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GRE Student Post: Benjamin’s Perfect Verbal Score

This Friday, we’re hearing from Benjamin, who scored a 169 on the math section, and a 170 on verbal. Amazing job, Benjamin! 🙂 Benjamin plans to pursue a JD/MBA. Read on to learn about the steps Benjamin took to get such a high score!


About me: My name is Benjamin–I am from China and I studied Statistics with Economics as a minor  at Duke University for my college degree. I am also an LSAT taker since I am planning to go to law school in the coming year. I have a heavy load on my major course, so besides studying in the library (some friends who know me well may claim that I am married to the library. Nah, not true) I love to jog and I love to travel. I once took a three month vacation via across America, from Key West up to Boston and all the way west until I reached LA and San Francisco. Then I flew to Hawaii and finally made it home to Beijing.


General Study Tips:


1. Be disciplined. During preparation, there are many distractions–I simply turned off my phone when I studied. And, always be optimistic–preparing for the GRE is a long shot, and it can be pretty demoralizing because of the nature of the test. Just be optimistic, and trust that you are making progress.


2. Follow a specific plan. I strongly urge you to create and follow a specific schedule. By the end of the time you’ve spent studying, it should feel so routine that the GRE is an integral part of your life.


3.  Take time to exercise. This is critical. You have to take some time to stretch your legs and re-fuel your brain. For me, I run 30 minutes everyday.


4. Always review your mistakes. Always spend a couple of hours to review your mistakes, write down why you chose the answers and  your logic and steps to get there. As for the correct answers, always be 100% sure it is correct and  refer to the context.


5. Take as many mock tests as possible. This is equally important. The GRE test is all about endurance, stamina, pace and repetition. You’ll able to build it up only with the mock test.


RC Tips: As both a GRE and an LSAT taker, I found reading comprehension to be the hardest part. One thing I did was to practice RC passages every morning when I woke up. As an LSAT taker, I purchased all the and I practiced 4 LSAT passages everyday and then redid the four passages the next morning. My scores escalated fairly quick. Dare I say, in the first couple weeks, I couldn’t even manage to finish the RC passage within 50 minutes. But improvement came with persistence and consistently tracking my time. I timed my every step–my time on reading the passage, then on the questions. Basically, I had a perfect gauge on my pace and after the first two months, I managed to finish the RC within 35 minutes.


After you finish the passage and check the answers, here comes the most important step – it’s really essential and it’s a necessary step for students who aim to achieve a score higher than 160 – “blind review.” That means,  1) I have to be 100% confident about the answer choices; 2) and 100% sure why the wrong answers are wrong and why the correct ones are correct. When I did blind review, I just simply redid the passage and followed the principles of blind review. I’d jot down the lines under the questions to convince myself that it was indeed the correct answer. And for the wrong ones, I categorized it with either out of scope or narrow scope (unsupported) , contradiction, one word wrong (extreme word), and so forth. What’s more, the next morning I’d simply repeat this process and redo the passage again. This strategy has honed my skills and by the time I took the GRE tests, I was so confident that every answer choice I chose, it was correct.


Vocabulary Tips: Besides that, vocabulary can be an equally daunting task. So my plan was to review vocabularies after I finished the RC passages (these two things were really the most important part in my life – as least for the time I was preparing for the GRE ). I also read a lot, from  to , from The Atlantic to The New Yorker. And I read some non-fiction materials like (This is a fascinating book and very fun to read-basically it covers every possible topic you may see on the GRE test, and it’s dense and science-for-non-scientists, just like GRE passages.) I can’t emphasize enough the importance of reading dense materials and reading in context to learn GRE words. Also, remember to review the words frequently,  or you may follow the .


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