Taking the GRE in about a month and a half: advice?

I will be taking the GRE in about a month and a half. I am beginning to study for it now. I will most likely be going to graduate school for electrical engineering. Does anyone have any advice for things I should study? Is learning all of the vocabulary words many study guides have actually worth it for the test? I can see where it would be good to know many of them just for general knowledge, but will they really help when taking the GRE?

Feel free to simply share your experiences with studying for/taking the GRE as well.

Step #1 is relax. Step #2 is relax. If you’re relaxed you’ll not have test anxiety and you’ll be better able to perform.

Yes, the study guides can help you by immersing you in the TYPES of questions you’ll get asked and how they’re presented. That’s useful. Beyond that I found little help anywhere.

But I did fine on them. It’s just another standardized test. Odds are you’re done more than 1000 of them in your life. You’ll do fine.

For the vocab: get a Kaplan book and learn the words they say appear most commonly. I thought that made the vocab part quite easy.

For the math: take as many electronic exams as you can. The new tests on the computer are much, much different from the old paper exams. Strategy is important here–more so, I think, than with the verbal portion, because math problems require time to work them out.

Well it’s been many years since I took and the test is probably very different now.

The only advice I have is to take some of the practice exams out there. It’ll give you a feel for the way the questions are presented.

I second the suggestion for practice tests, particularly electronic versions.

I took a prep class the first time I took the GRE, and I found it really helpful for reviewing math concepts I hadn’t used in forever. YMMV.

Take a practice exam or two, and see if/where you need work. (When I took them four years ago, they mailed you a CD with a couple of practice tests when you registered, but this was when the computerized testing was still fairly new.) For me, it was the first standardized test I’d ever taken on a computer, in the adaptive format, so I needed a practice test just to convert my thought processes over. The test prep books (I think I used Princeton Review) will have some valuable tips on how to attack this differently from how you’d go about taking a paper-based exam.
Also, find out from people who’ve gone to grad school in your field how much each section matters - I was told that the verbal section didn’t matter much for me, as I was an American applying to PhD programs in molecular biology; it was assumed that my English would be good enough. I’d think that EE would be similar.

If you are going to grad school for EE, you will most likely have no problem with the math section. Still helpful to browse through a couple of tests just to see what type of questions they will ask. And if you are a total geek like me, there’s nothing so relaxing as taking an easy math test… :wink:

I assume you are taking the computer adaptive test. Remember the questions in the beginning weigh more heavily into your score than the ones at the end, and you can’t skip any questions and come back to them later. Worth it to take a practice test just to see what your pacing is like. Don’t freak out about time though. Better to take extra time to get that third question right and have to leave the last one unanswered than rush through the early ones. Check out the gre website for details.

As for the english portion, I did well on it, even though there were some analogies that looked like:

yarph:uturime :: timmilieu: ______?

a. gigi’bom
b. qwivitan
c. poopy
d. cahfrey-bot

But really, it was no big deal.

The Physics subject GRE was, however, a big deal. Don’t know if you have to take this one, but I studied my butt off and still came out wanting to stick my head in an oven.

Good luck, I’m sure you will do well!

Back when the GREs were paper tests, I’d have completely agreed with this statement.

But now that the GREs are computerized, things are a lot different. Even very book-smart people have trouble with the format. There is more time pressure, and test strategy is very different. You can’t go through and answer all the easy questions, then medium ones, etc. Test strategy on the new GRE is very different from what most of us are used to, and it trips up even smart people.

I’m good with math, but I had a heck of a time with the math on the GRE because I did not adequately prepare for the format of the test. From what I hear, my experience is not uncommon. My sister is currently in a Kaplan class for the GRE, and the computer format of the math test is a big hurdle for a lot of the students.

Oh come on! Everyone knows the correct answer is cahfrey-bot. :rolleyes:
Anyway - I studied for the GRE general test by… not studying. The verbal & logic portions were a slam-dunk, but I realized about 5 minutes into the first math section that I should have brushed up on the math part.

I could tell that the GRE general math sections were easier than the SAT math sections had been, but since I hadn’t really done any serious math since freshman year Calc II, that didn’t help me. My GRE math score didn’t even approach my 790 SAT math score. I think I got somewhere around 600. Shameful. Sigh. Good thing I didn’t need math in the grad program I was applying to.

Oh - and I took the GREs on paper more than 10 years ago, so I can’t offer any advice on taking the tests electronically.

I didn’t study, quite.

I took the GRE (general and Chemistry) to go to graduate school in Chemistry.

The math part was ridiculously easy for my standards. After slugging through systems of 17 differential equations with 17 unknowns (the Calc II teacher would use those because you could use our calculators to solve 16x16), pencil-and-paper arythmetics isn’t what I call scary. I mean, the hardest thing was basic trig!

Logic, either you have it or you don’t.

For verbal, I also had to take the TOEFL. For both I have the advantage of being Hispanic: a lot of the words which Americans find hard are straight from Latin or Greek, so easy for me. I did borrow books related to subjects I wouldn’t normally read about, to increase vocabulary.

My worst grade was in Physical Chemistry, where I only got a 98%. Yes I’m a nerd, bite my laptop.

Oh, and I brought some unwrapped candy to the test: sometimes I get coughing fits when I’m nervous.

I used the Barron’s book (w/ enclosed CD that mimics the tests), and counted up the practice tests available in the book, and then divided them up over the number of days I had before the test so that I was taking them at regular intervals. I took them under near-test conditions until my score plateaued. Then I began taking the computerized tests (again under near-test conditions) to see how I stacked up. I actually did better on the computer versions, so I went back to pencil-and-paper ones to subject myself to a “harder” test leading up to the real deal. Two days before the GRE I took a full-length computerized practice test, scored it, and put all my testing materials away.

At that point, when you’re doing your best mentally, focus on helping your body to be the best “brain-container” it can:

  • relax
  • cut out caffeine, cigarettes, and alcohol at least a week beforehand to get the toxins out of your system
  • drink lots of water the week beforehand (dehydration amplifies stress)
  • get a good night’s sleep the night before (sex may help if you are nervous)
  • relax!

I can see where you are coming from - thats why its important to take a few practice tests to see if the format is going to trip you up a lot. Another thing I forgot- though I did well on the math, I fly through scrap paper like nobody’s business. I would always cross out answers & do almost every step of a problem since I’m the kind of person who will make a really stupid arithmetic error but get the harder concepts right. If you have no trouble with the time constraint, don’t be afraid to use the paper they give you! At least when I took it, you could always ask for more if you were actually using it. I think the procedure is to just raise your hand and a proctor comes over. They may not like you for making them fetch more paper, but its your test, so screw 'em!

You’ll probably come along this advice in guidebooks, but be really careful with the earliest questions. If you miss one early on, your score will suffer a lot more than if you miss a later question.

The GRE is just like the SAT, except for the addition of the logic section. Do the practice logic problems until you get the hang of them; they’re all pretty much the same.

I have very wise friends who made me relax on the weekend before the test, which I took on a Monday evening. This was a good move and I recommend it to others.

Take along a snack (I usually used Snickers) to eat during break.

Good luck!

–LoH, 2310 combined

Most people seem to be giving the same advice. Take practice tests. It helps you figure out the kind of questions that will be asked and knocks the rust off of those mental cogs which haven’t been turned in a while. I studied for the GRE by taking a practice test and checking into a hotel for the night (the GRE was on a Saturday, and I lived in a dorm, so I knew I wouldn’t get a good night’s sleep otherwise). I did fine; I’m sure you will, too.

I used The GRE for Dummies to study for the GRE. I thought it was pretty good, and not as dry as some test-prep books can be.

I thought the GRE math section was easier than the SAT math section (though my memory of both is hazy at this point). I well and truly suck at doing arithmetic in my head, and I managed to do well enough on the math section of the GRE.

:eek: (screaming at the memory of the Physics GRE)

I am thinking about applying to grad school this fall, so I will register fro the GRE’s as well, and took the practice test they had online. I didn’t do it under test conditions, and I skipped the writing part, but one thign I learned: make sure to know what the question is asking.

I did as good as I had expected in verbal, but a lot lower in math, why? Because 90% of the ones I got wrong I either missed what they asked for (oh…the one that does NOT fit the parameters) or makde a silly mistake like miss a negative sign, or something.

So I guess my advice is just take your time and make sure to read the question a few times, slowly, and know what they want before you set out to do the problem.

All I have to say is, don’t not study.

You say you are studying, which is good. Just keep doing that. I took mine cold, much as I had the SAT, ACT, and AP tests, and now I have to refer to that as “The first time I took the GRE.” I’ll be taking it again next month. :frowning:

You don’t have to study like an absolute fiend. Just studying at all is going to help. For the love of god, don’t be a cocky idiot like I was!

I have a GRE question that I don’t think is worth starting a new thread. Hope the OP doesn’t mind the slight hijack.

How soon before applications are due should you take the GRE? The site says they mail out scores 10-15 days after you take the test. Should I leave extra time before the deadline, just in case?

I would.