-GRE: Taming the CAT-

How is the Test Scored?

On the computer-based GRE, your score is based on a combination of the number answered correctly and the difficulty of the questions answered. On the computer-based test, you get more credit for answering a harder question than you get for answering an easier one. On the paper-based version, there is no deduction for wrong answers, but on the CAT you will be penalized for any question left unanswered when time runs out. Raw scores are converted to scaled scores to take into account the different levels of difficulty on different test versions. The scale runs from 200 (the minimum) to 800 (the maximum). Your score report will include three different scores: a verbal score, a quantitative or math score, and an analytical score. It will also include a percentile ranking for each section.

Tips

You should answer every question.
Because on the CAT you'll be penalized for any questions left unanswered when time runs out, the best strategy is to answer every question in a section. The screen display will tell you how many questions you have yet to answer, so you can pace yourself to make sure you complete the section.

You must answer questions in the order presented.
While the "adaptive" aspect of the CAT should have no effect on your preparation, it must have a great effect on your approach to the exam itself. On a CAT exam, YOU MUST ANSWER THE QUESTIONS IN THE ORDER PRESENTED. Since the exam adapts itself in response to your answers, you cannot skip and later return to any questions. And, you cannot rethink and change your answer at a later time. You cannot seek out and answer the easier question styles first. In other words, you must do the best you can to answer each question.

The first half of a section is where the points are.
On the CAT, how well you do on the first half of each section plays a very big part in determining your final score. That's because the first half of each section is where the computer program that moves you up and down the ladder of difficulty does the major part of its work. If you do well early in the test, the computer will give you harder questions, and those questions will be worth more points. So work carefully through the first half of each section. If you find that time is running out, you can always pick up the pace in the second half.

Guessing is part of the game.
On the CAT there will be two times you'll have to guess. First, any time you have no idea of how to solve a problem, you'll have to choose an answer just to move on to the next question. Second, if time is running out, it will be worth your while to guess at the answers to any remaining questions--there's always the chance that you'll guess right, and you'll be penalized if you leave questions unanswered.
How do you Register for the GRE?

First obtain the GRE Bulletin from the University Career Center or Grad School or by writing to:

Graduate Record Examinations Program
CN 6000
Princeton, NJ 08541-6000

To schedule an appointment to take the CAT, call the test center (see info blow) or 1-800-GRE-CALL during regular business hours. You can pay over the phone by credit card. Otherwise, you will need to submit the registration form by mail and wait 2-4 weeks for authorization to schedule a test appointment.

CAT Test Center: RALEIGH - 1602
6026 Six Forks Road
Raleigh, NC 27609
(919) 846-1933

An advantage of taking the CAT is that scores are ready for mailing 10-15 days after the test date. A great source of information and an alternative way of registering can be accessed from the GRE site: http://www.gre.org


The Top 10 Ways to Raise Your Score

1. Make a study plan and follow it. (Studying will improve your score--the GRE is not testing for innate knowledge.)
2. Learn the directions in advance. Know that the first five questions in each section are the most important. Take your time on these questions and try to answer them correctly. (It will greatly increase your score.
3. Always guess.
4. In sentence completions, look for clue words.
5. In analogy questions, a sentence can make the connection.
6. In reading comprehension, read for structure, not details.
7. If a problem-solving math question stumps you, work backwards from the answers.
8. In quantitative comparisons, consider all the possibilities. (Think about what would happen if you plugged in 1, 0, a fraction, or a negative number for x.)
9. For analytical reasoning questions, set up a "bookkeeping" system to summarize the information.
10. In logical reasoning questions, start by finding the conclusion.

A great resource for learning about the GRE computer-adaptive test and studying for it is a series of CD-ROMs developed by Kaplan called "Higher Score on the GMAT-GRE-LSAT." It includes tutoring sessions for math, verbal, and analytical, practice tests, personalized study strategies, and tips for each section.