The Graduate Record Examinations (GRE for short) is the standardized test created to assess students who plan on applying to graduate school. As it tends to be the go-to exam required by most grad programs, the scores you get on your GRE general test and GRE subject test will be a major influence on your future career in academics and beyond.
This means potential students need to make sure they spend as much time as possible preparing for this exam and learning everything they can about it. To help you get started, we’ve gathered the top five things you need to know about the GRE.
General Test vs. Subject Test
One of the first things you’ll have to decide is whether to take the General or the Subject test. This will largely depend on which test is preferred by the schools you will be applying to—some schools only want one while others will require you to take both. The General test is specifically designed to assess a student’s critical thinking skills across disciplines which makes it the most commonly requested test. The Subject test is much more specific and will assess a student’s knowledge and skills in a specific field such as Chemistry, Psychology, or Literature in English.
When To Take The GRE
This will depend on the application deadlines of the schools you are applying to. Once you know when to submit your application and test scores, you can work backward to determine when you need to schedule your test date. Keep in mind that you will need to factor time in for your GRE test prep as well as a little extra time in case you decide to retake the exam.
Understanding The Computer-Adaptive Format
Computer-adaptive testing means that the way you answer each question will actually influence the following question. One of the biggest benefits to computer-adaptive testing is your ability to jump back and forth between questions so that you don’t spend too much time on any one problem. Each question is weighted equally which gives you the freedom to skip a question that seems overly difficult and come back to it later.
How To Approach GRE Test Prep
When you schedule out your test prep you should plan on giving yourself a minimum of 3 months. This should give you enough time to cover the necessary material while also familiarizing yourself with the question-styles you will encounter on test day. Practice exams are one of the most important tools you can use to prepare, but you should make sure that you are using high-quality resources. If you’re not sure where to start, try consulting a GRE test prep tutor or class.
Raising Your GRE Score
The first thing you should do is diagnose where exactly you’re having the most difficulty by taking multiple practice tests. Once you know where you’re going wrong, you can begin focusing on that area.
For example, if you’re struggling to read quickly enough during the verbal reasoning section then you should start setting aside time to read every day. Likewise, if you find yourself struggling with the vocabulary or mathematical section, try keeping a list of specific words or equations that are tripping you up. This will allow you to practice specific material to help you gain more points.