Over 700,000 people take the GRE (Graduate Record Exam) every year. The test is computer-based and the difficulty of the questions is based on your previous answers. The better you perform, the more difficult the questions become. This unusual method of testing makes it difficult for students who haven’t prepared to succeed. The GRE tests three areas: analytical writing, quantitative reasoning and verbal reasoning. Follow these five study tips for help with acing the GRE.
1. If possible, take a GRE prep course. These courses help determine a student’s critical thinking skills, not just the facts that were learned during college. Not everyone is a natural critical thinker, even if you scored high grades throughout college. GRE prep and tutoring can help you hone this skill. Unfortunately, these courses and sessions are pricey, but many students feel that they’re well worth the cost.
2. Relearn the basic algebra and geometry you were taught in high school. You’ll need this knowledge for the quantitative reasoning section. Pick up a text like, “Basic Algebra for Dummies.” Also, taking SAT practice tests can help you familiarize yourself with math concepts you’ve forgotten.
3. Take a practice test to familiarize yourself with the unconventional format. Computer-adaptive GRE practice exams are free to take and they can help improve your score drastically. If you do poorly the first time around, don’t worry about it – you’re probably just adjusting to the unique setup. Take the practice exam as many times as you need to until you get a score you’re happy with.
4. If you’re still in college as you prepare for the GRE, sign up for a difficult English course. Ideally, choose one that focuses on writing, not literature. One-third of the GRE is an essay portion and you’ll need to have solid writing skills in order to get through it. Don’t get discouraged if you’re a non-English major – it’ll be hard to keep up, but you don’t need to be as perfect as the other writers in the class to do well on the GRE.
5. Read as much as you can – the more difficult the text, the better. Every time you come across a word you don’t know, look it up instead of just skimming over it. The GRE requires test takers to have a really good vocabulary and reading is one of the best ways to get one.