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
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
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:
- You didn’t know the concept being tested.
- You guessed blindly, without eliminating any answer choices.
- 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
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
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
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