Akron, OH (PressExposure) November 15, 2009 -- We all comprehend the value of excelling on the GRE exam in determining grad school admissions and, ultimately, the direction of each test-taker's life. The following ten rules, based on the cases of thousands of previous students are proven to be helpful in building the basis for GRE test preparation and raised test scores in a short period of time.
1. Relax: The journey to the GRE can be stressful. It is essential to focus on the task immediately at hand rather than the wide range of everything you have to do. Students who approach GRE test preparation on a step-by-step basis, day-by-day, and refresh their minds when their body signals a need, will be able to focus on GRE studies much more efficiently.
2. Pre-GRE Diagnostic Assessment Test: Lay the foundation for GRE test prep with a practice test to establish what you're good at, and more to the point, what you're less good at. Grade the completed practice test and review the questions you missed. What kind of questions were they? Mostly quantitative or mostly verbal? What was your score on analytical writing? Might you have not understood a number of analogies but scored well on reading comprehension? With this analysis, you'll be able to focus GRE test prep efforts on your areas of weakness.
3. GRE Study Plan: With your GRE soft spots identified, lay out a very specific study plan. Make an agenda and schedule for what, how, and when you are going to study each area in the GRE. Paste up your study plan somewhere in plain view, and make sure you adhere to your plan. Make the preparation work less routine by planning to study different things in different ways. For example, you might use flash cards to drill GRE vocabulary one day, move to a list the next day, and then review words in context on a third day.
4. GRE Vocabulary: The single-most effective way to improve GRE verbal scores is to concentrate on sharpening your vocabulary. Begin working on GRE vocabulary immediately. Study a word list, use flash cards, get some vocabulary software, and review words in context by reading publications like The Wall Street Journal and the New York Times. Wherever your information needs are reading takes you, do whatever it takes to learn new words. Raising your vocabulary skills will bring a notable improvement in GRE score.
5. Proactive Reading: Read more every day, but not the way you'd go through a favorite book. Read actively. Test yourself, "What is the main theme?", "Is this a report or opinion?", and "What is the author's underlying message?" These are the kinds of questions that will be on the GRE, so you should be developing the mental analysis and deriving conclusions and answers. It is also valuable to use GRE-level material, such as The Wall Street Journal, to practice reading analysis and comprehension. The articles may not be on subjects you'd typically be interested in, but it's not likely you'd pick the passages that wind up on the GRE for light reading either. So get used to it.
6. Math Language: Getting acclimated to GRE math is like learning a new language. The key to increasing your GRE quantitative score is practice, and the more you practice the more understanding you will become in GRE math language. Without practice, improvement will never happen. So you will need to practice as many quantitative problems as you can, being sure to check and learn from your mistakes. When examining your wrong answers, don't move on to the next question until you grasp the current one. The underlying strategy behind math practice is to learn from mistakes during practice and not on the real GRE.
7. Essay: Building the right structure is essential to a successful essay. Inculcate a habit of writing an outline before you actually start drafting an essay. It will both save time and help you double-check you're covering the entire subject matter if you have an essay plan in outline form. Your thinking will flow better, you'll be able to track your writing time as needed, and that will produce a higher score on the GRE analytical writing section.
8. GRE Practice Tests: Practice tests are one of the most useful tools in GRE test prep. They will be excellent measures of progress and areas where more work is needed. Do GRE practice tests every couple of weeks to identify your shaky areas, and focus your GRE study plan on those things. Also, remember to highlight and learn from your mistakes on each practice test.
9. Don't Limit Your Upside: Start preparing for the GRE today so you'll be able to cover all the studying needed in just an hour or so per day. If you don't make your commitment now, you will end up later with the same amount of material to cover, but less time to get it done. This will generate unnecessary stress and become an exhausting exercise that is needlessly self-defeating. Cramming for the GRE doesn't work, so don't wait. This bears repeating: if you want to improve your GRE score, do not procrastinate.
10. Prepare Mentally: Get a feel for the extent of the test and the pace at which you need to be answering questions by timing yourself during GRE practice tests. Approach each practice test as if it were the real GRE. The most damaging surprise on test day would be to "hit the wall" and exhaust your mental stamina only half-way through the exam.
The GRE preparation bottom line is that the only way to improve your GRE score is to practice every day. Following this self-discipline will define the studying and preparation to be done. But even more crucial is to do it every day.