For me, big tests can be VERY intimidating and overwhelming. In fact, they often make me feel crazy! I know it’s that time when many students are taking the GRE so I wanted to pass on some tips that I found to be very helpful.
First, let’s take an overview of the test. The GRE is a computer based test and is broken down into 4 parts: verbal reasoning, quantitative reasoning, critical thinking, and analytical writing. The analytical writing portion is made up of 2 essays. You have 45 minutes to present your perspective on an issue and 30 minutes to analyze an argument. You will receive a score between 200-800 for verbal reasoning and quantitative reasoning and a score of 0-6 for the writing portion. Please note that there is now a Revised GRE. This is available as of August 1st, and if you take this test between August 1st and September 30th you get 50% off the price of your test (woohoo!). However, be aware that you will not receive your scores until sometime in November, therefore if you need your scores before November take the original version. (All info is from EST) Now onto the tips!
1. STUDY. I realize that for some people this is a given, but you would be surprised at how many people go into the test “cold turkey” just to see how they will do. This is a waste. If you feel the need to see where your skills are before you study, I suggest taking a practice test. That way you know ahead of time what areas you are weaker in and then you can spend your time brushing up on them.
2. Do a Drive By. Once you have registered for the test and know what site you will be at, drive by there. This will eliminate stressing on the day of the test because you are lost. You want to be fresh and stress free that day so you can think clearly!
3. Get a Good Night’s Sleep. I know that you have heard this one before, but it’s just such good advice! Also, go about your normal routine the morning of the test. Don’t try to change things up, this might throw you off. Consistency is good. (For instance if you usually just have a bowl of Wheaties in the morning don’t decide to have a 5 course breakfast the day of the test. Your body will end up spending all its energy digesting the food and you will have less energy to think through the test!)
4. Don’t Tell the World. It is not necessary that the whole Facebook world know when you are going to take your test. Of course there will be a few people in your life who will know, but don’t feel like you need to broadcast it. This prevents the added stress of if you don’t do well having to go back and explain to everyone when they ask how it went. Keep it to yourself. After you get your scores, that’s when you can share the good news!
5. Learn the Rules. Some testing sites have very strict rules. Find out what your site’s policies are. For example at my site you had to leave the room every time you took your jacket on or off, put your hair in a ponytail, etc. (I had a ponytail holder on my wrist and the proctor told me I either had to take it off or put my hair up before the test, and if I wanted to take it out of my hair I would have to step out of the room. Every time you step out of the room it costs you time.) If you are expecting these kinds of things, it will not rattle you the day of the test.
6. Take it Early. Take the test early enough that if you want to retake it, you will not be under the gun to get your scores in. There is no shame in taking the test more than once. You might have just had an off day, or you may feel that after going through it once you will know better what to expect. Also if you are not getting the scores you want from the GRE, see if your schools will accept the MAT. Some schools will accept this test instead of the GRE and I have heard many people say that they kept bombing the GRE, but did much better on the MAT. Know your options.
Disclaimer: I am by no means an expert on the GRE. These are tips I learned from reading different books, and consulting others who had already taken the test. They helped me and I hope they help you! If you feel like this
I hope you now feel like this
Two helpful books I used were the Princeton Review’s Cracking the GRE
And the Kaplan GRE Exam
I found both very helpful. What tips helped you? Good luck!