I am not freaking out I am not freaking out
June 5, 2011 4:44 PM   Subscribe

I've been taking practice GRE tests and keep getting WILDLY different scores. Should I be worried??

I'm taking the GRE in a week. I have taken practice tests by Kaplan, Princeton Review, and ETS (Power Prep). My highest score has been with the ETS test, but then I got literally 300 points lower on the Princeton Review one - the Kaplan tests have been in the middle.

To be fair, I have been taking the tests under difference conditions - I do think I probably tried hardest on the ETS one because I knew it was the "real" version. However, I was shocked by my score on the PR one - it's definitely not the score I need. The Kaplan scores would be sufficient but not ideal, and I was happy with my ETS score. Does anyone have experience with the different kinds of CATs out there - is ETS definitely the best indicator of what my score will probably be like?
posted by leedly to Education (11 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
The test is in a week. There is nothing you can do between now and then to significantly raise your score. There is a lot you can do to screw with you own head and potentially lower your score.

So no, don't worry.

Or, looked at another way, there are 3 possible outcomes on the GRE.

1. You do better than expected.
2. You meet your expectations
3. You do worse than expected.

66% odds on a positive outcome.
posted by COD at 5:00 PM on June 5, 2011 [3 favorites]

Nth ETS is a very good indicator of your actual scores.
posted by Drama Penguin at 5:36 PM on June 5, 2011

Kaplan and Princeton Review tests are not the real thing. They're written by companies with a serious financial motivation to convince you that you need help to prepare for the GRE, so it's probably not a coincidence you scored worse on those tests than on a genuine sample test. Good luck on the the GRE!
posted by Tsuga at 5:48 PM on June 5, 2011 [1 favorite]

I taught the GRE for Kaplan about 5 years ago, and from what I can remember, the ETS practice tests did seem more 'honest' -- do remember that you should make sure to answer the first few questions on the test correctly, as those will have the greatest impact on your score.
posted by estherbester at 6:14 PM on June 5, 2011 [1 favorite]

Don't trust scores from non-ETS sources. The tests vary in quality and relevance, and are fine for training, but not for score prediction.

As for what you can do in a week, well, you can do a lot. Depending on your weaknesses, you can fully master the math or pick up 1000-2000 vocab words (use Quizlet, sets already exist).

I've trained people in a week with significant gains.
posted by Joseph Gurl at 6:18 PM on June 5, 2011

It's worth noting that there is significant score variation on the actual real GRE. The computer-assisted testing methods used are extremely controversial for his reason.
posted by schmod at 7:36 PM on June 5, 2011

I got exactly the same score on the ETS practice tests as I did on the actual GRE.
posted by troublesome at 9:19 PM on June 5, 2011

Missing some of the first few questions on the computer tests can dramatically drop your score -- far more than missing early questions on past standardized tests you likely have taken, like the SAT (in which each question counts the same).

I think it is more likely that the discrepancy comes from a) the very small sample size and b) your performance on the non-ETS tests rather than c) Kaplan or TPR deliberately creating harder tests to make you want to take their classes. (I do, however, think that the ETS tests are a considerably better predictor of what the test will seem like than the others, I just don't think Kaplan/TPR are that devious.)

The one bit of advice I must stress on the actual GRE is to slow down, slow down, SLOW DOWN. Even aside from that fact that most people have more time than they think, that they aren't as rushed as they expect, is astonishing how much the early questions can drop your score. Take your time on the early questions. Don't make silly mistakes. You'll be fine. And slow down!
posted by lewedswiver at 11:29 PM on June 5, 2011

lewedswiver--it's not that TPR and Kaplan are "devious," it's that they're not as good at making GREs as, uh, ETS is. I make a living doing test prep :)
posted by Joseph Gurl at 2:03 AM on June 6, 2011

I just took the GRE on Friday! My score was similar to Princeton Review and ETS practice tests, and was much higher than the Kaplan practice test. My theory on that is that Kaplan "guarantees" a higher score, and so is motivated to give you a low score on their test, but it's just a theory.

Good luck on your test, and don't let yourself focus on practicing the day of...I drove myself crazy with that, and didn't retain anything. I also felt beforehand that I hadn't studied nearly enough, but ended up very happy with my scores, so as long as you've prepared and feel you have a reasonable grasp of the format and expectations, I'm sure you'll do fine.
posted by odayoday at 2:21 PM on June 6, 2011

I did significantly better on the real GRE than on the practice tests I took - my review book was either PR or Kaplan, I forget which.
posted by naoko at 9:13 PM on June 6, 2011

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