I haven't taken the GRE before but Good Luck! Just stay positive and make sure that you are well rested before the day of the test. Make sure you stay calm, nervousness is fine but eat a nice hearty breakfast if you can or pack a small snack to mellow out.
Also a quick google search of "GRE" sent me to this website: http://www.ets.org/gre
They have some tips about taking the GRE and also what to expect. So I guess that would be a great place to start so you are prepared on the day of!!
I took it a couple years ago and would say that the buildup is a lot worse than the exam. It's more or less your basic ACT/SAT with fewer categories and an extra essay. And yes, the questions are more difficult. But don't let this get to you, you can handle it.
Depending on where you take the exam, you'll usually have the option of taking a paper exam or a computer exam. The exams are exactly the same except for how you input your answers (typed or handwritten). I chose the computer for two reasons: 1) My writing is much more organized when I'm typing and I can edit as I go and 2) I got my scores for the Verbal and Quantitative sections right away. The essays take a while to grade for either option. Whichever you decide to take is completely up to you.
I don't know if this is the same for every location, but at my testing center they required me to empty my pockets, roll up my sleeves and pant legs, and be checked with a metal detecting wand to be sure I wasn't bringing in anything to use to cheat. They also didn't let me wear my beanie (which I'm still a little upset about). When I left the testing room for the allotted break I had to go through the whole routine again before reentering. Your belongings are kept in a cubbie-hole outside of the testing room.
As for the actual exam, I took the essay section first which I think is typical for everyone. You'll get one prompt that presents an issue and then you are asked to make a well-supported argument about it. The second prompt presents an argument that you need to critique. Be sure to use the information in the prompts in your answer. Take a few moments to collect and organize your thoughts before writing but don't take too long. You only get half an hour for each prompt.
The Verbal section had a few different types of questions-reading comprehension, sentence completion, and sentence comparison. These last two basically just ask you to select the words with the correct definitions to make sense in the context of the provided sentences. A lot of these words have very similar meanings, which can be frustrating. Just narrow down the choices as best as you can.
The Quantitative section has some data interpretation but is mostly problem solving-there are very few, if any, advanced math questions. There are a lot of questions that have a somewhat obvious, roundabout way of coming to the correct answer but have a quicker method if you think about them for a bit. It was described to me as the test-maker trying to fool you and you trying to outsmart them. If it helps, think of this section as a bunch of brain teasers for you to solve. In a sense, that's what they are.
That's a pretty abridged version of the GRE. You can find out a lot more by looking online. I pretty much exclusively used Kaplan for my test prep. Their website is kaptest.com and you just need to follow the links to the GRE section. They have a lot of free resources and can even direct you to full practice tests. I would strongly suggest taking at least one so you know what you're up against when you take it for real.
An extra tip; go to bed early the night before. Like, really early. I was nervous and it took me hours to finally fall asleep. I don't think it affected me too much, but it certainly didn't help.
Keep in mind, this test isn't make or break. It's not your one shot at grad school. You can take it several times. And you certainly don't need a perfect score. Most schools I looked at just wanted students placing in at least the 50th percentile which isn't terribly difficult to achieve. As my mom has told me pretty much daily, people a lot less intelligent than you have done this.
And lotzoh is right. You got this.
Living on the edge. Of paranoia.
I took it about 8 years ago and they have a new scoring system now. But I absolutely hated it. I don't think it actually determines your ability to do well in grad school, but it's a way for programs to easily eliminate people. I received mediocre scores on the math/verbal, and a low score on essay, yet I finished my program with a high GPA and I'm working on publishing research from my thesis now. So yeah. I don't think those scores reflect much except your ability to take a super elitist test. No matter how you do, just keep that mind.
Depending on your program, you should concentrate on doing well on either the verbal or math (whichever one they highly value), and just take as many practice tests as possible. I only spent 6 months prepping, but I think you should probably give yourself a year.
I took the GRE in the past month or so, and honestly, I didn't find it to be that bad at all! People hype it up to be bad and scary, but honestly, it just seemed to be a slightly more complex ACT/SAT. There's definitely a higher emphasis on logical thinking; even if you don't know the formula for a given quantitative reasoning problem, for example, you will usually be able to logically figure it out. The writing portion is just simply to gauge your ability to make logical and coherent arguments.
Other than brushing up on some common vocab, there really isn't a ton of studying to do. It really seems to focus on your ability to think rather than have a massive amount of things memorized, which I liked.
One nice thing is that with the computer based test, you get your verbal and quantitative scores immediately. You won't get the percentiles, but you'll at least know your raw score. The essays are graded by hand, of course, so you can't really gauge those until you get your report.
rain drop, drop top
The name's Jason.
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