10 Things You Should Consider Before You Begin Your GRE Exam Prep

By: ApexGMAT
Contributor: Simona Mkhitaryan
Date: September 17, 2021

The Structure of GRE Exam 

The GRE test is a 3-hour 45-minutes (10 minutes break, included) exam with 3 main sections:  Analytical Writing, Verbal Reasoning, Quantitative Reasoning, and an unidentified/unscored section. The Analytical Writing section will always be the first section, then the Verbal Reasoning, Quantitative Reasoning, and unidentified/unscored sections may appear in any order. The unscored experimental section can be either quantitative or verbal.

The GRE can be taken in two formats: computer-based and paper test. The content for each type of test is the same, but there can be some differences between the timing and the number of questions. 

Scores: The official GRE scores for computer-based exams are available within 10-15 days after the test date and for paper-delivered tests within five weeks. The scores will also be sent to the particular institutions you want. 

Retaking process: When taking the paper-delivered test, you can retake the GRE as many times as you want. However, if you took the GRE test via computer, you can retake it once every 21 days and up to five times a year.

Cost: The standard fee for GRE is US$205. 

GRE Sections

2 GRE Sections are Section-Level Adaptive 

The GRE Quantitative and Verbal Reasoning sections are section-level adaptive. So, what does it mean? It means that an algorithm selects successive sections based on the previous sections’ performance. The final score is then composed of each section’s score equally. 

GRE Scores are Valid for Five Years

GRE test score is valid for five years. Hence, before taking or preparing for the GRE, it is essential to know the validity of the exam to plan when to take the GRE properly. If you already have a particular school or program you want to apply to, you have to schedule your test based on the deadlines the school has defined. Nonetheless, it would also be good if you keep in mind the validity time frame on the off chance that you are as yet uncertain about when you will apply to schools.

The Maximum Score of GRE Exam

The highest total GRE score is 340, a 170 both for Verbal Reasoning and Quantitative Reasoning. Unlike other tests, GRE scores are presented separately. So, when you send your GRE results you will probably send three separate scores for each section. Moreover, the Analytical Writing Section is scored on an independent scale from 0-6. If you already know which university you are going to apply to, pay attention to whether the university or program has any section preferences or not. 

Average GRE Scores

GRE Score Ranges

The GRE Calculator 

Unlike the GMAT, you can use a specific GRE calculator during the Quantitative Reasoning section. For paper-delivered GRE, the GRE calculator will be provided during the test, but you cannot bring your own to the exam. For computer-based GRE you can use the on-screen calculator. However, simple calculations are often quicker and safer to solve without a calculator, to avoid entry errors.

As mentioned not all calculators are allowed during the exam. So, what GRE calculator can be used for?  

  • Add, subtract, divide, multiply 
  • Parenthesize
  • Take the square root of
  • Add a decimal to 
  • Change signs
  • Store the answers via memory keys
  • Display up to eight digits at a time

The calculator doesn’t include exponents, constants like π or e, logarithmic (ln, log) or trigonometric (sine, cosine, tangent) functions, nested parentheses, or the ability to square or cube. 

GRE Exam Acceptance and Graduate Programs

The GRE as the GMAT is a common and widely accepted exam for graduate programs. It is common in the USA, Canada, Australia, etc. As GMAT usually serves for the MBA Program, the GRE is recognized by several business schools and has GRE Subject tests which are available in fields such as chemistry, mathematics, physics, biology, literature in English, and psychology. So, as a matter of fact, the GRE is used not only in business programs but also in various areas.

Defining Strengths and Weaknesses  

This analysis will help you know what you are good at and what you need to improve. First of all, plan your strategy about how you are going to analyze your weaknesses and strengths. It can be by taking the GRE practice test once and then figuring out which areas you felt particularly weak or strong in.

Another option is to maintain a notebook for a week and mark down the weaknesses and strengths you encounter during your initial studying. Via this analysis, you might get a sense of whether you are good at time management, what your speed is, and much more. During the analysis, try to identify which question types are the most challenging for you in each section. Figure out what soft skills you have that might help you during the exam and pinpoint the ones that need improvement. After that, conclude and start working on developing new skills and overcoming weaknesses. Always keep in mind having a realistically achievable goal for the final target as a score. Scoring a 300 + on the GRE exam isn’t an easy thing! 

Developing a Study Schedule 

After acknowledging your strengths and weaknesses, design a personalized study plan to guide you throughout your preparation, decide what sources and courses you need, whether you are going to prepare only with tests, or go step by step through topics and sections. You should start preparing for the GRE at least three to six months before the test date, so try not to cram at the last minute! Schedule your learning format and decide which strategy fits the best with your prep level.

You might also consider taking courses with a GRE private tutor, from whom you will get a lot of help and guidance in your GRE preparation creed. This will make your prep easier since you will stick to your study schedule and know ahead of time when you should be studying. Hence, prioritizing your GRE study schedule and then fitting the rest of your day around it will be more effective.  

Using Flashcards and Other Study Methods to Prep for the GRE Exam 

During GRE preparation, it is vital to use practical and helpful materials that will guide your preparation process. It is essential to know which study method works best. Eventually, most of the time, GRE requires self-study mode. However, besides that, you can take online GRE classes, in-person GRE classes, and finally prepare with a private tutor/instructor who will help you with their knowledge and experience.

Flashcards are another great way to study and make quick notes on GRE sections. While preparing for the GRE, the Verbal Reasoning section tests the knowledge of advanced and sophisticated vocabulary. It is an excellent way to write the words on flashcards and start practicing. The GRE Quantitative Reasoning questions test your knowledge of four main subjects you need to concentrate on while preparing and practicing for the GRE: Algebra, Arithmetic, Data Analysis, and Geometry. Hence, make sure to use the right and most comfortable study methods that fit your schedule the most. 

The GRE Exam Timing 

 When preparing for the GRE, try to keep track of your time to allocate it equally to each section. However, do this step after identifying what concepts are complicated for you to allocate more time on those topics and train yourself to solve those problems. Practice pacing because, during the  GRE, time management is critical to complete the exam. The worst scenario in the GRE is that sometimes the test takers run out of time towards the end. This is because some of the test takers do not stick with the time and fall behind. Thus, set and stick to certain time milestones to finish the exam on time. Getting every question on the GRE right doesn’t do you much good if you can’t answer all the questions within the time limit. 

Conclusion 

In conclusion, before preparing for the GRE, be sure to first familiarize yourself with the  GRE structure, the cost, maximum score, acceptance, GRE calculator, and format. Then define your weaknesses and strengths, develop a study plan, use different study methods and hit the green light! Finally, while practicing for the GRE, try to keep track of time and concentrate on learning rather than answering all the questions correctly. 

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