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Suggestions for particular testing concerns you might have:

 I'm not a great standardized test taker
 Test anxiety gets in my way
 Timing Concerns
 Learning and Processing Problems and Documented Disabilities
 Computer Concerns
 The Quantitative section and/or Math Anxiety
 The Verbal Section
The Analytical Writing Section
Not a Great Standardized Test Taker.  I've had a lot of success working with students on this.  There are many strategies you can learn.  Most of them do have to do with timing - how fast or slow to go, how many to attempt, should I double check or move on, etc.  Even for great test takers, timing is a vital area for gaining points. For you, it will be particularly helpful.  See what I say below about timing.

Some people also say they just don't think the way the test writers do.  This can be true.  The test has some very specific hidden agendas, which they don't tell us about.  By learning them, you can start to see what they  think is the right answer.  top of page

Test Anxiety.  Actually, I've seen a lot of students leave test anxiety behind them or least not let it get in their way.   Learning how to make specific decisions about using your time - how fast or slow to go, how many to attempt, should I double check or move on, etc - short circuits a lot of anxiety.  Does this ring a bell for you?

There are a number of other strategies that have really helped people with test anxiety.  Feel free to ask me about them.   top of page

Timing .  Timing is a more important part of the test than most people would suspect (and than really ought to be the case in a test like this).  In my experience, most people can make as much improvement through learning to use their time more effectivley as they can through months of studying the patterns of the test (both are necessary!)  There is a lot you can learn about timing.

It has to do with making decisions - how many questions should I attempt, how much time should I spend on a questions, have I spent too much time on this questions or should I work longer, should I go faster andhope to get to more but risk making mistakes or go slower, do better but get to less?  Mastering timng takes a good bit of one on one work, but really pays off.  Unfortunately, this area doesn't get much attention in most of the large prep programs.

Timing is particularly tricky on the computer exam.  But there is a way to get around it and even turn it to your advantage.  This is one area through which you can gain a lot of points even if your study time is limited.    top of page

Learning and processing difficulties and various documented disabilities.  This is one of my areas of specialty. With a MA in Learning Disabilities and almost 20 years of working with students with a wide range of learning needs, I have had many successes in focusing our teaching methods to your particular learning style.  In fact every student has unique learning needs, which is why I find individualized instruction the most effective.

If you find that your processing style is not as effective for the test as you would like, it's good to realize that you can learn more effective ways of processing for this test.

If you have a documented disability, it is possible to take the test under special conditions.  However, your test score is reported as having been taken under nonstandard conditions.  This can possibly, though illegally,  jeopardize your application, as the program may be concerned that it will have to provide expensive support services to you.  This is a touchy area.  If you can get a competitive score without special accomodations, it is probably best.  If you cannot, then there are some specific things you should do to make sure it has minimal impact on your application.  Please ask me for details.   top of page

The Computer Test.  The types of questions on the computer are exactly the same as what you will practice on the released actual GRE's.  The main obstacle on the computer test is how to use your time. The computer exam is scored in a very unnatural and in fact unpredictable way.  The score is based not on the number of questions right but on the relative difficulty of the questions. So if you hit a hard question and think, "I should skip this and move on to an easier one", you might get the next (easier) question right, but it won't increase your score.  Whoa! Not fair.  The good news is that there is a way to learn to beat them at their own game with this.

There are a few issues of stamina and mechanics of the computer test that we work on. Another big problem is that there are only limited practice tests available on computer, so we use them in a very specific way to get the most out of them.   top of page

The Quantitative Section and/or Math Anxiety.  Math is the easiest section to make relatively quick progress on - even if you hate math or are math phobic.  For GRE math, you should NOT use the kind of techniques that you would use in a math class.  They are too confusing, leave too much room for error and take too long.  Instead you will learn new strategies that are: EASY, INTUITIVE, SIMPLE and even FUN!  This is why it is not a good idea to ask a math expert to help you with GRE math.  They will do it the hard and risky way.  I have had a lot of success even with totally math phobic people.

People who are great at math will find that the special strategies for the GRE will add accuracy and speed to your performance.  In addition, you will find that there are predictable hidden patterns in the math.  By learning to spot these you can push your score to your upper limits.  top of page

The Verbal Section.  Verbal is the toughest section to improve on quickly.  First of all, studying vocbulary can be frustratingly unhelpful.  Many students report studying word lists for 6 months only to find just one or two words that they had studied on the exam.  There are, however, some powerful insights you can learn into the patterns of the questions.  Have you ever thought, "Well, I can see how their answer could be right, but I don't see why it is any better than mine."?  This is a clue that they are looking for something they haven't told you about.

There is a fundamental agenda to the test.  There is something specific they are looking for that they haven't let on to.  Once you learn the fundamental agenda, you can start to see that the questions are built on pattern after pattern.  You won't see the same question again, but you will see the same pattern.  This is what makes the test learnable.

Sentence Completion.  Here vocabulary is not the main obstacle. You can learn the patterns they are testing.  We also work on the thinking process for solving these.

Analogies.  Vocabulary is important here, but there is a secret for figuring out the relationships between certain pairs even if you don't know some of the words!  I also help you  get better at these by working on the thinking process for solving them.

Reading Comprehension.  Not vocabulary based at all, but the hidden agendas here can kill you.  What looks like it ought to be a simple question becomes incredibly convoluted and then you get it wrong anyway.  Why the heck is their answer better than mine?  There is a reason and you can learn it.  You can also learn how to move through the process more quickly without losing accuracy and how to think the way the want you to.

Antonyms.  May the powers have mercy.  Here, if you don't know the words, it's pretty hopeless. There are a couple quick strategies you can use to gain perhaps one point, maybe two. You will learn to use these strategies and then move on.    top of page

The Analytical  Writing Section. There are two essays.  Many people are worried about these but in fact they are not a competitive part of the GRE.  Most schools will simply look to make sure you haven't bombed them.  They were originally developed to get an unedited writing sample from non-native speakers of English.  There is a very specific thing they are looking for in these essays.  It is possible for a decent writer to blow them by trying to write something creative and interesting.  I show you exactly what they are looking for so you won't blow it.  You probably won't need to spend a lot of time prepping for this, but it is important to learn what they really want.


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