As we move into 2023, the GRE continues to be an important exam for those planning to continue their studies at the graduate level. Wether it is mandatory or not for you, taking the GRE in 2023 can open up a world of opportunities and help you achieve your academic goals.If you are reading this, you have very likely opted to take the test for various reasons and you might just be a few days away from the big day and feel unprepared. We’ve all been there! And when it comes to the GRE, it can feel like the weight of the world is on your shoulders. But have no fear, because we’ve got some last-minute GRE tips to help you slay the test and achieve the scores you need for your dream school. So, sit back, relax, and keep reading!
Familiarize Yourself with the Test Structure
First things first, make sure you’re familiar with the test format. The GRE consists of three main sections – Verbal Reasoning, Quantitative Reasoning, and Analytical Writing. Each section has a unique set of question types and time limits. Familiarize yourself with these formats and create a plan of attack for each section. For example, set a target time for each question, prioritize which sections to tackle first, and practice pacing yourself.
Focus on Your Weaknesses
Take some time to evaluate which areas of the test you struggle with the most and focus your last-minute studying efforts on these sections. For example, if you struggle with algebra, spend some extra time practicing solving algebraic equations. Make sure to also take practice tests and review your mistakes to identify recurring patterns.
Memorize Key Formulas and Vocabulary
While the GRE isn’t a memorization test, memorizing key formulas and vocabulary can help you save time and improve your scores. Make a list of formulas and vocabulary words you struggle with and start memorizing them. One trick is to create flashcards and memorize them on the go – during your commute, waiting in line, or even in the bathroom.
One of the most challenging aspects of the GRE is the extensive vocabulary that’s tested in the Verbal Reasoning section. However, you don’t have to memorize a dictionary overnight! Focus on learning common roots, prefixes, and suffixes that can help you decipher unfamiliar words. Also, try reading articles and books that are slightly above your reading level to push you out of your comfort zone. The more you expose yourself to new words, the easier it will be to understand them on test day.
Practice Time Management
Time management is crucial when it comes to the GRE. Make sure to practice pacing yourself during practice tests or mock exams. Familiarize yourself with the test questions and learn to answer them accurately but quickly. During the actual test, use your time wisely and don’t spend too long on any one question.
Brush up your Math
The Quantitative section of the GRE tests your fundamental math skills. Review the basics of geometry, probability, algebra and arithmetic concepts. You can practice the questions from the official GRE exam guide, do mock tests or join online tutorials. Identify the problems that you found difficult and make outlines of the formulas to conserve time.
Get Plenty of Rest
Don’t underestimate the importance of rest. When you’re sleep-deprived, your brain doesn’t function at its best, and you’re likely to make more mistakes. Make sure to get a good night’s sleep before the test, so you’re refreshed and ready to tackle the exam. Last-minute preparation might often tend to keep you awake, but avoiding last night’s cramming and a decent sleep pattern will refresh your presence of mind.
Practice Makes Perfect
The most annoying and preachy of our last-minute GRE tips: It might sound cliche, but there’s no substitute for putting in the work. Try to simulate test conditions as much as possible when you’re practicing. Set aside a quiet, distraction-free environment, time yourself, and avoid using external resources (like a calculator or dictionary) during the practice. This will help you build stamina, reduce test anxiety, and identify areas where you need improvement. Additionally, consider taking a full-length mock test a week before your actual exam to gauge your progress.
Reread your notes
If your GRE test is coming up soon, you may feel the need to review both basic and advanced strategies to refresh your understanding of core concepts. However, attempting to cover every topic in a matter of days may be unrealistic, and redoing everything doesn’t make sense either. That’s why it’s wise to keep your notes close by and review the material you’ve previously studied.To improve your understanding, focus specifically on the concepts and topics that you found difficult or confusing in the past. If you did not take notes previously while studying or practicing, our strategy lessons might be helpful as they provide concise strategies and last-minute tips for all the concepts tested on the GRE.
Stay Calm and Focused
On test day, your mindset can make all the difference. As much as possible, try to stay calm, focused, and positive. In addition to getting a good night’s sleep before the exam, eat a nutritious breakfast, and arrive at the test center early. Don’t let challenging questions or time constraints rattle you – stay focused on the task at hand and keep moving. Remember, it’s okay to guess if you don’t know the answer to a question – you won’t be penalized for wrong answers.
Tame your GRE fears
It’s normal to have strengths and weaknesses in different topics. You’re not alone in this, as everyone has areas they’re better at than others. For example, some people may be great at math and data interpretation, while others may be exceptional with reading comprehension and English vocabulary. It is important to recognize your weaknesses, no matter how much you’ve prepared or how intelligent you are, and despite following last-minute GRE tips. A person always has a few GRE Achilles’ heels. Identifying your weak areas will enable you to focus your remaining time and energy before the GRE on topics that can significantly improve your score. This will help you prioritize these final few hours, allowing you to review these topics thoroughly and practice as much as possible.
Don’t Overthink the Writing Section
Don’t let the Analytical Writing section intimidate you. This section tests your ability to present a clear and coherent argument, not your knowledge of any particular topic. Focus on organizing your thoughts, using examples and evidence to support your argument, and avoiding common pitfalls like excessive repetition or tangents. And remember, even if you’re not a naturally gifted writer, you can still score well on this section by practicing and following a structured approach.
Break up the reading and comprehension sections
The Reading Comprehension section is the lengthiest and most cumbersome in the GRE exam. The trick is to break it down into smaller manageable chunks. Read the questions carefully, underline the essential words, and make short notes for better retention. Identify the main theme of the passage, and jot down the supporting points to answer the questions.
Eliminate and then arrive at the answer
The GRE has negative marking, so don’t jump to answer the questions instantly. Eliminate the obvious incorrect answer options first and narrow down the choices available. Remember that every question might not be solvable, and don’t waste time trying to solve those, instead proceed to the next one.
There you have it, folks – some last-minute GRE tips to help you ace the test. Remember, success on this exam is not just about innate intelligence or academic prowess; it’s about strategy, preparation, and mindset. Put in the work, stay positive, and believe in yourself. Whatever your score may be, it won’t define your worth or your potential. Good luck, and happy testing! If you need any help with your graduate school application, please check out our graduate school application services!
With a Master’s from McGill University and a Ph.D. from New York University, Philippe Barr is the founder of The Admit Lab. As a tenure-track professor, Philippe spent a decade teaching and serving on several graduate admission committees at UNC-Chapel Hill before turning to full-time consulting. With more than seven years of experience as a graduate school admissions consultant, Philippe has stewarded the candidate journey across multiple master’s and Ph.D. programs and helped hundreds of students get admitted to top-tier graduate programs all over the world.