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Improving Verbal Score
In this video, we will talk about how to improve on the GRE verbal section. First off, let’s think of the section as broken up into two brains. First off, there is your verbal brain. By that I mean vocabulary. The vocabulary you currently know your reading skills and active reading which feeds into reading skills, do you read actively?
We will get to that in a moment. And of course reading speed so that you can see that all three of these, the latter three relate to reading and the first relates to vocabulary. This is your existing verbal brain. So this existing verbal brain comes along and encounters something called the GRE verbal brain, which is slightly different.
So you can be pretty strong in all of these, but if you, first see, a GRE question, you may be a little bit confused. So you wanna get used to the question format. Get used to it, you are growing your GRE Verbal Brain. Thinking like the GRE, that of course is very much a part of the GRE Verbal Brain. And finally, learning from your mistakes, and that feeds into thinking like the GRE.
We’ll see how the tests are structured, or at least you want to understand want makes a right answer right and why the wrong answer, though pretty close, isn’t actually right. And those skills are improving your GRE verbal brain. But before we get there, let’s just start with the verbal brain in general, ways to grow the verbal brain.
We will start, of course, with improving vocabulary. Use flashcards, you hear it all the time, they’re very helpful. The thing is, I would not stop at flashcards. Vocabulary, learning vocabulary that is, is an effort that takes many fronts.You want to attack this issue from as many places as you can. Using just one tool from your arsenal or from your tool box, in this case flashcards isn’t enough.
It’s very much like a drug cocktail, you wanna put it together, all the potent drugs to combat a disease. So, in this case, the disease is ignorance of GRE words which is totally understandable, because many of these words are very difficult, but if you start using these words in daily life, and if you start reading in general from certain sources, then your GRE, vocabulary brain, or your vocabulary brain in general will start growing.
This is important so again, combine as many of these things as possible, flash cards is a good base. And then there, there’s reading skills. You may think hey, I know how to read, but often times, we’re reading stuff that’s easy to read. We don’t wanna exert too much mental energy trying to decipher the meaning behind something.
So, read each day but read outside your comfort zone, that’s the key right there. It has to be a little bit challenging, it has to make you sweat,. It shouldn’t make you feel like you’re completely out of your element and you have no idea what the author is talking about then, back up a little, and choose some reading material that is easier.
Here are some great sources, New York Times, New Yorker, ALDaily,. In GRE passages yourself for you to practice your reading skills. Start with something that isn’t too challenging but again gets you outside your comfort zone. You may look at the New York Times or the New Yorker and what your looking for is not necessarily a sports post or the latest fashion updates but something for along the lines of a two or three page article on the status of education or what’s going on right now with changes in the SAT.
Something like that. I mean this is of course dry material, but it’s relatively challenging and it shouldn’t be outside your comfort zone. As you get stronger at reading, then you want to move on to something aldaily.com, which is a site that pulls together academic reading from across the web.
And finally GRE passages themselves, once you’ve read through them under time constraints, it’s always good to just go back and read them a little bit more slowly and allow your brain to get used to the structure of the sentences, the way that arguments are developed. And if you do this often your brain will get more comfortable with the GRE passages.
Now how to improve verbal also extends to something we talked about a little bit earlier which was activating. What do I mean by this? This may seem vague, because when you read, aren’t you sitting? Are you doing anything actively? Well the answer to that is, you are actually reading, or you should be reading actively.
What I mean by that is, you don’t wanna just string words together. Which is something we often try to do when we are dealing with difficult text. We hope to make it to the end of the article or the piece and you’re thinking oh, at the end I’ll have this sudden eureka moment. But really, you’re in, you stop reading, someone covers the page and asks you hey, what did you read, and you’re just really not sure, you say a few vague words, you maybe summarize the general topic but, you really don’t know and that’s because you were not of reading actively.
So, don’t just string words together. Instead, think about what you read, pausing briefly, looking for patterns in what you read, noticing transitions between sentences, noting, noticing what’s the argument, what’s the supporting point, anticipating all these these things. That’s what makes for great, active, reading.
As for, reading speed, you may think, oh, just string the words together faster. But when you do all these things, again, noting the argument structure or the way that the paragraphs develop, you’re kinda gonna anticipate things and therefore, you speed up. Because you’re looking for these patterns, what they call chunking and many of these GRE passages are organized in this predictable fashion, so that they have these patterns.
And soon, once you start chunking, you’ll be able to absorb more in less time. Again, the key is this takes a little bit of time. So again, think about what you read, pause briefly, it’s okay to go slow at first, you’re building up a skill. With practice, you will become faster. And soon, you’ll be getting a lot more than you were than when you were just stringing, bringing words together.
Now, we want to move on to the GRE Verbal brain, which again was different because its specific to the test. So you can read, you can invoke, you know, all these things I’ve never seen the GRE, a GRE question before,so, there is some getting used to, the question format. Sometimes, just the strange wording, or the academic-level language that is employed in a reading comprehension passage, or a text completion.
So get used to that. Again, that could be probably filed under verbage. The words, sometimes they seem like, wow, all these big words. So many of them, what do they all mean? You must get used to that and that’s where read will help you. And learn the proper approach.
This can basically be summed up as strategies and techniques. If you don’t know any, just head straight forward into a TC, that is Tech’s Completion question. You can definitely feel like you are a fish out of water. So again, learning the proper techniques is very important to improving your GRE Verbal brain.
Next, is this idea of making mistakes. And one way to improve the GRE Verbal brain is to actually do just that. Because when you’re making mistakes your realizing this is wrong because a,b and c and so it’s almost a dialogue between you and the answer choices. Trying to figure out what went wrong but that is definitely improving your GRE Verbal brain, you get to learn the familiar traps, the way that the GRE writes these questions so of course you can anticipate them in the future.
Now we want to move on to another component of the GRE verbal brain which is actually very closely related to that and that is thinking like the GRE. How do they write these questions? So that flows very closely for what we were just talking about. An so, to do this most specifically. What makes a right answer right and a wrong answer wrong?
And so you are not just going through a exercise and say, hey I missed three of them lets see what happened? . You are actually going to look over the ones that got right as well. And you are going to say well, was I ever torn between two answer choices? Why was I torn even though I got it right?
Let’s see what was so tempting about the answer choice that I almost picked. And so you’re looking through all the answer choices and trying to understand how they’re put together. What makes this weak answer choice weak? One that’s tempting, not quite right? And of course, what makes the right answer choice right because this is how the GRE thinks.
And to do well on the GRE you too, must be able to think like the GRE. Finally, the idea of pinpointing weak areas. So the GRE verbal contains many elements. And you want to find which one is the weakest link, because if you develop these great reading skills, you learn to chunk. You’re a brilliant active reader, you think like the GRE, yet you never really bother to work too much on the vocabulary.
Then wait a second you should stop with the reading comp, or at least cut back a little on the amount of time you spend on reading comp, and instead, spend that time focused on vocab. Of course that’s just an example. Whatever that weakest link is, make sure you bring it up to the same level as the other skills, that you need on the GRE verbal section.
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