As I’m about to begin my senior year of college, I can’t help but wonder what I’m going to do in less than 10 months when I graduate. I knew that the first thing I needed to do was to take the GRE. For those of you that are unaware, the GRE stands for Graduate Readiness Examination. The test is very similar to the ACT or SAT that we took a few years ago when we were preparing to go to college. The GRE isn’t necessary for all graduate school programs, but it is necessary for some; it just depends on the program and the school. The GRE is a four hour long computerized test that has three different sections. It starts out with two essays that you need to write, one is an issue, and the other is an analytical argument essay. There is also two verbal reasoning, or reading sections. In this section, there are reading comprehension questions, as well as fill in the blank, and sentence equivalence. Lastly, there are three math sections. The math section can include any number of topics from adding or subtracting fractions to geometry to standard deviation, and everything in between.
I spent almost my entire summer studying for the GRE, almost non-stop. Although on days when it was sunny and 85 degrees outside and the last thing I wanted to do was be in the library, I forced myself to go. In order to take the GRE, I had to pay over $200, and this may not seem like that much, but for a broke college student, it’s a lot. The cost of this test really motivated me to bust my butt and work really hard on studying so that I would only have to take the test once. And this paid off, of course I could have done better, but you can always do better on anything you do in life. I was so proud of how I did, and I know that I worked super hard, so that’s all that matters.
Here’s three tips I have for a successful GRE experience:
1.Buy the GRE book.
No, I wasn’t paid to say this, but honestly buying the GRE book was so helpful. The book came with every little tip and trick you could possibly imagine that could come in handy. It even had different practice tests and questions you could use. When you buy the book, it also comes with an online code, which has more practice problems and practice tests than you may feel necessary. But, those practice tests and problems were seriously so helpful for me!
2. Make a study schedule.
I am a very organized person, and I love to-do lists and calendars. When I first began studying for the GRE, I just kind of went for it and didn’t really have a plan. Of course, this didn’t work because I wasn’t being held accountable for anything that I was doing. About six weeks before the test, I decided that it was in my best interest to make a strict schedule so that I wouldn’t waste anymore time that I should be using to study. I had one copy of my schedule in my planner that I carried everywhere, and I had another copy tacked directly above my dresser on my wall in my bedroom, so I would see it everyday. At the end of each day, I received instant gratification by being able to put an ‘x’ through the day, which helped me to know what I accomplished for that day.
3.Give it your all, and really put forth the effort necessary for taking the test.
Having to do homework is never something anyone wants to have on their to-do list, especially during the summer. But, I took the GRE at the end of the summer because I knew that I would be much less busy during the summer than I normally am during the school year. Despite the fact that none of my friends had homework and they wanted to go to the beach or take a mini-vacation or go to happy hour, I knew that I needed to study. If I wanted to do well on this test, I needed to prepare to correct way and really give it my all. And, it really paid off, which produced a huge sign of relief when the test was done.