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Skipping Questions and Pacing

Chris Lele
Lesson by Chris Lele
Magoosh Expert
Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Doesn't this video contradict the study guides? It recommends taking a practice test right away, but the study schedule doesn't mention it. 

A: For those following our study guides, which should really be all of you ;), you may have noticed that you are not schedule to take a practice test until week three or four. In the video we recommend taking a practice test as soon as possible.

I could make an argument for both. On the one hand, you want to save your practice tests. So not wasting one at the beginning seems wise. On the other hand, by not taking a test at the beginning, you are going to be less aware of your weakness. 

So you need to decide where you stand. If you already have a strong grasp of your strengths and weaknesses, you can save the practice test until later. But if you are starting out and don't have a clear idea of your level, then you probably want to take a practice test right away. That way you know what to focus on in your studies.


Q:  
Could you explain a little more about the increase in difficulty level in the Quantitative Comparison problems that Chris talks about?

A:  The math section will always begin with either seven or eight QC questions.  Within that set of questions, generally (though not guaranteed), the later questions are more difficult than the earlier questions.  In light of that typical pattern, it may be a good strategy to skip the last couple of QC problems, especially if you're struggling with them or pressed for time.

Once you've moved beyond the QC problems, the difficulty levels of the next questions follow a different pattern, one that doesn't have any established trend (in other words, the difficulty level of one question in relation to another is more random).

Learn More About Magoosh GRE
In this video, we are going to talk about pacing and the ability to skip questions. First of, I'm gonna tell you something that is mind blowing, at least, from the GRE standpoint. Here it is, every question is worth the same number of points. Wow, why is that? So my boy, what's going on here with this statement?

Well, I think, almost everybody takes this test assumes that the hard questions are worth more points. The medium questions are worth slightly fewer points than that. 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, in terms of pacing? Well, do the questions that you find easy. Because, the easy questions are worth the same number of points as the hard questions. So why waste your time with a really difficult question? Two minutes have gone by, and you're really no closer to the answer than when you started, versus, using those two minutes to solve easy questions.

So I like to think of this and the trees. Again, please pardon my artwork. Okay, that tree's enough, here fruits on the tree. Fruits way up here. And maybe, you've heard of this expression before. The low hanging fruit.

Assume that everyone of these fruits is an orange, or an apple. And that fruit is the exact same that these, these apple is no different from this apple, is no different from this apple. If you wanna be pick three apples, whatever you pick that from. Well, you're not here. You're not a massive giraffe.

It makes sense that you would go for the low hanging fruit, the easy through. The GRE is the same way, that if I those questions that are easy, and go to those questions, another way of thinking it, saying, it is do the easy test, the test that for you is easy. Now, this comes down to the next important point is, yes, you can skip questions, and the reason that this is mind blowing, is that old GRE.

Well, you aren't allowed to skip a question. You have to answer before moving on, and that was very stressful, it's something that the new GRE creators wanted to change. So what you have now, is the ability to scroll, to go from question to question to find the easy test. Mind you, I wouldn't scroll all the time just looking for a question that is easy, then, skipping the medium ones, but I would definitely use the scroll feature to avoid the difficult questions.

Remember, on the medium section, through even math or verbal, that is the first section you receive for either math or verbal will have some difficult questions on it. It will have bunch of medium questions, as well as some easy questions. Find the easy questions and the medium questions by using the easy to use scroll feature.

And that way, get as many points as you can in as little time as possible, or before the time runs out. Now, to figure out what is an easy test for you, it's good to have an idea of which type of questions are harder, which ones are time drainers, etc. Now, first off, this test is section adaptive. I went over this in an earlier video.

And essentially, what this is saying, is the test does not become harder within the section. That is, question five is not more difficult than question three, which is more difficult than question one, etc. Rather, difficulty within a section is random, but depending how you do in the section determines your next section, the section you get afterwards.

And that's why the new GRE is a section adaptive test. However, there is one section, that is the quantitative comparison section, on the math, quantitative section. Again, has the quantitative comparison, in which, the questions tend to get more difficult as you go up in number. You will either have a section that has quantitative comparison questions from one to seven, or another section you will get will have one to eight, meaning, that's six and seven, seven, eight, tend to me more difficult than one and two.

And that way, from a pacing standpoint, you know that, okay, it's a good idea to do the first four or five questions, same here, and then, maybe, skip the harder ones, especially, if you are pressed for time on the math section. Now, if you are very strong in math, then, you may just wanna go through each question as long as you don't get flustered, hit the wall as far as you try to find the answer goes, you may want to just go all the way to seven and continue going.

But, again, if you're not that confident in math, it's very important to know the harder questions are quantitative comparison. Again, they start the math section. One through seven, one through eight, tend to be a little bit more difficult, so don't get flustered. Go to problem solving, and again, look for the questions that are easy to media.

Now, in terms of question types, and the amount of time they take, let's talk about the time consuming ones. First off, text completions, and you may bock, and say, wait a second, no, no, no, I don't agree with this, because that one black text completion is easy, and I agree, what about the two blank, or even the dreaded three, like text completions. Those are the ones that are gonna take you a long time.

So instead of sitting there trying to dissect this sentence with four commas and a semi colon, scroll, go on to something else. Choose another question, and again, when I say scroll, maybe, this sounds confusing to you, I encourage you to take a mock test as soon as you can, either through GRE, or through, or rather read through the GRE craters, ETS, or through she'll talk about that in a second.

But again, going back to here, it's like consuming text concrete, like text solutions, and some of the tube like texts and places can take up a lot of your time. Then, there's reading comprehension. Not all passages, but there are a couple of long ones. In fact, there's one very long one, and one long one. Both of those have only four questions after them.

So skip those, come to them at the end. And then, there are paragraph argument questions. Again, not all of these are difficult. Maybe, you maybe wanna give a question a shot, read it. But if you're struggling, and you're thinking to yourself, wow, this is actually a long paragraph, asking me to do a lot, and understand a lot, and wow, it's really confusing.

Again, don't think I'm not good at this, think, I have encountered a difficult problem, and now, I will skip this and come back to it, if I have time. Now, I mentioned a second ago about these practice tests. 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 the easy test, or the low hanging through, but nothing can really prepare you way that taking actual mock test scans, these actual practice tests, you'll pick up on the scroll feature really easily.

And as far as, again, find the questions that are easy for you, you'll develop a sense of that. So we have here Powerprep II. This is the one from ETS I mentioned a second ago, these are the writers of the test, Educational Testing Service, they write the GRE. And they have here, these two Powerprep II tests.

And the reason why it's called Powerprep II, is Powerprep I was for the old GRE. So again, Powerprep II has two tests, and you can get those with the official guide, and they come on a little CD. And then, of course, there's also the Magoosh mock tests. And so, you could create a bunch of mock tests using the Magoosh questions themselves.

And this will give you the exact feel of taking the GRE, in terms of the scrolling, even in terms of the calculator. It's like sitting there and taking the real test. So here you have it, these are the important strategies you need to know in order to pace, so that you don't run out of time, and that you go for the easy and medium questions first.

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Intro to the GRE