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GRE Test Tips

Increase Your GRE Test Score


The GRE (Graduate Record Examination) is a standardized test commonly taken by graduate school applicants. Although the GMAT is the traditional test for MBA applicants, more business schools have begun to accept GRE scores as an alternative. If you are thinking about taking the GRE rather than the GMAT, the following GRE test tips should help.

Read about the GRE

One of the easiest ways to decide whether or not the GRE is for you is to read about the test. This guide to taking the GRE will help you get started. You can also read more about the GRE on ETS.org, the official GRE website. Pay special attention to test content, test sections, and test format. You can also register for the test on the ETS website.

Give Yourself Enough Time to Prepare

The GRE is not an easy test. It is imperative that you not only study, but take enough time to study. This is not the type of test that you can "cram" for in just a week's time. You need to develop a long-term study plan and prepare for each section. The amount of time it will take is dependent on how much you know, how long it has been since you were in school, and many other circumstances. Most people spend somewhere between six weeks and six months preparing for the GRE. When scheduling your test day, be sure you give yourself enough time to prepare based on your individual circumstances. You will also need enough time for scores to be sent to the schools you are applying to. Keep a close eye on the application deadlines. Your GRE score will be available within six weeks after your test date, so be sure to take the test at least eight weeks prior to your soonest application deadline.

Prepare for the Right Test

The GRE was revised in 2011, which means that the test you take now is different than the test students took prior to the revision. There is a new design as well as new question types. Make sure that you only use study materials created after August 2011 to ensure you are preparing for the right version of the GRE. Compare the old GRE with the revised GRE.

Study Algebra and Geometry

The quantitative section of the GRE contains a lot of college-level math questions. You will be expected to be familiar with algebra and geometry concepts. If you don't use this math regularly, you have probably forgotten almost everything you have learned. Be sure to brush up on the basic concepts learned in an undergraduate program. The easiest way to do this is with an algebra or geometry workbook or basic texts like Algebra I Essentials for Dummies.

Practice Your Writing

There are two required essays in the analytical section of the GRE. Doing well on this section is extremely important if you want a good score. Unless you are an English major or someone who has recently taken rigorous writing courses on the side, you should spend a considerable amount of time practicing your essay writing prior to test day. While you're at it, learn a few new vocabulary words--not the type of words you would find on the SAT; focus on GRE vocabulary.

Consider Taking a Prep Course

GRE prep courses can be costly--some are in the thousands of dollars. However, they are immensely helpful to test takers. Course instructors understand what you need to know to do well on the test and will provide you with a professionally developed study plan. Formal prep courses also cover test taking strategies and must know tips. Some courses even guarantee results so that if you don't get a high score, you can ask for a refund or retake the course.

Prepare for the GRE for Free

If you cannot afford a GRE prep course (and even if you can), there are many free ways to prepare for the GRE. Look for tests tips online, join a forum with other students who are preparing for the GRE, make GRE flashcards, pick up a GRE study guide from your local library, listen to podcasts, or study with a friend. With enough preparation, anyone can score in the top 10%.

Take Practice Tests

Practice GRE tests are an excellent way to gauge how well you might do on the actual exam. Practice GRE tests are available in many GRE test prep guides. The guides can be found online, in bookstores, and at local libraries. You can also find practice GRE tests on the official GRE site.

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