Top 5 Biggest Mistakes to Avoid when preparing for GRE

GRE is a prerequisite for getting into almost all MS programs in US as it directly measures your readiness to begin your education at a level higher than undergraduate studies.

Due to the critical nature of this test, many students make mistakes under the strenuous burden of its preparation. Often the brightest of students make certain missteps during the preparation phase of the test and end up having a score that doesn’t reflect their true potential. Here are five of those mistakes that you should avoid committing at all costs:

Test the water

Many students jump straight into preparation without identifying their weak areas. This is very inefficient. So, the first step in your GRE preparation should be a self-diagnostic test. You need to figure out what you already know and what you need to work on. Take this self-diagnostic test under GRE conditions and then evaluate the areas you need to focus your preparation on. If you perform great on most questions then you just need to familiarize yourself with the test pattern. However, if you performed poorly in one or more of the test sections then you would want to devote ample time in your preparation to the said areas. Also, don’t just go with the GRE prep book that everyone is using. Choose a book whose style you can connect with and are comfortable using.

Don’t forget to practice a lot

Don’t take the GRE test lightly. It is going to dictate your future. So, plan your preparation, dedicating a few hours each day to one of the test’s sections and then stick to this plan. Also, take practice tests under strict GRE conditions: time yourself, turn off your phone and disregard any potential distractions, before sitting down to take them. Take as many of these as you can before the actual test so that you are fluid in your approach when the real test comes around. Additionally, many test prep authorities like Kaplan, offer free Question of the Day programs for potential GRE takers. This allows you to tackle GRE-styled questions right on your smartphone, every day, without going through any hassle!

Avoid last minute cramming

Take it easy on the day of the exam and don’t try to do any last minute studying. Anything you try to study at this point is probably stuff you already know about anyway. This is where this kind of a cramming routine gets counterproductive. It stresses you out and makes you more anxious without helping you very much in assimilating needed information. Instead, it is recommended by research that you take the last few hours before your test to undertake a exercise regimen. This allows your mind to have that much needed edge in accessing information while also shaking off the stress of facing up to the exam, allowing you to perform better.

Don’t shy away from retakes if you think you can manage a better score

Though it is recommended that you take the GRE once to familiarize yourself with the test-taking conditions before taking a retake if the result wasn’t great the first time around, but be sure to go for the GRE after you take several practice tests under realistic timed conditions, this way you know you are adequately prepared. Only go for a retake if you think you could do better or if your test was marred by something out of your control, like anxiety. Remember, that many admission committees tend to consider your super score during the application process. This score is compiled from your best section result in every retake. So, it doesn’t harm to go for the GRE a couple of times if you know you can muster up a better score but don’t just take the GRE for the sake of retaking it.

Don’t stay up all night 

All-nighters as they are called in student parlance, are all the craze these days. Students tend to relegate a considerable portion of their preparation to the night before the test or exam. Thinking that somehow no sleep and a body chockfull with caffeine are going to play in their favor on the test day. However, both of these factors tend to bring down test-takers’ results. A brain that is sleep-deprived is hazed and inefficient in its ability to store and retrieve information from the memory. On the other hand, the initial stimulating effect of caffeine comes down to a crash after 4-6 hours when almost all of it has been metabolized out of the body. Therefore, make sure you get a good night’s sleep prior to the test day and finish up your preparation at the earliest rather than taking it to the last minute.

In conclusion, it is very easy to be disorganized in your approach but it takes effort to be organized and effort bear fruit. So, take time in planning your methodology in tackling GRE. You should be focused on your test preparation and avoid any of the aforementioned mistakes so that you can score higher and get admission into a great school to pursue your dream – MS in US. 

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