For many people the decision to go to grad school is a huge commitment both personally and financially. While the time and money invested in the process is substantial, a return to school can reap huge rewards. Studies suggest students pursuing higher education enjoy higher incomes, stronger emotional health, and contribute more civically.
If you’re considering a return to school, you know the entrance exam is the first step. While a standardized test on basic math, reading comprehension and writing may seem like a piece of cake, a well-informed student knows the graduate record examination (GRE) can be brutal if you’re not fully prepared. Here are a few tips to consider as you prep for the big day:
Know Your Strengths
It’s important to know your strengths (and weak areas) before diving into exam preparation. Taking a practice test is a great way to assess your existing knowledge and help you pinpoint the subject areas that may require a little more work. If you have a target score and your practice test comes up short, you may need a little more study and prep time. Contrarily, if your practice exam is right on target you may be able to expedite the process.
Invest in Prep Materials
Effective prep materials are a “must” when it comes to exam preparation. It’s important to invest in a good study booklet. GRE prep books will generally walk you through the various phases of the exam and will offer a variety of test-taking tips and tricks. There are a myriad of free GRE prep courses and test materials online and taking advantage of these free GRE prep opportunities is a good idea.
Treat the Test Like a Marathon
The GRE is a grueling five-hour test that not only tests your knowledge, but also evaluates your endurance. Many students who do well on the test treat the GRE like a marathon. This means taking care of the body and mind on a routine basis. You should be eating well, getting plenty of sleep and exercise, and practicing several days a week. You simply can’t expect to cram for this exam.
Vocab Vocab Vocab
There’s no way around it–acing the GRE requires a strong vocabulary. A solid toolbox of vocab is essential not just for the verbal portions of the test, but also the reading comprehension and essay sections. You should continuously work on your vocabulary leading up to the test. Try to learn a few new words each day and make an effort to do a lot of reading.
Remember the Time
The GRE is a timed test, so you’ll want to be cognizant of these constraints. While you may be able to figure out a certain math problem in ten minutes, you simply don’t have that kind of time on the GRE. You’ll have no more than 2 minutes per question on the exam however, you can skip around and return to questions if you get stuck. Spending too much time on one question can really hurt your score, so focus on your strengths and skip the tough ones!
The GRE is your first step towards a brighter future. While the test can seem pretty daunting, these simple tips can dramatically improve your score and send you on your way towards achieving all your goals!