Top 10 GRE Test Tips

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Congrats! You made it through undergrad, and now, you'd like to take the GRE and head to graduate school for a few more years of the same. If that describes you, then these GRE test tips are going to come in handy.

GRE Test Tips to Live By

  1. Answer every question. The GRE is not the time to skip questions you're unsure about. No one cares if you truly don't understand something and have to randomly guess. You aren't penalized for guessing on the GRE (unlike the SAT), so it's in your best interest to answer every single question offered to you, even the ones you don't like.
  2. Be sure of your answers especially when taking the Computer-Adaptive GRE. You can't go back to answer something because the screen will be gone. On the Paper-Based Test, you can skip a question and return to it later if you need to, but on the computerized version, you'll simply get a zero if you leave something blank. So make the correct choice the first time around!
  3. Use the scratch paper. You will not be allowed to bring paper to the testing center with you, but you will be provided with scratch paper. Use it to help solve math problems, outline your essay for the writing portion or write down formulas or vocabulary words you've memorized before the test.
  4. Use a process of elimination. If you can rule out even one wrong answer, you'll be in a much better spot for guessing if it comes to that. Instead of looking for the "right" answer per se, look for the "least wrong" answer. Most of the time, you'll be able to narrow down your choices to two, which obviously gives you much better odds of getting the question right.
  5. Spend more time on difficult questions. Chances are good that you'll be taking the computerized version of the GRE, so the scoring is scaled: harder questions equal more points. Even if you miss quite a few easy questions and get a smaller percentage of the harder ones correct, your score will be much better than if you answered all of the easy ones correctly and only answer a few difficult ones right. So plan your time accordingly. This is one of those GRE test tips to memorize.
  6. Pace yourself. You may be a dreamer in real life, but taking the GRE is not the right time to wander mentally off into space. You'll only have about one minute per question for the verbal section and approximately two minutes per question in the math section. Two minutes may seem like a long time to answer a math question, and it would be for the easy questions, but once you're doing some serious computing, you'll realize that the time is whittling away. So don't waste it.
  7. Don't second-guess yourself too often. Statistics suggest that your first answer choice is usually correct as long as you've prepared well for the exam and have a solid knowledge base. Do not go back through the test and change your answers on the paper exam unless you've discovered information that leads you to a new conclusion or you realize that you didn't give yourself enough time to thoughtfully consider the question on the first try.
  8. Mentally manage your stress. Once you're sitting at the desk or in front of the computer screen, your ability to physically do too much to manage your stress about the GRE and its implications for your future dwindles. So, your best bet is to manage your stress mentally by repeating a positive phrase or envisioning the end result of all your hard work.
  9. In the reading comprehension section, read the answers first. Instead of plunging ahead into the text, read what you need to be looking out for. You'll save time and score more points by reading the answer choices before you read the text.
  10. Outline. It may seem like old hat, but you can't disregard the GRE writing section. Before you start writing, make sure you take five minutes to outline what you're going to say first. Your organization and thought process will be much higher if you do.
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Your Citation
Roell, Kelly. "Top 10 GRE Test Tips." ThoughtCo, Apr. 5, 2023, Roell, Kelly. (2023, April 5). Top 10 GRE Test Tips. Retrieved from Roell, Kelly. "Top 10 GRE Test Tips." ThoughtCo. (accessed June 9, 2023).