5 Tips to Nail the GRE

Time to throw it back… to the GRE! Although this test can be daunting, don’t let it scare you. Personally, I took both the MCAT and the GRE, and I can say first hand that the MCAT involves way more studying. Don’t let this fool you though – you still need to study for the GRE. A good GRE score can set you apart from other candidates when applying to veterinary or graduate school.

So how do I nail the GRE?

1. Set a goal.

What score do you need (at minimum) to get into graduate school?  What is the score you would be happy with? Visualize it, draw it in big numbers all over your study materials, make a poster with the number and hang it on your wall so that every day you know what your goal is.

2. Decide how you are going to prepare.

Personally, I used Magoosh GRE Prep to prepare for the exam. Their practice test very accurately depicted my score, except I got one point higher in math on the actual exam.  Their platform is very user-friendly and affordable. Magoosh (and some other GRE prep platforms) help you develop a plan for studying, which is essential to nailing the GRE. This leads me to number 3…

3. Develop a plan and STICK to it.

No one is going to be holding your hand through this exam like maybe you experienced for the SAT or ACT. It is up to you to decide to succeed on the GRE. Plan according to your goal. Schedule your study sessions in your apple or google calendar, in a planner, on a notepad. If you don’t organize your life yet, think about dedicating a specific calendar or notebook just to your GRE study sessions. It helped me to think of these sessions as part of a daily “To-Do List”. The hardest part of studying for the GRE (for me) involved committing to my study plan because at that point I had been out of school for three years.

4. If you are low on time, focus on your weaknesses.

When you are coming down to the wire, focus on areas where you are weak and will see improvement. For example, I struggle with standardized math (even the basics, sadly).  On the contrary, I excelled in Advanced Placement Calculus in high school, so I exempted out of all college math courses at the age of 18. I had not really thought about math in about 6 years when I took the GRE. Therefore, I really focused on math, especially learning shortcuts that I could use to help me move through the problems more efficiently.

For those who struggle most with the verbal section of the GRE, Vince Kotchian offers tons of free resources and easy tools for learning GRE vocab. His resources are unique because he only uses official ETS test questions to help you prepare for this part of the exam. You can check out his free resources by clicking here.

5. Capitalize on free resources online.

If you can’t afford to pay for a GRE prep service, there are plenty of free resources on the internet for you to discover (like the Vince Kotchian GRE Verbal Test Prep that I mentioned above). There are also apps that can be helpful when you are on your phone passing the time. I used the iPhone apps quite a bit and found them to be quite helpful.

Other resources:

ETS is a great resource when preparing to take the GRE and can provide everything you need to know about the exam. They even have free GRE prep materials on their website.  Princeton Review and Kaplan also offer some free exams that could be helpful, although I don’t directly have experience with either of these companies.

Final note:

The GRE is one of the major obstacles when applying to veterinary/graduate school. However, it is important to remember that it is just an exam, and there are many more important aspects when preparing an application.

Specifically, when applying to veterinary school, animal experience weighs much more heavily than GRE scores.  Lucky for us, we don’t have to take the MCAT to apply to veterinary school and the exam is very similar to the standardized tests we grew up taking.

I hope you found these tips helpful.  The GRE really overwhelmed me initially, but after the exam, I felt that I had adequately prepared.  If you have any questions regarding my specific timeline for studying, feel free to reach out at travelingdogtor@gmail.com (or DM me on Instagram).

Photo of Monkey and I (circa January 2016) while he was interrupting my GRE studying, per usual.

If you have already taken the GRE and feel good about your score, but have not been accepted into veterinary school yet, I encourage you to read My Top 10 Tips on How to Get into Veterinary School.

Good luck!



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