Mock vs. Actual GRE : LUSENET : York University Undergraduate Psychology Students' Association : One Thread

This is Vivian, and I hold the position of External Affairs on the Excecutive Board. It is vital that students who took the mock GRE or who are planning on taking the mock GRE appreciate the difference between the paper-and-pencil test and the computer-adaptive test (CAT). The actual GRE is administered via the CAT. As such, it is very different than the paper test for the following reasons: 1) The computer test has fewer questions in each section than the paper test.

2) The level of difficulty of questions on the CAT may also differ. The CAT adjusts the difficulty of the questions according to the student's ability. Consequently, if you are doing very well, you may encounter questions that are somewhat harder than those in the book.

3) The CAT administers each section (verbal, quantitative, analytical) in its entirety before proceeding to the next section. Therefore, when you complete a section, you will not see the same type of section again (unless it is your research section). In contrast, the pen-and-paper tests (particularly those published in study guides) divide each section into two parts, so you end up working on 2 of each section.

4) Each test requires very different test-taking skills. A computer screen is a very different frame of reference than a page of text on the desk in front of you. Therefore, do not get into the habit of underlining on the paper if you are using a paper practice test; you can't underline important pages/information on a computer screen. Therefore, it is very important to practice transferring info from the computer screen onto scrap paper (where you will figure out the math/analytical problems) accurately.

I would emphasize that the very best practice you can get in preparation for the GREs is with the GRE PowerPrep software, which is available free at (This program is also mailed to everyone who registers for a test, but mine actually arrived after my test date. Just download it off their website.) The PowerPrep is also the most accurate reflection of your score! It simulates actual test taking conditions, right down to the tutorial sessions and the timing (the screen you see is identical to the actual test). It provide 2 or 3 full-length, timed tests, as well as several drills on each section. The score that I obtained using this program was comparable to my actual GRE score.

Anyway, I hope this was helpful. If anyone has any questions regarding the GRE (ie. tips, the best study guides, etc.) or getting in to grad school, I'd be happy to answer them by e-mail.

-- Vivian Koval (, February 06, 2002

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