Here's my definition of the GRE: "a means of torture that you pay $160 for, which involves 3-6 months of hardcore preparation all leading up to the dreaded 3 hours of anxiety and panic, which the results of said 3 hours will either bring celebration or crush all of your hopes and dreams."
I knew going into this process that taking the GRE was inevitable. It was required. I knew that a minimum score of 900 was needed. For those who don't keep tabs on the GRE scoring system, a perfect score is 1600 which would be the combined total of an 800 in mathematics and 800 in vocabulary. It also includes 2 different essays which are scored on a scale from 1-6.
So. All I needed was a 900, right? Wrong. In actuality, the people who were accepted into the program last year all scored between 1000-1200. So really, 900 just wouldn't cut it. It's like fine print. "The minimum GPA required is 3.3" "But really we won't consider anyone who has below a 3.8."
My original plan was to borrow a study guide from a coworker who had been planning on taking it, because those books are like, $40, and if I'm going to spend $40 it's going to be on a pair of jeans. Or more realistically, groceries.
When I got my friend's book, I was slightly distracted by all of the work he had already done, and it was hard to get an accurate judgement of where I was when all of the answers on the practice tests were staring me in the face. So I sucked it up and forked over $40 for my own brand spanking new GRE study guide. And 1 month later, I bought another one. Because they are that much fun.
Long story short, I did well. I busted out an 1120 and it was probably one of the highlights of this whole process. I've never been good at the standardized tests, and I thought for sure I'd be lucky to get a 900. I had taken 5 practice tests that ranged anywhere from 850-1050, so I was shocked. And shaking. And totally stoked.
So, if you have to take the GRE, here are a few tips that worked well for me:
- give yourself 3 months to prepare. Over those three months try and devote one or two days a week to going through the study guide
- I used Princeton Review and Kaplan study books and I thought the two complemented each other very nicely
- do timed practice tests to get an idea of how to pace yourself
- lastly, vocab. Make vocabulary flashcards and study.
For those of you who don't have to take this test, thank your lucky stars. For those that do, good luck!