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How did studying for the GRE go if you've had a 5+ year break?

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How did studying for the GRE go if you've had a 5+ year break since undergrad?

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It went okay. I should have spent a bit more time on studying quant (I scored a 158). I had a month to study and spent less than half of my studying time on math. I memorized formulas, but didn't do nearly enough practice problems. (And probably didn't memorize enough formulas.)

I've forgotten the quadratic equation again. I always forget the quadratic equation.

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Yuppp, mine went okay, too! I actually also got a 158 quant, which was fine for my decidedly non-quanty field. I only ended up studying for about two weeks, which was... kind of dumb, but whatever. I'm sure you'll do fine. My main problem in quant was running out of time, so I'd focus on learning all the little tricks and shortcuts if I had to do it again. The knowledge is back there in your head, it just takes a little longer to access it.

 

I also would have started with a daily vocab review of some sort well ahead of time—I knew I wasn't going to be able to cram 30,000 words in a few weeks, so I just went with what I knew. In studying for that, I would focus not just on the words, but also learning the types of questions they like to ask for reading comprehension/comparisons/etc. I got 164 on verbal.

 

For AW, I mostly just looked at examples and figured out they all kind of stick to a formula, and then just did that on the test day. I really liked the Analyze an Argument section, where I just pretended I was a prosecutor on Law & Order and my job was to hammer down on the person until they cracked :) I got 5.0 for the writing section.

 

Anyway! I think the best part of being on the older side was that I was in a really good mind space during the exam. There were lots of 20 year olds there with their parents who looked like they were about to cry before we went in. I got into a very zen place knowing that I'm already an ADULT and I know that I know things and I have a job and that people who love me and that I'm more than just the numbers that the computers spits out, etc. etc. So I felt like that was a good place to be in for taking something as silly and terrifying as the GRE.

 

Good luck!

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I devoted the summer to studying. I made myself a schedule and stuck to it. My main concern was quantitative because I don't use that stuff everyday while language and vocabulary I do. I budgeted in times to take practice tests to see how I was progressing and just did tons of practice. (The year before that, I only spent a couple weeks reviewing and didn't do as well as I could to make me the most competitive applicant.) I did less prep for the writing section, just looked at the possible prompts from the GRE website. For vocab, I bought some of those sets of vocabulary terms from Manhattan Prep. I got 162 on the quantitative, so I felt pretty good about that considering I hadn't taken a math class since high school (so no formal math for like 8 or 9 years). It's just about spreading it out and not rushing through it. Take time to mess up and go back and try again. I just figured that buying a bunch of books was cheaper than taking one of those classes or paying for the test again.

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I only studied for the GRE for about two months. I tried to grind on the quantitative because I am terrible with math, but it got to the point where I literally gave up on it— I'm an English major and applied to English programs, so math is the least of my worries. Instead, I focused on vocabulary mostly. I didn't even practice for the writing section. Magoosh has a great GRE vocab app that you get on your phone for free, which I found really helpful.

 

In the end, I scored an embarrassing 140 on the quant, but got a 159 on verbal and a 5.0 on the analytical writing. I was just accepted into Fordham's MA program yesterday, but am unsure about it as they didn't offer me funding "at this time." I guess my point is that you can still get decent scores and get into programs even if you don't spend an entire year preparing for the thing. 

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I spent probably around two or three months prepping a little bit at a time. I focused about 75% of my time on the quant, 20% on the verbal, and 5% on the AWA. I used Magoosh app and website testing, which I found to be a good resource. 

 

The quant really killed me though. Even after all that studying, I only managed a 151, which was pretty detrimental on my applications to social science programs. 

 

I did fine on the rest. 165 verbal and 5.5 AWA. I'm hoping that does me some good in the one journalism-focused program to which I applied. 

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GRE is a joke. I seriously hope you don't have trouble with that exam.

If you need to "study" hard for the GRE, that means you are probably not cut out for grad school. Instead of studying, you should read more and think quantitatively to improve your mind functions so you naturally increase GRE AND IQ at the same time, which is a lot more useful then preparing for one test.

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GRE is a joke. I seriously hope you don't have trouble with that exam.

If you need to "study" hard for the GRE, that means you are probably not cut out for grad school. Instead of studying, you should read more and think quantitatively to improve your mind functions so you naturally increase GRE AND IQ at the same time, which is a lot more useful then preparing for one test.

You sound like a pleasant person. 

 

I think there is something about a pot and a kettle and the color black here considering your status...

 

OP, just get on a study plan (Magoosh lists a few based on the amount of time you have before the test) and schedule the time. Studying (and finding the time to study) was pretty difficult when there is so much else (life in general) on your plate. But if you properly budget your time and get good materials, you should be fine (I took it 4 years out of undergrad for reference).

 

 

I've forgotten the quadratic equation again. I always forget the quadratic equation.

 

I can never forget that since my teacher made us memorize it in song. I guess it was actually a good memorization tool in hindsight.

Edited by <ian>

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I took the GRE after a 5+ break from my masters program. While the GRE is not a great predictor for how well you will do in a graduate program, schools do use it as a measure of comparison so I took it seriously. I decided to treat it like a job and studied full-time for about 3 weeks. I signed up for the Kaplan computer class. I thought spending the money would be an incentive and that it would provide me with structure. I didn't study any vocabulary until the night before. Instead I focused on the other components of the verbal and quantitative section. My scores improved dramatically and were better than the reported minimum/average/typical admitted student scores/percentiles from the doctoral programs I was interested in applying to. My main advice is to sign up for a test date first and work backwards. Having a test date will make it real. And then make a schedule for what you need to study/accomplish per day and stick to it. Lastly, take timed practice tests. They help!

 

Best of luck to you as you begin to start studying. Studying for the GRE sucks but we have all survived. It is only for a limited time. When you think you can't possibly do another practice problem always remember that it's almost over. 

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My main advice is to sign up for a test date first and work backwards. Having a test date will make it real. And then make a schedule for what you need to study/accomplish per day and stick to it. Lastly, take timed practice tests. They help!

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Oops I meant to quote that. In any event the above advice is spot on I think. I also worked backwards by registering for a testing date then setting a study schedule. I also did a pre-test and then weekly timed tests. I knew exactly how well I was going to do going in. I could have chose to study more at that point but I was satisfied with my scores from practice tests. I ended up scorning 5points higher than both my quant and verbal practice tests. So the practice tests were a good gauge for me. Good Luck!

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As a humanities person, I studied really hard for the GRE for a month and literally studied only math, since I knew that I could do well on the reading and writing sections without working too hard. In the end, though, all the math studying did little to help me, as the GRE gives you so little time per math problem that learning how to do equations the traditional way really isn't going to help you much. What you really need to do is learn how to solve the problems using shortcuts, going backwards, and using deduction since most of them are multiple choice. Even with all of that studying, I barely broke my absolute minimum target score in math, while I got an almost perfect score on reading and writing. It is possible to study for a long time and do the practice tests to bring up your score in the area you're weaker in, but frankly, I don't think it's worth more than a month of your life, since your humanities program isn't really looking at your math score too closely (and vice versa for someone in the sciences). 

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I was in that boat when I retook it back in August of last year.  I had taken the old one back in 2005 or 2006 before applying to masters programs, so my scores were too old.

 

I found Kahn Academy helpful for preparing for the Quant section, since I haven't used most of that math since I was a college freshmen (decidedly NOT my field).  After twelve years, the brain gets, shall we say, a little rusty on the math!  I didn't spend too much time prepping for that part, since I knew it ultimately wouldn't matter for my field, but I did want, at least, not to have a humiliatingly low quant score.  I do have my dignity . . . well, that is, I did have some until I started applying for a PhD . . .   ;)

 

For the verbal, I prepped using Magoosh's free materials, a great website called Number2.com (actually, I think I used that one to help me remember math as well), and several nice free apps that I found for my iPad.  I also reread some older (19th century) novels for fun, since the language in there tends to be higher level and is a more engaging way to refresh oneself.  What with teaching overseas for the past four years, I had gone a while without using many of the GRE-level vocab words, but luckily those are pretty easy to get back up to par with.  I made a few sloppy mistakes because of the math section rattling my confidence, but on the whole my score was perfectly acceptable.

 

For the essay section, I just went to the GRE website and looked through their pool of prompts.  Rather than practicing writing them, which seemed a little pointless, I instead just practiced phrasing well-argued answers out loud to myself.  I did that for probably an hour per night for about a week before the test, and it was plenty of prep.  Oh, and one other thing that was helpful:  I located a few good websites about logical fallacies so that I could brush up on identifying common fallacies quickly.  

 

On the whole, I agree with maelia8 that my time spent prepping for the math was pretty much a waste.  They don't give enough time for most of us non-math minds to work out the problems, so I found myself guessing random answers quite a bit on the math sections.  I actually got frustrated enough that I ended up crying, which was a little embarrassing (I just HATE to be completely inept at something).  After the test, I soothed my wounded soul with a very well-deserved Wendy's frosty.

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GRE is a joke. I seriously hope you don't have trouble with that exam.

If you need to "study" hard for the GRE, that means you are probably not cut out for grad school. Instead of studying, you should read more and think quantitatively to improve your mind functions so you naturally increase GRE AND IQ at the same time, which is a lot more useful then preparing for one test.

 

 

Did awful on the GRE Q.

 

Got a full scholarship for a terminal MA into a top rater regional university.

 

Was awarded travel grants and an additional scholarship to cover textbooks.  

 

Graduated a semester early with a 3.93 GPA.

 

Looks like my 'IQ' was fine after all, and the GRE is just a piss poor indicator of graduate success. :)

 

 

 

Oh, and I am up to two PhD acceptances. 

 

 

 

OP, studying for the GRE was pretty awful for me because my 40 hour a week job flared up to about 80 hours a week from May to September and moreover, I commute for two hours a day back and forth to work. 

Edited by TheMercySeat

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I didn't have to take the GRE, but my GMAT score was horrid, for me.  I went directly from studying and passing all four CPA exams to studying for the GMAT, thinking it would be more of the same.  Several hundred hours and tears later, I finally took the test and got in the 83rd percentile, 50th in quant... and decided I was never going to go through that hell again.  But it really has nothing to do with IQ or intellegence.  I had a 3.97 undergrad GPA and a 3.8 grad GPA first go around, and obtained a CPA before 25.  I just don't use that kind of math often and didn't particularly pay attention to math in school, so I was bad at it. 

Take it seriously enough, because some programs love to wave their student statistics in everyone's faces.  But, don't get discouraged, and don't take it too seriously. They look at other factors too and their scores vary dramaticly.  As far as general test prep while working goes, set aside about 1-2 hours a day to study, and don't let anything get in the way of that.  Set weekly goals, and find a good test prep program.  I know they may look expensive, but the structure can help a lot.  Set a date to take the test before you start studying, and don't plan on dragging the studying out too long or you will just lose what you studied at the beginning.

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Went OK. I spent most of the summer prepping for it (2-3 months), in fits and starts. So I'd binge for a few days, then break for a week or even two, then binge again, then break. Not terribly efficient, but I ended up making enough of a habit out of it that my practice test scores steadily improved.

 

My SO did GRE flashcards with me, which made it way more fun/entertaining and less draining.

 

I ended up at 158 Q and 161 (or 163?) Verbal. 5 writing.  When I started taking practice tests I was significantly below that - and when I took the GRE over 5 years ago, my scores were actually lower! So I did a better job of studying this time :) You can doooo it!

 

Also I have tons of GRE materials for sale if you'd like. I'm going to post them soon in the lobby.

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