How to use 21st Night to study for the GRE

by Trevor Klee, Tutor

tl;dr: do questions from ETS books, Powerprep tests, and the Manhattan 5 Lb. book. Any questions you get wrong go into 21st Night. You can find explanations for those questions online.

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1. Your overall process when preparing for the GRE

a) Start with a diagnostic test. What are your specific strengths and weaknesses?

Put your incorrect questions into 21st Night, and use it to discern the patterns.

b) Do questions from the ETS books and Manhattan Prep’s 5 Lb book to focus on your weaknesses. Again, put your incorrect questions into 21st Night, and follow the review process.

Don’t worry about speed immediately, that comes with being confident and fluent in the techniques. As the old Army saying goes, “Slow is smooth and smooth is fast.”

Focus on being smooth in your application of techniques, and speed will follow.

c) Once you feel like you’ve covered your initial weaknesses, or you feel confused about about what to do next, take another practice test. Then start with a) again.

d) There are two parts to studying for the GRE.

One part is like being a marathon runner. You need to put the miles in on the pavement to run a marathon. Anyone can do it, but it takes effort. Doing questions, getting them wrong, and then following the review process from 21st Night is how you put in the miles.

It’s going to suck, but that’s how you learn.

The second part is like being your own coach. You need to reflect on your own progress and what you get wrong and right. 21st Night can help you through the review screen and the Google Sheet, but you’ll need to put in some thinking yourself.

What are the patterns in what you get wrong? What techniques do you have difficulty applying?

2. Your materials

Mandatory

-Official GREPrep tests

-21st Night.

-The official GRE books (official guide, quant supplement, verbal supplement)

Optional

Manhattan Prep 5 Lb GRE book, for extra quant questions (the official books don’t have enough)

-Strategy guides, for the necessary techniques

-My recommendations: my strategy guides

3. Your study plan

Plan for roughly 100 hours of hardcore studying to go up 10-15 points on quant or verbal.

So, if you’re starting at 150V/150Q and want to get to 165V/165Q, plan to spend 4 months spending 20 hours a week studying (to give yourself some wiggle room, if you have some unproductive days).

That’s 2 hours a day on weekdays, 5 hours a day on weekends.

It’s a lot! But packing it all into a few months is the best way to do it.

People get discouraged when they spend months working on the GRE, especially when it’s hard to see yourself making improvements week by week. Packing it into a short time prevents that.

4. How to review the sections

This is both how you should approach the questions, and, more importantly, how to analyze a question you got incorrect.

Review through the error log is key to understanding. If you don’t review your incorrect questions, you’ll never understand them.

Vocabulary: how can we break down the sentence to tell us what goes in the blank, especially key sign posts (like butlikewise, etc.)? Is what we missed simply not knowing the word, or was our comprehension off?

Reading Comprehension: what precise part of the passage did I need to read to get the correct answer?

Critical Reasoning:  how does the argument work (premise, reasoning, conclusion)? how does the correct answer fit into the argument?

Quant: what equations do I need to start with? how do I get from there to the answers?

Data interpretation: where’s the trick in the graph?

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