Tips on Taking GRE Test
From my own experience taking the CBT CAT of GRE, I can give you several tips on taking the GRE test in Jakarta. The test center will almost certainly be The Indonesia International Education Foundation at Menara Imperium 28th floor Suite B.
- Use preparatory books to prepare yourself. There are several prominent books on GRE, including McGraw-Hill’s, Kaplan’s, Princeton’s, Barron’s, and some others. I am only familiar with McGraw-Hill’s and Barron’s. McGraw-Hill’s offers the most full-test – seven in all – but Barron’s offers a word list that will help you build your vocabulary.
- Use free software from ETS and McGraw-Hill to better help you understand the test. Grab the ETS’s Powerprep here and do McGraw-Hill’s online test here. ETS also provides Math Review and GRE Practice Book for GRE test takers.
- Practice timing yourself. I think the best strategy is practice a small set of questions with a given time to give you the idea of how pacing yourself is very crucial. Try to practice solving 10 questions in 12 minutes, for example.
- Have a good night sleep prior to the test. Highly suggested. No use in cramming in such a short time. Just relax, do anything that will help you ease yourself for tomorrow’s test.
- If you have a list of schools as your score recipient, have it written down and put it in your bag. You are allowed to send to five schools free-of-charge. Just write the names of the universities down, including the school/college/faculty name and have it ready in your bag. Don’t bother with the institution code, it won’t be needed, you’ll still have to search for the schools manually through the computer. You are only allowed to take the note inside the room after the test and after the proctor confirmed that you have finished the test.
- Get familiar with the location. Being in the downtown business district, the location is quite easy to reach. If you’re planning to get to the location with your car, remember to park in the lowest floor in the basement or you’ll face fines for illegal parking. The unreserved parking lot is rather limited, so come earlier if you do not want the hassle of being time-pressed to find the empty parking spot. Use the south side (right side if you come through the main lobby) elevators to go to the floor and then turn right after coming off them. Get to know the location of the bathroom just in case you need it.
- Have a hearty breakfast in the morning, if that’s your routine. The test will take four hours so you better prepare yourself for the battle. There are some cafeterias in the basement as well as small convenience store if you don’t feel like having breakfast at home.
- Do not forget to bring your ID & test confirmation receipt to the test center, and make note on the date and time. This is very essential. Trust me, I learnt it the hard way, so do not repeat my mistakes. Be there on the test location half-an hour before the test schedule.
- At the waiting room, just take it easy. There will be other people taking the test. Just keep to yourself or engage in small talk if you like. Be aware that there will be some who have taken the tests repeatedly and some others who constantly stares in their books. Just ignore their behaviour, do not let their conversation and behaviour set you up in a panic attack.
- During the test, pace yourself, pay attention to your time, and be prepare to sacrifice harder questions. Timing is very crucial. There is only 30 minutes time for each section; verbal has 30 questions and quantitative has 28 questions. You don’t want to run out of time before finishing all the questions – there will be score penalty – and you don’t want to have a lot of time left either. After practicing and doing mock-up tests, you will find the type of questions which will be the hardest for you, be prepared to just make and educated guess on their answers and move on to the rest of the questions. For me, my greatest burden was the data interpretation on the quantitative section, so I just skipped it altogether.
- After the test, take a complete note of you unofficial GRE score. It will not be printed out or provided for you after the test, not even on the GRE website. So, you better write it down yourself, just in case you can report unofficial scores first to your intended schools. I even asked ETS if they can help me out in case I forgot to write it down, and their answer was, put simply, no.
- If you have to retake the test, pay attention to the test retaking policy. ETS only allows the test to be taken once every calendar month and only up to five times in a whole year. You can use this policy to your advantage. For example, if you are trying to catch up with looming deadline for university application, try to take the test near the end of a month so you can re-take the test at the beginning of the next month.
That’s it. If you are expecting me to dole out tips on the preparation itself, you’re out of luck. I just prepared for the test in about a week or so, armed with only McGraw-Hill’s book and CD-ROM. Although I was lucky I was also preparing for GMAT before taking my GRE test. If you’re comparing GMAT & GRE, let me sum it up for you his way: GRE’s math is way easier than GMAT’s, but GRE’s verbal section sucks way more than GMAT’s. Oh, and ETS have several tips and strategies for you and TestMagic also has a great forum on GRE.