How to prepare for GRE?
GRE preparation is the most vital determinant of your success in making your way to your ideal graduate school. Graduate and business school admissions committees reflect on your GRE score, accompanying your academic record and other supporting documents to evaluate your aptness for the rigor of their graduate program study.
A competitive GRE score is a smart move to make a direct, positive impact on your graduate or B-school application.
Thus, a high GRE score is the first step to set the ball rolling towards studying at any of the top graduate schools around the world. A high GRE score is nothing but a mere indication and outcome of your meticulous GRE preparation. GRE prep is quite distinct from the one you have had done for your high school or university exams because GRE preparations are highly self-driven.
Hence, in this spirit, you might be having questions concerning how to study and prepare for the GRE, like:
- Where should I begin?
- How do I schedule and allot time?
- What kind of questions I’ll encounter?
- What is the most ideal way to prepare?
- What are the most customarily asked questions?
Well, it’s pretty natural to have such questions racing within your head.
We have listed some key steps that you can consider before you begin with your GRE preparation.
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Key Steps to follow for your GRE Preparation
1. Familiarise yourself
Before you begin preparing for the GRE exam, you need to ascertain to which course, in which school you are striving for.
As the very first step, familiarize yourself with the format and composition of the GRE exam & its syllabus. Know the average scores of the candidates who previously have been admitted to the courses over the last few years. This will enable you to determine and set your target GRE score.
But you must know that although a high score in GRE is essential, having a good academic record is equally important. If you commence your preparation well in advance, not only you will be able to ace your speed but score high in your final examination.
Moreover, if you’re planning to join a school during the fall season, you will get ample to complete the test by November, although the exact time would vary depending on the school’s application deadlines for the course you have chosen. Usually, fall is the most preferred intake season as scholarships and financial aids are usually available in this season while scholarships are slightly rare for programs beginning during the spring season.
2. Take a mock test
The next step toward thriving GRE preparation is to determine your baseline. This means that you must know where you stand before you plan the journey to your target destination.
Hence, to begin with, you must take a diagnostic test that is within a close range of the real test as possible. You need not bug about getting a perfect score without any prior preparation. It’s just a step towards analyzing the exam sections where you are comfortable and where you feel to put in the extra work. Irrespective of the score you would get, you must take a mock test to put the GRE prep in the picture and analyze the areas and skills on which you need to work vigorously.
This mock test is nothing just the baseline that establishes the preliminaries and makes room for your strengths and weaknesses.
3. Recognize your strengths and weaknesses
Now you know are familiar with the road on which you are about to traverse, you are also required to apprehend where you stand before charting your GRE prep roadmap.
A goal without a plan is just a wish, and you must plan your work to work your plan. All great GRE scores are backed by a steadfast game plan. Thus, when you have acquired a fundamental understanding of the gap between your score and the target score you seek to realize; you are better able to allocate your time and resources.
Depending on your GRE mock test score, you will be able to determine your strengths and weaknesses adequately concerning the areas you need to master from the syllabus and the areas you need to work hard.
Moving ahead, you must also determine the overall time you would require to wrap the entire syllabus before the actual exam. Your study plan must be such that it is in sync with your learning style. In other words, you need to devise a plan that best fits your bill in terms of your speed and accuracy.
Since every test-taker has a distinct learning technique, pace, target score, and time availability, a tailor-made study plan is a highly recommended for each student as no one size fits all.
4. Decide your preparation mode
With so many full-length Free GRE Sample Tests accessible online, students nowadays are preferring to study by themselves. Such GRE test-takers manage to gather several books for their preparation and build a robust study plan. Self-study is a tough road and is not opted for much by students willing to attain a high score in one go.
The important point to notice here is that most of these study plans are based on student’s perception rather than any factual data. Another drawback of self-preparation is that even if you have arranged the right GRE study guide to aid you, it is hard to get your doubts clarified swiftly and accurately all by yourself. Moreover, the absence of feedback on your GRE preparation and performance can put you in a dubious situation.
Nevertheless, in modern times, many GRE test-takers are finding it convenient to prepare for the GRE within their comfort space at home as they acknowledge that the surrounding environment helps them to study properly with full concentration.
In modern times, students have the option to enol in online coaching or online programs to prep for your GRE. For all those students who savor the comfort of studying along with a large group in a classroom-like environment, such prep classes are a great choice. The instructor can really help you learn the tricks and answer all the questions that may crop up. These online programs also offer you the updated study materials to crack the GRE and offer you to take the adaptive mocks tests to enable you prepare strategically for the GRE.
Many GRE test-takers even opt to study within the guidance of an online trainer. This is another effective way for GRE test preparation, given you are ready to put in the focused effort sincerely.
For all those willing to put in the commitment demanded by such a preparation method, online study with a Personal Trainer can be quite advantageous:
- Studying conveniently based on your personal needs
- Learning at a pace that suits you the best
- Seeking personal guidance to stay on track
5. Set your GRE date
Usually, what most students tend to do is book their exam dates even before they have charted a proper plan and then fret over preparing hurriedly for the exam. This is certainly not the most practical approach as it lacks feasibility, overlooks how much time you would require for test preparation, and consequently, your results would be at stake.
Once your exam slot is booked and the date is fixed, the time available to you for preparing is also locked. This can land you in a pressurized situation.
A more beneficial approach is to first create your GRE study plan and then set the date on which you would be able to take the exam and give your best. It’s important to remember that the date on which you can take the exam is dependent on the application deadline.
It’s important to realize that you don’t have to book your exam date till the time you are three weeks away from the set date and have reached in a position of consistently achieving your target scores in GRE sample tests.
6. Work it up
Now that you have a clear sight on how to prepare for GRE, all you need to do is get started. An ideal way is to break your preparation into three simple levels- learning, practice, and feedback. Follow these steps sequentially- you must learn the crucial concepts before you test yourself, and it is also evenly important that you take feedback on your performance to tune up your GRE test preparations.
First, get a comprehensive understanding of the syllabus by breaking it down into smaller portions and simple to understand concepts like Permutations & Combinations or Text Completion. By mastering specific techniques, you will be able to gain command over different questions and recognize variations in a particular type of exam question.
Second, you must take a practice test right after learning a particular concept. With GRE-type questions, you can get an instant understanding of how much you have learned and where you stand.
And at last, you must take quick feedback on your performance for every session you learn as well as every practice exam that you take. This way your coach/trainer would be able to spot deviations in your learning style and suggest improvements alongside.
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Common challenges encountered during GRE Prep
Over the years, it has been observed that students preparing for the GRE usually face more or less similar challenges across the board. Although while preparing some aspects seem to be futile, nonetheless, every dedicated piece of effort adds up and can potentially contribute to your success.
Some of the common challenges faced by students during the GRE include the following:
- Incognizant of their strengths and weaknesses
- Uncertain about prioritizing various subject areas
- Apprehensive about the quality of study material
- Concerned about improvising on the problem areas
- Not able to take enough mock tests
Mistakes to avoid
As there are always some common factors take effect, here are some of the common mistakes you must avoid-
- Studying just two weeks before- you would require to devote 1–3 months to prepare for the GRE
- Scheduling your studies just over the weekends- you need to study consistently and not just over the weekends to get a hang of all the tricks and concepts
- Concentrating entirely on one section- you need to focus on all the sections and not just aim at excelling at one because your score would be determined by your performance in all the exam sections
- Not taking practice exams seriously- don’t mistake it to think that you would ace on the final test day. You need to take multiple practice tests to gain speed and accuracy
- Not reviewing the questions, you got incorrect- only taking the practice test won’t suffice. You also need to evaluate your performance and understand where you get stuck. It’s important to contemplate on your strong and weak areas to ace the exam.
Key Points to Remember for GRE Preparation
Sink in the GRE Pattern & Strategy
To give your best shot on the final day, you need to strategize and master every section of the exam. And for this, you would require to immerse yourself with the GRE pattern and track your performance based on accuracy and timeliness. The GRE is split into three main sections, namely- Analytical Writing, Verbal Reasoning, and Quantitative Reasoning and the total exam time stretches up to three hours and thirty minutes (210 mins), while the computer-based exam is a three hours and forty minutes (220 mins) test.
It’s very important to remember that you’ll make way to a high score only if you perform well on the first set of questions presented before you. Hence, you need to devise a sound strategy to approach questions when the clock is ticking and you are in a rush. One such approach is to eliminate incorrect options when you run short of time. In truth, only rigorous practice through mock tests can help you attain your target score.
Physical and Mental Preparation
Though it’s an important exam and demands your dedicated effort, you need not overwork yourself in your GRE preparation by side-lining your daily regimen. Just how important it is to study with a concentrated effort, it highly essential to incorporate a healthy diet, exercise, and sufficient sleep during your exam prep days. Also, you must maintain a positive mindset to score well in the test and take short breaks throughout the day. Thus, you must seek a balance and prepare yourself adequately both physically and mentally.
Since the GRE is an important step to seek entry into a business school, it and empowers business school admissions team\ to assess applicants’ qualifications and readiness for graduate-level course work, you would require to devise the right strategy, and this is only possible when you have attempted enough GRE sample tests. So, gear yourself up to attain your target GRE score with a personalized plan and strategy, keeping in mind the time frame you have.
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