Taking the GRE can be one of the most daunting tasks when it comes to applying to grad school. For me, it was the part of application process that I was most nervous about, and even the least confident about. Often, graduate schools will have “GRE minimums” for applying, and even for admission. Rollins, however, does not. I remember having to cross programs off my list because I did not meet their GRE minimum. Funny enough, none of them were ranked nearly as high as Rollins. But in preparing for the GRE, here are my top six tips for preparing and taking the GRE.
1. Sign up for the GRE.
Before you laugh at how silly this sounds, signing up for the GRE is the most important part. When I scheduled my GRE, I looked at my class calendar, and gave myself about 2 months to study. I found that early to mid-October was a really good time because you can knock out the GRE before midterms start. I also found it helpful that being able to start studying for the GRE before classwork started gave me time to really dig into the concepts that needed the most attention.
2. Take the pre-assessment.
I remember thinking that I did not need to take the pre-assessment because I knew what I needed to focus most on. And boy was I wrong. I often found myself focusing on areas that I thought I was the weakest at, but really was not. Taking the pre-assessment gives you a completely objective perspective on what you need to work on, and what you can spend a little less time on.
3. Dedicate time to studying.
This may also sound like a no-brainer but dedicating a little bit of time every day is super beneficial when it comes to studying. I set aside an hour or hour and a half every morning where I could study, and then would pick once a week when I dedicated a little more time. This allows you to process the information and work on information retention which will later help with recall.
4. When taking the GRE, take your time.
The GRE is not scored on how quickly you finish— it is not a race. Take time when you are going through the sections, answer the items you know, and then circle back to the ones you do not. There is absolutely no shame in taking the whole amount of time to take the exam. The more calm, collected, and intentional you are with your time, the better you will do.
5. Eat breakfast before your exam.
This is probably the most important tip I can give you. Be sure that your body and brain has the fuel it needs to take the exam. The GRE is grueling, and absolutely exhausting, so making sure your body is fueled for that is the best thing you can do. You would not run a marathon on an empty stomach, so do not take the GRE on an empty stomach either.
6. Relax. Your GRE score is just a number.
Remember that your GRE score is literally just a number. It does not define who you are, your accomplishments, your goals, or what you can do with your life. I literally did not have a high enough GRE score to even apply to a school outside the top 20, and a school that was not even ranked would not allow me to apply because I did not meet their GRE minimum. Be confident that you did your best, and that schools like Rollins look at your whole application, not just your scores.