The Graduate Record Examination (GRE) is an examination which is a pre-requisite for admissions into a majority of graduate programs at US universities. In this article, we discuss ways that will help you ace this competitive test:

  1. The GRE typically tests your Mathematical, Verbal and Writing skills. The idea of the test revolves around “Concept, Application and Strategy”. Nothing more than knowledge of 10th grade mathematics is required for solving problems on the test. However, the way in which the concepts are applied makes the test challenging. The manner in which you apply the concepts decides the time-frame in which you will be able to solve a given problem. The correct strategy; if used can help you arrive at the correct answer in less than a minute. On the other hand, an incorrect strategy can waste a lot of time.
  2. You cannot study overnight and perform well on this test. Performing well on the test requires weeks of careful planning, dedication and hard work. A question is almost never repeated on the test. An ideal preparation program should start with strengthening of basic concepts in Mathematics and English. Once you are comfortable with the concepts, you should move on to solving topic-wise questions to figure out areas in which you are weak.
  3. Building vocabulary is a slow process and you need to start doing it at the outset of the program. Here too, rote learning is useless. It is quite difficult to remember words like they appear in a dictionary. It is rather easier if you learn the usage (application) of these words. Try learning a couple of words every day and try forming sentences on your own by using these words. This will ensure you know not only the meaning of the word, but also how to use the word in a sentence. An enhanced vocabulary would enable you to express your ideas in a more clear and concise manner.
  4. Once you are confident about your concepts, you should start giving full-length tests to simulate the actual test experience. Ideally, the time at which you take the mock test should coincide with your actual test time. That way, your brain gets primed to work better during the test specific time slot.
  5. Make sure you finish the Official Guide to the GRE before taking the test. Your performance on the sample test will closely mirror your performance on the actual test.
  6. This test is more about your ability to focus and maintain alertness for a long period of time rather than knowledge. The test is almost four hours long and if you are not used to concentrating for that long, you will get exhausted and lose interest in the middle of the test. Make sure you build stamina gradually. Start by sitting and focusing for half an hour. Keep adding 15 minutes every 3-4 days until you can focus for 4 hours at a stretch.
  7. You also need to practice for the Analytical Writing Assessment section. Fortunately, the list of topics for the issue and argument tasks is given on the official GRE website. The list is exhaustive and topics on the actual exam might be very similar to the ones listed. Make sure you practice writing at least once every alternate day.
  8. Lastly, stay positive, have a target score in mind and progress every day. You need to be in the best physical and mental shape on the day of your exam. Get plenty of rest and sleep well before the test, exercise and eat nutritious food.