The GRE: A Q&A with Myself

This blog is about my life in Puerto Rico! One of my long term goals while living on the island is to go back to school. I received my undergraduate degree in Minnesota and I am now looking at graduate programs at the University of Puerto Rico. To prepare myself for this new adventure, I decided to take the GRE a week before my move to the island. So this post is dedicated to the GRE!

I am two weeks out of taking the Graduate Readiness Examination and want to share my experience with all who may be considering taking the test but are as unsure as I was, about where to begin! The following are some questions I asked myself (and answered) while learning about grad programs and the exam.

Do I need to take the GRE? 

Know your program. I looked at graduate programs at various institutions and compared requirements for entrance. Some required a GRE depending undergraduate GPA, while others required applicants to take the GRE without disclosing a score.

My advice-if you don’t need to take the GRE, don’t do it. But if you are a fresh out of your undergrad and might want to go for you masters in the near future, take it while you have that academic knowledge fresh in your brain.

What score do I need to get into my desired program?

This was a hard thing for me to determine. The institution and program I was most interested in had not updated their scoring requirements in years and had the old grading scale. The new scoring system of the GRE does not result in scores like 500, but gives out much lower section scores with a smaller range, in addition to percentiles.

How long do I need to study for the test? 

I spent about a month studying for the exam. My study sessions ranged from 1-4 hours a day and I also read in my spare time to try to enhance my vocabulary. I definitely could have spent another month or two studying, especially the math, but given the circumstances a month resulted in sufficient time for me.

Should I take a review class? 

I chose not to. When I took the ACT, my parents signed me up for a prep class but I didn’t find it to be very helpful. The class focused on technique rather than content which is not what I needed. This time around, I bought the Kaplan GRE Premier study book and math workbook. They were extremely helpful. They are relatively inexpensive and are available online at retailers like Target. The study book comes with online practice tests that diagnose your strengths and weaknesses, allowing test-takers to customize study sessions.

If nothing else, I recommend buying a study book. It gives a good starting point and background to the GRE. From there test-takers can determine wether they feel the need to sign up for the courses. I definitely could have benefited from a math refresher course, but I didn’t have the $1,000 to spend on the class. I opted for the math workbook and received a decent score, which definitely benefited from the workbook practice.

How much does the exam cost? 

In the United States, the GRE General Subject Test costs $205. The score is valid for 5 years. It is a chunk of change but test-takers receive 4 online practice tests in addition to test registration.

Final words of wisdom…

Study the boring stuff too. It is crucial to know the layout of the exam and the system interface, you can use it to your advantage on test day.

Don’t freak out too much. It is just a test. Prepare the best you can and give it your all. If you don’t get the score you want on the first try, you can always take it again later on.

I hope this posts helps you in your testing endeavors and sheds a little bit of light on the GRE. If you have any questions regarding the exam or would like to share your experience feel free to comment below! 




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