Taking the GRE: Your Ultimate Guide

As you may or may not know, I am currently a college senior (cry). This means that in May…I’m gradumacating, gettin my diploma and going out into the big scary world. To be honest, I’m still fairly uncertain about what I want to do. I’m majoring in broadcast journalism and that gives me a wide array of career and schooling options for after I graduate.

Related Post: Majoring in Journalism: Everything You Need to Know

One of those options is grad school. For now, I’m pretty sure I am not going to enroll into a graduate school program right after I graduate. I’m still not sure about what kind of career I want to pursue, so I think that working for a few years will help me realize what is best for me. After I know what I want to do, I definitely want to go back to school for more education.

But, I still took the GRE. Because – yay! – the test is good for five years. That’s really awesome because you can take the test while you’re in school and (probably) better prepared to take a test, and then you can go back any time in the next five years without having to retake it!

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Here are some more FUN facts about the GRE:

  • The test is made up of two thirty-minute essays, two verbal sections and two quantitative (math) sections.
  • It takes about 4 hours to complete.
  • The essays are scored on a scale from 1-6 and the other two sections are each scored between 130-170.
  • You can take it on paper or on the computer – but you get your quantitative and verbal scores instantly when you take it on the computer! (That’s what I did).

Taking the GRE: Your Ultimate Guide

Taking the GRE: My super amazing useful coolio study tips

  • Study lots of vocabulary. The verbal section is mostly vocab, fill in the blank and answering questions about passages. It’s definitely important to study the verbal section and take practice tests, but I think you would really benefit from just learning a crap ton of new words for the vocab sections. I made it a goal of mine to learn 10 new words every day. I bought flash cards. It was a fun summer.
  • Do practice essays. You’l learn once you do enough practice essays that they all basically follow a formula that you can use to get a good score. They all are asking for a similar response, you just need to learn how to find that right answer and convey it intelligently.
  • Read really good and really bad essays. This will give you a good idea of what they are looking for. Some are fun to read because they’re just…so bad. Lol. But it’s also useful because you’ll learn what the graders like seeing and what they don’t.
  • Do the free online practice tests. When you sign up and pay for the test, you can get a few free online tests. Do them. It’s also great to buy practice materials, but if you can’t afford them, this is a great option.
  • Start studying months in advance. This isn’t the sort of test that you can cram for. The information tests your general knowledge, not a specific set of facts – and you can’t just increase your general knowledge overnight. Pick a date three or so months in advance, and work every day from there. You don’t have to put in hundreds of hours. I think I tried to study about 25 minutes a day. Over three months, that adds up.
  • Be sure about the date, time and location you are choosing. Ok so a really annoying fact about the GRE is that if you cancel your test, you only get about half of your money back, and there is a 50 dollar fee for rescheduling. PLUS, you have to reschedule four days in advance. When you’re taking a test that already costs over 200 dollars, that is super annoying. I signed up for my date and then (of course) I got really sick the week before and had to reschedule. I LOVE spending 50 dollars for no reason! Woo!

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Taking the GRE: My super amazing useful coolio tips for test day

  • Wear comfortable clothing. This is common sense but like…yeah. You wanna be comfy when taking a test. I give amazing advice.
  • Don’t wear jewelry. The proctor made me take off my necklace. Idk it was weird but I guess they don’t allow jewelry because they could have cameras or something. Also. Who is that person that wore a necklace with a camera in it? That person is a weirdo.
  • Bring a snack and water. Stay hydrated my friends.
  • Get there 30 minutes early at least. They won’t wait around for you. I literally left an hour early for my test and I ended up making it just in time because there was a bunch of construction around the testing building and I couldn’t figure out where to park (gotta love universities and their never ending construction! HAHA!). Anyway, just give yourself enough time because if you’re late you won’t be allowed to take the test.
  • Don’t forget an ID. Duh.