Use Your Scrape Paper to Get a Higher GRE Score
Scrape paper. Backs of envelopes. Corners of old bills. Napkins. These are all unserious writing materials.
And yet, on the GRE —that most serious and humorless of tests—you are given something the test maker calls “scratch paper” to record every bit of work that isn’t in your head or on the computer screen.
Putting your scrape paper to work
Let’s switch the paradigm. This is work paper, the one place where you do your work, separately, from what you send to be scored. Using this implement is essential to achieving your best GRE score.
Originally, before you embark your test, you will be given several blank sheets of paper. Each sheet will have two blank, usable sides.
- The number of sheets you’ll receive depends on the individual test center ; we’ve heard reports of three, four, five or six sheets of paper, sometimes in booklet form, sometimes single sheets.
- If you use all of it, you can ask the proctor for another set, but you will have to exchange your finished sheets for the fresh ones.
- This means you can have as much paper as you want, but no more than a limited number of sheets at a time.
Using the paper efficiently, and controlling when – and if – you get fresh paper can be significant for your equilibrium and, ultimately, your GRE score.
Your natural inclination may be to take a fresh sheet of paper for your very first problem, write down some information, maybe an equation or a diagram. This is excellent for the very first problem you are working on, and most likely good for the 2nd one, too. By the third problem, you’re writing around the edges of the very first two problems, and if you get confused, you can’t figure out what you’ve already done since your work is all over the place, like this:
Not only are you frustrated, but you are also wasting precious time. You’ve done three problems (not likely your best work), and already you have to commence on the next side of paper. Here’s a much better method to manage your work paper.
Scrape paper management
- Very first, either fold the sheets into quarters or draw on each sheet to divide it into quarters. There’s no need to be precise here. Your twelve large, blank canvases are now transformed into 48 much more manageable spaces.
- Next, as soon as you are permitted to embark writing, go to the very first box on the 2nd sheet (reserve the very first sheet for work on the Analytical Writing Section ) and write down all the math formulas you’ve been worrying you might leave behind before you get to a Quantitative section. Practice doing this well before your actual test in order to do this quickly and efficiently on GRE Test Day.
- Now, with your math worries out of the way, stir to the very first sheet and the Issue essay. In the upper left quarter of the sheet, take the assignment apart. What would agreeing with the position on the issue mean? How about the counter-position? In the next box, sketch out some ideas for the examples you’d use to support each side, then determine which side to take. In the third box, make a quick outline of your essay, and in the fourth box list some strong keywords you want to make sure to use. Composing and typing the essay should be a breeze with your work laid out in a predictable and easy-to-view manner.
Even if you’re used to doing a lot of your work in your head, force yourself to write things down. There simply is too much to do—too many topics, and too much pressure—for you to keep everything in your head while you analyze GRE questions. For the rest of the test, use your scrape paper in all of the following ways:
Having enough space for your work and being able to use it in an organized way will keep you calmer and more focused than you would be if using the usual scratch-paper jumble. Approaching test day with an organized plan will help you achieve a higher GRE score. Take one last look at the scrape paper picture above. May your own “work paper” never look like that again.
Want to get a feel for using scrape paper before Test Day? Get commenced with aFree Kaplan GRE Practice Test.