GRE advice? Or, Scared College Kid Wants Some Love

I'm taking the GRE on Saturday. Because of classes and helping my mom with a pretty debilitating back injury, I haven't had much time to sit down and devote focused study time to this monster of a test until this past weekend. I know that many of the folks on this board are educated individuals so I can only presume that some individuals here have taken the GRE at some point in their lives. They just revised it starting this past August but much of the content of the exam is the same - just some of the test formats have changed.

It's been five years since I've taken a standardized exam and I am so nervous. Disproportionately so, but nervous nonetheless. Anyone have any testing advice? Amusing anecdotes? Heartfelt words of encouragement? I did incredibly well in high school and on the SAT (650 verbal, 700 mathematics, 650 writing) but because of real-life circumstances my college performance isn't up to par with my own personal standards, so doing well on this test is very important to getting into any of the grad school programs I'm interested in.

Posted 8 years ago by LitaPie Subscriber! | Permalink


  • Tip #1: Don't run out of the room, going "GAAAAAAAAHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!"
    Posted 8 years ago by Jia-pop Subscriber! | Permalink
  • I think you'll discover that the test will seem familiar to you and comfortable once you get started.  People who do well on these sorts of tests tend to do well no matter what label the tests have. 

    Between now and Friday night, set up a reasonable number of hours to study, and build up your self confidence by meeting that standard that you set, but don't for a moment imagine that there's something critical that you could learn between now and then that will make a difference on the test.  Mostly what you're doing now is refreshing the connections between the neurons so that the answers pop into your head a micro second faster than they would if you don't study. 

    What has (or has not) happened up til now is irrelevant.  What you've got to work with is between now and Friday night.  Do your best in that time and you'll be able to walk into the test confident and serene that you're giving it your best shot.

    PS.  I'd even prescribe shutting the books a few hours before your usual bed time on Friday night, and spending the rest of the evening Glitching.  There's nothing you're going to learn in those few hours that will seriously affect your score.
    Posted 8 years ago by WindBorn Subscriber! | Permalink
  • Windborn, you have some good advice there.  I think that I might have psyched myself out by reading too many study guides/advice about the writing portion of the test when I took it.  I worked for 10 years between undergrad and graduate school, so the writing portion was a completely unknown factor to me.  In the end, I just think I let it freak me out when I've been a decent writer my whole life...At least my English professors never had a problem with me!  Lita, start out by taking a couple of practice tests.  Your library will probably have some books with cd's with practice tests.  You'll notice if there's a section that you need to work on.  (I needed to brush up on some geometry after that long!)  Mostly though, you'll probably just feel better after you see that there's not a huge difference between the GRE and the SAT/ACT that you presumably took 4 years ago.  The standard testing advice applies: Be calm, get plenty of sleep, don't second-guess yourself, do check your work.  Remember that you CAN take the test again if you absolutely need to.  You probably won't, but it will help you to feel more calm when you take it.

    Edited to add:  Wear layers to the testing center.  No predicting the temps in those places, and being comfortable helps with staying relaxed.
    Posted 8 years ago by Varekai Subscriber! | Permalink
  • Definitely try not to stress yourself out about it, you seem like a very smart chicken, you'll be fine.
    Posted 8 years ago by Jeff Buckley Subscriber! | Permalink
  • No one will care where you got your Doctorate from once you have it. At least no one you should give a damn about. Do the best you can, that's all you can do, and it's all that is expected of you.
    Posted 8 years ago by Skwid Subscriber! | Permalink
  • 1. Take a slow deep cleansing breath,and exhale,try not to hold your breath (which deprives you of o2) many people hold their breath when they're stressed,so *breathe*
    ~don't hyper-ventilate either though,there's a simple exercise you can practise anywhere: Breathe in through your nose while counting to three;then exhale through your mouth while counting to five,good idea to practise this a few times.

    2. When you read your questions,make sure you understand exactly *what* they are asking of you,so many mistakes are made because people misread the questions.

    3. Learning some things by heart is useful,but it is really important you *understand* the subject matter,and then you can think your way through the problem/question logically.

    4. When studying,write things you want to remember on paper,the physical act of writing/drawing strengthens your memory.

    5. Get a good night's sleep,eat a simple but good quality breakfast,and give yourself plenty of time to travel to where you'll take your test.
    Posted 8 years ago by ~Scilly~ Subscriber! | Permalink
  • Bring your meditating ball and lots of coffee. Get a lot of rest. You kicked ass on math, but I found reviewing geometry helped, they seem to really like 10th grade math. 

    I took it about three years ago, the place had broken AC in New Orleans summer heat, I almost melted down, and kept not being able to keep my eyes open. So SLEEP and triple espressos are my best advice. You are gonna do great.
    Posted 8 years ago by Xyrem Subscriber! | Permalink
  • I took the old GRE, but it really wasn't so different from the regular SAT test lumped together with the SAT II for writing. 
    I'll second what Xyrem says about the math, though. It was the geometry I hadn't studied in a billion years that messed me up the most.
    Posted 8 years ago by Sheepy Subscriber! | Permalink
  • Lita - You will do great! Have faith in yourself, take a deep breath and work on one question at a time. Don't stress yourself out. Know that you have an entire Glitch community behind you, pulling for you and believing in you. Imagine all those little glitchy arms hugging you (you can decide for yourself if you want to imagine them in or out of wardrobe...) I know that you will do great and that you will have exactly the result that you need to have. Hugs and bon chance!
    Posted 8 years ago by Audaria Subscriber! | Permalink
  • Eons ago when they used a chisel and a stone tablet, I took the GRE, and despite rather poor undergraduate grades did as well as I had done on the SATs.   So, keep in mind that your thinking works in standardized tests - some people have an edge merely because of the way their brain works.  It sounds like you are one of those people.

    I wan to give a slight twist to the advice above.  I would not "study" as much as "practice."  Take all the sample tests you can (books, library, counseling center) in the categories you feel the least comfortable.  It is not the knowledge you are lacking, it is the recent iterations of the types of questions.

    And LitaPie, you know this is important.  In fact, which graduate school you attend DOES make a huge difference in the trajectory of your life.  I know it did for me.  An advanced degree from a respected and well known school opens many doors for the rest of your life (a network of fellow alums will see to that).  But, you can take the test a second time if you freak out now.  And your score here is only one part of the application process.  

    OK, semi-amusing anecdote.   I had, as I mentioned, rather dismal undergrad grades, but I did have excellent test scores.  I had worked a few years before going back to grad school. but I was still incredibly nervous about my undergrad grades.  I had selected one and only one program I wanted to attend - talk about setting yourself up for failure.  So, I was happy enough when I received an invitation for an interview.  I showed up, all polished an professional but nervous as a 15 year old on her first formal date.

    I was so nervous, I can hardly remember what happened but I felt it went pretty well and I was accepted (I do remember THAT day!).  Some time later, I got to know the assistant dean who had interviewed me.  He laughingly told me that he would NEVER forget my interview.  Long after he had decided that he would put me in the "good fit" pile, I started asking what I could do to ensure I was accepted in the next round - take some classes to display my academic prowess,  build a new lab for the school, slip a brown envelope full of cash under his door?

    Needless to say, I was embarrassed and learned a very important lesson. 

    Posted 8 years ago by Kookaburra Subscriber! | Permalink
  • Good luck tomorrow, Lita!!
    Posted 8 years ago by Sheepy Subscriber! | Permalink
  • Good Luck, Lita! Hope everything goes well for you!! You will DO AWESOME!! 
    Posted 8 years ago by Tenebrae Subscriber! | Permalink
  • I used a Kaplan book and it really helped for the math and writing. What I didn't do enough of was practicing vocabulary, and I really should have focused a little more on that... anyway, at this point, I'm sure you've done plenty of preparing. You'll do great! You don't need luck! But best of it to you anyway! :D
    Posted 8 years ago by Cerulean Subscriber! | Permalink
  • Reminders for tomorrow:

    Dress so that you'll be comfortable in any temperature.
    Leave plenty of travel time.
    Don't skip breakfast, or lunch depending on what time of day we're talking about.
    Don't stay up late tonight trying to cram.

    You'll do great!
    Posted 8 years ago by Varekai Subscriber! | Permalink
  • ??????/ Love from a fellow student who has to take the GRE next year! (-_-;)
    Posted 8 years ago by Mobbes Subscriber! | Permalink
  • THANK YOU ALL SO MUCH. I just came back to this thread to look over it to see if there was anything that would help me. I've been extra-drilling geometry and vocabulary just to make sure I'm familiar with formulas and word roots. I do a lot of forum-based roleplay, so I ought to do well on the writing if nothing else. And I've been using my handy-dandy Princeton Review "Cracking the New GRE" book to practice some question styles and determine a strategy for conquering this beast. Surprisingly helpful!

    In case you were wondering, I'm graduating this year with a B.S. in Psychology and am seeking admittance into a Public Health graduate program - my research interests include the efficacy of mental health care within the homeless population. If I'm lucky, I'll get into a research program at Columbia University that works with homeless veterans who are diagnosed with schizophrenia or schizoaffective disorders. I've been working hard not only because I want to go to grad school next year, but also because I plan on going to medical school after I get my Master's, and I'm sure it won't hurt my application to have a high score on my GRE now. I've wanted to be a doctor since I was five years old. My mother is physically disabled, I have an uncle with schizophrenia and cancer, an aunt with cancer, and another aunt with severe pulmonary hypertension. I guess growing up in that environment placed a desire in my heart to be the kind and understanding doctor that none of my family members got to experience. It's also made it difficult to perform to the standards that medical schools will accept because of the commitments I have made to them, and as of late especially to my mom who can barely walk, but I count it all as learning experiences - some just don't get applied to your GPA.

    I have my jacket set aside and a small bag of crackers with my migraine meds and water, and my ID is safely stored in my wallet alongside my health insurance card and my Nordstrom coupons for shopping afterwards. I just took a sleeping pill because I'm a night owl by nature - I would be awake until 3AM if not for the graceful ministrations of Mademoiselle Ambien. So, bed at 9:30PM for me. My understanding is that I'll get an estimate of my score at the test center, but I won't have full access to my scores (because of the revised scoring system) until November. I will be sure to let you all know my estimated scores once I get back home tomorrow night.

    I just wanted to thank you all so much for the love and support that you're showing me now, but also for the friendship you've extended to me in the past. I really do count all of you as part of my family. <3 And Xyrem, I will think fondly of you as I chug my Red Bull just before the test!
    Posted 8 years ago by LitaPie Subscriber! | Permalink
  • Awwwww LitaPie!! 
    Good luck on everything tonight, especially sleeping (sometimes the help doesn't help if you're stressing) 

    Just keep in mind the positives. You will Pass. You will be refreshed. YOU WILL SLEEP! 
    TII orders this to be so. 
    Posted 8 years ago by Tenebrae Subscriber! | Permalink
  • I do hope that Tii is content with Golden Girls and ice cream until I fall asleep with the spoon in my mouth. XD

    And now, I'm going to bed. BYE ALL!
    Posted 8 years ago by LitaPie Subscriber! | Permalink
  • So, how did it go LitaPie?  I am sure you did very well - as long as you did not drink too much coffee during the test!
    Posted 8 years ago by Kookaburra Subscriber! | Permalink
  • What Kookaburra said ^ 
    I thought of you today. and wished you luck. 

    I hope that right now you are out celebrating your good fortune
    Posted 8 years ago by Tenebrae Subscriber! | Permalink
  • She let me know yesterday that she probably won't be on at all today, so she BETTER be out there, celebrating her success!!!

    Posted 8 years ago by Jia-pop Subscriber! | Permalink
  • 580-680 on the verbal.
    610-710 on the quantitative.

    Definitely taking it once more before Christmas, but it wasn't as bad as I thought it would be. Ran across some vocab words that made me go WTF like mordant, which apparently means a biting sense of humor. Who knew? XD Also, variables in exponents went FWOOOOP OUTTA MAH BRAIN for most of the test. As for geometry? I nailed that, at the least. And I feel like my essays were very strong, the argument one more so than the "analyze an issue" one. I get my final scores in November so we'll see what that score range really means.

    I feel that for my first run without as much prep as I would have liked, it went okay. But I'm aiming for at least "750" (basing it on the old score scale) in both categories so I obviously have some work to do between now and December. The higher I can get my scores, the easier I'll be able to breathe while my grad school apps are processed throughout the year. So, I guess that's that!

    Posted 8 years ago by LitaPie Subscriber! | Permalink
  • YAY, LitaPie!  As someone who has taken WAYYY too many standardized tests for her sanity, I applaud you.  

    As someone with a mordant sense of humor, I am also happy that the test introduced you to this word....
    Posted 8 years ago by jasbo Subscriber! | Permalink
  • Ok, time for all of us over-educated word users to start sending LitaPie a 'word-of-the-day' IM in game. 
    Posted 8 years ago by WindBorn Subscriber! | Permalink
  • Hmm, today's word should be truculent, I think.

    Lita, those are good scores, bordering on GREAT scores, especially if you end up on the upper end of those estimates.  You should be proud of yourself.  I understand if you want to try again, though.  Maybe you could look into a Kaplan prep course?  I think some of them guarantee a certain % improvement or your money back.  They can be expensive though.

    ETA- I wasn't kidding about expensive!!  The highest level they have showing on their homepage is $2199.  Holy crap!
    Posted 8 years ago by Varekai Subscriber! | Permalink
  • BWAHA. Truculent! My goodness, what a fortuitous suggestion. ;D

    I would love word-of-the-day kinda things; in fact, I'll sign up for an email newsletter to help me. Thanks for the idea WB! I actually used "sisypheant" in one of my essays after reading someone else use it on the boards.

    Also, I think the idea of a prep course might be a good idea. I am proud of my score - don't get me wrong - but I'm also a perfectionist, and I'm also in the position that I actually can't afford graduate school, so I will jump on the chance to show any positive thing to admissions committees. ^_^
    Posted 8 years ago by LitaPie Subscriber! | Permalink
  • No, the word of the day is "exegesis."  

    And LitaPie, if you can get a graduate assistantship, that may pay for graduate school....
    Posted 8 years ago by jasbo Subscriber! | Permalink