Preparing for the GRE
There are multiple questions concerning GRE preparation:
1) How prepared are you for the different sections of the GRE? You might be in good shape as you begin to study if you are pretty good in math and plan on taking or have taken at least some Math courses in college. Some of you, however, may need to think about taking some college Math courses or get someone to tutor you on the math that will be covered in the GRE--not calculus or trigonometry. In fact, for many of you your math preparation will probably involves going back and relearning math concepts you were taught in the past.
Moving on to the verbal component of the GRE, it is critical that you have a strong background in English. I know most of you speak and read English as a first language, but the GRE asks some pretty tough questions ranging from word definitions to comprehension of stories. Thus, my advice is to read as much as you can, because one of the best ways you can learn new words and develop ways to comprehend material is by reading these words in a news article or novel. Please note that it is important for you to check out a GRE test/practice book to know how the GRE passages and questions are constructed.
Finally, the GRE's analytic component is assessing whether you are a good writer, and that you can think logically. Once again, practice heps, so the more writing you do and the more critical thinking you can accomplish, the better prepared yu will be. With this in mind, there are certain college courses you can take that will help you out with this section--Logic and Composition. Again, make sure you understand the structure and scoring of this section.
With regard to when you should start preparing for the GRE, this is a tough question. However, anyone who thinks they can just wait until two months before the test to start study is taking a big chance. I would argue that you should begin your GRE preparation much earlier. For example, if you are a college student I think you might consider starting as early as your sophomore year. This includes using GRE practice books and software on a regular basis.
Is taking a GRE-prep course a good idea? This is another tough question. Sadly, for some of you it is not really an issue because these courses are so expensive (often $1,000). Still, if you cannot take a GRE-prep course there are a number of online resources, both free and for lower cost (e.g., Magoosh) to help you prepare. If you can afford taking a prep course, go for it.! Make sure to look for courses that have been around for a while (e.g., Kaplan, Princeton Review) and newer courses (Manhattan PrepReview, Khan Academy, Magoosh). These courses help you identify your strengths and weaknesses, provide set class times, and offer many practice tests.
Please note that the comments of Dr. Golding, Dr. Lippert and the others who post on this blog express their own opinion and not that of the University of Kentucky.
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