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GRE Prep for Graduate School Posted on 04-19-2019

Lebanon, PA

If you plan on going to graduate school, more than likely, you will looking to take the GRE test at some point. What is the GRE? The Graduate Record Examinations (GRE) is a graduate school entrance exam that influences graduate admissions decisions. Achieving an impressive score requires significant preparation. To get started, take a full length, practice test now, to find out where you stand right. From here you can see what type of preparations that you need and what areas of the test needs additional attention.

Schedule your real GRE test a few months before the application deadline for entrance into graduate school. This will allow you time to retake the test if your first go at it is not to your liking.  Be prepared to cover the cost though. Prices for the real test will range from $150-$250 depending on where you live in the world, but generally to take the practice test, it is $150.

Usually a calculator is provided when you take the test and can be useful if used correctly. In some cases, it can become a liability so practice with and without a calculator and try to determine when you should use one and when you should rely on your own noggin.

Paper-and-pencil tests can help you practice concepts and test-taking strategies, but they do not adapt to your performance like the real GRE. Make sure you budget online practice into your study schedule to help prepare you for the computer-based test experience.

Focus on how you approach each question while taking practice tests and drills. If you focus on just the results, you do nothing more than reinforce the way you are taking the test right now. The techniques you use and the way you solve a problem are what help you get better at taking the GRE.

Vocab is still an important part of the GRE Verbal sections. You can absorb many of the words that will show up on the GRE by reading respected publications such as academic journals or some of the more highbrow newspapers and magazines. When you come across new words on practice tests or practice problems, add them to your list. They have been used before on the GRE and they may very well be used again.

"A lot of our students, especially our students who are still in undergrad, will say, 'Oh, typically I'll study a weekend for a test, and ... be all set,'" says Dennis Yim, director of academics with Kaplan Test Prep. "This test is not like that. ... The main thing students need to know is that it's not just about content, and it's not enough to have memorized hundreds of vocabulary words and have gone through the math topics that you haven't seen since high school. You need to be able to use that (information) and become a problem-solver in the moment."

Yim says students who intend to take the GRE should devote some time to taking timed practice tests and analyzing their performance on those practice tests, so they are confident enough to ace the exam when it counts. "You have to be comfortable," he says. "We like to call it, when we get dramatic, 'crisis prevention,' and so what it comes down to is a student's ability to perform to their level when the pressure is on, when the time constraints are real."

Someone who signs up for the GRE General Test can expect to receive three scores after successfully completing the test, including scores in verbal reasoning, quantitative reasoning and analytical writing. Verbal and quantitative scores range from 130 to 170, and these scores are always a whole number. Writing scores can be as low as zero and as high as 6, and these scores are assigned in half-point increments.

Jennifer Winward, founder and CEO at Winward Academy, says the most effective approach to raising a GRE score is to figure out why you made the mistakes you did on a prior exam and devise strategies to prevent that situation from occurring again.

For instance, Winward recommends students keep an up-to-date list of mathematical equations they forgot during the math section of the GRE exam. This allows the student to focus on memorizing equations he or she might otherwise forget to facilitate fast and accurate recall of those equations in the future. Likewise, students who have difficulty with vocabulary should keep a running tally of words they have encountered on prior GRE exams which they do not recognize, so they can memorize the definitions of those words, she says.

Anyone struggling to speed read on the verbal reasoning section should try reading for fun more often during their free time, she suggests. "If you read actively, then you become a faster reader; you remember what you read and where you read it," she says.

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