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So How long should you study before taking GREs


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14 replies to this topic

#1 Mattk87

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Posted 11 August 2010 - 03:08 AM

Ok I am thinking of going to grad school. I graduated in May and I want to get the ball rolling as soon as possible. It seems after looking online you can schedule to take the GRE about any time you want, so I was wondering for all those who have taken the GRE how long would you suggest a person would want to study for it, and would you reccomend just taking the normal GRE or a specialized one?
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#2 American in Beijing

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Posted 11 August 2010 - 04:45 AM

Ok I am thinking of going to grad school. I graduated in May and I want to get the ball rolling as soon as possible. It seems after looking online you can schedule to take the GRE about any time you want, so I was wondering for all those who have taken the GRE how long would you suggest a person would want to study for it, and would you reccomend just taking the normal GRE or a specialized one?


I'm in history as well, and none of the schools I applied to required the subject test. I don't even know if there is one. There must be, I guess. To be honest, I think it would be a waste of time unless you have VERY little background in history. Even then I would recommend taking some kind of course in the fall over taking the history subject test.

I took the GRE twice (my first AW score was absolutely horrible, so I had to take it again). Both times I gave myself just over a month to prepare. The first time I took it was in early February of my senior year. I spent the entirety of my January break studying for it. The second time I took it was in late July of that same year. I waited to study until a week or two after my graduation ceremony.
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#3 diehtc0ke

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Posted 11 August 2010 - 05:16 AM

I'm fairly certain the only GRE subject test in the humanities is English Lit.
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#4 Eigen

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Posted 11 August 2010 - 03:57 PM

Even if you want to take a specialized GRE, you'll almost certainly need to take the general as well.

Personally, I think people spend too much time studying for the GRE that could be put to better use improving their resume in other ways.

I scheduled my GRE a month in advance, and then studied when I could over that time frame.

Another option is to take a practice GRE now, see how well you do (remember that the Princeton Review and other such practice tests will net you a lower score than you will make on the real GRE) and go from there.

If your scores are decent (1200+ is fine, or even 1000+ if you're using the PR test), then schedule the GRE about a month in advance, and use that as an opportunity to shore up the weak points from your practice test.

I think I've mentioned this on the board before, but none of the grad students I've met studied more than a few days of review to familiarlize themselves with the general questions. Scores were varied, but except for really low scores (300-400 in each area) I've yet to meet someone turned down because of their GRE scores.
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#5 TheDude

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Posted 11 August 2010 - 07:39 PM

I might be an outlier here. The only math that came to mind easily for me was statistics because I had been immersed in it for a couple years. The math on the GRE isn't hard, but it is a lot or stuff I haven't used for 7-8 years. Naturally, I wanted a full scope review of things- as a result I started studying in June w/regularity. I think it really depends on what your strengths are. You won't know how much you should do unless you try some practice tests.
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#6 Eigen

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Posted 11 August 2010 - 08:49 PM

I might be an outlier here. The only math that came to mind easily for me was statistics because I had been immersed in it for a couple years. The math on the GRE isn't hard, but it is a lot or stuff I haven't used for 7-8 years. Naturally, I wanted a full scope review of things- as a result I started studying in June w/regularity. I think it really depends on what your strengths are. You won't know how much you should do unless you try some practice tests.


Exactly.

Take a test, see how you do.

Most people will need a review of the basic math, because they will not have seen it in 5-8 years. After you take a test, you can see how much you remember, and what you need to work on.
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#7 DrFaustus666

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Posted 11 August 2010 - 09:19 PM

Ok I am thinking of going to grad school. I graduated in May and I want to get the ball rolling as soon as possible. It seems after looking online you can schedule to take the GRE about any time you want, so I was wondering for all those who have taken the GRE how long would you suggest a person would want to study for it, and would you reccomend just taking the normal GRE or a specialized one?

I've been following various people's posts about the GRE for 10 months now.

Some people don't study at all for the GRE, some study for a weekend, the average is about 2 to 3 months, and some study for a year or more.

As you've just graduated a couple of months ago -- and assuming you studied hard and did well (3.5+ GPA) in a well-rounded curriculum, meaning both reading-writing-heavy and math-medium-to-heavy ... then a month or two of study is probably more than enough for you.

If your background is weak in either reading-writing or math, or both, then you should study longer than that.

The thing I can't figure out for myself is, "Why can't I improve my math score significantly?" ... I've bought every book there is, taken umpteen practice tests and worked about 1500 to 2000 math problems in the past year, and my math score went up only from 670 to 690 ... while my verbal actually went down. I'm scheduled to take it ONE MORE TIME in September, to try to get into the mid- to upper 700s in math, while not falling too far in Verbal, I hope :)

So .... it's a crapshoot, as it seems.

Sorry for the babbly maudlin ruminations.

Good luck!
John

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Current: MA student, Germanic Studies, U-MD-CP

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Es war einmal ein Hund, der verließ seinen Herrn, [ ... ] und suchte sich westlich [ der Elbe ] einen neuen Herrn. --Günter Grass

#8 balderdash

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Posted 12 August 2010 - 07:39 AM

I decided I was going to take it mid-June and scheduled it for 3 weeks later. When I started studying, I was getting around 1300. After spending about 3-4 hours per day studying after work, I ended up with a 1570. So if you're willing to work at it pretty consistently and thoroughly, a few weeks is enough time.

Ok I am thinking of going to grad school. I graduated in May and I want to get the ball rolling as soon as possible. It seems after looking online you can schedule to take the GRE about any time you want, so I was wondering for all those who have taken the GRE how long would you suggest a person would want to study for it, and would you reccomend just taking the normal GRE or a specialized one?


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Decision made.

#9 DrFaustus666

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Posted 12 August 2010 - 02:48 PM

I decided I was going to take it mid-June and scheduled it for 3 weeks later. When I started studying, I was getting around 1300. After spending about 3-4 hours per day studying after work, I ended up with a 1570. So if you're willing to work at it pretty consistently and thoroughly, a few weeks is enough time.


Balderdash, a 1570 is a splendid, superlative score! No more than maybe 500 people out of the 450,000+ GRE test takers each year score 1570 or above. Congratulations, but I believe your results are NOT typical.

Cheers, and good luck in whatever you do.
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Current: MA student, Germanic Studies, U-MD-CP

Considering for PhD (musicology): University of Southern North Dakota at Hoople, UC-Davis, U-IL-Urbana, U-WI-Madison, U-Ind-Bloomington, NYU, UVA, UCSD, U-MD-CP

Es war einmal ein Hund, der verließ seinen Herrn, [ ... ] und suchte sich westlich [ der Elbe ] einen neuen Herrn. --Günter Grass

#10 balderdash

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Posted 13 August 2010 - 12:10 AM

Balderdash, a 1570 is a splendid, superlative score! No more than maybe 500 people out of the 450,000+ GRE test takers each year score 1570 or above. Congratulations, but I believe your results are NOT typical.

Cheers, and good luck in whatever you do.


Well thank you for the praise, but I think it's much more to do with tenacity before and luck during the exam. I just meant to impart that it's not impossible to raise scores drastically in only a few weeks if one works really hard and has a bit of help.
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#11 2xM

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Posted 13 August 2010 - 03:04 AM

It all depends on your background, if your starting point is high, a bit of studying will likely raise your scores quickly, but I imagine you'll start seeing diminishing returns after a threshold period. I took a diagnostic test in Powerprep before any studying and managed 1300. I then slacked off and didn't take it very seriously, leading me to a grand total study time of 5-6 hours for 5 days. I scored 1390 on the real thing, but I feel I definitely could've hit 1430 had nerves not gotten the better of me.
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#12 DrFaustus666

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Posted 13 August 2010 - 02:23 PM

Well thank you for the praise, but I think it's much more to do with tenacity before and luck during the exam. I just meant to impart that it's not impossible to raise scores drastically in only a few weeks if one works really hard and has a bit of help.


It all depends on your background, if your starting point is high, a bit of studying will likely raise your scores quickly, but I imagine you'll start seeing diminishing returns after a threshold period. I took a diagnostic test in Powerprep before any studying and managed 1300. I then slacked off and didn't take it very seriously, leading me to a grand total study time of 5-6 hours for 5 days. I scored 1390 on the real thing, but I feel I definitely could've hit 1430 had nerves not gotten the better of me.


Well I honestly don't know what to think.

I took the test in 2005 with absolutely no preparation whatsovever: scored 1470 (800-V 670-Q),
I took it again last Feb, (hoping to return to grad study)--after studying about 6 months on math, and my Feb scores were 740-V and 690-Q ... Note after 6 months' math study I only went up 20 points and my Verbal actually came down 60 points!

I want a 1570 just like you Balderdash ... :) ... so I've been feverishly studying math in every free moment since February, and will take the fricking test again on Sept 17. There's nothing in the math that I don't KNOW ... It seems to be just a matter of integrating that knowledge under time and test pressure.

Anyway ... from my own experience, a short or even medium length of study is NOT sufficient. It may be that I just don't have any math talent beyond the high-average range, and I should just accept the 690 (63rd percentile). But I think I need stellar scores on BOTH because my hoped-for interdiscipinary field (writing computer models of classical music) would require a very high skill level in both.

We'll see.

Anyway, good luck to all of you!
John

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Current: MA student, Germanic Studies, U-MD-CP

Considering for PhD (musicology): University of Southern North Dakota at Hoople, UC-Davis, U-IL-Urbana, U-WI-Madison, U-Ind-Bloomington, NYU, UVA, UCSD, U-MD-CP

Es war einmal ein Hund, der verließ seinen Herrn, [ ... ] und suchte sich westlich [ der Elbe ] einen neuen Herrn. --Günter Grass

#13 i.am.me

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Posted 14 August 2010 - 01:43 AM

Anyway ... from my own experience, a short or even medium length of study is NOT sufficient. It may be that I just don't have any math talent beyond the high-average range, and I should just accept the 690 (63rd percentile). But I think I need stellar scores on BOTH because my hoped-for interdiscipinary field (writing computer models of classical music) would require a very high skill level in both.


Good lord. Your intended field sounds way difficult yet utterly fascinating. I belong in the Math Stupid category...I'd be glad if I could break the 500s in the Quant section. LoL

It's best to target your identifiable weaknesses and study for those instead of getting hung up on study time...and everyone studies differently.
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What have I done??


#14 adaptations

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Posted 14 August 2010 - 12:11 PM

I think you just have to weigh your starting point versus your end goal. In my case I had a strong math background, but hadn't used it for years, so a month or so of studying was sufficient to dramatically increase my math score - because it was mostly re-learning. On the verbal side, I started at a higher point on my practice test, but found it took more time studying vocab and such to get a relatively small return - that said, the small return may make a big difference when looking at top tier schools (or maybe not).

Having taught for Kaplan and taken a Princeton review course, I'm of the mindset that if you are diligent and dedicated to studying and make use of the available resources (even without taking a class) you can be prepared for the GRE in three months or less. For some people it may just be a few weeks of review to gain familiarity with the test, for me, I appreciated the two and a half months to really focus on it, and have the confidence when taking the test. Best of luck!
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#15 DrFaustus666

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Posted 14 August 2010 - 04:33 PM

Good lord. Your intended field sounds way difficult yet utterly fascinating. I belong in the Math Stupid category...I'd be glad if I could break the 500s in the Quant section. LoL

It's best to target your identifiable weaknesses and study for those instead of getting hung up on study time...and everyone studies differently.


Thanks to all for your replies ... my identifiable weakness, so it seems----besides the fact that the last time I took a math course was 1970-1971 and it was "Math for Education Majors in Non-Math and Non-Science fields" ..., i.e., considerably easier than my H.S. math (grad June 1970), where I had made it to calc----my major weakness seems to be simple carelessness, like getting 8x7=56 and 9x6=54 confused---that considered, it's astonishing I scored as HIGHLY as I did in Quant.

But I'm still shooting for 750 or above.

And as to my field being way difficult but utterly fascinating, yes that's how I see it too ... VALIDATING the computer program would be by far the most difficult thing ... and I'm imagining myself defending the dissertation when one of the committee members has secretly run my program and it told him Beethoven stunk and Salieri (or Ditter von Dittersdorf) wrote better music. :)

Again, cheers, and thanks!
John

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Current: MA student, Germanic Studies, U-MD-CP

Considering for PhD (musicology): University of Southern North Dakota at Hoople, UC-Davis, U-IL-Urbana, U-WI-Madison, U-Ind-Bloomington, NYU, UVA, UCSD, U-MD-CP

Es war einmal ein Hund, der verließ seinen Herrn, [ ... ] und suchte sich westlich [ der Elbe ] einen neuen Herrn. --Günter Grass




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