While some schools and programs are moving away from the Graduate Record Examination, or the GRE, there are some institutions that will continue to require it for the foreseeable future.
For students who will be required to submit GRE scores, the GRE test prep process can come with some stress and worry. After all, we've all heard the cliche saying: "but I'm just not a good test taker!"
We get it, and we're here to help.
Let's explore what the GRE consists of and how you can best prepare for this graduate standardized test.
What is the GRE?
Similar to the SAT for undergraduate programs, the GRE is a standardized admissions test for graduate programs.
While the GRE is not specific to any academic discipline, it does evaluate your academic skills in three different areas: verbal reasoning, quantitative reasoning, and analytical writing. All three are major contributors to student success in graduate school, and your performance can help a program determine if you’re likely to thrive there.
Pro Tip: You can find some answers to frequently asked questions about the GRE here.
Here's how to prepare for the GRE.
As we said, preparing for the GRE can come with some anxiety — here are a few practical ways to prepare for the GRE (and to decrease your stress).
1. Know your strengths and weaknesses.
Everyone has individual strengths and weaknesses. Maybe you're a math whizz but you find navigating dense prose incredibly difficult. Conversely, maybe you've strengthened your analytical reading and writing skills but you consider quantitative reasoning exceptionally difficult.
Evaluating where you need to increase your knowledge and comfort with a particular subject is incredibly helpful in starting your GRE test prep process. By doing so, you'll know where to spend more of your time strengthening those challenge areas.
2. Stick to a GRE study plan.
As you prepare for the GRE, it's important to take the time to develop a study plan and then stick to it. Most people studying for the GRE set aside anywhere from three to five months to study, and really dedicated students implement a daily study plan to ensure that once test day comes, they are well prepared.
Unless you are taking a formal GRE prep course, you are your own instructor and coach, and consistency will be critical to effectively prepare for this important test.
A few practical tips? Set aside windows of time to study, and stick to that schedule on a daily basis. Schedule breaks and stick to those as well. If you need to deviate from your study schedule, be sure to make up that time on another day.
Pro Tip: Check out these additional study tips.
3. Take GRE practice tests.
Taking the GRE is a marathon, not a sprint. While you may have the stamina to get through one or more sections of the GRE without incident, in reality, sitting for the entire GRE takes about three hours and 45 minutes and can be difficult for even the most seasoned of test takers.
Over the span of a few months, you should increase your test-taking stamina by taking practice tests that mimic the length of the GRE — test takers with insufficient stamina often run the risk of burn out and in turn, see lower scores.
4. Have compassion for yourself.
Sitting for the GRE is no small feat. You should be proud of yourself for taking this next step in your academic and professional future. While you navigate the GRE test prep process, be sure to give yourself breaks and reward yourself for various milestones.
And, if you don't do as well on the GRE as you would have liked, don't lose hope! You can always retake the test after you've had more time to prepare. Plenty of students take the GRE more than once, so you don't have to feel like an outlier.
Pro Tip: Wondering if you should take the GRE even if it isn't required? Check out this blog post for more details on why taking the GRE anyway might be a strategic choice.
Ready to start your next academic venture? Connect with us at WVU.
Here at West Virginia University, we value our students because we know that they are developing the skills needed to enter the workforce and leave the world a better place.
We offer myriad graduate programs — from the social sciences to researched-focused programs, from STEM education to impact-driven degrees. Whatever your field of study, we are committed to preparing you to make a difference in the world.
If you're ready to transform your career with a graduate degree, we encourage you to connect with us! Please request more information, subscribe to our monthly podcast for tomorrow’s graduate students, or start your online application today.
We can’t wait to help you make your home at WVU!