Over fall break, I took my GRE, which, as most of you probably know, is one of the tests required for graduate school applications. I’d like this article to serve as a tool for everyone that is going to take it either this year or next year.
As I was studying and practicing for my GRE, I came up with a few guidelines for studying and I’ll tell you right now that they will not help improve your score or ease your stress level because the stress will not go away until you are leaving the test center – just keeping it real. In reality, all of that depends on the type of person you are. These are simply my recommendations, so here they are.
- Do NOT take a practice test the day before your test date. The test is three hours and so are the practice tests, and in all honesty that is too much testing in too short of a time frame.
- Practice the essays. We are taught our whole lives how to write a five-paragraph essay, but we all know it gets a little bit harder when you are being timed.
- Do NOT underestimate the test. That is probably the worst thing that you can do.
- If you live in an urban area, account for traffic in your city. If you would normally leave an hour early plan to leave an hour and a half or two hours early. Traffic on route 7 the morning of my test had me more stressed out than usual.
- Arrange for someone to drive you to the test center on test day. I took mine at 8 in the morning, and afterwards I would’ve loved to have someone to run me by Chipotle on the way home. Instead of driving the 40 minutes home, I made it to my grandmother’s house 10 minutes away. I lay down on the couch, and watched “Grey’s Anatomy” while my grandpa ate grits.
- Look up the minimum score requirement for the graduate programs you want to apply to before you stress out about what score you have to get. I stressed out a whole bunch about it, and then after my test, I found out my top program does not have a minimum requirement.
- Do NOT try and talk to the test proctors, especially if your test is early. This tip is important. Remember it to avoid awkward small talk in the test waiting area. No one needs that right before their exam.
- Leave everything except your license and a small snack in the car. They do a full security search, and give you a key to put all your stuff in a locker. I don’t recommend bringing a large purse or backpack into the test center.
- Check your pockets before you leave the test center because I walked out with the key to my assigned locker. I am sure the company will want their key back.
- LAST, take a deep breath when you go into the test center, and do the same thing when you go out. You are probably more prepared for the test than you think you are going into it.