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Monday, February 8, 2010

How to Prepare for the GRE

The Graduate Record Examination (GRE) is a standardized test that is required by almost all graduate programs to be considered for admission. This computerized test focuses on measuring abstract thinking skills in the areas of math, vocabulary, and analytical writing. Some graduate programs will also require you to take a specific Subject Area Test in psychology as well. There is no need to get overly nervous about these tests (as many students do) because there are many ways to prepare for them. On each subsection of the exam, there are a finite number of types of questions that you can practice answering. Once you learn strategies for approaching each type of question, you will be ready to handle all of the questions that could possibly be asked on the exam. Free practice GRE exams and access to practice question banks are available at the GRE Web site (www.ets.org). There are also GRE preparation books and software programs that you can purchase.

Read more about how one student prepared for the GRE below...

“How I Prepared for the GRE”
Submitted by Kimberly Mounsey for Insider's Guide to the Psychology Major
Pepperdine University, MA General Psychology, MA Clinical Psychology

I began preparing for the GRE as soon as I made my decision to apply to graduate school. Knowing that GRE scores are weighed very seriously by graduate application committees, I wanted to be as well prepared as I could be for this very important test. I first went online to search for testing materials that I could use to become familiar with the format of the exam and the types of questions to expect. There are many books available to choose from, both on the internet and in bookstores. I suggest finding one that includes a CD-ROM that you can use on your computer to take practice tests. The GRE is given on a computer so taking the practice tests in this format will help prepare you in the way that is most consistent with the actual testing process. Once you have selected your study materials you may begin studying for the test. Beginning to study several months before your scheduled test date can be very advantageous. It will allow you to study in a steady, methodical way rather than cramming in the last few weeks, which is not an effective way to retain information.

I began with short practice tests to get acclimated to the types of questions on the test. I read each chapter to study the material I was going to be tested on and would then follow up with a practice test. I took the tests in increasingly longer increments. This way I could work up to having to sit for 2 hours and take the full GRE. When preparing to take a full length practice GRE, I tried to set up my environment to be as similar to the GRE testing environment as possible. I chose a time when I knew I would not be interrupted, I chose a quiet environment where I could be alone, I took my computer to a desk, sat in a desk chair, and turned off all interruptions (cell phone, television, radio). By the time the test came around, I had taken several full length practice GRE’s in this way and I was well prepared to sit for the full length GRE.

Finally, when studying for the Psychology Subject Exam, I studied for this exam in much of a similar way that I studied for the general GRE. I began studying several months before my scheduled exam date, I obtained books and CD-ROMs to help practice the material and take practice exams. The one thing I did differently was I acquired an Introduction to Psychology textbook from my Introductory Psychology class and used this to study as well. I knew that many of the Psychology GRE test questions pulled from what I had learned in my Introduction to Psychology class and I used this text to review what I had learned in that class. By my exam days I felt well prepared and ready to take on the exam!


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