Ultimate Guide to Taking the GRE

By Brittany Loeffler on January 25, 2017

Congratulations! You’ve finished your undergraduate education and now have a bachelor’s degree hanging on your wall somewhere. Now it’s time to take the next step and apply for graduate school! This guide will tell you everything you need to know for taking the GRE exam.

What is the GRE?

The GRE (or the Graduate Record Exam) is a standardized test, much like the SAT and ACT, that students must take in order to be accepted to graduate or business school. Graduate admissions will use your GRE test score to determine if you are a right fit for the program you are applying to. Thousands of schools accept GRE results; you can find a list here.

Much like the SAT and ACT, the GRE has multiple timed sections and consists of writing and answering multiple-choice questions.

via Pixabay

Test Format

The GRE consists of three sections: Analytical Writing, Verbal Reasoning, and Quantitative Reasoning. These sections are all timed. There are two options offered for taking the GRE exam: paper or computer. The allotted time for each section varies depending on which method you choose to take your exam.

Analytical Writing

The Analytical Writing section requires you to write two essays. For the first essay question, you must read a paragraph about a general issue and form an argument and address the issue. The second essay question requires you to read an argument and offer a critique of it.

This section will test your skills in writing and supporting an argument, and reasoning skills.

A human reader will be grading this part of the exam first, then a computer rates it as well.

Verbal Reasoning

The Verbal Reasoning section requires you to answer multiple-choice questions about sentence completion, vocabulary, reading comprehension, and analogies.

This section will test your reading comprehension and relationship between concepts and words.

A computer will grade this portion of the exam.

Quantitative Reasoning

The Quantitative Reasoning section requires you answer multiple-choice questions in math and data analysis.

This section will test your algebraic, arithmetic, and geometry skills.

A computer will grade this portion of the exam.

via Pixabay

General Preparation

Allow yourself plenty of time to study for the exam. It may take some time to brush up on your high school math and be familiarized with the format and questions of the exam. This isn’t the kind of test you can cram for. It tests your basic knowledge and skills, not learned material.

Get to know the format of the test and how the questions will be worded. Take some practice tests to get comfortable with taking the exam. Also, familiarize yourself with the directions of the test; you don’t want to be taken by surprise!

When choosing which format of the test to take, get to know yourself. If sitting at a computer for a long time makes you antsy and gives you a headache, choose a paper version. If you don’t mind reading things on a screen for hours, then taking the computer version may be the best choice for you.

via Pixabay

Study Guides and Prep Classes

There are many books that can help you study for the GRE exam. Kaplan offers a great book that includes online videos and practice exams. The test prep books will give you all the information you will need to know about the GRE and will familiarize you with the vocabulary and wording of the questions.

If you can afford to take a GRE Prep Class it can be beneficial for receiving a high score. Working with other students and being able to ask questions in a classroom setting will prepare you for when you take the actual exam.

If sitting in a classroom isn’t for you, there are many online programs that will make a study plan for you. My GRE Tutor has study plans from one week to eight weeks before taking the exam and offers practice questions. There are plenty of options to help prepare you to take the exam.

via Pixabay

Read Everything

When it comes to the Verbal Reasoning section of the test, the best way to study is to read. Read everything you can. Pay attention to sentence structure and vocabulary. Flip through a dictionary or look up common words used on the GRE and learn the definitions of words you didn’t know before.

via Pixabay

The Night Before/Morning Of

The night before taking the GRE exam, make sure you get a good night’s sleep. Put your bag together before you go to sleep so you aren’t rushing the morning of the exam looking for your pencils and calculator.

Wake up early enough to give yourself time to get ready and eat a healthy breakfast. The healthier the food, the better. Giving yourself extra time also allows you to sit in traffic and not be late.

Good luck taking the GRE!

By Brittany Loeffler

Uloop Writer
Brittany is a senior English major with a concentration in creative writing at Temple University. After growing up in a very rural part of Pennsylvania, she found her calling in the streets of the big city of Philadelphia. Aside from writing, she enjoys reading, movies, baking, and photography.

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