The GRE Tutor: How To Keep Test Strategy Fresh in Your Head

Posted by Mac Staben on 8/15/14 9:51 AM

homer writing 640480 resized 600

Homer knows how to prepare for the GRE. Do you?

I just returned from my road trip across America to start medical school. Since I started, I’ve been thinking a lot about my memories from the trip and how I’m going to work efficiently. Medical school, by all accounts, should drown me in information: formulae, data, hideously complex diagrams covered in indecipherable latin words. So I have to find some way of staying afloat amid that flood. As an MCAT tutor, an SAT tutor, or a GRE tutor, I recognize that my students face a similar challenge of remembering a large amount of sometimes random information. The problem then becomes, how do you remember everything you’ve learned when Test Day rolls around? How can you make sure you can bring everything to bear on the test when it really counts? That’s why I’d like to share some ideas on how to help you as a GRE tutoring student cope. I believe that by following these strategies of summary and review, you can make your tutoring sessions more effective.

While on the trip, I kept a daily blog where I reflected on what I’d done, what I’d seen, and what I’d thought. I managed to write a post for each day, but quite often, I would be busy, so I couldn’t get around to writing a post for the most recent day. When I wrote an entry for a recent day, everything remained very fresh in my mind, so I could more vividly describe my reactions. When I procrastinated, figuring out what was interesting took a lot more effort. Even after supplementing my memory by looking at pictures I’d taken, I’m sure that I missed ideas that I wanted to remember.

I found it very effective to jot down some notes immediately after an experience. As an GRE tutor, I ask my students to become proficient in quickly tossing off an accurate 1-sentence summary of whatever they’ve just read. Over the short-term, this brief summary helps students answer questions. The same principle applies to tutoring sessions. While it may seem taxing, immediately after tutoring spend 5 minutes thinking about the most important principles of what you learned. Digest the material you’ve just reviewed with your tutor, then write a little summary. Pare it down to the barest essentials, words you will be able to hear echo in your head in the GRE testing room. While things may be clear immediately after a tutoring session, that knowledge can fade over time. If you forget how to do something between the initial point of understanding and when you review the material, then the time that you spent working is wasted. That abstract you created can also serve as a quick way to review material.

This practice of summary and reflection on recently-learned material can be extremely helpful to students preparing for standardized tests or working through specific subjects. If you have questions about this technique, or any other skills that might help you work more efficiently, try speaking with a tutor. At Cambridge Coaching, our goal is simple: make sure you never encounter a question you do not immediately know how to begin. Give us a call, and see what our tried-and-true methods can do for you!

 Sign up to receive a free, 8-part GRE Verbal Toolkit

Tags: GRE