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Studying Studying for the GRE

  1. Dec 23, 2006 #1
    Hey everyone, first time poster here. Just curious how some people here went about studying for the general GRE? Some people have told me to just take it :surprised and others say study for months. What did you folks out there have taken the test do? What type of study material did you use and how long did you study for? Thanks a bunch, nice to meet everyone!
  2. jcsd
  3. Dec 23, 2006 #2
    Most people that took the test that I know of spent a whole summer studying.
  4. Dec 23, 2006 #3


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    Do whatever sample questions you find on the GRE (or is it ETS?) website. Download a program called GRE POWERPREP for free from that site. Read what it tells you about how to take the test, the format and timing of the test, etc. It also gives you some tips on how to solve the types of problems appearing on the GRE, so read this if you want. In addition, it has I think 12 sample answers to the essay questions, ranging from very bad to very good, along with graders' comments, so you can see what to do and what to avoid in order to get a very good mark in these areas. The pool of topics used by the people who make the test is available on the GRE website. Browse through this list, and think briefly about how you might answer them, keeping in mind what you learnt from looking at the sample answers from POWERPREP.

    This program also offers sample problems, and there are a lot of them. Do a fair number of them. Then do one of the sample tests offered by the program. These tests are formatted and timed just like the real thing. After the test, see your results and decided if you like them. If so, maybe do a couple more of the sample problems, and then do the second sample test. If not, then do a lot more of the remaining sample problems, then do the second sample test. If you like your marks on this second sample test, you're probably sufficiently prepared. All the above can be done easily (i.e. at a leisurely, unstressful pace) within a week. If you still don't like your marks, there are of course other resources to help you prepare, but I couldn't tell you anything about them.
  5. Dec 23, 2006 #4
    wow, thanks for the advice! Will definitely look into that!
  6. Dec 24, 2006 #5
    For the GRE general I just skimmed through a study prep book and did fine. I'm really good at essays, but one thing to study is ANY practice essays. There are only 2 different types, and once you know how to write them the change from topic to topic is easy.
    Also the vocabulary part is semi-difficult. Mainly due to the large number of words I've never used before. So study that.
    The math part is fairly simple. I took the test while i had a stomach bug so I had a hard time focusing, but I got every problem right but the last 3 which i answered in haste cause i had 5 seconds left to answer.

    Its the Physics Subject Test that you'll want to study 3+ months for. I've taken it twice. The first time I studied for a month, the second for two. I almost want to take it again and study for 3 or more months. For the subject test its not enough to do sample problems. You really have to know theory and subject matter. (My school didnt offer nuclear/particle physics, so I had to try to learn that class on my own)
  7. Dec 26, 2006 #6
    For physics, you only need a stellar math score (790+) on your general GRE (very doable if you've been studying physics for 4 years), and a solid subject score (750+). The verbal and analytical sections should be decent, but it's not really important as long as you get something in the 500 range on your verbal section.
  8. Dec 26, 2006 #7
    This might be a bit surprising... but some graduate school admissions committees do not even use the essay portion of the GRE at all. :surprised This is largely because in many departments the admissions process is pretty well established; the essay part is rather new, and the scoring process isn't well known.

    That said -- you SHOULD know how to write well for success in academic endeavors. :biggrin:
  9. Dec 26, 2006 #8
    I meant if you cared about getting a decent mark on it. I also don't mean to practice on how to write general essays, thats easy. But to practice how to write the essay THEY want (GRE). The studybooks pretty much outline how you should write it, and from experience it works.
  10. Dec 27, 2006 #9
    For the physics GRE, you really need to study the 4 published ETS exams at a bare minimum. I took all 4 of them in a realistic setting over 4 weeks. Each time after the practice, I made sure I understood every single problem (well, almost) on the test. After 2 exams or so, you really get used to the type of questions they ask, and also the timing. By the 4th one, I could almost tell what score I got by the time I finished the exam.
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