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When to take GREs

  1. Jun 7, 2009 #1
    I'm I math major entering my junior year this fall and hoping to go to grad school fall 2011.

    So within the next year and a half I need to take the general GRE and the GRE math subject test. My question is when is the best time to each of them.

    I understand that the general test is not given much weight in admissions and the subject test isn't all that difficult (correct me if I'm wrong) However, I imagine that I will still need a decent preparation for each. How much time do I need to devote to each?

    From what I have read about the subject test, after this coming semester I will have seen all the necessary topics. It seems most people take this test the fall they are applying to grad school; would I be foolish to take it earlier?

    Finally, I was thinking about studying for the general test this coming winter break and taking it towards the end of break. Is this a good idea?

    Thank you for any input.
  2. jcsd
  3. Jun 7, 2009 #2
    I think it is sensible to take the general GRE as soon as possible. If you're like me, you took your last English class a long time ago, and so your skills at it are unlikely to get any better (and possibly get worse). The quantitative section is a complete joke. Plus, GRE scores are good for 5 years. I took the GRE during my sophomore year of college and don't regret it.
  4. Jun 7, 2009 #3


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    I'd agree with that. As for the GRE subject test - if math is anything like physics, it'll take some preparation to do well. It depends on your ability, of course, but it'd probably be reasonable to start preparing a couple weeks in advance - take a practice test or two, see if you have weak areas and brush up on those.

    If you will have seen all the relevant topics after the end of your fall semester, I'd see no reason you couldn't take the subject GRE in the spring. I'd suggest doing it no later than the beginning of your senior year, since your subject GRE score can be a rough indicator of what caliber of graduate schools you should be applying to.
  5. Jun 8, 2009 #4
    Isn't the math subject GRE supposed to be the hardest one?
  6. Jun 8, 2009 #5
    I took the math GRE (wasn't sure at the time whether I wanted to go to grad school in physics or math). Maybe you're a genius or something. But if you're an average math major like me, the test is by no means trivial. I would put some serious effort into studying for it. Depending on what coursework you've already taken, you might want to go ahead and take it next summer. But whatever you do, definitely be done with it in time to send out your scores at the end of the Fall '10 semester.

    As for the general GRE...yeah, it's a joke. Many physics departments say on their websites that they don't even look at the score, and I'm guessing that math departments are the same way. If your degree is in a hard science or mathematics, then you probably have no trouble with high school algebra and geometry, and this is the extent of the general GRE's quantitative section. Personally I wouldn't recommend spending more than a week studying for it. And the one week is just so that you're familiar with the format.
  7. Jun 8, 2009 #6
    Thank you everyone for your responses. You were all a lot of help.

    I will likely take the general test this winter, while I have little else to do.

    From all your responses it seems I was misinformed (or perhaps just misremember) about the math subject test. I suppose I will have to put some significant effort into preparing for it.
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