Conquering the GRE: 4 Tips for Preparing for the Revised General Test

A typical mistake that many students make when approaching the GRE Revised General Test, or other graduate admissions tests, is to compare them to the SAT exam. The GRE is designed to measure and evaluate undergraduate students from various backgrounds, both academically and geographically, on an even playing field. 

It is important to approach this test with an open mind and to apply the skills learned throughout the whole of one’s undergraduate studies. The GRE is meant to evaluate a student’s academic performance beyond GPA average, so it is necessary to take the preparation for this test seriously if you want to outshine your GPA.

Be strategic when you choose to take the test so that you meet the deadlines for the graduate schools you are trying to apply for. Make sure to give yourself enough time to prepare for the test based upon these deadlines. 

The GRE revised General Exam allows you to take the test up to 5 times and send your best score to your schools of choice. However, keep in mind that each exam costs $200 so it is becoming to do well on your first or second try. 

Here are four practical tips to help you study for the GRE that may provide an enlightening perspective as you approach this important stepping stone in your academic career. 

1. Dominate the Structure

This is not the SAT! One way to feel confident about taking this test is to know what to expect on the day of the exam. 

It is important to be very familiar with the logistical structure of the test, as well as to know what the objective is for each section. Be aware of which version of the GRE you are going to register for, whether it be the computer-based exam or the Paper-based exam. 

The GRE is divided into three main sections: 1) Analytical Writing, 2) Verbal Ability, and 3) Quantitative Ability. The computer-based and paper-based differ in the questions numbers and the sections that these are broken into. However, each version has multiple questions for the verbal ability and quantitative ability and two essay parts for the analytical writing section. 

Mastering the basic structure of this test will help you to focus on the material of the test, rather than stressing about the layout. The best way to complete this step is to research about the test by visiting the revised GRE General Test official website, or viewing The Official Guide to the GRE revised General Test. 

2. Strategize your Study Sessions

Trying to recap all that you’ve learned in college can seem overwhelming. This being said, you don’t have to remember everything to pass the GRE. This is why step 1 is so important. The GRE looks for specific objectives, so by reviewing these sections, you can see which areas you need to focus on. 

A great way to see where you stand in your preparedness is to take a practice test offered by the GRE revised General Test official website. Barron’s New GRE: Graduate Record Examination 19th edition also offers a “diagnostic” test to help students identify specific struggles. 

These resources can help you to confirm in which areas you are strong, and which topics need to be studied more. 

3. Simulate the Test

One of the best ways to prepare for the GRE is to simulate the test to evaluate your performance under the same type of conditions as the actual test. Part of the challenge of graduate admission tests is the time limit that is placed on each section.

It is important to schedule practice test dates for yourself where you are able to simulate these conditions to the fullness of your ability.

Choose a quiet spot, like a library, empty classroom, or the actual location of the test if possible, to conduct these practice tests. Put your phone on airplane mode and follow the time limits and break times exactly as the real test will. This will give you an idea of the way you will perform on the test day and allow you to change your habits before the day of the test, if necessary. 

Familiarizing yourself with these conditions will give you a sense of self-assurance on the test day and put you at ease knowing that you have concrete memories of experiencing the same testing conditions. 

Here’s a tip: the best breakfast to eat before a lengthy exam consists of a doughnut, bacon, and eggs. The sugar in the doughnut provides a burst of quick energy, while the protein and fat in the bacon and eggs metabolizes slowly to provide brain power for the duration of the exam.

4. Utilize the resources available

Each year, hundreds of students take the GRE; you are not alone in trying to figure out how to prepare for this test. Take advantage of the resources available to help you in this process. 

Here are a few of the resources available at your fingertips: 

 -Book an appointment with Career Services on campus at Ave Maria University to help you with planning and studying for the GRE.

-Participate in a webinar the Official website for the GRE revised General Test offers various webinars throughout the year offering tips and tools for students for successful test taking with an interactive question and answer opportunities. 

-View the online tools the official website for the GRE offers. 

-Invest in the Official Guide to the GRE® revised General Test, or Barron’s New GRE: Graduate Record Examination

By putting these tips into practice and challenging yourself to master the material, you will be confident walking into the room on the day of your test knowing that you did everything you could to prepare!