General Education

What the GRE Test is and How to Prepare

What the GRE Test is and How to Prepare
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Kirstie Devine June 26, 2019

Many graduate programs require Graduate Record Examination (GRE) scores as part of their admission process. Read on to learn what's on the test and how you can take it.

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Unlike other times when you’re able to cram and study for an important test or final at the last minute, the GRE test demands more preparation. When it comes to school, everyone is different. Some see themselves graduating college with a bachelors degree and decide not to continue with their education afterward. Instead, they take their new knowledge and apply it to a job in their field. Others tend to go in a different direction by furthering their education and getting a masters degree. While that is an impressive feat to accomplish, there are some things that need to be done before narrowing down your choices for graduate schools. One of these tasks includes taking a test; specifically, a test that can either make or break your next step in your education. But don’t fret, there are many ways to prepare so you can go in with the confidence you need to ace it.

You’re probably wondering what exactly is the GRE? At first glance, it can seem and sound kind of intimidating, but once you break it down, it all comes full circle with welcoming arms. The GRE is a standardized test designed to measure your overall readiness for graduate school. Think of it as the grown-up of the SAT test where you’re still being tested on your knowledge in math, reading, and writing skills.

While some fields of study such as business, education, and engineering require you take the GRE, not everyone who goes through the process of applying to grad school is required to take it. For example, an undergrad who studied creative writing will probably not be required to take it by most graduate schools. Some schools may give it as an option but their scores won’t be the determining factor on them getting in. Now, that may seem better, but it also makes it more nerve-wracking because it means you have to rely on other qualifications and requirements to get in.

Here are some helpful tips on how to prepare for the test.

Take a GRE practice test

You can either find a GRE practice test online or buy a physical copy of a book with one in it, and this can go a long way. By doing this, you’re able to figure out what your quantitative and verbal scores are now. Usually, the test results will tell you which questions you did well on as well as which ones need more attention. This information can help you develop and design a study plan. Another benefit of taking a practice test is that you will become familiar with the format and timing. You will also be able to review the test you took and reading the explanations on what you did right and wrong will help you understand your mistakes.

Set your study schedule

When the GRE test is still a couple of months away, it can be easy to want to procrastinate. We become good at doing that from all the times we did it in college. It can be hard to make time and dedicate a certain amount of time to sitting down and studying. Studying most days of the week instead of just one or two can improve your score. Try breaking up your study sessions into three 30-minute segments throughout the day, as opposed to studying nonstop for hours upon hours until your brain feels like it may explode. It’s safe to say those days of procrastination will have to come to an end if you want a good score, so study early.

Develop your study plan

How one should study is up to you. You should use a GRE book or sign up for a GRE prep class to get you started and help you develop helpful strategies. When it comes to what you should study, it all depends on the results of your practice test. If there were specific sections or questions that made you feel less-than-confident, focus on those ones first. You can review the sections in which you scored higher later. It’s best to break everything up so you don’t overwhelm yourself.

Make sure to breathe

Remember to take deep breaths and don’t make yourself too crazy over this. It can seem like a lot, especially when you take it all in at once. But if you just take it one day at a time, study hard and do the best you can do, then that will be enough.