Taking the GRE is a crucial step for students seeking to attend graduate school, and is often a source of anxiety for test takers approaching the exam day. If you're among those feeling the pressure, ease your way to GRE test day with these 10 tips:
1. Know the Directions
Read the directions ahead of time so you can maximize the allotted time on test day. The directions are different whether you're taking the computer-based general test or the paper-based general test. Know in advance how many questions and how much time is given for each section. You should also learn about the intricacies of the test. For example, on the computer tests, you can't skip questions, meaning you have to answer questions in order. This step will help you avoid making mistakes that could force you to retake the test.
2. Practice - On a Schedule
Review test questions and time yourself so that you will be used to quickly completing questions and will know how to pace yourself to complete the test sections in time. For written portions, practice writing responses, again following the same time limit as exam day. You don't want to feel rushed as the clock ticks down on each section.
3. Review the Terminology
Questions will involve terms such as antonyms, analogies, and quantitative comparison, so get a refresher on their definitions prior to the exam so you won't be confused on test day.
4. Develop a Strategy
Determine how you are going to handle the test's different sections. For example, some test prep experts recommend looking over the questions in the reading comprehension section before reading the passage so you can quickly pick up on the crucial information. Throughout the test, you will need to keep from getting stuck on questions and losing track of time, which could keep you from completing each section. Give yourself a certain amount of time to answer a question, then eliminate the choices that you can, and select your answer to complete the test on time.
5. Know Your Technology
For the computerized version of the test, take the time before starting to review the tutorial, which doesn't count toward the allotted time. Being comfortable with the technology will save you headaches and keep you from being docked if you need computer help once the test begins.
6. Understand the Scoring
The scoring is different based on whether you're taking a paper test or a computer-adaptive test, so understand the scoring rules. For example, for computer-adaptive tests, scoring factors include your performance on questions, the number answered, and their difficulty level.
7. Don't Burst the Answer Bubble
For the paper exam, frequently review your answers to make sure you are marking them in the correct rows and aren't making other mistakes that could cause scoring errors, or force you to retake the test.
8. Get Rid of Pre-Test Jitters
Instead of cramming the night before the test, relax by spending time with a friend or doing a low-stress activity such as watching a movie.
9. Don't be a Rule Breaker
You don't want the stress of having your personal items confiscated at the test site, so read over the rules and only bring items that are permitted into the exam room. Excluded items can include: food, drinks, tobacco, cell phones, calculators, stop watches, dictionaries, and other electronic devices.
10. Go for the Home Stretch
Research shows that individuals will earn higher scores for completing the test, even if you aren't able to answer all the questions. So don't give up!
Follow these test-preparation steps and tips to turn the GRE into a positive experience and keep you on your career path.
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