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GRE Preparation Tips

The GRE is an important part of your application to graduate school. Here is a bit of advice on how to prepare more efficiently:

What's the ideal timing?

You'll probably submit your application form between January and March of the year you want to begin your graduate degree. Ideally, you'll take the GRE around September of the previous year so that you can retake it if you feel that you haven't performed as well as you could have. If you plan for three months of preparation, you should get down to work in June of the year preceding your potential admission date.

What books and other materials should you use?

Preparation books do the job, but the official exams from ETS are only published after they're given. This is the test that you need more than any other. To supplement it you can use others, which may offer good advice and questions that are close to the real thing, but concentrate first and foremost on past exam questions.

How should you organize yourself?

You'll have to be strict with yourself. Here's a recommended plan of action:

  • Start by completing a mock GRE to get yourself into exam mode (get up early, no long breaks between sections, silence, etc.).
  • Depending on your first score, decide on the amount of work you're going to have to do. If you think you'll need a significant amount of preparation time, set aside weekly blocks of time.
  • Go over the word list for the vocabulary questions. Get into the habit of reading as much as possible. This also has the benefit of improving your awareness of current affairs.
  • At the same time, keep testing yourself with questions from past exams.
  • Half-way through, do another practice GRE test under exam conditions so you can check on your progress. Depending on the results, you might now be able to turn your undivided attention to the question types that still cause problems for you. Learn to recognize such questions, so that you do not waste an inordinate amount of time on these weakness during the real test.
  • Lastly, finish your preparation with one or two practice GREs under exam conditions. The last one should be close to your set target. date

During the test

Throughout the GRE exam period, time and stress management are as important as understanding and knowledge of the material covered. Stay calm during the exam (this really is of the utmost importance!), do breathing relaxation exercises during the short pauses between sections, and eat well before the test.

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