There are few ways around it: education beyond the bachelor’s degree is becoming more and more urgent if you desire a prosperous career path. The need for highly specialized employees grows steadily and a general education no longer cuts it with employers. If this reality compels you toward graduate school, the first order of business should be to lock up those admissions requirements. First among them is scoring successfully on the Graduate Record Examination (GRE). Depending on the institutions–and degree program–to which you apply, you may compete with a sizable applicant pool. Standing out requires you to ace the GRE.
About the GRE:
Administered by the Educational Testing Service–the publisher of standardized exams like the nursing Praxis test and the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFK)–the Graduate Record Examination consists of a general test and, in certain cases, a subject matter test. The general test, much like a Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT) for potential college applicants, measures the following competencies:
- Verbal reasoning
- Quantitative reasoning
- Analytical writing
By way of contrast, the GRE expects a more extensive vocabulary (no surprise after three years or more of undergraduate education) than the SAT and requires more writing.
The verbal reasoning section seeks to ascertain a student’s ability to make reasonable conclusions from a set of statements; distinguish between actual meaning versus metaphor; and discern the intent of an author, among other things. Both brief sentences and lengthy passages serve to challenge the test takers in this regard.
Quantitative reasoning tests a candidate’s ability to determine meaning by use of numbers. Content from arithmetic, algebra, and geometry appear in this section, as do questions that evaluate the capacity to analyze numerical data.
Analytical writing is there to assess the student’s powers to think critically and express intricate ideas clearly and succinctly. The GRE gives test takers two opportunities to do this, expecting them to respond to specific challenges with equally targeted answers.
The general test is now accepted at a growing number of law schools and MBA programs. Those aiming at certain academic disciplines are expected to also take a GRE subject test. These disciplines are offered a corresponding test:
- English Literature
Students are well-advised to check with each graduate department as to whether the subject test is desired or not.
Preparing for the GRE:
Given the increasing competition among graduate school applicants, you best not skimp when it comes to preparation. While there are many good books out there regarding exam content, systematic test prep–i.e. coaching, practice tests, and feedback–is best suited to sharpen critical thinking powers, of key interest to the GRE.
There is no shame in seeking assistance. Just as job applicants find success when assisted by professional resume consultants, so too can you attain admission to your graduate school of choice by getting help to ace the GRE.