You already know your friend the SAT, the prerequisite to getting into an undergrad college program. But its counterpart, the GRE (Graduate Record Exam) serves to help test your knowledge before being admitted into graduate school. Since the expectations are higher, the questions are more difficult and work in a different way than you might be used to. Computer-based and intuitive, you’ve got some major work to do before you’re prepped and ready for the almighty GRE.
Take a prep course. Let’s face it: after a few years of university, you might be a little rusty on some of the basics, like math and science, specifically if you’re in a different field. Still, you’ll need to answer those questions on the GRE. The GRE is a computer-based course that offers questions based on your overall accuracy. The better you do on the questions, the harder the questions become, but the higher score you’re given overall. If you tank on the basics at the beginning two sections of the GRE, you might stunt your chances for a higher score due to harder questions. Taking a few courses (math, science and prep) should help you to dust off the old noggin and make sure you’re sharp enough to give the best answers possible.
Brush up on English. You’ll encounter a vocabulary portion of the GRE, not unlike the SAT version. The trick to the GRE is knowing how to decipher certain words based on their origin and spelling. That way, even if you come across a word that you don’t quite understand or remember, you’ll be able to break the word down and make an educated guess. Two ways to prep your brain to get down and wordy? Check out a dictionary and start paging through, or sign up for an English course to get the juices flowing. It’s not a bad idea, especially since the last portion of the GRE consists of two essays for which you have 30 minutes apiece to write.
Practice, practice, practice. Not taking a practice GRE is a big mistake. That’s because the GRE is strict with time. The first section has two sets of 20 questions, for which you’re given 30 minutes each to answer. The next section has two more sets of 20, for which you have 35 minutes each. Finally, the dual essay portion of the test means you have a little over three hours to complete the test. Practice tests teach you how to pace yourself so you have time to answer, but you’re also moving quickly through the questions. You can take practice tests online or as part of a study guide to make sure you’re ready to sum up your undergrad experience on a few test questions. Since your admittance into grad school hangs in the balance, it pays to be prepared and confident long before you start answering the questions.