Once I started toying with the idea of attending grad school, I had to start taking seriously all the necessary requirements for an application. As I delved into the details, I discovered that components such as the personal statement, references, and CV are critical in making an impression and setting oneself apart from other applicants. However, arguably one of the most challenging aspects of the application process is preparing for and taking the GRE or GMAT.
While standardised testing is often daunting, I found that the following three tips helped improve my exam experience and achieve the grade that I needed to secure admissions into the programmes I was interested in, including the one I ultimately enrolled in:
1. Figure out which exam is best for you to take
I had a friend who did moths of prep to ace her GMAT exam, only to find out that the programmes she wanted to apply to actually required the GRE. While this doesn’t sound like the end of the world, it’s something that naturally anyone should try and avoid. Figuring out whether to take the GRE or the GMAT, was technically the first step I took in preparing for my exam, and I would suggest you do the same.
How do I figure out which test is best?
To determine which exam is right for you, start by researching the programmes you’re interested in applying to. Some may require only one exam, while others may accept either the GRE or GMAT. Now of course, this requires you to have an idea about what you want to study, which in itself is a task. I’d argue that it’s worth getting to that point before signing up for an exam, just to help you create some peace of mind.
So, after you’ve taken a look at various programme requirements, you may be set on taking either the GRE or GMAT. However, in many cases, both are accepted. So, then what? Well, this is when you take a look at the type of test each one is and predict the one that you’ll do better on. There are plenty of aspects to help you make this prediction, but the biggest one for me was the test content. The GMAT is known to have slightly more challenging mathematics questions, while the GRE’s verbal section is more difficult. The importance of that trade-off will differ for everyone, but it’s a tip that I found useful and wanted to share!
2. Know your study style
Once you’ve determined which exam to take, it’s important to consider your study style. Knowing your study style is incredibly important at every stage of an educational journey, but perhaps particularly important when prepping for a standardised test. This is because everyone learns differently and there are so many ways to get about preparing. Do you prefer self-studying? Then invest in a prep book and some flash cards and set up a dedicated study space. Do you benefit from guidance and structure? Consider enrolling in a test prep course or hiring a private tutor. Are you a visual learner? Then check out the videos and tutorials available on sites like khan academy or e-gmat.
3. Plan out a proper study schedule
Finally, it’s essential to create a proper study schedule. This tip is often not a focus until too late in the exam preparation timeline. Don’t wait until last minute. Make a study plan as soon as you know your test date, or better yet – as soon as you decide to take the exam! Before you create a plan, take a practice test to identify your strengths and weaknesses, and use this information to create a study plan that focuses on the areas you need to improve. Don’t forget to include time for practice tests, as these will be valuable in assessing your progress and adjusting your study plan accordingly.
By following these tips, you’ll be well on your way to acing your standardised test and achieving your academic goals. Remember, the key is to be proactive and strategic in your approach to studying. Good luck!