A student who has worked hard at school, studied well at college and obtained their undergraduate degrees can move on to graduate school to obtain a master’s degree or doctorate. However, having an undergraduate degree does not guarantee a spot in the coming year. An additional application process needs to be done and a GRE test must be written. What is a GRE test? In this article, we provide clarity on what it is, why it’s important, and how a student should prepare for it.
What is the GRE test?
The Educational Testing Service (ETS) created the Graduate Record Examinations and is responsible for administering them. They are designed to measure the overall readiness for grad school on an academic level. There is a GRE General Test as well as GRE Subject Tests. The GRE General Test will assess the student’s abilities in critical thinking for multiple disciplines. Some grad programs will require a student to take both to also assess their technical knowledge of specific subjects. A student will have to have majored in a subject to be eligible to take that specific GRE. But be warned, even though a student has majored in the subject, these tests are extremely difficult and require a significant amount of preparation to pass.
How to prepare
These exams are not to be taken lightly. A decent time estimate to set aside for preparation is three months for intensive study, add an extra month for a busier schedule, or for those who have been out of school for a while. Taking a practice exam can also help a student to asses how much time they will actually need to study. These practice exams are provided online by the ETS, along with numerous other preparation resources. These resources are extremely helpful and should not be overlooked. If a student is struggling with the preparation, it would be a good idea to enroll in a formal GRE test-prep course. This course forces the student to spend time on studies by providing them with a tutor to monitor their progress.
What if I fail?
A student should book the tests at least two to three months prior to the grad school’s application closing date. This is to ensure that there is enough time to rewrite the exam if necessary. As we mentioned before, the tests aren’t easy and the possibility of failure is real. But don’t let this be a cause for discouragement. The best way to better a GRE score is to keep track of questions that were a struggle and work extra hard on those before the next test.
The general test results will give a student three scores for quantitative reasoning, analytical writing, and verbal reasoning. Quantitative and verbal reasoning scores range from 130 to 170. The analytical writing score can be from zero to six. The scoring systems for the subject tests vary depending on the subject. A student should find out what the average GRE test scores are at their chosen college and aim to grade higher to make a positive impact on the admission.
While GRE scores play an important role in the application, it is not the only factor that matters. The rest of the application must still be fantastic to ensure that a student is accepted.