Meet the GRE Specialist

If you’re like most people preparing to take the GRE, you probably have little sense of what differentiates one GRE prep course from another. The basic story is that most courses fall into one of two categories: “strategy-based” or “content-based”.

Strategy-Based Courses

Companies that offer preparation for a wide variety of tests almost always teach strategy-based courses. In general, strategy-based courses provide:

  • Discussion of each of the question types that you find on the GRE.
  • A small set of strategies for approaching these question types.
  • A brief 1 to 2 hour math review.

Such courses also tend to provide guidance on study habits; advice for the test day experience; and instructions on how to register for the GRE and report scores.

You won’t find a lot of “know-how”, however, in strategy-based courses. The focus of such courses is test-taking advice, not education. A “premier” study guide of one such course, for example, recently devoted just nineteen pages to explaining math concepts. This said, you will find some useful ideas for taking the exam strategically, among them: ways to use the answer choices to your advantage; advice on how to pace yourself; and recommendations on how to read.

In our experience, learning these sorts of strategies can be helpful. Unfortunately, they will not help most test-takers attain a strong GRE score, on their own.If you do not know how to solve the problems you find on your exam, you will not do well, regardless of how well you can eliminate irrational answers, pace yourself, or otherwise “game” the exam.

If you’re unsure whether a particular course is strategy-based, just check the company’s website; if the company teaches more than four exams, that course is almost surely strategy-based.

GRE Specialist Teaching

Jay hosting free office hours on a Sunday evening

Content-Based Courses

In contrast, companies that offer preparation for just a few tests are almost always content-based. Content-based courses teach the “know-how” you need to solve exam questions without guessing. They devote most of their efforts to explaining the major topics tested by the GRE, so that by the end of the course, you’ve been taught what you need to know to answer many GRE questions properly.

In our view, this sort of approach is critical to success on the GRE. It may not be the only thing you need to succeed, but it is the most important. Think about it logically. Is there any other exam that you would dare take without learning its content beforehand? Of course not. Yet students regularly “prep” for the GRE in courses that do not teach the content of the exam. It takes years to graduate from college, and some admissions committees weigh GRE scores more heavily than grade point averages. Isn’t an exam that means so much worth preparing for properly?

Sherpa Prep’s Approach

Our GRE course is a content-based course. But among content-based test preparation companies, Sherpa Prep is unique. We are the ONLY company that specializes in the GRE. Everything we teach — in our classes, in our books, in our videos, and in our app — has been engineered exclusively for the GRE from over three decades worth of daily teaching experience.

Every company that offers content-based courses specializes in one test or another. One well-known company, for example, primarily focuses on the GMAT. Another is largely an LSAT company. Our focus is the GRE.

Why does this matter? We know how other GRE courses are taught. We’ve seen the books and test questions that are obvious adaptations of materials designed for the GMAT, LSAT, or SAT. Our curriculum reflects the difference. If you haven’t done so already, we encourage you to compare our materials to anything else that you can find. Whether you’re looking for help with advanced material or just the basics, we have no doubt that you’ll see the difference.