GRE Premier 2017 with 6 Practice Tests


Chapter 22. Take Control of the Test

Now that you’re familiar with the content that makes up each section of the GRE, and are armed with the strategies and techniques you’ll need to tackle all of the question types, you’re ready to turn your attention to building the right mentality and attitude that will help you succeed on Test Day. Let’s first go over the basic principles of good test mentality.

Kaplan’s Four Basic Principles of Good Test Mentality

You are already armed with the weapons that you need to do well on the GRE. But you must wield those weapons with the right frame of mind and in the right spirit. This involves taking a certain stance toward the entire test and bolstering your stamina, confidence, and attitude.


To do your best on the GRE, keep in mind that the test is different from other tests you’ve taken before, both in terms of its content and in terms of its scoring system. If you took a test in high school or college and got a quarter of the questions wrong, you probably received a mediocre grade. But this is not necessarily true with the GRE. The test is geared so that even the very best test takers don’t necessarily get every question right.

What does this mean for you? Well, just as you shouldn’t let one tough Reading Comprehension passage ruin an entire section, you shouldn’t let what you consider to be a subpar performance on one section ruin your performance on the entire test. If you allow that subpar section to rattle you, it sets in motion a downward spiral that could do serious damage to your score. Losing a few extra points won’t do you in, but losing your head will. Keeping your composure is an important test-taking skill.

Also, you should remember that if you feel you’ve done poorly on a section, it could very well be the experimental section. You’ll have the opportunity immediately after you’ve taken the test to think about whether you want to cancel your score. You might underestimate your performance, since you’re more likely to remember the questions you thought were more difficult. The major takeaway is to stay confident throughout the test.


Overall, the GRE is a grueling experience. Remember, you’ll be completing six full-length sections on Test Day (one Analytical Writing, two Verbal Reasoning, two Quantitative Reasoning, and one Experimental or Research). It is a true test of endurance, and some test takers run out of gas on the final few sections.

To avoid this, you must build up your test-taking stamina by taking as many full-length practice tests as possible several weeks before the test. If you do this, by Test Day, completing this test won’t seem like such a daunting task.

You can download a free copy of the POWERPREP II software, including two multi-stage practice tests, directly from

Another option, if you haven’t already done so, would be to take a Kaplan course, either classroom-based or online. You could also set up special one-on-one tutoring sessions with Kaplan faculty. If you decide to go this route, visit or call 1-800-KAP-TEST for information on a Kaplan classroom or tutoring program.


Confidence is self-sustaining, and unfortunately, so is its opposite—self-doubt. Confidence in your ability leads to quick, sure answers and an ease of concentration that translates into more points. If you lack confidence, you might lose concentration and end up reading sentences and answer choices two, three, or four times. This leads to timing difficulties, which only continue the downward spiral, causing anxiety and a tendency to rush. If you subscribe to the test-prep mindset that we’ve described, however, you’ll be ready and able to take control of the test. Learn our techniques and then practice them over and over again. That’s the way to score your best on the test.


Those who fear the test or consider it an extra hurdle in the long race toward graduate school usually don’t fare as well as those who see the GRE as an opportunity to show off the reading and reasoning skills that graduate schools are looking for. In fact, consider this: the test is designed to reward you. Those who look forward to the GRE as a challenge—or, at least, who enjoy the opportunity to distinguish themselves from the rest of the applicant pack—tend to score better than do those who resent it.

It may sound a little dubious, but take our word for it: altering your approach is proven to raise scores. Here are a few steps you can take to make sure you develop the right GRE attitude:

·        Look at the GRE as a challenge, but try not to obsess over it; you certainly don’t want to psych yourself out of the game.

·        Remember that, yes, the GRE is obviously important, but contrary to what some people think, this one test will not single-handedly determine the outcome of your life. In many cases, it’s not even the most important piece of your graduate application.

·        Since the test is predictable, think of the GRE as a reward for understanding the same core skills that show up all the time.

·        Remember that you’re more prepared than most people. You’ve trained with Kaplan. You have the tools you need, plus the know-how to use those tools.

Kaplan’s basic principles of good test mentality are as follows:

·        Be aware of the test and keep your composure even when you are struggling with a difficult question; missing one question won’t ruin your score for a section.

·        Build your stamina by taking as many practice tests as you can.

·        Be confident; you are already well on your way to a great score!

·        Stay positive; consider the GRE an opportunity rather than an obstacle.

The Kaplan Stress-Management System

Is it starting to feel as if your whole life is a buildup to the GRE? You’ve known about it for years, worried about it for months, and now spent at least a few weeks in solid preparation for it. As the test gets closer, you may find that your anxiety is on the rise. You shouldn’t worry. Armed with the preparation strategies that you’ve learned from this book, you’re in good shape for Test Day. To calm any pre-test jitters that you may have, however, let’s go over a few strategies for the couple of days before the test.


·        The best test takers do less and less as the test approaches. Taper off your study schedule and take it easy on yourself. Give yourself time off, especially the evening before the exam. By that time, if you’ve studied well, everything you need to know is firmly stored in your memory bank. In fact, it’s in your best interest to marshal your physical and psychological resources for the last 24 hours or so before the test. Keep the test out of your consciousness; go to a movie, take a pleasant walk, or just relax. Eat healthy meals and steer clear of sugar and caffeine. And, of course, get plenty of rest that night, and also the night before. It’s hard to fall asleep earlier than you’re used to, and you don’t want to lie there worrying about the test.

·        Most importantly, make sure you know where the test will be held and the easiest, quickest way to get there. You’ll have great peace of mind by knowing that all the little details are set before Test Day.

·        Visit the test site a few days in advance, particularly if you are especially anxious.


The biggest source of stress will be the test itself. Fear not! The following are methods to relieve your stress during the test:

·        Keep moving forward instead of getting bogged down in a difficult question. You don’t have to get everything right to achieve a solid score. So don’t linger out of desperation on a question that is going nowhere even after you’ve spent considerable time on it.

·        Breathe! Weak test takers tend to share one major trait: they don’t breathe properly as the test proceeds. They might hold their breath without realizing it or breathe irregularly. Improper breathing hurts confidence and accuracy. Just as importantly, it interferes with clear thinking.

Test Day

The night before Test Day, gather the following things together:

·        ID

·        admission ticket

·        a watch

·        a bottle of water

·        aspirin or other painkiller, in case you get a headache

·        a snack, such as fruit or an energy bar, to keep your energy up for the later sections of the test

·        names of schools you’d like to receive your scores

Test Day should start with a moderate, high-energy breakfast. Cereal, fruit, bagels, or eggs are good. Avoid doughnuts, pastries, or anything else with a lot of sugar. Also, unless you are utterly catatonic without it, it’s a good idea to stay away from coffee.

Yes, perhaps you drink two cups every morning and don’t even notice it. But it’s different during the test. Coffee won’t make you alert (your adrenaline will do that much more effectively); it will just give you the jitters. Kaplan has done experiments in which test takers go into one exam having drunk various amounts of coffee and another exam without having drunk coffee. The results indicate that even the most caffeine-addicted test takers will lose their focus midway through the second section if they’ve had coffee, but they report no alertness problems without it.

When you get to the test center, you will be seated at a computer station. Some administrative questions will be asked before the test begins and, once you’re done with those, you’re set to go. While you’re taking the test, a small clock will count down the time you have left in each section. The computer will tell you when you’re done with each section and when you’ve completed the test.

Here are some last-minute reminders to help guide your work on the test:

·        Take a few minutes now to look back over your preparation and give yourself credit for all the work you put into it. Confidence is far more useful than distress.

·        Don’t bother trying to figure out which section is the experimental section. It can’t help you, and you might make a tragic mistake if you guess wrong. Instead, just do your best on every section.

·        Dress in layers for maximum comfort. This way, you can adjust to the room’s temperature accordingly.

·        During the exam, try not to fixate on what your score is or how you’re doing so far. It’s counterproductive to continue to think about questions you’ve already answered or ones you haven’t gotten to yet. If you worry about the next section, or the one you’ve just completed, you’ll just feel overwhelmed. Instead, focus on the question-by-question task of picking the correct answer choice. Try to take things one step at a time. Concentrate on each question, each passage, and each essay prompt—on the mechanics, in other words—and you’ll avoid cognitive confusion.

After all the hard work that you’ve put in preparing for and taking the GRE, make sure you take time to celebrate afterward. Plan to get together with friends the evening after the test. You prepared for the test ahead of time. You did your best. You’re going to get a great score.