GRE Study Tools

gre study tools
 
 
 Planning to take the GRE? Then you’ll need to do some serious studying. Whether you’re a self-starter who only needs a book or two, or you think you would benefit from the structure of a formal class, it may be wise to explore your test prep options.

BOOKS

When selecting GRE test prep books, keep the following factors in mind:

Readability

Your GRE book should be relatively simple, well-organized, and easy to understand. Don’t get fooled into thinking “it sounds complicated, so if I can get through it, I’ll be really smart!” You’ve got enough to stress about at the moment – deciphering your GRE text shouldn’t be one of them.

Relevance

The concept of “charming antiques” doesn’t apply to GRE books. Now is not the time to be thrifty and borrow your uncle’s 1990 review book! The structure and format of the GRE changes periodically, and if you end up with an outdated text, you may be misinformed.

Strategy

There are “tricks” to the GRE. Choosing books that address multiple strategies will enable you to learn a wide range of approaches, and how to implement those that work well for you.

Practice tests

It’s all well and good to read about test-taking strategy, but until you put the principles into practice – repeatedly – you won’t know how well you’re integrating the concepts. If your book lacks practice tests, you can always purchase them separately, either as hard copies or online. But as long as you’re buying a book, consider getting one that includes some already.

Author

While we don’t recommend one book over another, we do believe the author(s) of your texts should have a strong background in test prep and education. Kaplan (a GRE prep company), ETS (the creators of the GRE) and McGraw-Hill (education publishers) all publish GRE prep texts, and chances are good these groups know what they’re talking about. Amazon.com and other online review sites can also be a great way to learn about others’ experiences with various books.

CLASSES

With so many books out there, why should you take GRE test prep classes? Here are a few things to consider:

Learning style

If you’re an auditory processor, you might thrive in a classroom setting in which speaking and listening are the primary modes of learning.

Self-motivation

For some of us, upon sitting down to our study session, we suddenly find we have to clean our entire house. Or perhaps we experience a sudden urge for pizza that can only be purchased across town. Or Facebook calls to us with an irresistible siren song. Chances are we could benefit from the accountability associated with taking an actual class.

Finances

GRE test prep books run anywhere from $10 to $50. Using texts has the potential to be way less expensive than taking a GRE prep class, which can run you from a few hundred to a few thousand dollars. Can you afford to drop a hefty chunk of change? It’s certainly an investment in your future, as your scores can be a make-or-break factor in your grad school application, but it’s also important to be realistic about your how much you can afford.

FREE ONLINE TESTS

There’s no reason not to take advantage of these. Practice makes perfect (or hopefully close to perfect), and if you don’t have to open your wallet, all the better. Google “free online GRE tests” to find several different options.

You should not be overly committed to a study strategy; if you start your studies using a GRE prep book and find you are not improving your practice test scores you may want to invest in a class. Begin studying early so you have the opportunity and flexibility to adapt your study plan to your situation. You may want to complete several iterations of practice tests to help you monitor your progress to help you determine if you need professional study assistance.

 

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