Preparation for GRE
How to Formulate the Perfect Preparation Plan
You have decided on going to one of the best graduate schools for masters. Now what? How can you make your dream come true? Preparation for GRE and appearing for the test is a wise choice you can make out of this situation. If you have a natural talent for quantitative methods buckled up with verbal skills, you do not have to worry except take a few practice sessions before attempting theactual test. This is only to get you comfortable with the question pattern. What if you are not such a math geek and English is a subject you only learnt as part of academic curriculum and it is not your native speaking language? This is where the preparation for the test plays a vital role.
You must remember that scoring well in the test is no more an easy task, although it has never been a cake walk for all the students any day. The test pattern is never easy, ever changing, getting more and more complicated from its first paper administered test in 1949! With the never ending changes GRE brings in, the students are always ready preparing themselves and getting to be very competitive these days. With the kind of competition that the test takers face, the preparation for the test has become a big time need for the students.
What is in store for a GRE aspirant?
There are numerous methods to prepare for the test. There are preparation courses, private tutoring classes, prep books, online classes, practice tests provided by popular tutors and many more. There are numerous avenues based on how much time you are willing to allocate for the preparation for test. If you have a passion to join the best school for your masters, then your preparation for the test should be in such a way that there can be no other student who can beat you at the test. If you are just an average student who wants to get into some average graduate school, your preparation can be a bit less focussed. We still do not recommend a “no preparation” for test. This is because; even an average graduate school now has score requirements that surely need proper preparation to achieve. Blame it on the ever increasing number of students who are passionate to join some school by hook or crook. Your efforts on the preparation of test will help you go the extra mile and nothing is hard if you give it enough preparation time and persistent hard work.
The first step in preparing is to plan when you want to take the test. It is completely dependant on when you want to join the school of your choice. If you want to take the fall session, you need to have completed your test by October of the previous year. The same way, if you plan to take the spring session, you need to complete your GRE by July of the previous year. Remember that most graduate schools begin the semester in the fall and any merit based scholarship or financial aid will be given during the fall semester. Scholarship or financial aids are rare in the spring semester. Plan your test accordingly.
All that you need – Time, Time, Time!
Give yourself enough time to prepare for the test. If you are an undergraduate student just beginning your first year, you have all the semester holidays that you can make use of, to prepare for the test. This way you can prepare at leisure and due to the amount of time you have, you can spend enough time on practising what you learn. If this is your last year, then you may also have some clashes with the normal academic studies and your preparation. Nevertheless, you need to give yourself at least 4-5 months of time for the preparation. You have to make best efforts for the preparation whether or not you have scored well on your academics. The catch is that some schools may not consider your scores if you do not have good academic performance. You have to have consistent performance in your academics as well.
Identifying the Necessary Evil
Before joining a study group, tutoring class, online preparation course, etc take a practice test to know your current performance before actually starting your preparation. This will help you in determining the amount of practice you need to put in, the time you need to give for a specific section and the like.
Identify if you have enough time to go to a preparation course, tutoring class. The tutoring classes maybe best in cases that you know that group study will benefit you. The number of students in a group should be limited enough to get individual attention and also big enough for forming discussion groups. Tutoring classes also concentrate on your weaknesses and help you practise on the weaker areas.
Sometimes, the classes may not be flexible enough for the time that you are willing to spend on preparing for the test. In this case, a good alternative may be an online preparation course. There are a lot of good online classes available. They may give you an option of flexible timing that you can make use of. You can prepare when you want and redo some sessions as many times you like to make yourself comfortable. There are also online group study forums available that you can subscribe to, to discuss and help one another in case of doubts.
Online courses or offline courses, buying preparation books are definitely a wise choice. There are quite a few very good preparation books available in the market. Working on the questions from the books is beneficial in the sense that the books provide a lot of past test questions for practice. Some books even have practice test software DVDs that you can make use of to take up some practice test to have a feel of the actual test.
Now, Practice, practice, practice!
Some tutors also provide practice tests that you can take before, after and even during your preparation period to know how far you are progressing in the preparation for GRE. You can do as many tests you want to ensure that you are indeed ready for the actual test. It is not really advisable to attempt the actual test if you haven’t prepared well for it. This is because every test that you attempt will go into your records and the scores of last 5 years will be published to the schools when you opt to publish the scores to the schools you want to join. Schools may not be forgiving enough to pick the best score that you have attained and may sometimes not consider your scores at all if you have performed poorly in the past. You must remember that preparation for the test is not some rocket science if you put in your best efforts in it. Keep your focus and start preparing...now!