The Graduate Records Examination commonly known as the GRE is an entrance exam required before you can apply to most colleges in the United States of America – and some other places – for a Masters Degree. It tests your English language skills, your mathematical analysis and logical reasoning skills in quant. A part of the test also asks you to write an essay on various topics to gauge your writing ability and your talent at thinking about unknown topics on the spot. Both the quant and verbal sections are marked out of 170 each, and you get a final score out of 340. Usually a score about 310 is said to be enough to get into a decent-to-good college, but of course, the higher you score the better it is, since it improves your chances of getting admission, scholarships and teaching and research assistantships.
So, how do you go and prepare for this seemingly daunting task? Well, here’s a general guideline for you to follow:
Take out sufficient time to study. Often two months are enough to thoroughly study for GRE in its entirety. In fact, if you study for 2 to 3 hours diligently every day for two months then you will surely cover all the topics that can be asked in the GRE and be confident with the knowledge that you are ready to tackle everything that comes your way.
Practice. This word cannot be stressed enough. Once you are done studying and understanding the concepts, solve as many practice tests and papers as you can. That is the best way to learn. See where you are making mistakes, learn from them and correct them. It is also a good way to become faster at solving the quant section and get in tune with the many formulae and shortcuts helpful in that task. Remember the old adage ‘practice makes perfect’, it will ring true once you solve the actual test and see the benefit that practice will have done for you.
This is where the importance of practice will strike true and prove its worth. The GRE is a lengthy exam and the questions get progressively harder if you keep answering them correctly. It is difficult to maintain the same level of concentration throughout, especially when it is easy to get stumped at questions and lie there. Time-management is of the essence. Make sure to devote only a certain amount of time to questions and not more than that. If time runs out, move on to the next question and get back to the one you couldn’t answer at the end, don’t keep solving it in the hopes of getting an answer, that is a trap many fall into. Instead, go forth to the next one, after all, the questions have equal weightage unless otherwise specified.
In writing essays, make sure to give strong starts, enough examples, conclusive endings and try and exceed the word limit if possible, it will work in your favour. Practice flash cards and words every day to improve your vocabulary for the verbal section, it’ll have the added benefit of improving your language as well.
Remember there is no negative marking, so if you are running out of time, make sure to at least finish marking all the questions and finish the test. Take advantage of the no negative marking rule.
If you follow these guidelines and work smartly, you will surely be rewarded with a high GRE score.