Tag Archive for 'new GRE'

GRE Subject Tests: To Take, or Not To Take

Wait. There are subject tests, too?!

Wait. There are subject tests, too?!

Remember when you took the SAT for the first time? You were so anxious because it was the SAT AND IT WAS THE BIGGEST TEST YOU WERE EVER GOING TO TAKE! And just as you got up to the front of the line to check-in, they asked you if you were taking an SAT II. A WHAT?!

And, indeed, it turned out that on top of the SAT reasoning tests there were other subject tests that were “optional.” Perhaps if you’re a strange Martian who is immune to the horrors of standardized testing, you were excited for another chance to show what you know, but more likely, your heart sank with the realization that “subject tests” meant that more future Saturdays would begin with your stomach in knots at 8 AM in a cold testing center.

You may have thought applying to graduate school would be more straightforward, but if you’re taking the GRE, you’re likely to find yourself at the same crossroads. Yes, luckily for you, if you’re applying to graduate school in the field of Biology, Biochemistry, Chemistry, Literature (in English), Mathematics, Physics, or Psychology, you have the option to take a GRE Subject Test to support your graduate school application. The tests are administered in April, September, and October and scored on a scale of 200-990 in ten point increments. The Biochemistry, Cell and Molecular Biology; Biology; and Psychology Tests all have subsections scored on a scale of 20-99 in one point increments. The question is, do you need to give up $150 and a weekend? Continue reading “GRE Subject Tests: To Take, or Not To Take” »

GRE Scores May be Down, but Competition is UP!

Our mantra at “It’s Not GREek” is “The score you want is the score that will get you into your graduate school of choice.” Though every student has different goals and ambitions, this means that you do not need to get a perfect score on the GRE to get into a good graduate program; you do, however, generally need to score above average to have a chance at being admitted to your program of choice. This self-evident, sagacious wisdom has come under scrutiny recently as the average GRE score for American test-takers has dropped to, well, below average. The Educational Testing Service (ETS), which administers the GRE, recently released data outlining the average scores of domestic and international test takers.

*Source: http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2013/02/21/ets-releases-data-gre-averages-country


It is apparent that a truly significant number of undergraduate students and undergraduate degree holders in the United States are considering applying to graduate school; as Bachelor’s degrees are now the workplace standard rather than the exception, people are seeking to stand out from the crowd by pursuing advanced degrees.  The most important consequence of this is, though the average GRE score is down, competition for admission into graduate school is up.

The sheer volume of potential applicants is staggering; simply put, there are not enough spots available for the number of interested or potential graduate school applicants. This is true without even mentioning the challenge competing for spots at prestigious universities with well qualified international students poses to prospective American graduate students. Given the new GRE average score for US test takers, suffice it to say, it is no longer enough to score ‘above average’ on the GRE.

It might be tempting to look at these scores and breathe a sigh of relief, thinking, “Well, look … my score is above average.” Well, suck in that sigh and let out a groan, because the admission standards for prestigious universities have not been lowered to accommodate the drop in GRE scores for the average American test taker. Quite the opposite, in fact; competition for a spot in an excellent graduate program has never been fiercer (as evidenced by the exponential growth of potential applicants).

The simple fact of the matter is ‘above average’ no longer means what it used to; at least when it comes to the GRE. With nearly 320,000 annual GRE test takers in the United States, averages may be down but competition is UP! 


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The New GRE – GMAT Killer?


You can stop worrying about which exam you should take for graduate school. The GRE is accepted practically everywhere.

At one point in time, the Graduate Management Admissions Test (GMAT) was the de facto exam that students took to get into business school. But in 2006, the creators of the GMAT, the Graduate Management Admissions Council (GMAC), decided to sever ties with the Educational Testing Service (ETS), who up until that point had administered the exam. This move, which ended the non-compete clause that the GMAC held over the ETS, allowed the ETS to challenge the stranglehold that the GMAC had on business school testing.

Since 2006, the ETS has been campaigning schools to accept the GRE as an alternative to the GMAT. According to a press release by the ETS, “About 450 MBA programs worldwide now accept the GRE test, including 45 percent of the U.S. News & World Report’s top 100 U.S. programs and seven of the top 10 global MBA programs according to The Financial Times.” These schools include some of the top-ranked business schools in the world, such as Harvard, Stanford, Wharton at UPenn, Stern at NYU, and Sloan at MIT.

Additionally, the revised GRE is in part meant to make the exam more attractive to business schools. The ETS website states, “ETS has revised the test to better reflect the kind of thinking you’ll do in graduate or business school and improve your test-taking experience. New types of questions now more closely align with the skills you need to succeed in today’s demanding graduate and business school programs.” Removing analogies and antonyms, for instance, shifts the focus away from memorization and towards analysis and understanding.

It’s no surprise that more and more schools are starting to accept the GRE. The ETS estimates that there are approximately 700 GRE testing centers in 160 countries around the world; contrast this with a 2010 GMAC press release, which estimates that there are 500 testing centers in 110 countries. Schools that decide to accept the GRE can expand their applicant pools by making it more convenient for international applicants applying to US business schools in this era of globalization. Additionally, the move to accept the GRE is beneficial to students as well. Those who are trying to decide between going to graduate school and going to business school don’t have to choose one over the other or worry about taking two tests (and paying two registration fees) — they can simply take the GRE and apply to both. Test Masters recommends that prospective students take both tests and submit the higher score.

With the release of the new GRE and the momentum that the ETS has built up over the past several years, we can expect to see more and more business schools accepting the GRE for admissions. Of course, the GMAC is not simply twiddling its thumbs as the ETS courts its primary market — the GMAT is scheduled for a major facelift soon to give the exam more business-specific content.

But who knows? By then, it may be too late.

Test Masters offers the most comprehensive and successful GRE course available. Test Masters’ GRE course comes with a 10 Score Increase Guarantee.

The New GRE – Sentence Equivalence

test prepSentence equivalence problems are a new type of question on the Verbal Reasoning section of the new GRE. In this type of question, you will be given a sentence with an omitted word. You will choose two answers from a list of six answer choices that will give the sentence the same (or as close to the same as possible) meaning. No partial credit is given for partially correct answers.

Sentence equivalence may be new to the block, but actually, they’re a lot like another type of question with which you’re probably already familiar – sentence completion. You can (and will) use pretty much the same strategies to solve these problems. The most important of these strategies is context clues, which is using other words in the sentence to help you figure out what word should go in the blank.

Let’s look at an example.

Given the existence of so many factions in the field, it was unrealistic of Anna Freud to expect any kind of ——- of opinion.

(A) freedom
(B) homogeneity
(C) reassessment
(D) uniformity
(E) expression
(F) formation

In this problem, the most important piece of context is in the beginning of the sentence: “the existence of so many factions in the field.” The existence of many factions implies the existence of many opinions – therefore, wouldn’t it make sense to say that it would be unrealistic of Anna Freud to expect all these opinions to be exactly the same? Using this logic, we can identify (B) and (D) as the correct answer choices, because “homogeneity” and “uniformity” both mean “the same.”

It’s also important to remember with this type of question that, while another answer choice may fit well, there must be another answer choice that gives the sentence the same meaning. Even if you find an answer choice extremely attractive, if no other answer choice means the same thing, then it can’t be right.

Test Masters offers the most comprehensive and successful GRE preparation course available. Test Masters’ GRE Course comes with a 10 point Score Increase Guarantee.


The New GRE – Sentence Highlighting


Everyone knows highlighting is a good tool to make study sessions more effective, but now we have to do it on the actual test? What?

One new question type on the new (revised) GRE is called sentence highlighting. That’s not really an “official” name, but it does describe what you have to do to answer the question. Sentence highlighting questions are a new type of question used to assess your reading comprehension abilities.

We’re all familiar with the standard multiple choice reading comprehension question – you’re given a passage (about the most boring topic in the world, usually), pick the correct answer from four or five choices. By this point in your life, whatever your background, you’ve probably had to do what feels like millions of them; if you’ve ever taken a test preparation course like Test Masters, then you also probably know that the basic tenet to answering these questions is “justify your answer with evidence directly from the text!” If you can’t find a sentence in the passage that supports your answer, then it can’t be right.

Well the ETS has decided to take this concept to a literal level – find a sentence in the passage that answers the question and highlight it.

Let’s look at an example:

Recently some scientists have concluded that meteorites found on Earth and long believed to have a Martian origin might actually have been blasted free of Mars’s gravity by the impact on Mars of other meteorites. This conclusion has led to another question: whether meteorite impacts on Earth have similarly driven rocks from this planet to Mars.

According to astronomer S.A. Phinney, kicking a rock hard enough to free it from Earth’s gravity would require a meteorite capable of making a crater more than 60 miles across. Moreover, even if Earth rocks were freed by meteorite impact, Mars’s orbit is much larger than earth’s so Phinney estimates that the probability of these rocks hitting Mars is about one-tenth as great as that of Mars’s rocks hitting Earth. To demonstrate this estimate, Phinney used a computer to calculate where 1,000 hypothetical particles would go if ejected from Earth in random directions. He found that 17 of the 1,000 particles would hit Mars.

Select the sentence that explains how meteorites found on Earth might have come from Mars.

The very first sentence of the passage explains that “meteorites found on Earth…might actually have been blasted free of Mars’s gravity by the impact on Mars of other meteorites.” Therefore, the answer is the first sentence; we would navigate our mouse over to this sentence and click on the sentence (any part of it) to highlight it, and then submit our answer.

Since the GRE is a computerized exam, you don’t actually have to bring a highlighter to the testing center. All you have to do is click on (any part of) the sentence that contains your answer and it will automatically highlight the whole sentence. The whole idea seems somewhat unusual at first, but it really is no different from the reading comprehension questions that you’re used to. Just like with multiple choice questions, you simply need to find the sentence in the passage that directly answers the question – except now you literally have to go and do it!

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Sometimes it is Greek: Pugilist

Pugilists are people who fight with their fists, specifically professional boxers.

Each week, “It’s not GREek!” will discuss a new word likely to appear on the GRE.  We aim not only to give you a new word to memorize, but also to provide you with some background and etymological history to help you remember it.  At the end of the post, we will also give you a sentence with a few other new words to add to your flash cards.  By following this weekly series, you should be more prepared than ever to tackle the sentence completion, sentence equivalencies, and reading comprehension questions on test day.

This Week’s Word: Pugilist

A pugilist is a person who fights with his or her fists, specifically a professional boxer.

Most sources indicate that the word’s first use can be traced back as far as 1790. Pugilist is derived from the Latin word pugil which means boxer, which is related to pugnus, or “fist.” There are many words related to these two Latin etymons. Some, like our word of the week, are similar in definition and obvious paronyms; others, despite being obvious derivations of these source words, have evolved in meaning in somewhat humorous ways.

One pronoun of the pugilist is the word pungent, which means sharply painful; pungent can also describe an acrid irritation, specifically in the sense of taste or smell. Though not a direct descendant of pugnus (pungent is more closely related to pungēns, which means “sting’), their connection is obvious and frequently cited by linguistic authorities. Another derivation of the word pugil is the adjective pugnacious, which means having a quarrelsome or combative nature.

Before he was Muhammad Ali, he was Cassius Clay.

The most famous pugilist of all time is Muhammad Ali; however, is Ali the best pugilist of all time? Unfortunately, this is not the forum for a debate of that magnitude. So, instead, here are a few famous Muhammad Ali quotes:

“I am the greatest; I said that even before I knew I was.”

“I’ll beat him so bad he’ll need a shoehorn to put his hat on.”

“Silence is golden if you can’t think of a good answer.”

“I’m so fast that last night I turned off the light switch in my hotel room and was in bed before the room was dark.”

“The fight is won or lost far away from witnesses – behind the lines, in the gym, and out there on the road, long before I dance under those lights.”

Sample Sentence:

Paul, Peggy’s pugilist paramour, periodically pummeled pietistic pacifists; precipitately, Peggy’s puckish pals pranked Paul pitilessly.


Miss last week’s “Sometimes it is Greek?” Check it out here! Want more GRE vocabulary? Click here for the free Test Masters GRE vocabulary list with over 2,000 words!




GRE Verbal Reasoning Problem: An arduous hike

There is no reason to miss GRE sentence completion questions; it’s really all about vocabulary.


Each week “It’s not GREek!” will present you with question types you are likely to see on the GRE, as well as a brief explanation on how to arrive at the answer for each question. We’ll start by examining a few simple Verbal Reasoning questions and gradually move onto more complicated question types.



    1. By the end of the long, arduous hike, Chris was walking with a ­­­______ gait, limping slowly back to the campsite.
        a. halting
        b. robust
        c. constant
        d. prompt
        e. facile

Explanation: This question is asking you to describe Chris’ gait, or the way he walks, after an arduous, or difficult, hike. Of the available answer choices only haltingly describes the way one might walk after a long, arduous hike. The answer is thus (a) haltingly.

You can never have enough vocabulary words; here are the definitions of all the answer choices:

Halting: hesitant or wavering. Imperfect; defective. Limping; lame.

Robust: full of health and strength; vigorous. Powerfully built; sturdy. Requiring or suited to physical strength or endurance. Rough or crude; boisterous. Marked by richness and fullness; full-bodied.

Constant: continually occurring; persistent. Unchanging in nature, value, or extent; invariable. Steadfast in purpose, loyalty, or affection; faithful.

Prompt: being on time; punctual. Carried out or performed without delay.

Facile: done or achieved with little effort or difficulty; easy. Working, acting, or speaking with effortless ease and fluency. Arrived at without due care, effort, or examination; superficial. Readily manifested, together with an aura of insincerity and lack of depth.

Need more help? Visit Test Masters to learn more about how you can prepare for the GRE, and for more information about GRE courses in your area. Click here for a sample Critical Reading question!

Sometimes it is Greek: Bugaboo

Soaring oil prices are a real bugaboo for the average consumer.

Each week, “It’s not GREek!” will discuss a new word likely to appear on the GRE.  We aim not only to give you a new word to memorize, but also to provide you with some background and etymological history to help you remember it.  At the end of the post, we will also give you a sentence with a few other new words to add to your flash cards.  By following this weekly series, you should be more prepared than ever to tackle the sentence completion, sentence equivalencies, and reading comprehension questions on test day.

This Week’s Word:  Bugaboo Continue reading “Sometimes it is Greek: Bugaboo” »