So you’ve finally graduated from college and now you’re trying to figure out your next steps. If you feel that graduate school is in your future, you’ll need to begin practicing for your next academic obstacle: the Graduate Record Examination (GRE). Most schools offering competitive Graduate programs require applicants to complete this exam and submit scores within the application. While the GRE receives a nasty reputation (like any standardized entrance exam), you can still earn a high score, and grab your one-way ticket into the nation’s top Graduate programs. To help you complete your next academic milestone, try using these helpful GRE study tips.
If you want to do well on the GRE, you need to master the ins and outs of the exam. The GRE consists of five sections: 1 analytical writing assessment section, 2 verbal reasoning sections, and 2 quantitative reasoning sections. Test-takers may receive a score between 130 and 170 on the quantitative and verbal reasoning sections, and a 0 through 6 on the written section. Although the sections vary in length, the GRE in its entirety takes about 4 hours to complete, so make sure you dress in comfortable clothing.
Beating the GRE rests on test-takers leveraging their strengths and bolstering any weaknesses. If you feel you have superior writing and reading skills, focus on the verbal and quantitative sections. The same rings true for the math section. Once you better understand your strengths and weaknesses, preparing for the GRE will flow smoothly since you’ll know what material to review.
Don’t skip over or ignore any section during your GRE test prep. Focusing slightly more on your weak spots while studying will allow you to amplify your score in the respective section.
How does a violinist earn acceptance into Carnegie Hall or Julliard? Practice, of course. Like music, the best way to prepare for the GRE is to practice. You’ll find an abundance test prep recourses online with large volumes of sample questions, practice tests, and additional tips and breakdowns of each section. Likewise, signing up for a GRE test prep course is a fantastic way to supplement your practice time. Some companies like Kaplan and Princeton Review offer full courses to help applicants prepare for the GRE (as well as any other standardized test).
If you feel these courses are a bit too expensive, you can hire a private tutor to help prepare as well. These GRE tutors can help guide you through the material, and even help plan out a comprehensive GRE study plan. You can also take a peek at previous versions of the GRE to use as a practice test.
Time is another critical consideration to take into account when running test prep drills for the GRE. When you take any practice test, make sure you are keeping track of your time. The four hours you’re allotted for the GRE goes by quicker than you think, especially when you’re not properly managing time.
The quantitative reasoning section of the exam shouldn’t cover any foreign math subjects. This section covers arithmetic, algebra, geometry, applied math, and other foundational branches of mathematics that are typically covered in high school and college. The GRE, as well as the GMAT, and other graduate program entrance exams test your reasoning ability—not to find the area within a curve through calculus. You want to make sure you have the most important mathematical formulas memorized going into the GRE, and that you understand how and when to apply these formulas. Most GRE test prep books will outline the scope of mathematical concepts you’ll need under your belt going into the exam.
When it comes to GRE test prep, the written and verbal sections are less straightforward. They both require an ability to comprehend and analyze a text’s context. The best way to prepare for these sections involves reinforcing up your vocabulary. If you can understand the wording of the question and the meaning of the answer choices, you’re already a step ahead of the game. There are flashcards that you can purchase with advanced vocabulary that will help you throughout your GRE exam prep. This type of study aid will really boost your knowledge of context, grammar, and overall vocabulary.
Don’t forget to keep your reading skills sharp by completing daily reading exercises. Pick something with challenging vocabulary and syntax that you’re not used to seeing. From the classics to self-help literature, to the newspaper, there’s plenty of material out there to help you master these two sections.
GRE prep can feel like a long and arduous journey. There is an abundance of online resources to help maximize your GRE test prep. Remember to relax and stay calm. While this is a big test for your future, stressing out will only hurt your score. The urge to cram the day before will leave you feeling fatigued, potentially impacting your performance. Make sure you keep your eye on the prize and study consistently in the preceding months. When it’s all over, you’ll feel an immense pressure lifted from your shoulders, and you can look forward to your bright future.
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