As someone who took the GRE last month, I understand that the process can be daunting. My emotions ranged from “I’m the Beyoncé of biology, who can easily slay the GRE” to “I have no idea what I’m doing. My life is in shambles. I might as well drop out now and be a sailor.” The emotional roller coaster only ended after I got the scores back and realized that I—indeed—slayed the GRE! If I can do it, you absolutely can too. Here are some tips that really worked for me:
2. Plan ahead. Don’t wait until a week or two before the test to try to register for a certain test date. Set the test date at least a month before so that you have time to prepare. This will also make the GRE seem more real. Now it’s time to work.
3. Utilize the resources at your disposal. It’s okay if you can’t afford the (quite expensive) Kaplan classes. There are many online and print resources that you can use to study. My favorite was the “Preparation for the GRE Test 2016” by McGraw-Hill, which contained practice tests, online resources, and even an app that you can download, to study while waiting in line for your Starbucks. I’m also a huge fan of flashcards, so the Kaplan GRE vocabulary flashcards were a godsend. If you’re not able to buy any of these, check out your local library—they’ll have recent GRE books that you can take notes on. Not to mention, there are also free online practice tips from sites such as: http://www.veritasprep.com/free-gre-resources/ and kaptest.com/gre/gre-practice/free-gre-practice-questions-workout.
4. Schedule daily time to study. As someone who simultaneously takes a full class load and works two jobs, I understand how busy life can be. Using Google Calendar, I balance all of my commitments, homework, and study times, specifically blocking out time to prepare for the GRE. A couple of months ahead of my test date, I set aside 30 minutes every day. Then, a few weeks before the exam, I shifted to an hour every day. Rarely did I ever study for hours and hours at a time—that kind of time just isn’t available in my schedule—but daily chunks of time can add up and you’ll be fine.
5. Take the GRE seriously. No one is saying you should study twenty hours a day, never sleep, and completely burn out. But, it’s probably not a good idea to just schedule, show up, and see what happens. While the GRE isn’t the only factor for getting into graduate school, it is an important one. That being said, study hard and often.
6. Slay. You’ve studied hard. Take a deep breath. Be confident that you are capable of doing well. Enter the testing center, and slay.
Ellice Patterson is a soon to be graduate of Wellesley College! As a biology major, her research endeavors have taken her across different biological disciplines and across the world. From sailing across the Atlantic studying primary production in relation to nutrient concentrations to trekking in the Costa Rican rainforests analyzing spider species composition, she has done it all. Outside of science, she teaches ballet and contemporary at her local dance studio, continues growing as a dancer, and mentors children at her local church. In general, she slays. All day.