Prep Materials for GRE

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Do GRE Prep Materials Really Make a Difference?

Thinking about how to study for the GRE?

If you are taking the GRE, then you have to aim for the best and study well to score as high as you can. The admission committees of graduate schools take one look at the GRE scores of all applicants. The ones with low scores are written off as ineligible candidates for admissions, and the ones with competitive scores are kept in the pool of candidates who are being considered for admissions. In most cases, there are no minimum scores that are required by a university or graduate school for admissions. It is simply a matter of where you stand when seen in comparison with the other candidates who have applied for admissions. Hence, you need to worry about how high you can score in the test. This means that you cannot afford to take any chances as far as your preparation for taking the GRE is concerned.

Your study for the GRE should include the following

  • Familiarization with the test content
  • An in-depth understanding of the skills being evaluated by the test
  • Adequate practice on the types of questions that will be asked in the test
  • Self-assessment modules

This makes it undoubtedly clear that you should avail the facility of professional guidance and advice, without which your preparation for the test will be incomplete.

Are GRE prep materials imperative?

Yes, it is absolutely necessary to utilize preparation materials for your GRE study. These study materials have been specifically designed to assist you in your preparation for taking this test. Any random book on the subject areas being tested by the GRE or your high school books will not suffice for your test's preparation. This is because these books will not be able to guide you in your prep for the test as they have not been written keeping the test format in mind. Therefore, it is important that you study from good materials when you are studying for the test.

What is the utility of GRE prep materials?

Preparation materials for GRE have been specifically designed to assist you in preparing for the test. This implies that these materials cover all aspects of your study for the test. Most of the materials will offer you all or some of the following features:

  • Review of the test content
  • Sample questions and full-length practice tests
  • Answer explanations
  • Scoring key for the full-length practice tests
  • Computerised practice tests which are especially useful if you are taking the computer-based test
  • Description of the test format and the types of questions asked

It is not necessary that a couple of aids will be able to meet all your requirements. This is because all prep aids do not cover all aspects of GRE study. For instance, a GRE book may include several sets of practice tests but may not be accompanied by a CD which has a computerized practice test similar to the computer-based test that you will be taking. On the other hand, a book with a computerised practice test may not be having details of tips and strategies for scoring high in the test. Therefore, you will have to analyze your requirements, assess the utility of preparation materials with respect to your requirements and then only select a set of preparation materials and invest money in buying them.

What are the available types of GRE prep materials?

There is a wide variety of preparation materials readily available in the market. You can get them from local bookstores or from the internet. Some websites like the official website of the test, www.ets.org offer certain types of preparation materials free of cost as well. The types of aids  that are available can be broadly classified into three main categories.

  1. GRE Books
  2. GRE books are by far the most important among all the preparation materials that you will ever need for your test's preparation. Websites like www.amazon.com contain an exhaustive list of books that cover various subject areas of the test content. You can search such websites for the most popular books and also go through the reviews of the books given by students who have studied from those books. Most of the popular GRE books contain a comprehensive review of the test content along with numerous sample questions and practice-tests. You should ideally pick up a couple of books that will meet all your requirements, but do not go on a shopping spree and pick up numerous books as you will probably not have the time to go through all of them. Work out a daily study routine and go through the  books that you have got. Do not leave any portion of any book untouched. If the books contain certain tips and strategies for tackling the questions that will be asked in the test, make sure that you utilize all the tips and strategies when you attempt the sample questions and practice tests.

  3. GRE Software
  4. Utilizing GRE software for preparation assumes great significance because in all probability, you will be taking the computer-based test unless it is not offered at the test centre of your choice, in which case you will have to take the paper-based test. GRE software will help you get familiarised with the environment in which you will have to take the actual test with computerised practice tests. This is a must; else you will waste valuable time getting acquainted with the keyboard controls on the day of the actual test. Make sure that you download the PowerPrep software from the official website of the test. This software is available free of cost and it has been prepared by the same people who administer the actual test. Therefore, make sure that you utilize this software and make it an integral part of your set of preparation materials.

  5. Flashcards
  6. Flashcards are small hand held cards that are very useful for reviewing important facts, figures and formulae. It is a well known fact that repetition is the best method for memorizing facts and figures. Therefore, you should definitely own one such set of cards and keep them at hand for ready reference or for review in your spare time. You can go over these cards whenever you have time at hand like when you are travelling or you can hand them over to your family and friends and ask them to quiz you. This is a very good method for memorizing important facts and figures which otherwise would have become a very boring task.

  7. Sets of Sample questions and practice tests
  8. Apart from GRE books, make sure that you have a good collection of sample questions and practice tests. The initial period of your preparation should consist of a review of the test content. As the test date draws closer, you should start concentrating on solving more and more sample questions and start taking timed full-length practice tests so that you improve your time management skills as the GRE is a timed test. Sets of sample questions and practice tests will help you immensely in this stage of your prep.

What to do after collecting the GRE prep materials?

There are two words that best describe what to do after you have collected the preparation aids that you need – ‘Use Them’! You cannot expect to do well in the test without working out a schedule that is well-planned and is suited to meet your personal requirements. You need to address the issue of preparing for the test with a cool frame of mind and work out a fail-safe schedule for studying for the test. Dedicated studies and adherence to the study plan worked out by you with ample utilisation of the preparation materials that you have collected will ensure your success in the GRE!