Preparing for the GRE
The GRE: if you are an upperclassman who has even considered continuing on your education, then I can guarantee that you have had a moment of panic when considering the fact that you may have to take this mammoth of a test.
Have no fear. This panicked emotional state that you are experiencing is totally normal.
I would tell you a story about how I overcame and conquered the GRE thanks to the help of a few magical rules, but I can’t. See, I did not take the GRE even though I planned on it. I was lucky enough to get to stay at Angelo State University for the Communication graduate program where the GRE test is not required if your undergraduate GPA is above a 3.0. I considered other programs at University of Texas and Texas Tech, but nothing felt right. Thanks to my early graduation, which was a surprise to me, I was not able to register for the GRE in time. Things worked out for me, but I do not recommend following in my footsteps. Here is some information about the GRE so that you can be as prepared as possible.
GRE stands for Graduate Record Exam, and it is a six-section test that first measures if you have the emotional stability and stamina to take such a test. Almost all graduate programs require a GRE test score on record with other application materials, but recently some programs are deciding that the test is not necessary and is not a good tool to measure the abilities of a candidate.
When you begin to research grad schools, first start with making sure the program you are interested in even requires a GRE score. Some programs may only require a GRE score if your GPA is below a certain level. If you are not certain which grad school you are interested in, you may want to go ahead and take the test so that you have options.
After you have decided whether or not you need to take the test, start prepping! There are tons of resources out there, including practice tests, classes, and even a video series produced by the same people who created the GRE. It’s never too early to start studying for the test. I recommend using Winter Break or Summer Break to get the majority of your studying done, and then give yourself refreshers during times when school is actually in session.
Be reasonable with your expectations. It’s easy to say, “Oh yeah, I’m going to study for this test every night for 20 minutes,” but this kind of commitment is hard to maintain. Instead, try setting aside 30 minutes each Sunday to work on a practice test, or do prep questions on your smart phone as you wait for class to start.
Make sure you are registered in time by exploring the official GRE website. Compare application deadlines to test deadlines and register for the test quickly so that you can guarantee that there is a spot for you. You may have to go to another city to take the test, so if you do not drive or are unfamiliar with the location, take this into account as you pick a test date.
You can read up on the rules and regulations about what to bring and how to dress on test day so that you are as prepared as possible.
A Final Note
Perhaps the most important part about preparing for the GRE is to remain calm and realize that you are a smart, capable person who has made it in college and will make it in the rest of your future endeavors. The GRE is just a speed bump in the journey to your future career. The worst thing you can do would be to ruin the rest of your time as an undergraduate worrying and stressing over one test.