Thursday, May 14, 2015

6 GRE Study Tips

For those of us hoping to go to grad school, the GRE is a necessary evil.  It is like the SAT on speed.  I just took it last week.  Not that I aced it or anything, but here are some tips that I used (or wish I had used) to help my score:

  1. Begin studying at least a month in advance, preferably 2 months or earlier!  (But if you're like me, the longer you have to complete a task the more you procrastinate).  Try to set aside an hour a day or every other day to study, and take one or two practice tests a week.  That way you will know what you need to study, and you can track your progress by your weekly test performance.
  2. Buy a study guide!  The major ones are by Princeton Review and Kaplan, but there are many, many more.  I used the Kaplan book.  Most of the test prep books you find in the book store will be very helpful as long as they include lots of practice questions and practice tests.  These books are great because they familiarize you with the types of questions on the test and how it will be scored.  I recommend buying a book with an online component because it often includes extra practice tests that are administered the same way as the real GRE.
  3. Keep an ongoing vocabulary list.  As you study, you will encounter lots of words you don't know.  Write these down and define them, and continue studying them as you go.  My list was 4 pages long front and back.  Maybe I think too highly of myself, but I didn't realize there were this many words floating around the English language I had never heard of before.  I don't know where the GRE finds them!  These are not your high school SAT words.
  4. As for math: practice, practice, practice.  The way the GRE asks math questions is not straightforward...they give you an equation of some kind and two quantities (A and B) and then ask you if one quantity is greater than the other, equal to each other, or cannot be determined.  Unfortunately, this requires that all solutions must be parsed out before you can make your answer.  For a person as slow in math as me, it required tons of practice to get used to this type of question and to re-familiarize myself with long-forgotten rules and principles.  The only way to do this is to grab a test prep book and get to work, and then take as many practice tests as you can tolerate.
  5. Utilize  ETS is the organization that administers the GRE, and they have lots of useful test prep tools on their website.  There are free practice tests, essay prompts, and test tips.  I recommend checking them out and using all the resources they have to offer!
  6. Don't freak out on test day!  I know it's hard not to, but the GRE can always be taken again!  (Even though it costs you out the wazoo).  As my psych professor used to say, your exam performance does not determine your worth as a person!
Good luck!!!


Comic is from the great website PhD Comics

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