How I prepped, studied and succeeded at the GRE

I am hoping to go to grad school after completing my undergrad in May. The first step in the grad school application process: taking the GRE.

I took the GRE this past Friday and I planned this test day MONTHS in advance. I paid for the test in July, but I started studying in May. 

If you even think that grad school is an option for your future, plan and pay for your test early. Everyone wants to take the test in August, September, or October to begin the application process on time. If you decide that you don't want to take the test- for whatever reason- you can cancel and get your money back. BUT be sure to read your test center's policy, if you cancel after a certain time period, then you can not get your money back.
Start studying early. You don't have to study for long periods of time or every single day. If you put a good strong 30 minutes in three times a week, you are more likely to retain that info than cramming all at once.

About a month out from my test date, I got serious about my study plan.

Look at the schools you are thinking of applying to. Set your goal score: total, Verbal and Quantitative. Some of the schools I am looking at want to only see a certain Quantitative score, others want to only see a minimum total score. It's different school to school. I recommend making an Excel sheet of all these schools and what they require. (I'm all about the Excel spreadsheets)
Take a diagnostic test, either provided by GRE or another company like Kaplan. Most likely you are not going to get a great score at first, but that's okay. You have a starting point. Recognize where you can improve and where your strong points are.
I had bought the Kaplan GRE 2016 prep book, I highly recommend it! It gives you multiple full length practice tests (including a diagnostic test), as well as a lot of practice sets for both Verbal and Quantitative portions.

Your GRE toolkit: a good study book (I chose Kaplan), a notebook to write down new words or practice math formulas,
a computer to simulate how the GRE will be formatted & tea... The tea is vital. 

The week leading up to the GRE, I tried my hardest to stay relaxed and get a ton of sleep. 

I had studied hard throughout the summer and my last few practice tests had gone better than planned. I knew I had all the tools and the knowledge to succeed at the test. I now just needed to rest up so I would be able to perform my best the day of the exam.
You can only study SO much for the GRE, sorry to tell y'all that, but it's true. Once you memorize the math formulas to your hearts content and cram as many words into your head as humanly possible--sometimes you just can't any more. If you reach that point (I know I did) don't freak out. It's now time to relax and take things easy before the big day. Try to get excercise and eat healthy the days leading up to the test.

Do a trial test day.

The day before I was to sit for the exam, I walked from my parking spot to the testing center and timed myself. My testing center is on MSU's campus and on the other side of campus from where my parking lot is. Even if your testing center is around the corner from your house- I would recommend doing a trial run. Time how long it will take you to get from your house to the testing center including walking time. Familiarize yourself with the surroundings of the test center. There is a little convenient store across the street from where I took the GRE so I bought a granola bar before the test for a break pick-me up. When you visit the test center make sure to scout out the bathroom, during the GRE you only get one 10 minute break. You want to utilize the most of that time and searching for the potty is not the best use of your time.

Rest & Water

The night before the GRE be sure to get plenty of sleep and drink a lot of water. Water will keep you hydrated and focused during the test. You'll go into the test ready to rock and roll. Once you get through the test you will most likely be totally braindead. Think about the beer and Criminal Minds marathon you deserve! I know you rocked it and you're ready to move on to grad school applications.

I'll try to keep everyone as up to date as I can on my own grad school application process. While I would prefer to go to grad school straight out of undergrad, I haven't totally ruled out the option of going to work first. I think whatever my path is supposed to be will reveal itself. I am prepping for the upcoming career fair on campus and scouring the interwebs for jobs that I qualify for. I am nervous that if I put all my eggs into one basket (aka grad school) that I may possibly not get into a grad school or get the financial aid I need to go to a certain program and I'll be stuck with no backup plan.

Best of luck to everyone. Let me know if these tips helped!


Popular Posts