Is the test worth the stress?, How to feel more prepared for the GRE

Not all online graduate programs require GRE scores, but many still do. As adult learners, this may seem like a daunting task, but don't let it stop you. 

Is the test worth the stress? How to prepare for the GRECheck with the graduate school to find out all of the admissions criteria. If they use a holistic approach, make sure you are putting equal effort into each area. You can also check with the school to see if they accept different tests like GMAT and MAT. 

Remember that you are not alone. Many adult learners are intimidated by the application process. More information helps reduce anxiety. By speaking to someone about the process, you may find the emphasis on the GRE is the same as your letters of recommendation or even your work experience. 

Preparation can relieve the stress that many feel about testing. Here are 6 ways that can help you feel more confident for your test:

1. Read a lot of analytical non-fiction.

Spending time reading analytical non-fiction books will help prepare your mind by building up your GRE skills. Studies show the students who ace the verbal section of the GRE are often philosophy or liberal arts majors, who become well acquainted with many types of narratives and academic writing in their undergraduate coursework. 

Reading about subjects unrelated to your main areas of interest will help you prepare for the highly diverse reading materials of the GRE. Students who are familiar with a wide variety of texts have a substantial advantage.

2. Adhere to a regular GRE study plan 

Study plans differ from person to person although studying for the GRE usually takes an average of three months. Some even recommend that five months is better. No matter how long you choose to study, the most important thing is that you develop a structured plan and stick to it.

Don’t underestimate the GRE, create a realistic daily schedule that designates time to each of the GRE sections. You are ultimately your own teacher therefore you must preemptively study to ensure smooth performance on the day of the test. 

3. Take practice tests 

While each section of the GRE may be manageable on its own, taking the whole test (3hours and 45 minutes) in one sitting is like running a marathon. Students with insufficient stamina risk low scores. That's why it’s important to exercise and build your experience with the GRE weekly if possible. 

Another benefit of practice tests is learning how to pace yourself. Building your testing endurance by practicing the full GRE will help you develop a feel for the test’s mental and physical demands, which eventually allow you to work throughout the entire test confidently and effectively. 

4. Know your weaknesses

When structuring your study plan it’s important to know your weaknesses. This will create a better understanding of what subjects you will need to devote more time to help build a balanced pace of study. 

When it comes to areas in which you’re comfortable, choose study materials that expand your skills and knowledge. The goal is to make yourself focus under the most challenging circumstances by working through material that you find difficult. 

5. Chart your progress

In job interviews, prospective employers want to see how applicants have contributed to work projects. GRE prep can also benefit from clear benchmarks of performance. Charting your progress is an absolute necessity because it will provide an overview of your score improvements and will objectively assess the effectiveness of your study techniques.

Tracking your progress also helps you see what is working out for you and what isn't. If you're not able to see much improvement, that means it may be time to switch up something within your study habits. Just make sure that you continue to use the same measurement of judging your work to ensure that your results are consistent.  

6. Trust your gut instinct 

“Gut instinct” can be a scary concept, since this is merely another way to describe intuition, or the ability to grasp something immediately without cognitive information. When you’re taking the GRE, hedging your bets on a 50% success rate (when you’ve reduced your answer choices to two) can be a bit unsettling. But if you have thoughtfully and purposefully learned the material and practiced the exercises, then trusting your gut can become a shortcut to making a rational decision.

As long as you have prepared yourself well and are executing sound test-taking strategies, it's OK to trust your instinct and carry forward with your intuitive choice. Everyone does a great deal of processing in the subconscious mind, and your gut feeling can help you solve a problem when your conscious mind falters.

Test anxiety is an issue that many people face, although it doesn’t have to stop you from being successful and achieving the goals you have set for yourself. Following these simple steps can help sharpen your GRE test-taking skills while making you feel more confident in time for you to take your test. The most important thing to remember while taking your test is to always stay calm. Your mental focus should always be on the problem at hand, therefore you must try to push the pressure of test scores out of your mind and remain confident in your abilities. 

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UGA Online application reminders:

All of the documents and test scores can come in after your application for admission is submitted.  There’s no need to delay in submitting your application.

Utilize UGA Online’s enrollment coach paul.mittelhammer@uga.edu for answers you cannot find on the program website.
Read The top 5 myths of the UGA graduate application process

See if the program you are interested in requires the GRE.

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