6 Tips to Help You Kill It on the GRE

By Alicia Geigel on October 9, 2017

For those who are thinking about grad school, there are many things to consider and prepare for, one of them being the GRE test. Yes, just when you thought you could escape standardized tests, the GRE is there lurking in the corner waiting for potential grad students.

If you are unfamiliar with the GRE, you might be wondering exactly what it is. The “Graduate Record Exam” or GRE is the most commonly required admission test for grad school, and similar to the SAT and ACT, is a way to test your understanding of specific areas of study like critical thinking, analytical writing, verbal reasoning, and quantitative reasoning skills, Peterson’s notes.

Like both the SAT and ACT, the GRE is not something you can prepare for overnight and cram right before the test; unfortunately, that just won’t cut it. Preparing for weeks and even months in advance is essential to getting the score you want and getting into the grad school program of your dreams.

Studying months prior to the test, however, is a lot easier said than done. Finding time to study during your undergrad years was hard enough, and preparing for yet another standardized test after graduation is not easy for everyone. While this may take some hard work, the payoff will definitely be worth it. The best way to prep for the GRE is to organize a study schedule to pace yourself and not only learn at a rate you’re comfortable with but also in a way that will get you a great score on the test.

Are you considering applying to grad school but you’re scared to death of another standardized test? Worry not, my tips on building a study schedule will guarantee you a great score on the GRE!

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1. Find your baseline: Before you go crazy filling up planners with multi-colored pen and highlighter doodles, first establish your baseline. You may be thinking, what is a baseline? Just like it sounds, your baseline is considered to be the score you would receive on the GRE if you took it right in this moment. After establishing your baseline, you can figure out the areas you could perform well in and the ones you could show weakness in and most importantly, how much time you need to bring up your score in those areas.

2. Determine your target GRE score: According to the Princeton Review, one of the most important things to do when considering the GRE is to evaluate the average scores of the programs you are looking into, stating, “compare your practice test score against the average GRE scores of the most recent incoming class to each program (you can find this information on the school website or in our grad school profiles).”

Once you do this, you know that when you take a practice test (and the real one) that you’ll want to aim to get the average score or above!

3. Study time: Like I said earlier, when you are considering to take the GRE test, you want to make sure that you’ll have ample time to study for it, as you definitely do not want to wait until the last second to decide to study. To keep yourself from being overwhelmed but to also make sure you are keeping up with studying each week, The Economist suggests that, “for the best score possible on the GRE, you should be studying a minimum of four hours per week, for an overall study time of around 12 hours.”

Studying four times a week for three hours at a time doesn’t seem too bad, right? Don’t be discouraged, you can do it!

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4. Gauge your learning styles: One of the most important aspects of studying, whether it be for a classroom exam or a standardized test like the GRE, is gauging your learning styles and finding which method is most successful for you. Do you learn in small bursts with a short amount of time between each period of rest or do you need to warm up for a while before diving into the heavy part of studying? Determining what works for you will help the process of studying and learning go a lot easier for you!

5. Make daily goals: It’s easy to become overwhelmed when it comes to taking tests like the GRE. As a way to help you be more organized and less stressed about focusing on a million topics at a time, make a daily schedule of what area you want to focus on each day! For example, you could dedicate your Tuesdays to focusing on statistics and Wednesdays to studying vocabulary. This will help to break up what you’re studying (because let’s be real, who really wants to look at the same kind of material forever) and build your skills piece by piece!

6. Avoid the subjects you’re good at: This may sound like some weird advice, but trust me on this one! PrepScholar suggests that while it is never a bad thing to strengthen skills you already have in an area, it’s more important to practice subjects you are not good at. After all, it’s in your best interest to work on the subjects that really give you trouble so you can improve!

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None of these tips may sound groundbreaking, but when your mind is in a nervous, panicked state of thinking about this intimidating test that gets you into grad school, they may come in handy! The most important process of studying and preparing for this test is understanding your needs and evaluating what is the top method for you to perform your best.

I hate to break to you, but you’ll have to be a little selfish in this process, and I guarantee you’ll be just fine. As always, good luck!

By Alicia Geigel

Uloop Writer
social justice advocate, avid lover of 90s fashion, the proud mama of a yorkie named "nugget", feminist, body positive, weight trainer in progress, classic rock fanatic, and reality TV addict! if you want to learn more about me, visit my profile and check out my articles!

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