Preparing Seniors for GREs

Advice for seniors preparing to take Graduate Record Examinations in the fall

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Preparing Seniors for GREs
Advice for preparing for the GRE.
John Artenstein, Editor

For the many Kean University senior undergraduate students seeking opportunities in graduate studies next year, performing well on the standardized Graduate Record Examinations (GRE) is a must. For many graduate programs, the GRE is a requirement, and for others, it's a strongly-encouraged addition to applications; in either case, the test is designed to show graduate schools that students are ready to perform in their rigorous programs.

Considering how challenging and comprehensive the GRE is, prospective graduate students, particularly those senior undergraduates whose class schedules are already stressful, are encouraged to strategize for their studies with their eyes on smart and efficient learning, maintaining good mental and physical health and practice, practice, practice. Whether students are preparing for the GRE General Test or a more specific GRE Subject Test, the following tactics are considered invaluable.

Every student studies differently, but for a considerable examination like the GRE, it is recommended to devote anywhere from four to twelve weeks to preparation. Especially for seniors with busy schedules, beginning to prepare for the examinations two or three months in advance can help to spread the study process out over more time so that it's less overwhelming.

The Educational Testing Service, or ETS, who offer the GRE, also provide a variety of reviews and practice tests to help prepare in detail. These reviews cover the General Test as well as Subject Tests. The categories of study in which Subject Tests are offered are biology, chemistry, literature in English, mathematics, physics, and psychology.

Every graduate program values the GRE in its own way as they review applications, but it is commonly considered wise to plan to take the exam several months before the deadlines for graduate applications. This allows students to retake the test if they so choose.

The process of preparing begins by establishing a baseline score - or, a student's score on practice tests before they proceed with studying - then a target score, allowing the student to study towards a specific goal for improvement. This helps to focus on exactly which areas and types of questions the student needs to consider most, as well as to create a regular regiment for studying and thinking about the exam.

Studying for the GRE can include all sorts of methods, such as using flash cards, full prep books, practice questions found online and full-length practice tests. It's also useful to use an online calendar to keep oneself on track as they study, treating the process like a regular, daily regiment. The GRE is not a test to cram all the studying for into the last minute.

Like the SATs and other long, arduous standardized tests, practicing for the GRE is not just about studying the content of its prospective questions; it is also critical to prepare for the process of taking the test itself. This is why, in addition to tangible study strategies, the best preparation includes mimicking the process of taking the exam with practice tests amid a setting similar to that of the real thing. Building up the mental and physical endurance to focus deeply on challenging questions is a marathon, not a sprint.

For essay and verbal sections of the exam or Subject Tests, there's nothing like rehearsal. Reading and writing samples for prompts is an irreplaceable preparation method. This helps acclimate students to writing or performing longer responses with confidence and familiarity - and it also helps to frame the answers to other questions throughout.

There are also, of course, full GRE classes available through many online resources. These compile all sorts of study practices and sample questions to help students learn more about the content and the experience of the exam.

The GRE can be registered for at the ETS website. There, students can also find their options of many test-taking locations. Many prospective graduate applications have deadlines between November and February - though some have been moved forward with respect to the delays caused by ongoing pandemic-related circumstances. Students are encouraged to plan their practice testing and registration for the GRE and Subject Tests with their applications in mind.

With plenty of practice, a clear head and the confidence built up by getting a head start, a great performance on the GRE is on any student's horizon.


about the author

John Artenstein, Editor
artenstj@kean.edu

John Shepherd is an English major with a concentration in creative writing. He has been a contributing editor for mayhemdotcom, The Odyssey Online, and other publications. John has authored the books Recent Words: A Collection of Poems and Stories and I Hear Your Favorite. He has also penned essays on culture, politics and more than a dozen albums of original alternative music. He is plotting careers in entertainment and publishing as he continues producing works of fiction and non-fiction across a variety of media.