How to Prepare for the GRE or GMAT
Tips to remember when you take your graduate school admissions test.
Prepare for the GRE and GMAT by knowing more about the tests themselves.
The last thing you want to worry about on test day is whether you can write an essay within the time limit or whether you brought enough pencils!
It is true that study books, practice tests and other materials will help prepare you for the types of questions to expect on your test. Don’t forget, however, to prepare yourself for what to expect at the GRE or GMAT testing location as well.
Prepare for the GRE
- Know whether you are taking the computer-based or paper-based test.
- The computer-based GRE is computer-adaptive, so you must answer the questions in the order they are given.
- If you take the paper-based GRE, you can answer the questions in any order, and you can change your answers. Don’t forget to answer all of the questions! You receive no penalty for incorrect answers.
- Practice by writing essays at home, sticking to a 45-minute limit (like the issue task) or a 30-minute limit (like the argument task).
- If you are taking the computer-based GRE, complete the computer tutorial before the actual test begins. You have up to 30 minutes to finish it.
- If you are taking the paper-based GRE, bring three or four pencils. Mechanical pencils and pens are prohibited.
Prepare for the GRE Subject Tests
- You won’t know everything on the test. Yes, the test covers only one subject, but that is a lot of information!
- The test is 2 hours and 50 minutes and completely multiple-choice.
- Random guessing is discouraged. A quarter of the number of questions you answer wrong is subtracted from the total number of questions you answer correctly. Try to eliminate a couple of your choices before you guess so that you will increase your chances of choosing the correct answer.
Prepare for the GMAT
- The test is computer-adaptive. You cannot skip questions or change your answers.
- Arrive at least 30 minutes early to check in. If you arrive more than 15 minutes late, you might not be able to take the test.
- Practice writing essays in 30 minutes. This is the time limit for both the issue task and the argument task.
Prepare for Any Test
- Be familiar with the test format.
- Take practice tests.
- Read all directions carefully.
- Don’t rush through the test, but also don’t spend too long on a question.
- Bring identification.
- Dress comfortably.
Above all else, remain calm! Try to remember that almost everyone – including American students – also worry as they prepare for the GRE or GMAT before attending a US graduate school. Just take a deep breath and do your best.