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Skipping Questions and Pacing


In this video, we are going to talk about pacing and the ability to skip questions. First off, I'm gonna tell you something that is mind-blowing, at least from the standpoint of test-takers who don't know the inner workings of the GRE just yet, hold onto your hats. Every question is worth the same number of points on the GRE test. Not everyone, but a lot of people, until they learn otherwise, assume that the hard questions are worth more, the medium questions are worth slightly fewer, and of course, the easy questions are worth the least number of points.

It's intuitive, it must be the case, but it isn't. Again, every question is worth the same number of points. So what does that actually mean for you as a test taker in terms of pacing? Focus on the questions that are easier for you. It means that you should take your easy test first, let me explain that concept a little more clearly.

Based on your personal strengths and weaknesses and all the practice that will go into your GRE test preparation, you will know which question types are easier for you, and which question types pose a challenge or even quite a challenge. Armed with that knowledge, you can attack the test in a methodical way. Seek out and answer the easier questions, also known as the easier points for you to get, before tackling a question you know that you struggle with.

Some of you might be familiar with the expression low hanging fruit. That's a good metaphor for taking the easy test first. Assume that every one of the apples on this tree is of the same quality, all equally crisp delicious worm free. If your mission was to go to this tree and pick three apples, it makes sense that you would go for the low-hanging fruit.

The GRE is the same way, the easy questions are the low-hanging fruit. Now this comes down to the next important point, which I mentioned earlier and that is within a section you can skip questions. You have the ability to scroll to go from question to question to find your easy test. Mind you, I wouldn't scroll all the time just looking for a question that is easy, skipping the meaty ones.

But I would definitely use the scroll feature to avoid the difficult questions. Knowing which questions to skip is a huge part of an overall pacing strategy. Remember, your first math and first verbal sections will be of medium level difficulty, but there will still be some difficult questions on it. You'll see mostly medium questions, of course, but you'll also see some easy ones.

Find the easier questions and the medium questions first by scrolling through and skipping the harder questions saving them for later. That way you get as many points as you can in as little time as possible, or before the time runs out. Remember that the test is section-adaptive. The questions do not become harder as you progress.

And essentially, what this is saying is the test does not become harder within the section necessarily. That is question 5, it's not guaranteed that it will be more difficult than question 3, and there is no guarantee that question 3 will be more difficult than question 1. Difficulty within a section is random but your overall performance of the first section will determine the level of difficulty of the second section.

We talked about the importance of understanding section adaptivity in an earlier lesson, which I absolutely recommend reviewing if you're still feeling a little bit unsure about how it works. Now to figure out what the easy test is for you, it's good to have some sense of question types that tend to be harder, the ones that can be really time-consuming. We're going to focus on verbal question types here since there's more consistency around which verbal questions tend to be harder for most test-takers.

For math, on the other hand, it really does seem to depend on individual comfort levels with the math topics tested. As well as how GRE presents the question, for example, long complex word problems are typically candidates for skipping. As you practice, you will be able to make your own personalized lists for math questions that are difficult for you.

But back to verbal, first off text completions and you may balk and say, wait a second, no, no, no I don't agree with this. Because the one blank text completions can be easy and I agree but what about the 2 blank or even the dreaded 3 blank text completions? Those are the ones that are going to take you a longer amount of time, so instead of sitting there trying to dissect a sentence with four commas and a semicolon, scroll, go on to something else.

Choose another question, and again, when I say scroll, maybe this sounds a little bit confusing to you. I encourage you to take a mock test as soon as you possibly can, either through Magoosh or ETS, which we'll talk about again in a second. But back to the time suck questions, here is the next one, reading comprehension. Not all passages are difficult but the longer ones can be challenging, there's just a lot of information that you have to sift through.

So skip those, come back to them at the end. And then there are paragraph argument question types. Not all of these are difficult and maybe you decide that you wanna give it a go in the moment. But if you're struggling and if you're thinking to yourself wow this is actually a long paragraph and it's asking me to do a lot and also to understand a lot and I'm feeling pretty confused by it, don't let yourself think that.

Don't let yourself think, I'm not good at this. Rather, tell yourself that you have encountered a difficult problem and now you will skip that problem and come back to it if you have time. Now, I mentioned a second ago that would return to practice tests and here we are. So it's one thing to hear me talk about the scroll feature, how different questions take more time.

And you have to kind of find your own strategy so you can find your easy test or the low hanging fruit, but nothing can really prepare you the way that taking actual mock tests can. Taking actual practice tests, you'll pick up on the scroll feature really easily, but when you take practice tests, you'll wanna be sure to use the best, most reliable resources available.

The first suggestion is the power prep test that ETS provides. ETS, or the educational testing service, those are the folks who actually write the GRE test. So you can't get closer to the actual test than that, to access the power prep test, navigate to And then of course, there's also the Magoosh mock tests.

In fact, you could actually create a bunch of mock tests using the Magoosh questions themselves. Practice will give you the exact feel of taking the GRE in terms of the scrolling feature. A mock test can be very much like sitting there and taking the real test. And here's a quick side note about prep materials.

As you know, the GRE changes in September 2023 made the GRE shorter, but for all intents and purposes, the content and question types have stayed the same. That means if you happen to have prep material published before the changes, that's all still relevant. Just be sure that you are aware of the timing and structure changes to the, the GRE, especially if you're taking a mock test.

So there you have it, these are the important strategies you need to know in order to pay strategically so that you don't run out of time and you're able to maximize your scoring potential on each and every test section.

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