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  1. Hello there, A! Sorry for the delay in my response, I've been rather busy this past week helping out with setting up for orientation week at my University. I hope I haven't missed the opportunity to give you helpful advise. Anyway, I'm glad to hear that you're taking the test from home—personally, I felt that it was helpful for me to do it in this format. A couple of tips to help you do your best on the test while taking it at home: 1. Deprive yourself of any and all fluids the day you take the test. You may be used to having a nice glass of water or cup or cup of coffee or some other beverage in the morning. Do not drink anything before taking your test. You will not be authorized to use the bathroom until after you have done both portions of the analytical writing test as well as both the first quantitative reasoning and the first verbal reasoning test. You will be monitored by a proctor to ensure that you do not leave your testing space during any breaks before this. It is best if you set up the situation so that you don't get distracted by a need to use the restroom in the middle of the test. 2. Make sure you have a desk or some other such flat surface on which to put your computer. Though you are, to my knowledge, allowed to place your computer on your bed, it makes it much easier to run into various obstacles with the proctor. For instance, your camera may occasionally lose focus of you, which will not go over well with the proctor, or you may be tempted to change your position (which you should never do if you are being proctored.) It is simply easier to avoid accidentally setting off an alarm with the proctor if you use a nice and flat surface. 3. Take the test in a similar environment to the one in which you studied. If you studied in a bedroom, see about taking the test in a bedroom. If you studied in a dining room, see if you can keep this dining room quiet for the period of time in which you take the test. Just be wary that the proctor will frown upon any noises occurring in the room in which you take the test and will absolutely not allow you to talk to anyone else during the test. If you've been studying in a somewhat noisy room so far, you may want to start studying in a quieter room before you take the test. 4. Finally, get a good dry erase board on which you can work out the math problems in quantitative reasoning. From what I know, scratch paper is not allowed when taking the GRE at home, as ETS wants to minimize the possibilities of any work for any of their test material being retained as much as possible. You'll want to use a small dry erase board to do your work instead. One style of dry erase board that I highly suggest is a double-sided one that has a blank side as well as a side with an XY-coordinate grid. This greatly helped me when I took my GRE test at home. Some should be available on Amazon. These are the best bits of advise that I can think of off the top of my head. If you have any questions about any of them, or would like to get my advise on something a bit more specific, please don't hesitate to let me know! Best of luck, —Topher
  2. Hello, Zainab! Yes, actually, I did take mine at home—are you thinking of doing the same thing? Because if so, I do have a couple of suggestions, if you'd like to hear them! Best wishes, —Topher
  3. Hello, everyone! Just recently, I was finally able to take the GRE, and after having taken it, I want to warn you all of one thing: do not let the GRE trick you into thinking that you're doing worse than you really are! There were various points in time while I was taking the test in which I was highly convinced that I was doing absolutely horrendously, and I thought that I would have to retake the test. Well, I just got back my results last night, and... well, as you can see from the title of this post, I had absolutely nothing to worry about! Here's the thing: because the GRE is so complex, it was designed—and I am convinced intentionally—to make test-takers feel as if they're understanding less than they actually need to. My best guess as to why this is so is so that test-takers are less likely to rely on prior knowledge that they had before taking the test and rather to apply more of an a priori logical approach to solving the problems which the test presents to you.* Therefore, many of you will feel like you are doing worse on the test while taking it than you really are, and I want to ensure you all that there is still a chance that you may be doing well. Now, my advice can certainly be taken a bit too far—if you feel as if you are struggling with the contents of the test, you may very well be struggling to get your desired score. An overconfident view of your capacities to score well on the exam won't do you any more good than a total lack of confidence in yourself. So, if you find yourself in a similar situation to the one I was in while taking the exam, I would not advise deciding to ignore that feeling that you might be struggling entirely. However, I would most certainly advise you to remind yourself that it hasn't yet been ascertained that you have scored poorly, and there is still a chance that you may be doing better than you think. In doing so, you will neither be compelled to throw your hands in the air while in the middle of taking the test, nor will you be setting yourself up to see the test as easier than it really is and thus remove the necessary amount of pressure you need to take the test seriously and consider each question carefully. I hope that this account of my experiences while taking the test has proven useful to some of you, and I hope that it removes some of the anxiety that some of you may have while taking or preparing for the exam. I wish you all the best of luck in your studies for the test and in your performance on test day! Kind regards to all, —Topher *If anyone is not entirely sure what "a priori​" means, I will be happy to define it for you!
  4. Hello, again, Shreya! So, the first thing I have to suggest if you're struggling is to check out the website magoosh.com—this is the website for a company that is specifically dedicated to helping students prepare for the GRE. They have practice questions, most of which have explanations to them (with certain exceptions such as the one you see here), for all of those concepts which you listed as areas in which you struggle. They are definitely a good first place to start. If you want even a little bit more preparation than this, then I would definitely suggest looking up some online websites that help in teaching math—for instance, there's a YouTube series titled something along the lines of "Paul's Online Math Notes" that might be of some help. For the verbal reasoning (English) portion, I would suggest just putting in a google search of "GRE Vocabulary Words" and making flashcards for about five words each day—knowing the words that appear on the test is the main part of mastering the verbal reasoning portion. A couple of quick and important notes as well before I submit this reply: when I was taking the actual exam myself (which I have finally completed), I felt at a couple of times as if I was doing very poorly and would have to retake the exam, but I got a 163 on the verbal reasoning test and a 162 on the quantitative reasoning test. So, keep in mind that while you may feel like you are doing very poorly on a test, you could very easily be doing much better than you realize. You may also do more poorly on practice tests than you do on the actual exam—I know I sure did. So definitely never let a practice test dishearten you—they're often much more difficult than the actual test itself. Finally, be wary of practice test that still use the 700-point scale. The most recent edition of the GRE has scores ranging from 130-170. If you receive a score like "305" or so on a particular practice test, be warned that whichever practice test you are taking may be a bit outdated. I hope this is helpful for you. Best of luck on the exam! Sincerely, —Topher
  5. Thank you so much for this! It is certainly helpful to finally have an explanation for this question! Best wishes, —Topher
  6. Thank you so much for this! It is certainly helpful to finally have an explanation for this question! Best wishes, —Topher
  7. Hello, again! Thank you for these essays, they have helped me to get a nice general overview of your writing style. This can help me to understand what you do well and what you struggle with more generally, as opposed to simply how you do on just one essay. Here are the things that stick out the most to me in your writing style: First, what you do very well. You are very good at capturing the interest of the readers right at the beginning of the essay—which is important, as, considering that the graders will only have about 3-5 minutes to grade your essay, they are likely to find an essay that can capture their interest right from the beginning to have a higher stylistic quality than a more dry essay. Because of this, I would encourage you to continue developing this already well-developed skill of yours, for it will certainly prove to be one of the particularly strong aspects of your essay. You are also very good at articulating your argument, using solid vocabulary to express your points and supporting them all with overall very solid logic and concrete examples. This, indeed, is the most important thing that the grader will be looking at, so if you can continue to write essays similar to these, I am sure that it will serve you well! The one thing I think you might struggle with a bit is giving each side of the issue their own proper time to be validated. In each essay, you cover the validity of both sides to some extent, although one side will usually take up the space of most of the essay, and the other side will be saved until a bit closer to the end of the essay. Generally speaking, though it is okay to take a particular stance on an issue, the graders will be looking for whether or not you represented both sides of the issue equally, so you will want to try and devote a bit more time to the argument with which you agree a bit less—my suggestion would be to dedicate one paragraph to the argument you most agree with and one paragraph to the opposing argument. The last essay that you posted did the best job of all the essays of representing both sides as equally valid, so I would suggest using that style of writing as the best one to go off of when writing future essays. Other than this, however, I thought your essays were very solid and didn't notice any other significant drawbacks. As to your question about how the Manhattan Review/Prep practice tests compare to the actual test, my understanding is that their tests in general tend to be somewhat more difficult than the actual GRE, and their essay prompts in particular tend to be somewhat more vague. Following this, taking the Manhattan Review/Prep practice tests is a good way to "over prepare", so to speak, as if you can ace a test that's more difficult than the GRE, you will most likely be able to ace the GRE itself. However, to avoid allowing yourself to get too discouraged by the difficulty of the Manhattan practice tests, I would advise taking a couple of the PowerPrep practice tests offered by ETS themselves so that you can get a good feel for what the actual GRE is like (to my understanding, the PowerPrep tests are the most like the actual test, at least in most cases.) Hope you find all of this helpful! Best, —Topher
  8. Thank you for your comments and kind words on my essays, and yes, they were indeed helpful! I hope you don't mind if I just ask you one question, though—how might you suspect that I could raise the scores on my essays from a 4.5 up to a slightly higher score? Looking forward to your response! —Topher
  9. Hello, again! I am glad that you found my advice so helpful! Indeed, I would love to review a few more of your essays if you have some—I will always be glad to help in any way that I can! Best, —Topher
  10. Hello, everyone! So I came across this rather difficult practice combinations question on magoosh.com, and while the answer was given, the explanation for it was not. Here is the question (and the answer hidden by a spoiler tag): An artist is planning on mixing together any number of different colors from her palette. A mixture results as long as the artist combines at least two colors. If the number of possible mixtures is less than 500, what is the greatest number of colors the artist could have in her palette? (A) 8 (B) 9 © 11 (D) 12 (E) 13 Would anyone happen to know exactly how to approach this question?
  11. Hello, Shreya! Hopefully I’m not catching you too late to be of help. First off, I’d like to say that I think you’ve written a pretty good paper here—you express your ideas well, have a lot to say on the matter, and I think you would be qualified for at least a 4.0 with this essay (possibly higher, as well.) With that being said, here are some ways you may be able to improve the essay a bit, and secure an even higher score: 1. I would definitely suggest taking somewhat more of a middle ground in response to the prompt, as this is what ETS generally looks for in AWA essays. I know, it sounds a bit pointless to say “I’m more in the middle” in response to a statement when, in reality, you have a very clear stance on it, but unfortunately, it just tends not to be scored as well as an essay that does just this. Towards the end of the essay, you briefly discuss how leadership should respect their peers’ opinions as well as making the “moral decision”—I would definitely spend a bit more time on that in future essays and try to find a way to show how it would be best to take neither extreme (either that of always having decisions conform to the demands of one’s peers or that of always basing decisions off of one’s own moral convictions), and on how each one is more important in their own separate contexts. 2. There are a few mild grammar mistakes in your essay—which, of course, is usual when you only have so much time to be able to write an essay. None of them take away too much from the comprehension of what you say, nor do they alter the meaning of your statements too much, but of course, it’s always helpful to be aware of grammar mistakes that you may commonly make when under a lot of time-pressure, as being able to notice yourself making them and then fixing them before you have to turn in the essay can make the difference between a higher-quality 5.5 paper and a 6.0 paper! 3. At one point in the essay, you use an exclamation point. I would advise against this, as to my knowledge, ETS considers this not to be up to standard in academic writing, and may penalize you for it. I know that you really want to make this point stand out from the others, but to make something stand out in academic writing, the use of italics or bold print (in my experience italics are usually preferable) is a better choice for accomplishing this than the use of an exclamation point. I hope you find these comments helpful—and keep with it! You’re already off to a good start!
  12. Hello, everyone! Recently, I took a practice GRE exam—which, of course, involves two AWA essays (one issue task and one argument task.) I wanted these essays to be reviewed by someone who would be relatively unbiased so that I can have an idea of how I might be able to improve upon my writing for the GRE. Would anyone mind looking over these essays for me and giving me your comments as well as, possibly, the score you would estimate each essay to receive? The prompts for each essay are included at the top of each essay's respective page without the italicized directions, since I figure most people will know what each essay is intended to accomplish. Also, you can find the prompts for each essay from the practice book "GRE Prep by Magoosh", which is available on Amazon (I highly suggest this book, as it has greatly helped me so far!)
  13. Thank you so much for clarifying!
  14. Hello, everyone—I have a question I want to ask. Would it be a violation of copyright laws if I posted the prompt for a practice essay (not one from the actual test) that I once used? I am looking to get feedback on a couple of practice essays, which is, of course, easier when people know what the prompt for the essay was, but I want to make sure I am not breaking any copyright laws first. Thank you all so much!
  15. One quick question that I might have for the administrators of this forum—if I post a practice GRE essay that I wrote, along with the prompt (not from an actual GRE test, but from a published practice book), would this be against the "no copyright infringement" policy, or should this not be a problem?
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