The GRE is the preferred entrance exam for most graduate programs so, if you have any pretense about getting a master’s degree you had better consider how you will study for what may be the mother of all standardized tests. In the following guide, we will try to help you prepare for the test that can be your key to post-secondary education.
You Can Never Start Studying Too Soon
After a lifetime of taking standardized tests like the ACT, SAT, etc. the GRE should be a no brainer, right? Wrong. The GRE is one tough cookie of a standardized test and it is meant to weed candidates out so you will want to measure your prep time in months as opposed to weeks. What are some things you can do to get started?
Get Your Baseline Score
There are tons of online resources to help you prepare for the test (even if you have waited until the last minute) but you will want to make sure you put your time and energy to good use. You can buy one of several GRE test-prep books or download a complete practice test which you should take without any preparation whatsoever. By taking the test “blind” you will get a good baseline reading of your competence. In other words, you will know where you are strong and require less preparation and review and where you need a lot of work so you can economize your limited time and energy.
Review the Basics
Whether it is from the book you’ve purchase or an online test prep site, you will want to take the time to learn a little more about what the GRE tests for, how it is structured and what kind of questions you can expect. For example, did you realize that the GRE has three basic sections? In short they are Verbal Reasoning, Quantitative Reasoning and Analytical Writing but there is a lot more to know than just the general guidelines. You will want to consider how many questions each section contains, how long it will take to complete the exam and what a good score for the GRE really is. Without knowing these basics in advance it will be next to impossible to prepare and study well for the GRE let alone do well on it. So, before you do anything else, learn the basics of the test.
Define Your Goals
It may sound simple or even silly but, once you have figured out your weak points, decide upon the score that you want to achieve based upon the average admission ranges of the schools to which you want to apply. Simply having this score in mind will help push you in the right direction and prevent over-studying which can lead to burnout and desperation. A lot of schools will publish this data but if they do not you can and should contact an admissions counselor who can give you an idea of what is a good range to shoot for.
Take Stock of Your Options
These days there are a plethora of options available to help you prepare for the GRE. There are a ton of apps available for phones and tablets to help you study. In addition, you can buy books, download free tests and even hire a private tutor to help you study for the exam. You really just have to know yourself and how you study to make the best choice of all the available options out there.
Make a Schedule
Most likely, you have a life outside of studying for the GRE so you will want to be sure to carve out time dedicate to studying. So, what is a good way to help yourself stay on track? Luckily, there a number of apps and online tools that can help you plan your day in the most efficient way possible. Simply be sure to schedule your study time like you would an important meeting and stick to your plan no matter what.
You Can Do It
As hard as it may seem, doing well on the GRE is not impossible. You have gotten this far so you can be pretty confident that you have the wherewithal and ability to study hard and perform under pressure. All that is left to do now is to get to it.