GRE Test Prep Tips and Advice

Uploaded by AdmissionsConsultant on 23.04.2012

Too often, we talk to prospective graduate school applicants who have used a faulty GRE
test prep strategy. And while we are always available to talk to you guys one on one,
I wanted to make this video to reach out to those who have yet to take the GRE – with
the hope that once you understand the fundamental groundwork for achieving an optimal GRE score,
you’ll be able to avoid some common and costly mistakes.
The first step is to do a self diagnostic test. You need to figure out what you already
know and what you need to work on. Be sure to take your first self diagnostic under simulated
test conditions: use official ETS practice questions, turn off your phone, clear a block
of time, and time yourself just as you would be timed under actual test circumstances.
The second step is to evaluate what you need to work on. If you got most of the questions
on the self diagnostic correct, then you don’t need to do much beyond familiarizing yourself
with the test. However, if you performed poorly on one or more subjects, you need to first
look at whether or not the answer explanations are clear to you. If so and if you feel comfortable
with your ability to structure your own preparation efforts, then self study is probably a viable
option. You next need to look at how many subjects
presented struggles. If it was only one or two, then you know where to focus your studies–
either by studying on your own or hiring a tutor who can help you bone up. However, if
you received low scores on most subjects and the answer explanations aren’t entirely
clear, you might want to consider taking a full-blown test prep course. Either way, please
don’t hesitate to call us at 1.800.809.0800. We are happy to make recommendations to help
you. The third step is to create a study plan.
Schedule your study time just as you would a job: “I’ll do 2 hours of math on Monday
and 1 ½ hours of verbal on Tuesday.” Starting well ahead of your test date and sticking
to a regular schedule will ensure that you’re not feeling like you need to cram days before
the exam. Another thing to consider is whether you suffer
from test anxiety. Many people have the experience that they perform well on practice tests at
home, but never do as well under actual test conditions. Do your palms get sweaty when
you’re taking a test? Do you have difficulty concentrating and remembering? If so, you
may be in the estimated 25% to 30% of test takers who suffer from test anxiety and we’ve
seen cases of test anxiety that cost the test taker more than 10 points! Again, call us
at 1.800.809.0800 and we can help recommend some ways to beat this anxiety and help you
realize your full test taking potential. Try to get exercise during your study period.
Exercise sharpens your mind and helps shake off the stress and stiffness from long hours
of studying. Consider getting some real exercise the day of the exam. There is research that
shows highly strenuous exercise the day of a test can actually enhance your learning
and memory skills more than less strenuous exercise. So, go hard on that early morning
jog. It might just help you get a better score! Get enough sleep the night before and be sure
you know exactly where your test center is located and allow plenty of time to arrive.
Take it easy on the day of the exam and don’t try to do any last minute studying. Anything
you try to study at that point is probably stuff you already know anyway. And cramming
in last minute studying is more likely to tire you out and make you more anxious than
it is to give you an edge in the test. Finally, don’t take the GRE until you feel
100% ready. While taking it two or even three times may not harm you much, it certainly
will not win you any points with the admissions committees. Consider two candidates: applicant
A and applicant B. They are exactly alike in all ways except applicant A needs just
one attempt to score a 165 whereas applicant B scored 155 on his first attempt, 160 on
his second attempt and only reached 165 on his third attempt.
Guess which one looks better to the admissions committee? Applicant A. Perhaps he took the
test cold and didn’t study for it. Or even if he did “game” the test through smart
preparation, it still shows he planned his work and worked his plan. With admissions
as competitive as they are in today’s economy, you really can’t afford any missteps that
could land you in a competitively disadvantageous position.
So, do yourself a favor. Do not take the GRE until you feel like your score has plateaued.
And when is that? You’ll know that you have plateaued when you’re not seeing the benefits
of additional study in the form of increased practice scores. Alternatively, if you are
one of the lucky few who starts practicing and you find that you are already scoring
very high, then, by all means, schedule a time to take the test and knock it out.
Whether you are planning to apply late or early in the admissions season or just want
to discuss some pre positioning issues, we’re to help. Call us at 1.800.809.0800 to learn
more about how we can ensure you maximize your grad school admissions chances.