Deciding to go to graduate school is a huge life decision that can open the door to greater possibilities and job opportunities. One of the most significant challenges prospective students face occurs before they even begin graduate school. This challenge is getting in.
GRE: Analytical Writing, Quantitative Reasoning, and Verbal Reasoning
GMAT: Analytical Writing Assessment, Integrated Reasoning, Quantitative, and Verbal
The GRE and GMAT are designed to test general ability, meaning they evaluate how well you can apply your reasoning and analytical skills. Sounds easy enough? Not necessarily. Many make the mistake of not studying for the GRE or GMAT and find themselves struggling in sections that contain subjects not so familiar to them anymore, such as basic geometry or algebra.
With about eight weeks of studying at home, during the weekends, or on the go, you can effectively prepare for the GRE or GMAT and be on your way to the next chapter of continuing your higher education.
Here are 5 easy ways to prepare for the GRE and GMAT:
1. First, figure out where you stand.
You want to point out your strengths and weaknesses before you dive right into studying. Identify which subjects you need the most help in and which subjects come easiest to you. Begin your preparation by doing about 20 examples from each section. As you go through the problems, you’ll know which sections you are the most comfortable with, and which ones you need the most improvement in. By assessing your skill level, you can effectively manage your time to study each subject.
2. Focus on one subject at the time.
After you determine where you stand in each section of the test, you might come to the conclusion that one section comes a bit more natural to you. Remember, the GRE and GMAT cover subjects that you might have learned through college courses and everyday experiences, therefore your writing skills or vocabulary may already be up to par. However, this doesn’t mean you should skip these sections. Instead, focus on the area you need the most review in first and then move onto the areas you are more comfortable with. While dedicating most of your time to the areas you struggle with and still reviewing the less challenging sections, you can refine you skills in every subject.
3. Enroll in a math or English class.
Signing up for a practice GRE or GMAT class can get very pricey. But if you are still going for your undergraduate, you might want to consider enrolling in an extra math or English class to satisfy an elective or liberal arts requirement. Enrolling in a challenging class can help polish your knowledge in a certain area and expand your critical thinking.
Classes in statistics, quantitative mathematical expressions, or even algebra can prepare you for the quantitative section. For the analytical writing and verbal reasoning sections, classes in advanced writing, literature, or poetry can prove to be extremely beneficial with growing your reading comprehension and writing skills.
4. Time yourself.
Yes, with a timer and everything. Find a few hours of free time along with a quiet spot, and take a practice test. Timing yourself is the best determinate to figure out exactly where you stand, so try not to neglect this vital step to your preparation. When it comes to applying for graduate school, your test score is an important factor. Compare your practice score to the average score of which the graduate school you wish to attend accepts, and work from there to see where you need improvement.
Pro tip: do the practice test online. The GRE and GMAT are administered on the computer. No need to bring your number 2 pencil. Practice studying online so you can simulate the actual test taking experience.
5. Study on the go.
Let’s face it, finding the time to study can be very difficult, especially if your time is occupied with classes or work (or both.) In addition to making time to study on the weekends or in your free time, utilize the time you have when you are on the go. When you’re on the bus to work, waiting to catch the train, or getting lunch in between classes, instead of scrolling through your Facebook newsfeed, go over some practice problems.
For preparation specific to GRE you can download ETS’s app The Official GRE Guide (iTunes), Painless GRE (Android), or GRE & SAT Words (Windows). A simple tool for online vocabulary review is also at Quizlet.com.
Olivia is a former student assistant in the Office of New Media for the State University of New York. She is an undergraduate direct and interactive marketing major with a minor in economics at the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York, NY.