Grad schools and those pesky tests

KatelynMorrisWe are fortunate this spring to have with us Katelyn Morris, a public relations major on our campus who is interning with us. As a soon-to-be college graduate, she will be able to provide interesting insight into getting to the end of her college years and what lies ahead. Kateyln will be taking over the blog for the next couple of months until she graduates.

If you’re thinking about applying to graduate school, did you know schools require you to take a test? This in one misconception I had when planning my future. I thought only certain programs required the testing, or at least I was hoping. I don’t know about the rest of you, but the mere thought of an important, life-altering test freaks me out. PhotoForMarch4Post

So, if you are thinking about graduate school, it is a good time to start figuring out what type of test you’ll need to take in order to apply. Like most things in life, the test is less scary if you’re prepared.  Here are some helpful tips to get you started on your journey to grad school:

  1. GRE vs. GMAT. Decide what school you ideally would like earn your degree from. Then figure out whether they prefer the GRE or the GMAT. In many cases, the GRE is acceptable at most graduate schools and some business schools. The GMAT is mainly used for admission to business schools.
  2. How to prepare for the GRE.  U.S. News & World Report recommends six helpful tips to prepare you for your exam:
    • Go back to high school: You will be expected to know both geometry and algebra, which you learned years ago from your high school math teacher. Make sure you can recall how to solve equations for each.
    • Sleep with your dictionary:  A college-level vocabulary will help you through the verbal section. Simply by reading more, you can obtain a larger vocabulary than someone who doesn’t.
    • Take a GRE prep course:  These can be a bit pricey, but they will help you understand what will be expected of you for the test.
    • Take a practice test!:  Many websites offer free test samples, and familiarizing yourself with the test format can improve your scores.
    • Don’t like you score? Take it again: It is true that all the scores, even the lower ones, will be available to the school, but they tend only to care about the highest scores.
    • Take a tough English course: A hard English class or writing course challenges students to become better writers, which is important for the two essays in the analytical section of the test.
  3. How to prepare for the GMAT: Conveniently,  U.S. News & World Report has 6 tips for GMAT test preparations as well:
    • Take it early, take it often: The earlier in your college career you take the test, the more math you’ll remember from high school, which makes up most of the math covered on the exam.
    • Take economics and statistics in college: It is important for people taking the GMAT to be familiar with both economics and statistics, as some of the questions will require them to utilize concepts from both.
    • The verbal section matters more than you think: The verbal section grade is combined with the quantitative section grade, so relying on your math skills only will not generate a high score. Business school expect students to know how to communicate just as much as they expect them configure a marketing budget analysis.
    • Data sufficiency questions require sufficient practice: Andrew Mitchell, director of graduate programs at Kaplan Test Prep and Admissions, said, “They’re foreign, and they’re tricky, and there are certain traps that people fall into again and again before they’re familiar with the question type and before they practice it.”
    • Adapt to the computer: The test is a computer adaptive test, so the questions change based on how well you are performing; the more answers you get correct, the harder the questions get. Also, cameras are everywhere to make sure no one cheats. The test can be intimidating for first-timers.
    • The first 10 questions are very important…but so is every other question: How well you do on the first 10 questions of each section affects your score more than the remaining ones. However, you can’t spend all your time on these questions and risk running out of time to answer the rest.
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