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What is GRE?

Each year colleges and educational institutions across the US offering graduate programs are swamped with applications from prospective college students for admissions. The selection process becomes all the more perplexing because the applicants come from varying educational backgrounds, and in some cases, from different countries too. This calls for a system by which the colleges can sift through the applications and select candidates based on their skills and abilities in addition to their educational qualifications. This is where the GRE test steps in. The GRE scores are accepted by numerous colleges across the US and in many other countries as a measure of a candidate’s verbal and quantitative reasoning, critical thinking and analytical writing skills. These are the skills that are evaluated by the GRE General Test. The GRE Subjects Tests assess skills in a specific subject field. Thousands of students take this test every year for securing admissions to the colleges of their choice.

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As is evident, there is fierce competition for admissions to reputed graduate programs. As the GRE scores are a major deciding factor in determining your chances of admission to a graduate program of your choice, it becomes imperative that you carefully plan when, where and how to take the test.

When to take GRE?

This is the most important aspect of taking the GRE. Being unsuccessful in securing a good test score can be attributed to various reasons, but you might not even realize that this has happened because you probably did not take the test at the correct time. Read on to find out how to pick out a suitable test date.

When do you need the GRE scores?

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This is a very crucial aspect of your prep plan if you are planning to take the GRE. The aim of taking this test is to project the level of your various skills to the college admission committees in the form of your score report. The whole purpose of taking the test will be defeated if your score report does not reach the intended recipients well in time. This could happen if you have not spent time in choosing the correct test date because the date when your score report will be dispatched depends upon the date on which you took the test. Visit the official website, for information regarding the dispatch of the score reports based on the test dates. For example, if you take the test after November 29, 2011, then your scores will be available within 10-15 days from the date when you took the test. If the colleges to which you have applied for admissions, need your score report before December 2011, then you will have to take the test much before November 29, 2011.

Things to do:

  • Make a list of colleges and educational institutions where you are applying for admissions.
  • Find out the last dates for submission of your test score to these colleges.
  • Work out the date when you should ideally take the test such that your score report is available to all the intended recipients well within the time required by them.

How well prepared are you to take the GRE?

Ask yourself this question before you finalize the date on which to take the GRE. You need to have ample time in hand to prepare for it. As the General Test is not a subject specific test, you cannot hope to cram up facts and figures a week before the test and pass with flying colours. It is a test of specific skills which cannot be developed overnight. One has to work on improving them through practice and a comprehensive understanding of the subject areas being evaluated. The ideal time required for preparing for the test is about two to three months.

Things to do:

  • Take a practice test much before you register for the test. You will be able to find sample tests on the official website and elsewhere on the internet. Ideally you should take a test which will give you a score report at the end.
  • Evaluate your performance on the practice test.
  • Work out the time needed by you to improve upon the subject areas in which you need to sharpen your skills. Consider attending a prep course if you feel you will not be able to prepare for the test by studying on your own.
  • Choose a test date which gives you time for preparation as worked out by you.

Note: The current GRE Test will be replaced by the Revised General Test from August 11 onwards and the scores will be available after November 11. If you require your test scores before November 11, then you will have to take the current General Test before August 1, 2011.

Where to take GRE?

The test is offered in two formats; the computer-based GRE and the paper-based GRE. The paper-based test is offered only in those locations where the computer-based test is not available. The computer-based test is conducted throughout the year at test centres across the world; whereas the paper-based test is conducted up to three times in a year. If you have to take the paper-based test, then you will have to work out the date on which you should take the test accordingly as the score reports are available within 6 weeks of the date when you took the test.

Things to do:

  • Visit the official website of the test to find out the location of the nearest test centre from where you reside.
  • Find out the format of the test being offered at the test centre where you have to take the test.
  • Before the actual test date, make a trip to the test centre and work out the time you will need to reach the test centre well in time.

How to take GRE?

Once you are clear about the date when it will be best for you to take the GRE, you can register for the test from the official website. Ideally, you must plan on putting in your best efforts when you take the test for the first time. Do not be under the impression that you can take the test on a trial basis for the first time and then prepare for it in a better manner when you take it again. Your score report contains your scores from the past five years. Therefore, even if you may have scored well in your most recent test, the low scores that you may have earned in previous test administrations will be visible to the college admission committees and this will definitely not go in your favour. Therefore, the best thing would be to plan your schedule for taking the test and preparing for the test in the best possible manner so that you are able to attain success when you take the test for the first time.

Do not forget...

Do not forget that success is a ladder that cannot be climbed with your hands in your pockets. If you wish to attain success in the GRE, you will have to work hard for it. You cannot rely on luck or destiny to help you achieve your aim. Make high test scores your aim and work towards attaining that aim in the best possible manner!

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