of no fixed subtitle
May 23, 2005
Curious George: GRE
I'm taking the Graduate Record Exam soon-ish and I was wondering if any of you monkeys have some good tips. I am four years out of school and dreading test day. Any help would be appreciated.
Tinfoil Sorting Hat
18 years ago
I recomend books.
TSH: My first tip is--relax. Do some research on the school(s) you want to get into. What are the scores required for your field, and what are the averages? I saw this info posted on the web somewhere, with a rank of schools by GRE scores. Then, get a good test book and take the practice tests. One of the GRE providers has an online exam you can dl (free). Since the test is taken on a computer-based exam, it helps to practice, practice, practice. The best advice is preparation for taking the test. You are at a computer for four hours, so get plenty of rest. If you smoke, get yourself some nicotine gum, cuz' you can't take a smoke break. Also, they can give you (and usually do) an additional section (it can be the verbal or analytical) that helps them develop new questions (or so they say). If it seems quite a bit harder or quite a bit easier than you expected from the tests you've been taking using the prep book, do not be alarmed/lulled. You will never know which one is the "developmental" and which one is "real" so it makes no sense to waste any time trying to figure it out--I speak from experience; I was rather taken aback by the anayltical section that I started with that it threw me off for the verbal section that followed. It worked out ok--I got into the schools I wanted and my verbal & writing scores were excellent. It had been 25 years since I took any type of comprehensive exam.
I took the GRE for the first time four years out of school. I was curious - as all good monkeys should be - how I would do taking the test "blind." I did absolutely no studying, and did nothing to prepare. I wanted to go into it with no built-up worry or anxiety. Of course once I was there sitting in front of the computer, I started to sweat it a little as I struggled to recall all of that material I had studied in college... Got my scores in the mail and I did great! Of course that was just my strategy. But IMO, I think any pretest-related stress and anxiety will only hurt you. If you're dead-set on studying and reviewing material, what
: These books, do I have to open them?
: Thanks for the tips. I've already looked into what kind of scores my schools are looking for and I've been working through some sample tests on the computer. Good to know I'm basically heading in the right direction.
: I was tempted to take it blind, but then I remembered that I have the Math skills of an 8 year-old and decided I should bone up first. I will take your advice and try to de-stress. 0.25mg of Xanax should do...
Yea, what deconstructo said. Relax, and take some practice exams. You *know* most of the crap they dredge up for the GRE, you just have to get in the test taking flow. After being out of undergrad for 5 years, I actually took it twice and did worse the second time around. Go figure. But the grad schools take the highest score so I was fine.
TSH: You'll do fine. Four years out of school just means you've been able to process what you've learned. A bit of a refresher in math never hurts, but don't stress out or cram till you wind up getting phobic about it. Oh, and everyone knows the best way to improve your vocabulary is to always keep one of those word-a-day calendars in the bathroom and
think about it. One important word of advice: The day of the test, don't forget your tinfoil sorting hat!
There's one brand of prep book available that has old GRE questions, and generally discusses how the tests works. It gives you strategies for spotting incorrect andswers, as well as defining what the writers of the test view as correct (might differ from your own opinion). I can't recall the name of the book, but it was purchased from a major bookseller chain.
The best way to do well on the math section is not to dawdle. Spend too long on one question and you'll finish the section with unanswered questions. If you run into trouble answering something, best strategy is to cross out answers you know are wrong right off the bat, then test the remaining answers. Grab a practice book and run through a couple tests. Best advice is to get a good night's sleep and don't stress.
I do not recommend taking it blind. I took it six years out of school and studied with
. I was really worried about the math part because I took math my first quarter freshman year in college and never again. I went through the lessons on the cd, took the practice tests, and got lots of sleep the night before. The top of my head was burning when I came out, but all the studying really paid off. I'm finishing off my first year of grad school as I type. The thing about the GRE is not necessarily the information you know (although you really need to brush on algebra and vocab), but how you take the test. It's a CAT test (computer adaptive test) which means that to do really well on the test, it's more important to get right answers right away (as you get answers right, the questions get harder and your chances for points are higher). The best thing the Kaplan book did for me was teach me how to take the test. I highly recommend it. Good luck!
I just took it 6 months ago. I wouldn't worry too much about the math- it's a test for all college grads, both the engineers and the history majors, so there's no advanced math. Algebra and geometry, reading charts, no calculus. My problem has always been vocabulary. I took one practice test, studied vocabulary, and then took the real thing, and I raised my verbal score over 100 points. That kaplan book has a list of common words. Make a flash card for each of them with the word and definition and have someone quiz you, or quiz yourself. When you get one wrong, look at the definition and make up a sentence using the word to write on your card. Take the ones you know out of your stack and keep going until you're down to a few. Study them for a few minutes, say the word and definition outloud, whatever works for you. Then start again with the whole stack. The princeton review book has (or had, I borrowed an old one) another list of words that frequently appear on the GRE. This list is broken down into groups of synonyms. There's about 20 words that mean to criticize, a bunch that mean debauchery, etc. There are about 15 groups overall, and studying them helped as well. I put each list on a card using a different color marker, and my friend read words off them and I had to guess which group the word belongs in.
Others have said it, but I'll chime in: Lots and lots of practice exams. If you've been out of school for a while (as I was), you need to get back in the groove of test-taking, and you need to get acquainted with the style of GRE questions.
I also found the practice tests to be very helpful, but I also found that learning how to pace myself really took away a lot of my anxiety. I don't know how they do it now (I took it in the old days with paper and pencil), but if each section is timed, it's helpful to know exactly how long a half hour is. You don't want to be leisurly perusing the reading comp. passage or get in a philosophical digression with an analytical question and then see that you only have 5 minutes to finish the section. Conversely, you don't want to fly through a section and have enough time to go back and second guess all your answers. Work at an even clip and trust your answers. Do practice tests with a timer and don't look at it. Let it tell you when you're finished. That way, you'll figure out the correct pace and not be distracted by the clock. The test itself isn't bad (I decided going in that I didn't care how crap my math scores were), but the timing can be a little intimidating. Good luck!
Here's what you do: 1. Smoke a lot of pot, because it helps you achieve a state of "intense focus." 2. Get distracted from studying by Clint Eastwood spaghetti western on cable movie station. 5. Make a sandwich. 4. Make another sandwich. 5. Get tired; go to sleep, but set alarm clock early to get in last burst of studying. 6. Sleep through alarm clock 7. Skip shower and rush to testing place in order to get in before they lock the door. 8. Kick ass on test.
Princeton Review books. They will teach you the strategy behind the test. Study intensively for a couple of days a couple weeks beforehand, then look through it again quickly-ish about once a day until and including test day. This will get it in your head and keep it there.
I have limited experience with computer testing, but would imagine that it might freak me out. (Thank god MCATs are still pencil and paper). You can probably purchase an online test if you're similarly computer-adaptive-phobic.
I third the advice about practice tests. Once you're comfortable with the structure of the test, you'll feel more comfortable in general. Also, if you're like me it may be hard to sleep well the night before the test. That's ok. Just make sure to eat a good meal beforehand, and don't go too crazy on the caffiene so you don't crash mid-way through. Good luck!
(sorry -- hit post before my brain stopped working) I'd really recommend taking the computer based practice test over too much book work. Before I took the GRE, I worked at a learning center that had the practice test loaded on their computers. I took the practice test about a half million times before the real deal, so when the actual day arrived it felt like no big deal.
I'm sure you've gotten a lot of advice already. It's a computer based exam, so I suggest you get the book WITH the CD. Practice, practice, practice so that you can sail through the instructions and be comfortable with the format. Usually people can take a test a second time to raise the score, otherwise it's futile after that unless you do something significant different (i.e. hire a tutor). Good luck.
Drop lsd first, then choose the answers that float off the screen.
Definitely practice, but don't pay for anything (books, etc). You should be able to download a free computer test from ETS - they also have review material on their site. Borrow books from the library if you need to. But the best thing for me (and I did just fine) was to do the computer practice test I downloaded from ETS (don't wait for their CD - mine arrived after my test) over and over again. I learned the old logic section in one weekend and got an 800 :) (Yes, I'm boasting.) You may want to review your math (again, ETS has material for this), but if you aren't going into sciences or social sciences, your math score will not matter much (mine was 66th percentile, and I still got into both American places I applied).
Oh - and people who teach Kaplan tell me the GRE is really quite easy compared to the SAT or LSAT.
Thank you everyone for your advice and encouragement!! You've all been very helpful. Your bananas are in the mail.