Study Your Practice Test
Study Your Practice Test
After grading your test, you should have a list of the questions you answered incorrectly or skipped. Studying your test involves using this list and examining each question you answered incorrectly, figuring out why you got the question wrong and understanding what you could have done to get the question right.
The practice tests in our book and online were specifically designed to help you study. Each question is categorized by its question type, such as Problem Solving; and by its specific content, such as circles; and by its difficulty level. Here’s what you’ll see:
1. A Quantitative Comparisons: Linear Equations, Square Roots Rating: Easy
The answers also provide full explanations of each question so you can identity and focus on your specific weakness.
Why’d You Get It Wrong?
As you study your practice tests, you need to pay particular attention to the questions you answered incorrectly. There are three reasons why you might have gotten an individual question wrong:
  1. You didn’t know the concept being tested.
  2. You guessed blindly, without eliminating any answer choices.
  3. You knew the answer but made a careless error.
You should know which of these reasons applies to each question you got wrong. Once you figure out why you got a question wrong, you need to figure out what you could have done to get the question right.
Reason 1: Lack of Knowledge. A question answered incorrectly for reason 1 pinpoints a weakness in your knowledge. Discovering this kind of error gives you the opportunity to fill the void in your knowledge base and eliminate future errors on the same question type.
For example, if the question you got wrong refers to factoring quadratics, don’t just work out how to factor that one quadratic; take the chance to go over the fundamental techniques that allow you to factor all quadratics.
Remember, you will not see a question exactly like the question you got wrong. But you probably will see a question that covers the same topic as the practice question. For that reason, when you get a question wrong, don’t just figure out the right answer to the question. Study the broader topic that the question tests.
Reason 2: Guessing Ineffectively. If you guessed wrong, review your guessing strategy. By thinking in a critical way about the decisions you made while taking the practice test, you can train yourself to make quicker, more decisive, and better decisions.
Did you guess intelligently? Did you eliminate answers you knew were wrong? Could you have eliminated more answers? If yes, why didn’t you? Remember: If you can eliminate even one of the answer choices, you’ve increased your odds of getting the question right.
If you took a guess and chose the incorrect answer, don’t let that discourage you from guessing. The GRE is mostly a multiple-choice test, which means the answer is right there in front of you. If you eliminated at least one answer, you followed the right strategy by guessing even if you got the question wrong. Review the answer choices for every question, even those you answered correctly. Figuring out why certain answer choices are wrong will help you identify other wrong answers on future questions.
Reason 3: Carelessness. Here it might be tempting to say to yourself, “Oh, I made a careless error,” and assure yourself you won’t do that again. Unacceptable! You made that careless mistake for a reason, and you should figure out why. Getting a question wrong because you didn’t know the answer reveals a weakness in your knowledge about the test. Making a careless mistake represents a weakness in your test-taking method.
To overcome this weakness, you need to approach it in the same critical way you would approach a lack of knowledge. Study your mistake. Retrace your thought process on the problem and pinpoint the origin of your carelessness: Were you rushing? If you pin down your mistake, you are much less likely to repeat it.
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