every possible combination of answers could be a waste of time. Instead, try to analyze what the sentence implies and what it is trying to ask. Think of a possible correct answer then check in the answer choices if it is there. If not, you may choose the closest one. Then, decide if it seems to be right.
3. Choosing two synonymous word without checking the question.
In sentence equivalence questions, some test takers tend to take the shorter route, which is simply looking for two synonymous words then choosing that as the correct answer. This is a silly mistake because sometimes test takers miss the accuracy on sentence equivalence questions. Not because a choice gives 2 words that are synonym makes it the right answer. Filling in the sentence with the chosen words is still advised to check the appropriateness.
Analyzing these errors, a basic mistake in the GRE verbal reasoning test questions is the use of time. Remember that the admission time given to answer this section is only 30 minutes. Allot more minutes on verbal questions that need more attention and as much as possible save time. Make sure to avoid these mistakes to get a good, or even high, verbal score.
Some also refer to the GRE Quantitative Reasoning section as the math section of the GRE. Mistakes here could be lack of knowledge on the topic or careless mistakes. Listed below are the common mistakes in the GRE Quant in detail:
1. Calculation Errors.
Sometimes, because test takers become too confident of basic math operations, they don’t double check their answers anymore. This leads to mathematical errors which can cost a test taker a lot. It is advised to do math on paper rather than mental math or just do math on paper for checking.
2. Not reading the GRE quant question carefully.
It is normal that examinees feel a rush when answering a test under time conditions. But unfortunately, this can lead to misreading the question stem, If that’s the case, it’s likely impossible to choose the correct answer. If you think about it, this is an avoidable mistake. What an examinee needs is focus and mindfulness.
3. Forgetting the signs.
Everyone knows how important the positive signs and negative signs are in mathematics. Some students, because of the rush again, some students get too excited when getting the right solution and answer that they might miss the sign. That would’ve been another wasted point.
There are two types of analytical writing tasks: the argument tasks and issue tasks. That means there are two essays that must be written. These are the common and silly mistakes made by examinees in the GRE analytical writing section.
1. Failure to go through the topic pool prior to the real exam.
On the official ETS website, there are about 200 possible topics for both essay tasks on the official ETS website. Don’t worry because you do not have to write 200 essays to be prepared. You can just go through the list and try to think of your personal opinion or possible take on the subject. It is wise to do research on topics you are not familiar with.
2. Believing that writing longer essays will result in a higher score.
While it may be true sometimes, it is still logical to think that this section measures the analytical writing skills of the examinee. Experts advise writing an essay that has about 600 to 650 words. More than that, it can be so lengthy that you risk making your point. Also remember that it is a 60-minute task and that you have a limited time; there are only 30 minutes to write each essay. As a result, remember to make a good point from the start, to be consistent, and to practice time management.
3. Committing minor grammatical errors
ETS is okay with examinees making simple errors. It is stated in ETS’s analytical writing score level descriptions that minor errors made are okay as long as they do not interfere with the meaning. However, an examinee should make a great effort to avoid making mistakes in grammar, spelling, and punctuation that an elementary student clearly knows. On the other hand, for non-native English speakers, this might be tricky or difficult. Reading a lot before the actual exam may help with ideas and even sentence variety. Make sure to use simple sentences so you can avoid simple errors. Write in a way that you are confident in the grammar, spelling, and form of sentences. Generally, be mindful and have control of sentence structure.
An examinee may make the following mistakes on the GRE analytical writing section: being unfamiliar with the pool of topics, not having sufficient time due to writing lengthy passages, and making basic grammatical errors. Avoid making these mistakes to achieve a score of between 3.5 and 6.0, which is a good GRE analytical writing score.
The Analytical Writing Assessment (AWA) portion of the GRE assesses an examinee’s ability to communicate briefly and constructively. Since this involves writing tasks, grammar is a very important factor to remember. Listed below are the usual grammar errors committed on the GRE, according to Jennifer Lee Magas and Dr. Lissi Athanasiou-Krikelis:
- Incorrect Verb Forms or Tenses
- Misuse of “Who” and “Whom”
- Violation of Parallel Structure
- Dangling Modifiers
- Improper Use of “Fewer” and “Less”
- Run-on Sentences
Grammar plays a significant role in the AWA. Do not worry because minor errors are often overlooked, but still be cautious of major errors that might be committed. The common errors and mistakes committed in the analytical writing section as per these professionals should be taken note of.
Listed below are the common mistakes made during the preparation for the GRE.
- Procrastination and cramming are the leading mistakes committed by students while preparing for the GRE
- Not taking too many practice tests, which could possibly help identify the weak spots
- Not examining the correct and wrong answers in the mock tests
- Overconfidence on certain test sections. Hence, focusing only on a specific section is not
- Underestimating and neglecting the vocabulary, which will be of help in the verbal section
These common mistakes made while preparing for the GRE can be avoided if an examinee has a full understanding and awareness of them. Along with hard work and discipline, these also help in studying effectively.
Mistakes happen. That’s true but there are some mistakes that can be avoided. Remember that every point counts so don’t let silly mistakes decrease your score. Listed below are tips to avoid committing these mistakes.
- Make a study plan and follow it.
Keeping a list of the important topics included in the test and making a schedule of what to study every day can help an examinee prepare for the GRE test day. This way, the progress can be tracked and it can be made sure that there are no important topics left unstudied.
- Answer enough practice and mock tests.
Try to take full-length practice tests to get an almost similar experience to the actual test day. Through this, one becomes familiar with how it feels to take the exam and how the system works.
- Do not procrastinate.
The GRE is given all year long, so that means that test takers have the freedom to choose when to schedule the test. Remember that one step to succeeding is to devote time and effort, most especially in preparation.
- Read the questions carefully.
Some examinees rush in to answer the GRE. Because of this, they missed some important points in the question. Hence, choosing the wrong option. It is vital to read the questions carefully and fully understand what they are trying to ask.
- Do not focus on one section.
This tip applies to both the preparation period and the test day. Sometimes, students are overconfident that they are well-versed in specific test sections. That’s why they only focus on the sections they think they need to improve on. This is actually wrong. A balanced study will help a test taker increase their GRE score. Remember that a high score in one section will not pull a low score from another. Rather, it may give a bad impression on the deciding committee.
- Double check the answers before submitting.
Some test takers are so eager to finish the exam as soon as possible that they do not check the questions and answers. Scanning the test once more is helpful in checking whether there are questions or even answer choices that were overlooked.
It depends on the target score. If a test taker aims to get a score of 170 on the verbal section, a maximum of two mistakes can be made. For the quantitative section, two mistakes would give a score of 169.
It is not possible to view the questions that were answered incorrectly. After the test, the examinee will only receive the total score on the score report.
After answering a practice exam, a student should look over the test and see which items he/she got the wrong answer to. List down or mark these practice questions and analyze why you got them wrong. It is possible that it is a common mistake, but sometimes it is due to test taker factors. These are getting confused by the question type, getting distracted by extraneous variables, lack of focus, or maybe just not knowing the answer. Through this, a student gets an idea of his/her own strengths and weaknesses, giving them the opportunity to focus on areas that need improvement. Also, with this, a student learns from the mistake and avoids making the same error on the actual GRE General Test.