I recently did an interview about taking the GRE, a graduate school readiness exam, and created this list of FAQ and answers to help you figure out if taking the GRE is right for you. If you are thinking about graduate school or taking the GRE, take a few minutes to read the following questions and answers. A few minutes of reading may help you make your decision!


What if I am not smart enough for grad school?

It is true; some graduate programs are extremely difficult to get into.  However, not all programs are impossible to get into.  If it is what you truly want to do, isn’t it worth a try?  There are many things taken into account when schools are selecting students.  Test scores and transcripts are just part of the process.  Each school is different.  Take some time to research schools and programs that you are interested in and get to know the application process and requirements.  Many of us imagine things being a lot worse or more difficult than they actually are.

Research, Testing, and Applications, oh my!  The process seems so overwhelming!  What should I do?

Any decision this big can seem overwhelming.  It is a lot of work!  Don’t let the work deter you.  Make a plan.  Break everything down into small chunks and easy wins.  Give yourself a chance to celebrate small wins!  I can’t say this enough, Create a schedule!

I have a tendency to procrastinate.  What should I do?

Tell everyone you know your plan!  You will find that they will ask you about your progress.  Break your plan into a weekly to do list and write it on your calendar.  For example, by the end of this week I will make a list of the programs and schools I am interested in learning more information about.   It is easier to overcome waiting until the end of a week to complete that week’s goals than it is to overcome waiting until the week before the application deadline and find it impossible to get everything together in time.

What if I do something wrong during the process of applying and ruin my opportunity?

The best way to avoid doing something wrong is to arm yourself with information.  Before you begin the process, check out different programs and schools that you are interested in.  Find out what the application requirements are before taking any additional steps.

In addition, it is always a good idea to seek out a mentor that knows and can help guide you through the process.  You can actually hire professionals that will help you with the research of programs, schools, applications and testing.  Feel like hiring someone sounds expensive?  You can find all types of mentors.  Not all cost money.  Contact your undergraduate college and ask if they offer support or advice about applying to graduate programs.  Talk to a friend, relative, and/or neighbor that has gone through the process.  Look up questions on the Internet.  Post a question to your Facebook friends.  You will find that lots of people will provide advice.  Remember, take all advice with a grain of salt.  Motivating and positivity can help you move forward, but negativity and naysayers can bring you down and stop you in your tracks.

When should I take the GRE or GMAT?

Don’t take the exam until you are getting consistent, reasonable scores on the practice exams!

Everyone you ask is going to give you a different answer. It really depends on the person and the deadlines set by the schools to which you are applying. Your scores are valid for five years.  This can be helpful to know.  You can take it early and give yourself more time.

Also, keep in mind that many applicants take the exam more than once. I would rather have more time than I need than not enough, so I would plan on taking it at least 6 months before the application is due.  However, people have done it in a lot less time!  Just remember, you have to give yourself enough time to get your results and have them sent to your schools of choice.

How much time should I plan for studying?

Again, it depends on the person.  Before deciding how long you will need, take a practice test.  There are many available online.  Use your results to judge the amount of studying you will need to do before taking the real thing.  You will find that many questions are filled with content from high school and your freshman year of college!  Doesn’t it seem so long ago!

Speaking from experience with the math portion of the exams, there are many formulas and tricks that have gotten lost amongst all of the knowledge you use daily.  You will need time to refresh your memory and practice.  In addition, many portions are timed.  You need to have practiced enough so that it becomes routine. If you spend a lot of time on each problem, you will not make it through the test.

Should I use a program to help me study for the exam? 

You have many options when you are looking for help studying for the exam.

  1. Big name brand companies like Kaplan and the Princeton Review offer comprehensive study programs and will be the first to show up on a search for your exam on the Internet.
  2. Take a trip to the library or the bookstore and you will find so many books to choose from!
  3. Local tutors offer content specific help to comprehensive test help.
  4. Free resources on the Internet.  The testing companies typically provide free resources to get you started.

You need to decide what you can afford and how much help you will need.  Again, before deciding, it is a good idea to take a practice test.

If I don’t score well the first time, should I give up?

Absolutely not!  Nerves can justify your first score! If your score is just slightly below the score you want, create a study plan and find support.  If your score is well below where you need it to be, I would recommend contacting an expert on preparing for the exam.  You may find that you do really well on one part but not so well on another.  Target your studying accordingly.

It is also important to note that each school treats scores differently.  Some will take the best score, some will average your scores, some will only accept the most recent, etc.  This is why it is important to know how your school will treat your scores prior to taking the test.

How can Math Ninja assist with GRE and GMAT Prep.

Both the GRE and the GMAT contain quantitative sections.  Together we can pre-assess, build a plan based on your schedule, and I can tutor your through the math content you will need to be successful on the test.  In addition to content, I can help you understand the question types and provide strategies for success. I offer both online and in-person tutoring.  If you are interested in scheduling an appointment or just have questions about how I can help you, please contact me by email at MathNinja.Tutoring@gmail.com or phone 843-732-0612.

If you haven’t found the answers you were looking for, leave me a comment.  I’ll do my best to answer your questions!

Angela Culley
FAQ about Taking the GRE
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3 thoughts on “FAQ about Taking the GRE

  • April 5, 2014 at 2:40 am

    Just thinking of taking GRE makes me cringe.

  • March 29, 2014 at 9:07 am

    Thanks for stopping by Sharon and sharing your experience!

  • March 28, 2014 at 9:03 pm

    I remember taking the GRE for grad school and I must say that I hate taking those kinds of test. I used one of the regular big oversized GRE study guides. Took the test. Applied to Grad School and then realized the school required the GRE but didn’t have a required score…. Glad to be past those days of test-taking.

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