Tips for Taking the GRE

By Alexis Angelini on March 18, 2017

Whether you’re taking the GRE for graduate school, doctoral degree programs, business school, or any other reason, it can be overwhelming! What should you study? How long ahead of time should you study? How can you perform to the best of your ability?

Allow me to alleviate and calm all of your fears. Here are the best tips for students taking the GRE.

1. Practice Exams and Practice Questions

What better way to study for the exam than to take a mock version of it? This is a great and not to mention free option to prepare yourself for the big day! There are plenty of online resources such as Princeton Review, Kaplan, 4Tests, and more, where practice tests are readily available.

Even EST, the company that made the GRE, has a mock-up edition which can be easily downloaded free of charge. The EST test can be found here.

These test questions cover a variety of topics including the three main categories: Analytical Writing, Verbal Reasoning, and Quantitative Reasoning. All three of these will be covered on the practice exams which is an excellent gauge of how you will perform on the test. Your final result is an obvious but also helpful indicator of how you will score on the real exam.

If completing a full test-run of the test isn’t exactly something that interests you, websites also have just the questions accessible. Some valuable sources include Peterson’s, Kaplan, Test Prep Review and more. As they say, practice makes perfect!

2. Vocabulary Flashcards 

Remember that time back in middle school when you had to memorize every state and its capitol with your flashcards your teacher assigned you to make? Well as childish and pointless as they may seem, they do work.

John Dunlosky of Kent State University and a variety of accomplished psychological scientists determined the best study methods in their latest study published in the Association for Psychological Science’s journal. As Dunlosky explains, “We wanted to take a comprehensive look at promising strategies now, in order to direct teachers, students and parents to the strategies that are effective, yet underused.”

As he and his team discovered, flashcards, the act of self-testing, is the most effective method besides studying over a distributed amount of time.

3. Rest and Relaxation 

It may be easier said than done, but try to take care of yourself mentally while preparing for a stressful event such as taking an influential exam. It is essential to not become overwhelmed with stress and self-doubt. If you take time out of each day ahead of time to study with effective methods for a quality amount of time, then you have done all that you can do and there is no reason to worry or freak out.

Take study breaks to ease your brain and continue to do activities that you enjoy. Although it may seem like the ‘norm’ do not try to cram in information last minute. Any information you attempt to cram will most likely go to your short-term memory and not your long-term memory.

Remember to also take care of your body during this time. Make sure to be eating and eating well-balanced meals. Try to get seven to nine hours of sleep each night, especially the night before the GRE. Keep a positive attitude to complete your self-care portion of GRE study preparation.

4. Test Day

You finally made it! The big day is here, so now what? Make sure to give yourself ample time to get to your test taking site if you are taking the test in person. It might be a smart idea to try driving to the place where the exam is being given a day early to get a grip of its surroundings and possible parking. The last thing you need to get in your way of the exam is frivolous things such as travel time.

Try to arrive early just to ease any fears you might have about missing the test or arriving late. Bring a valid form of identification, maybe even two forms just in case! Bring a large water bottle and some energy packed snacks to help keep your focus. Try some healthy snacks such as fruit bars, trail mix, and more. During the short breaks in between sections be active and stretch your body out. Get that blood pumping and oxygen flowing in order to keep your brain going!

I hope I helped make you feel less stressed for your upcoming exam Make sure to keep these study tips and tricks in mind when the time comes for you to take the GRE! I wish you the best of luck with your exam! I know you will crush it!

Alexis Angelini is a freshman at the University of Connecticut. She is majoring in English and loves to read and write. You can find her eating Cheez-its, watching How I met Your Mother, or spending time with friends. She hopes to write professionally for larger media outlets and you can currently find her pieces on

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