Post # 1
A colleague and I are considering our options for the future, including taking the big step towards PhD applications. That being said, neither of us have ever taken anything even close to a standardized test since high school. I’m particularly terrified of the math portion of the GRE, considering I almost failed out of high school math (we both hold MAs in the humanities). We’re starting our study sessions tonight and planning to take the test in early January.
Any bees out there have experience with the GRE? Good stories? Horror stories? Was it way easier than you had anticipated? Way harder? Study tips!? If anyone has any advice, I’d love to hear it!
Post # 3
I did awful on the math portion but math was irrelevant to my potential program (humanities) so I imagine they just ignored it. I had high verbal and writing scores and ended up being above the total requirement, but the math brought me really low!
If you’re in humanities I really wouldn’t worry too much about the math. Just go through a review book for it!
Post # 4
I took it and did pretty well. I got a prep book (Kaplan maybe) and one of the essay questions was verbatim off the test… I think the book really helped me know what to study. I also did a vocabulary flashcard site on-line, but I took it almost 6 years ago now, so I don’t really remember. I studied for maybe 3 months, but I devoted a lot of time to it.
The first few questions are the most important because they set you off on the right “track” to getting a higher score. The questions get harder or easier as you get them right or wrong, and missing the first few is hard to recover from. Take your time and focus on those first few.
Post # 5
@kes18: I had pretty much the same experience.
@MrsRevolutionize: Overall, my score was average, but I got into one of the top public universities in the country and did extremely well in my Masters program! Study study study!
Post # 6
I took the test about 5 years ago. I got a few of the test prep books. One of my books came with a cd practice test and that helped me the most as it completely simulated the test with questions getting harder and easier depending on how many you get correct. I also bought a set of the 500 hardest GRE vocab words and a lot of them appeared on the test. I liked that it was done completely on a computer and you found out your scores immediately. I took the test twice, scored the exact same on my verbal, the section I was trying to improve, each time. For math you are not allowed to use a calculator, just a pencil they give you and scratch paper. For my exam if I needed more paper I had to hand them my used paper already. One piece of advice I got, pertaining to math, is to immediately write down all the formulas you may need for the math section as soon as you get the scratch paper so you can always refer back to those. Helped me and took the stress off of remember everything during the exam.
Post # 7
@kes18: @OldMrsMcDonald: Very interesting! I was under the impression that your program of choice would be looking very specifically at your total score, but if they’re able to identify the verbal and writing scores, that makes me feel a lot more at ease.
@Jess1483: Thanks for the advice! I’m not sure I understand what you mean by the first few questions setting you on the right track–do you mean they’re weighted more?
Post # 8
@MrsRevolutionize: I just got done with it!
There is nothing in the math section of the GRE that you didn’t learn in high school, so it’s not “advanced,” but you are under a time constraint. I think the best practice you can do is to just take a bunch of practice tests, identify what areas you’re having the most trouble with, and review strategically. On the new version, you are allowed the “on screen” calculator, which is just a basic calculator with basic functions.
For the vocab parts, I downloaded a phone app with GRE flashcards. It was free, and I always had it with me.
Don’t stress too much. You can take it like 5 times per year, every 21 days, and you can send or hide any scores that you want from schools.
Post # 9
@MrsRevolutionize: The GRE is a computer test, and if you get a question right, they give you a harder one, and if you get it wrong, you get an easier one. Basically, as I understand it, they’re looking to find questions that are “just right” for you and that’s where they give you your score. BUT I read (I think in my review book) that if you get 2 questions right, and then one wrong, you’ll still end up with a higher score than if you get your first question wrong, then two right (if that makes sense). Could be a nasty rumor, but when I was teaching, my students took a test like that, and I see how it might turn out that way.
Except I just googled, and it says they’ve changed it. So…I might be totally lying.
I’m sort-of-lying 😉 Here’s more info:
Post # 10
@MrsRevolutionize: I did well on all sections by doing a lot of practice exams. Also, they have a list of like 200 vocab words most commonly used. I made flash cards and learned the definitions for ALL OF THEM. The writing was really simple and if you are a humanities major you shouldn’t even stress about that part. For the math it was really just looking at what they put on practice tests and relearning some of those equations. Breathe. I found it very easy and I think a lot of that had to do with the fact I made myself relax which allowed me to focus on the exam and remember all that I had studied.
ETA: I know for my program they were more focused on writing and verbal but math was also a factor since it is a science field. I think it just depends on what your field is. I have a friend who is getting her masters now in english and they could not have cared less about her math score on the GRE.
Post # 11
@Jess1483: Geeze! I had no idea it was like that! That’s super interesting. Thanks so much for explaining!
Post # 12
@MrsRevolutionize: Yes. It was awful and silly. My weak point is math and have always done better (very well As) on standardized writing tests, than on math. ON THE GRE… i did better on the math. The test is very skewed. I took a class and I found that the class helped.
(By awful I mean tedious, by silly I mean it is truly meaningless in terms of scores)
The GRE is a test that measures, your test taking skills. It has absolutely nothing to do with program readiness. :0)
Post # 13
@excitedtobeMRSF: Aaaah oh my god you don’t even understand how relieved I am to hear that humanities programs won’t care too much about math scores! I just did a little happy dance at work.
Post # 14
If the humanities department was worried about my GRE math score, I wouldn’t have gotten into grad school 🙂
Post # 15
I took it Fall 2011 right after they changed it to the new format or whatever. I’m an English teacher and was shocked by some of the vocabulary words included. They were so antiquated it was ridiculous! I did not do great at the math portion. Math is my weakness. I got and did well with Algebra and Statistics in high school and college, but had a terrible Geometry teacher and hate any math that has to do with Geometry or anything related. Luckily, for the grad program I was in (M.Ed.) the score didn’t matter, we just had to take it to be accepted into the university’s grad school. Good luck!
Post # 16
I am NOT a math person but I did much better on the math section that the English! I think I had the Bartletts book and I studied like crazy. Mostly just doing practice questions over and over. Don’t let the test intimidate you– you got this!