October 19, 2010
Taking the GRE
First, here is the most important piece of information about the GRE: they are not that important. Not that you shouldn't take them seriously, but they're not the only thing any admissions office is looking at. They won't make your future great or ruin it. That said, here's my advice for taking the GRE:
1. Relax. Yes, it's a pretty big test. It costs money. You want to do well the first time. But don't stress about it too much. Just like any test, you do better if you are not panicking.
2. Study. Maybe you're like me, and you hadn't taken math in about 9 years before the test. Or maybe you're like my boyfriend, who had done nothing but math. Whatever you're background I'm guessing there are things that you haven't done in awhile, or maybe haven't done ever, that will be on the test. It's probably better to find that out before you get to the test.
3. Practice. I was pretty confident when I signed up for the exam. I did pretty well on my SAT (almost 10 years earlier), and I think of myself as being a good test-taker. But the GRE is a little different. It's good to have a sense of the questions and the content before you go in. It's also important to be realistic about how much prep you will need to do, so having done a practice test or two will give you a good idea.
4. Don't overdo it. I will admit I didn't study much. I spent a day looking at the math that's on the test. I took 2 practice tests. That's all I did, and I did okay. I still got into grad school. Obviously you should do as much as you need to do to feel confident, but once you feel okay, don't worry as much.
That's my secret to GRE success (or GRE adequacy). Basically, study, but don't worry. Just like the SAT, it won't matter once you're in a program. It's not as big a deal as it seems like. Good luck!