The GRE stands for Graduate Record Examination and is the exam by which most universities in the United States judge a candidate's qualification into a graduate program. The GRE tests vocabulary, reading comprehension, text completion, mathematical abilities (ranging from geometry to algebra to numeric problem solving) and writing. There are very few graduate programs in the United States which one can enter into without having taken the GRE (with the exception of business schools, which tend to prefer the GMAT). Therefore, adequate preparation for the exam is essential. Read on for the best GRE preparation tips.
Before taking a practice test, simply look through each section of the GRE and get a feel for what the content is going to be and how the test is going to work. There are three sections: Verbal Reasoning, Quantitative Reasoning and Analytical Writing. You can familiarize yourself with the questions online, through a website like ETS, or by purchasing or borrowing a GRE test preparation book from your local bookstore or library.
Additionally, familiarize yourself with the scoring process. Realize that it's not a simple +1/-1 system for correct/incorrect answers. Rather, your score is assessed by the difficulty of questions answered, and the questions will either get easier or harder depending on how you're doing as you move through the test. More correct answers on more difficult questions will yield a higher score.
Take a Practice Test...
…a real one, where you have a timer and move through the material exactly how you would on test day. Kaplan and the Princeton Review both offer practice tests in their study books and online. Most universities also have GRE courses you can sign up for just to take a practice exam through the university's testing center. As you take the test, pace yourself. Take your time with the questions, and don't worry about answers that you don't know. If you can't make a good guess, skip it, and move on. After you take the test, review the questions that you missed and the ones you excelled at, familiarizing yourself with your strengths and weaknesses.
Now that you've taken a practice test and familiarized yourself with the content on the test, you should have a pretty good idea of what you need to review. Make flashcards; use online resources; have a friend quiz you on vocabulary; or get a tutor. Again, Kaplan and the Princeton Review both offer GRE preparatory courses and tutors if you need them. If your quantitative score is low, ask a friend or family member for study help, or use your university's tutoring center.
For vocabulary practice, one of the best things you can do is read. Read your local newspaper or books of literary merit. If you come to a word you don't know, look it up. Find essay prompts from previous years, and write practice essays. Then compare your response to answers that have been published. Ask a friend or professor to read over your essay, assessing it for grammatical, spelling or sentence structure errors. Become confident in your ability to master the content.
On test day, eat a good breakfast; get a good night's sleep, and go into the testing center prepared and ready to excel!
Franklin Tomlinson is a freelance writer based in Tacoma, Washington who frequently contributes articles on education, graduate school, SAT test prep, student loans, university rankings and other important topics.