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GRE Test Prep: 4 Daily Habits for Much Stronger Verbal Skills

GRE test prep

Read time: 5 minutes

GRE test-takers are often divided into two camps. On the one side you have the math enthusiasts, and on the other, the wordsmiths.

It’s quite rare to see an equal balance between these two skill sets. And even when students have strengths in both math and verbal, they often need targeted practice to prepare for the unique ways these abilities are tested on the GRE.

Feeling a bit concerned about your own verbal skills? More at home with algebra than literary analysis? Learning English as a second or third language?

Start by making time for verbal prep each and every day. Daily practice is absolutely essential for improving your vocabulary and analytical skills in time for the test.

Use these four trusted GRE verbal prep strategies to get the ball rolling.

1. Time yourself when practicing GRE verbal questions

Time management is a significant challenge for many GRE test-takers. We’ve all experienced that terrible feeling of being “frozen” in front of a difficult question, unable to make a choice between options A and B. Meanwhile, time ticks away.

It’s very easy to lose precious moments throughout the verbal section of the exam—especially when you’re not mindful of pacing, second-guess yourself often, or take too long deliberating over each question.

Pacing is key. But it’s not something you can implement at the last moment on exam day. You’ll need to determine how many minutes to allot to each verbal question type: text completion, reading comprehension, and sentence equivalence.

Be sure to use a timer during your GRE test prep to get used to working within limits, and slowly improve your reading and response times.

2. “Actively” read one GRE-type article each day

Many GRE training tips suggest reading as much as possible leading up to the exam, to get used to tackling sophisticated vocabulary and concepts.

However, simply reading through challenging texts won’t be enough to prepare you for the GRE’s reading comprehension section. You must practice “active” reading to build the skills tested on the GRE.

Active reading means interpreting and analyzing the text as you go, picking out important information and mentally summarizing key concepts. When you read actively, you’re able to absorb complex and unfamiliar concepts more quickly and thoroughly—which is exactly what you’ll need to do on the exam.

If you make a habit of actively reading unfamiliar material leading up to the exam, you won’t feel panicked by an obscure topic on test day. You’ll know precisely how to scan for and identify the information needed to answer each descriptive, interpretive, and analytical question.

Not sure which skills are needed to practice active reading, or how to build them? A GRE course can be extremely helpful for learning how to develop and apply a range of targeted reading strategies.

3. Every time you meet an unfamiliar word, look it up!

Part of active reading is acknowledging terminology and concepts you don’t understand, and taking a moment to seek out explanations. Sometimes this can be accomplished through context. The sentence surrounding the unfamiliar word helps you decode its meaning. You take an educated guess and move on.

Other times, you simply have to stop and hunt down a definition. And when your goal is to expand your vocabulary for the GRE, stopping to look up words is non-negotiable! You should keep a running list of new words and their explanations, and try to use those words as often as possible, to help memorize their meanings.

You don’t always have to use new words while talking out loud. Just incorporating new vocabulary into your thoughts can be helpful for cementing understanding and retention.

4. Use a GRE test prep app for daily vocabulary practice

Many test-takers swear by their GRE apps for squeezing in extra vocabulary practice during the day. More than just convenient, really good apps offer a range of helpful features that can help accelerate learning, encourage daily prep, and help track progress.

Quality GRE vocabulary apps offer a wide range of features for different types of learners. Many offer vocabulary training systems that integrate:

  • videos to illustrate word meanings
  • flashcards
  • mnemonics
  • sample fill-in-the-blank, multiple choice, and true/false questions
  • daily quizzes
  • detailed examples and even mini stories to explain each word

There are many GRE verbal apps to choose from, such as GRE Flashcard , GRE Vocab Trainer , and

GRE Vocab Genuis. It’s definitely worth trying out a few to find the ideal fit for your learning style and vocabulary goals.

Interested in learning more about effective GRE test prep strategies and resources? Looking for a professional GRE course in Toronto?

Click here to explore Quantum’s selection of GRE courses


       → Click here to browse free GRE study resources and materials


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