A number of advanced degree programs will require applicants to take a test known as the GRE, which stands for the graduate record examination. The Educational Testing Service's website explained that the test is designed to assess an applicant's ability in several areas: Verbal reasoning, analytical writing and quantitative reasoning. The purpose of the exam is not to test knowledge, but rather to demonstrate a student's capability at solving numerical and verbal problems. In essence, the GRE can be likened to an IQ test.
According to Discover Business, the GRE general test is the exam taken by most students. There are also subject-specific GRE exams that students will need to complete to be accepted into certain advanced degree courses. Given that most students take the general test, this article will focus exclusively on preparation for that portion of the GRE.
Given that the GRE tests general intelligence, the key to success isn't studying per se - it's preparation. Students should practice extensively prior to taking the GRE to ensure maximum success. A number of resources for preparation can be found online including practice tests. For more general preparation tips, however, start by checking out the guide below.
1. You can never start too early
It's important to begin preparing for the GRE as soon as you possibly can. It's true, for a select few people the GRE may be easy and require little effort, but for many individuals, at least some portion of the test will be challenging - whether that's writing or algebra or math and so on, Manhattan Prep asserted. For example, you may have majored in English Literature in college and therefore not have taken a math-based subject since high school, or you may have been an engineering major and writing may not come as naturally for you as logic. Giving yourself ample time to get ready is imperative, therefore, because you will need time to become familiar with disciplines that may be challenging to you.
2. Start with a practice exam
Start your preparation with a practice exam for each section. These can be found online or in study guides that can be purchased from book stores. By completing a practice exam first, you'll be able to gauge a sense of where your real strengths and weaknesses lie, the State University of New York noted. So, for example, if you ace the verbal section but don't do so well on the quantitative reasoning portion, you'll know that that area needs more of your time and attention.
3. Take a class
If you have notable difficulty with certain components of the exam - such as math or English - consider enrolling in a class to help improve your skills, SUNY advised. Alternatively, if funds allow, you could hire a private tutor. Although this is a somewhat pricey strategy, the pay off could be worth it if you ace the GRE and get admitted into your dream school.
4. Learn the words and their contexts
As Manhattan Prep argued, it's important not to simply learn words without really understanding their meaning and appropriate context. A major mistake that many individuals make is to cram in and study as many different words as possible, without actually being able to use said words in a sentence. An effective way to avoid this is to write down a list of words, and then include a concise definition of the word and an example of it used in a sentence.
5. Be organized and productive
Given that most people will study for the GRE while balancing other important commitments, such as undergraduate studies or jobs, it's vital to be as organized as possible and find time to study whenever possible, SUNY explained. Create a schedule and study each and every day. Cramming everything in a week or two prior to the test is often an ineffective strategy.
If you find that your schedule is filled with other commitments, try finding ways to study on the go, SUNY explained. Whether it's on your lunch break at work or on the subway - every little bit helps, especially over an extended period of time.
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