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So you’ve decided to go to graduate school and pursue a master’s degree. First of all, congratulations! Going to grad school is an excellent way to create opportunities, meet interesting people, and most importantly, expand your knowledge and skillset.
But first, you’ll have to take a standardized exam as a part of your admissions package. Many programs in North America will require you to take the Graduate Record Examinations (GRE) revised General test and this score must be included in your application.
The test was developed to evaluate potential students’ academic knowledge, as well as to give the admissions committee the proper information to evaluate applications effectively.
What you score on the GRE is a critical component to your graduate school application. Here are a few study tips to help kick-start your study regimen.
1. Start early, study often
The recommended time spent studying for the GRE is between 60-100 hours – which is no small time commitment. If you’ve decided to take the test, then it’s time to hit the books.
The GRE is a comprehensive and standardized test that covers a lot of academic material. So if you studied English in your undergrad and haven’t looked at algebra since high school, math may be a good place to start!
Figure out what your natural strengths and weaknesses are, then create a realistic study plan to achieve your desired score.
2. Take the time to learn the format
The overall testing time for the computerized GRE test is 3 hours and 45 minutes long. There are 6 sections with a 10-minute break following the third section. With a test this intensive, it’s important to know what you’ll be graded on and what you should be studying.
Learn the format and practice, practice, practice. Going into the test knowing you’ll be able to complete what is required of you in the time frame will boost your confidence and hopefully your test score, too!
Here’s a complete run down of the test: The Verbal Reasoning section (20 questions per section, 30 minutes per section), the Quantitative Reasoning section (20 questions per section, 35 minutes per section) and the Analytical Writing section (one “Analyze an Issue” task and one “Analyze an Argument” task, 30 minutes per task).
The test also includes an Unidentified/Unscored section, which will look like the Verbal or Quantitative Reasoning sections, and are essentially as real to the test taker as the actual sections.
The Analytical Writing section will always be first. The Verbal Reasoning, Quantitative Reasoning, and Unidentified/Unscored sections may appear in any order, so you must treat each section as if it will count towards your score.
There is also a Research section that may come last, however, it’s much less likely to appear on the test. It would replace the Unscored section and this section is only used in order to test new questions.
As you can see, the GRE is a thorough evaluation of your knowledge, making proper preparation paramount.
3. Learn GRE words in context
A major mistake students make when studying for the GRE is learning what the words mean, but not synonyms or how to use them properly in a sentence. These words are typically words you wouldn’t use in a normal conversation. The goal of studying the GRE words is to know meanings, and synonyms of words like emollient, fusillade, and inerrancy without too much thought.
Many students take the approach of using flash cards to help study, which doesn’t give you the necessary context of how your vocabulary will be tested on the GRE.
A helpful way to study is to read academic journals or magazines such as The Economist – this will help you remember the word, what it means, and how to use it, while also increasing your general knowledge.
4. Take a test prep course
Finally, if you find yourself struggling to stay disciplined while studying for the GRE on your own, it may help to take a test prep course to ensure you stay on the right track.
A test prep course can help you achieve the score you want, so you’ll be able to pick the graduate school and program you’d like to attend.
Remember – graduate applications are a lot of work and you want to be sure your score accurately reflects your knowledge. Make a study schedule, learn the format and words, and consider taking a GRE test prep course to help you stay focused. Remember: your future is worth investing in. Now hit the books!
Are you considering taking a test prep course to achieve your best admissions test score? See our GRE course list here! We provide our GRE students with an exclusive GRE Vocabulary List of 1500 most commonly tested words!