The GRE is the do-it-all of graduate school admissions tests, the closest thing to the SAT or ACT when it comes to your postgraduate education. It is the most commonly used standardized test for grad schools in the United States and has been implemented for over 85 years. The GRE is used as a part of the admissions process for a variety of programs, from STEM to the humanities. For some, it may even be difficult to choose between the GRE and other types of standardized tests, like the GMAT. Once you finally decide on the GRE, the next thing to think about is how to start with your GRE prep. Here are some simple GRE prep pitfalls to avoid.
1. Don’t Underestimate or Overestimate The GRE
This test is meant for anyone and everyone. From engineers to artists, this is a test that is supposed to be comprehensive, so the skill sets of applicants will vary. With the GRE being split into Quantitative, Verbal, and Analytical sections, you may find some sections more comforting than others. Let’s say you’re an English major, you’ve been writing your entire life, you are a genuine wordsmith. You may take a few practice tests and you find the verbal section is a breeze. You are hitting high above the required score for the programs you’re interested in. On the other hand, in the quantitative section, you may be barely hitting the mark.
A terrible GRE prep pitfall is thinking that you simply cannot do it. Thinking, “I wasn’t a math major in college” is not going to help you get a good GRE score. The GRE is a test meant for a wide range of fields, you are surely not the first – or last – of your respective field to take it. It’s important to keep in mind that the GRE is not a test which you can fail.
Despite that, do not overestimate yourself from your GRE prep. Test day is a completely different story. And it is important to keep your nerves in check, even when the test may be more difficult than you expected. Even though the GRE is a more comprehensive test, it is not meant to be easy, you may even need help in places you wouldn’t expect.
2. Everyone Prepares Differently
Seeking resources to help yourself with GRE prep can be downright confusing with so many sites telling you what strategies will work. It may be easy to take what one person says works for them and run with it, but it is crucial to remember that everyone studies differently. What works for one other person may not work for you. Here are three things to keep in mind for GRE prep.
- Experiment: It is okay to try different things. If you are struggling, never be ashamed of trying a different route, who knows it may be what gets you to that desired GRE score.
- If it Ain’t Broke Don’t Fix It: There is no doubt that the GRE is not your first rodeo. Most likely, you have been taking some form of standardized tests your entire life, and you certainly have developed some study habits over the years. Trust yourself and implement your own study strategies into your prep.
- Seek a Tutor: A one-on-one GRE tutor may be just the spark you need. A tutor can help personalize your studying experience and may also be helpful in keeping you on track. Looking into an online GRE tutor can be especially helpful in regards to flexibility, especially in our increasingly complex lives.
3. Your GRE Score does not Define You
It is important to remember that the GRE does not determine your intelligence, it does not fully determine the potential you have, and is not the ultimate indicator of your grad school success. A GRE pitfall to avoid is thinking when taking a prep test or even when taking the GRE multiple times, that your score is not personal, so don’t make it such. It is just a number. The last thing you want to do is take this number to heart. Thinking of yourself as a failure will do nothing but hurt you.
The GRE can be overwhelming especially when it’s something that could drastically change your future, but it’s important to keep a cool head and keep these GRE prep pitfalls in mind. Don’t oversell or undersell yourself and make sure you find the strategies which work for you.
Contributor: Lukas Duncan