The GRE is a computer-adaptive test, meaning the better you do on the first 20 questions in section one, the harder the next 20 questions become in section two. Understanding the structure of the exam will help you feel more confident during the exam. There are three sections:
- Verbal Reasoning – two 30-minute periods each with 20 questions
- Quantitative Reasoning – two 35-minute periods each with 20 questions
- Analytical Writing – two 30-minute each with one essay
To conquer the GRE, follow these tips…
Before the exam:
- Go back to high school math. It’s probably been a while since you’ve seen Geometry and Algebra. Remember the Pythagorean theorem? a2 + b2 = c2. You thought you may never use it again, but it’s back. It won’t hurt to refresh on the basic tenets of math.
- Grab a dictionary and make some flashcards. There are lists online of commonly seen GRE words for the verbal reasoning.
- Start studying early. Now is not the time to cram. Purchase GRE study books. Some individuals may find a guided course helpful. It’s up to you and your schedule.
- Take practice tests! It may seem tedious at the time, but it will give you a better idea of the timing of the test. Do you need to slow down or pick up the pace?
- Take a study break the day before and treat yourself. Relax by listening to music, watching TV, or going out to lunch with a friend. Get a solid sleep the night before to get ready to crush the exam.
Day of the exam:
- If you have an early exam, be sure to allow yourself time to wake up. It’s best not to roll out of bed and roll into the exam. Go for a walk or stretch to become more alert and ready to go.
- Nutrition is important. Have a solid breakfast and bring snacks if you know you’ll get hungry.
- Dress in layers. It may sound silly but some testing centers are freezing and others are burning up. Wear clothes that will keep you comfortable.
- Arrive early. Being rushed may leave you feeling flustered. Know where the testing center is before the day of the exam.
- Read instructions on the test. Some questions require you “Choose the best answer choice” while others ask you to “Check all that apply.” Be aware of each task.
- Double check to make sure you answer all questions. Nothing is subtracted if you answer incorrectly. So there’s nothing to lose. Take advantage of the “Mark and Review” function. This allows you to mark questions you would like to revisit if time allows.
- Stick to your strategy. You may want to quickly go through the questions answering the ones you know then come back to answer the questions that will take more time. Another strategy is to set a pace for all questions, answering them in order; then, if you have time returning to ones you were uncertain about. Have a plan of attack in mind before and work through the exam accordingly.
- Be cognizant of your time. Remember no question weighs more than another. Don’t waste all your time pondering the answer to one question. Mark it and move on.
- Relax and be positive. These are the two most important tips. Keep perspective on the bigger picture. You can always retake the exam if you do not get the score you want. Taking deep breaths when you are frustrated will help clear your mind as you work through the exam. Being positive will help keep your spirits high.