Shooting for Success on GRE's By Jason Zhu '14



JZhu_photo jpg.jpgJason having fun with edible electronics...


GRE Test-taking Advice

My name is Jason, and I am a junior who has been doing a lot of thinking about life after Olin.  My plan is to pursue a PhD in wireless communications because I have found that this is an area I am passionate about.  I'd like to take some advanced courses and do a significant amount of research in this area in graduate school.  So, to get started on the process, the first thing I needed to do was TAKE THE GRE's!

I worked hard to get ready for them, and am happy to say I did well.  But I learned a lot in the process, and wanted to share some of these discoveries with my friends at Olin  J.   Here's what I learned:

·         GRE stands for the Graduate Record Examination.  It's the test you need to take if you want to attend graduate school. 


·         I took them early, the summer before my junior year.  You can take them year round, any time from the fall of your junior year until you start senior year and begin your applications.  You can take them more than once. 


·         If you do not know anything about the test yet... start with the Official Guide for GRE.  The test-makers wrote this book and the format follows exactly. The second edition released this year is almost exactly the same as the first edition, except for one extra practice test in the book. 


·         Study Vocabulary*. Memorize a little bit every day and review them periodically. Kaplan Flash Cards + Princeton Review Verbal Workout should cover most of the important and difficult words. For extra vocabulary, Barron has a larger list of vocabulary online and there are other online resources such as Quizlet.


NOTE: I'm an international student, so I spent extra time on vocabulary.


·         Do a lot of TIMED practice reading. You should be fine if you are a fast reader, but if you do not read as fast, try practicing with some tricks from Princeton Review Verbal Workout. Read the questions much more carefully than the passage and make your choices based on elimination, i.e. read each choice because you are choosing the better answer, not the absolutely correct one.


·         Get familiar with analytical writing. Read the Official Guide for GRE carefully to understand the format. Keep in mind that the two essays are timed when you practice and take the test. Be very logical when you do both essays, especially the second "argument" essay.



·         Mathematics may come easily to you, but you should still be careful. Read the Official Guide on the section to get a better idea of the conventions and notations in the test. Catch up with topics like probability and statistics if you have forgotten them. The

official guide should give you a sense of what topics you need to catch up with.


·         Practice tests tell a lot!  There are only four practice tests made by the GRE test-makers. * Practice tests in other books can be good extra practice but still differ quite a bit from the actual GRE test. *  

Two are in a software program: PowerPrep II is one that you can download for free; and the other two are on paper in the Official Guide 2nd edition. The first paper practice test in the 2nd edition is the same as the one in the 1st edition. The official guides have Powerprep II on a disk, but it is the same as the one you can download. The best is probably to do them before your GRE exam, because the score you get on these practice tests can be very close to the actual score you will get.


So in brief, your best practice test resources to predict your GRE are:


o   Two Powerprep II practice test that you can download

o   The paper practice test in the Official Guide (1st edition)

o   An extra paper practice test if you have the Official Guide (2nd edition)


PGP has most of these prep books.   And remember, if you're applying to graduate school, you should DEFINITELY be talking to Aarti Chellakere in PGP along the way.  She knows a lot about the process, the timing, the different programs at different schools, and can help you build the strongest application.  There's also a lot of great information about graduate school in general on the PGP website. 


Good luck!

Posted in: Graduate School