If you’re beginning the process of applying for graduate school, you’ll want to include taking the Graduate Record Exam on your to-do list. The GRE is one piece of your application that demonstrates your potential to succeed in graduate school. You’ll submit this along with your undergraduate academic transcript, letters of recommendation and a personal essay. The GRE is divided into three parts: verbal reasoning, quantitative reasoning and analytical writing.

Engage in Self-Reflection

If test taking instantly fills you with anxiety and self-doubt, you should do your best to prepare in advance for the GRE. What is the best way to prep for the GRE? It really depends on what works best for you.

Begin by doing a self-inventory of your strengths and weaknesses. If you’re going into a graduate program that relies on quantitative reasoning, and you feel weak in this area, you’ll want to focus on improving your understanding of mathematical models.

Is the GRE Test Hard?

Expect that the GRE will be more challenging than the SAT or ACT. Given that it’s a prerequisite for graduate school, you’ll be expected to understand higher-level vocabulary and use critical-thinking skills to answer questions.

The ability to analyze complex questions and solve math problems that involve data tables, statistics and algebra is a mainstay of this exam. Learning about the nature of the questions and refreshing your writing skills is an important part of alleviating the stress of taking the GRE. Advanced preparation will help you have the confidence to succeed.

Seek a Professional GRE Tutor

Professional tutors are available to provide a personalized approach to GRE test preparation. Most tutoring contracts include prep books, individualized instruction and practice tests.

How much does a GRE tutor cost? Expect to spend between $1,300 and $3,000 for private tutoring sessions. You can find a tutor online or by contacting a college or university graduate school office.

Consider Other Options for GRE Tutoring

As an alternative to a professional tutor, ask a current graduate student to spend some time helping you prepare. Focus on an academic weak spot and seek a graduate student who is studying that content area. For example, if you want to improve your writing skills, hire a graduate student in the English department at a local college to help you prepare. You may also find a high school teacher who would be willing to help you out.

Be Your Own Tutor

If you’re concerned about the expense of a GRE tutor, hire yourself for the job. You can take online practice tests for free and practice writing five-paragraph essays to improve your writing skills. GRE prep books are also available to help you learn more about how the test is formatted and the nature of the various sections of the GRE. Online tools include free general GRE test preparation tips and materials that are available for purchase.

What Is the Best GRE Prep Course?

You have to decide the type of test preparation that works best for your learning style and schedule. You can take an online GRE prep course that is self-paced or live streamed with other students.

You can also participate in a teacher-led class that is offered in person. Expect to spend $700 to $1,300 for this type of GRE preparation. Most GRE prep courses include practice tests, online tools, prep books and individualized instruction.

Other Tips for Success

In addition to advanced studying and preparation, it’s important to engage in test-taking self-care. Sleep the night before, eat a nourishing meal the day of and be as stress free as possible during the exam.

The GRE test is formatted to allow you to skip a question and return to it without penalty. Don’t dwell on a question that may impede your ability to manage your time for the test as a whole.

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