GRE Sample Tests
August 10, 2004 5:58 PM   Subscribe

I'm starting practice for the awful, awful GRE and I wondering if anyone knew of any FREE full-length GRE exams online or on CD-ROM. I understand that it's all on computer now, so the books i have out from the library probably aren't as good of practice as they could be.
posted by Slimemonster to Education (13 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
The GRE service itself makes some CD ROM materials available. If not free, I don't think they're all that expensive. On the whole, however, you should be fine with paper based prep materials. The only reason to practice on the computer is to get used to the format - you'll still need to know analogies, etc.

A word of advice: Study the requirements for the written section carefully. It's graded according to a strict format and has very little to do with the actual quality of your written expression. I blew off prepping for it (I needed to focus on math) and ended up doing fairly poorly. I didn't bomb, but I could have done MUCH better. I've been kicking myself ever since.
posted by aladfar at 6:44 PM on August 10, 2004

The Princeton Review has a free adaptive test online which you can get to just by giving them a name/email. So does Kaplan. These folks have one math section. ETS has some odd powerprep thing. Remember, there is a big difference between just a plain old online GRE that mimics a print version, and one that is "adaptive." The latter type actually has no set path through all the questions but actually serves you up a question in response to how well you did on the last one. Get a question right, get another, possibly harder one. Get it wrong, get another, possibly easier one, and a lower score. When I worked at Princeton Review ages ago we used to tell people that if they weren't looking for over a 600 the best technique was to punt on the first few questions, which are usually easy, and then you'd get served softballs for the rest of the test. You wouldn't score too well, but you could get a 600 this way.

The books you have out of the library, if they contain real practice questions, will still be really helpful. You still need to know how to work with the question types, how to work quickly, and how to ascertain a question's difficulty level so you can figure out how to assess your own answer [so, for example, unless you are a very high scoring test taker, your knee-jerk reaction to a hard quesiton will most likely be wrong, that's what makes it a hard question]. My advice, not that you really asked, is to take a full length test, timed, under fairly rigorous settings [no phone, no food, no time off, desk and chair etc] and see how you do. Then, from there, assess how much you need to work on it before the actual test date. Stress management is actually 25-50% of doing well on the GRE, so feel free to treat yourself to some yoga classes and get some extra sleep if it will help you go after the test in a more useful manner. Good luck!
posted by jessamyn at 6:52 PM on August 10, 2004

you can download the files from the GRE website. i'd recommend that you take one of the two tests (they only have two) and then hit the books, having been sufficiently humiliated (I was). Nearer to the test date, take the second test to see how you're doing. Read *all* the written-test matereial, incliding the list of topics. Early in your studying, spend fifteen seconds on each topic - how you'd attack it, etc. Then try to write a couple essays, and go back through the list again.

If you have time, I'd recommend taking College Algebra at a community college to refresh your math skills. I *teach* college algebra, and if you've got a good teacher, he/she can help you develop the logic skills to get through the test, which is less derivation and more thinking.

As for the English part, start reading waaaay above your level.

I know this isn't what you asked for, exactly, but that's the way I attacked the tests, and I did pretty well.
posted by notsnot at 6:56 PM on August 10, 2004

If you can wait a couple of weeks I have a commercial-prep CD-ROM (Kaplan 2004 IIRC) that must be purged. Email in profile.
posted by casarkos at 7:19 PM on August 10, 2004

The official CD you get from the GRE people worked well. Some books, in particular the Princeton Review ones, also have pretty good advice on how to take the tests and should be particularly helpful with the analytical writing portion, which is relatively new as a standard portion and won't be helped by computer programs. If you have library books, check to see that they cover this. I did horrible on the analytical writing portion; of course, I do horrible on writing tests that are scored in any sort of speed-rubric system. I had the same experience on the MEAP test in high school.
posted by dagnyscott at 8:15 PM on August 10, 2004

You can download PowerPrep software from the GRE's website for free. It's the exact same interface as the real test, so you know exactly what to expect as you sit down to take the real thing.
posted by zsazsa at 8:55 PM on August 10, 2004

Also, be aware that the writing portion will insult your intelligence. This is true no matter how unintelligent you might be. When I took it (only last year! My, how the time flies) the prompt, on which I was supposed to take a stance for or against, contained something like the thesis "it is possible to learn about other cultures by observing their behavior". I managed to restrain myself from saying "as opposed to what, directly introspecting their mental states?", at least in those words.
posted by kenko at 9:30 PM on August 10, 2004

Took it last Saturday! 630 verbal/800 math. Sorry, had to brag. I'm happy about my result.

(I assume you're talking about the GRE General CAT.)

Random advice:
  • Solve both of the full PowerPrep tests. These are exact replicas of the test content and the interface you'll be using, including the horrible 60Hz refresh rate and the adaptive questions.
  • Pay attention to the time and section order! There will be 5 sections: Essay 1 (opinion, 45 minutes), Essay 2 (critique, 30 minutes), two Verbal sections (30 questions, 30 (?) minutes each), and Math (30 questions, 45 minutes). You need to manage your time precisely for the Verbal and Math sections. You cannot spend excess time on any one question. You should forget each question after you answer it since you can't go back.
  • You can cancel your session at the end of the exam and wait one month, then take the exam again. If you have the money, this is a good way to practice.
  • Use the test prep books in any bookstore. These are mostly useful for speed drills in the harder parts of the math section and for verbal lists. Beware that some books have inadequate prep material in various sections of the test. I found that Princeton Review's verbal lists are extremely useful, while their math question samples are easier than, or different from, the actual test.
  • Don't take the test at the wrong time of day for you. Be prepared for a long and tiring test, do what it takes to have maximum stamina before it. Take the 10-minute break, eat/drink in the break, and stay relaxed and determined. Switch your attention away from the test during the 10-minute break. If you have time left over, don't skip to the next section, instead take a break.
  • Read the essays in the prep books and prepare outlines. Then go to the GRE website, find the complete essay question list, and randomly sample some questions. Prepare outlines. Be imaginative. Don't stick exactly to the prep books' templates.
  • The vocabulary for the analogies, at this number of new words, takes about a month of active recitation to deposit in your brain. Accordingly, you should start learning the vocab a long time before taking the test. The vocabulary is limited. There are probably about a thousand words in there, most of which you know of course.
  • No, the writing portion hardly insults your intelligence (about as much as the math section, anyway) as long as you understand the general direction in which they want you to argue. All you need is to demonstrate agility and coherence of argument over a fairly long essay with a time limit (700-1000 words for the first one, 400-600 words for the second one, I think). Also, there are two choices of topic for the first essay. By the way, I was lucky to have a topic in my area of expertise and wrote what I hope was a fairly powerful essay. Try to use the same kind of advantage.
Good luck!
posted by azazello at 11:36 PM on August 10, 2004 [1 favorite]

You are considerably more intelligent than I.
Whatcho get on the analytical?
posted by pemulis at 2:56 AM on August 11, 2004

Why do i care? Why am I the sum of my gre scores, to everybody i meet? Ugh, kill me wih a gun. Dont take, the test. Run like the wind to the nearest gas station, and apply for a job.
posted by pemulis at 3:08 AM on August 11, 2004

There's a list of all the words that'll be used on the analogies section? Why?
posted by kenko at 7:30 AM on August 11, 2004

There's not a disclosed list; however, the overwhelming majority of the words on there are taken from a previously known list that is available in the books.

pemulis, intelligence is not measured by GRE scores. In fact, nothing much is measured by this test. It's not very important for most grad school applications. Your school record, subject GRE, and recommendations are all more important.
posted by azazello at 9:52 AM on August 11, 2004

Except most schools discount subject GREs unless you are foreign or there are real questions about your credentials. So grades (and reputation of undergraduate school), recommendations, and a good personal statement help.
posted by calwatch at 12:12 AM on August 16, 2004

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