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MBA Heaven: Applying to Business School
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How to Prepare for the GRE...Effectively!

how to prepare for the GRE

The GRE started become accepted in business schools in the late 2000s. Traditionally, the exam was directed to students applying to graduate programs outside of professional schools in fields like the humanities and sciences. Today, many business schools have started accepting the GRE to widen the applicant pool.

Self Study:If you prefer to study alone, I recommend reading through a short list of handpicked self-study guides. This will cost less than $100 and take 4-8 weeks. You'll need to be disciplined and capable of learning without outside help.
gre self study

Classroom:If you prefer to learn in a classroom environment, consider Kaplan's course. This will cost you around $1,200 and span 4-5 weeks. You'll have access to a top-scoring instructor and proprietary study materials. This may be a good option if you're the type of person that requires external motivation and if you can afford to pay. Another potential drawback may occur if you're placed in a class where you're significantly better or worse than your classmates since instructors tend to teach with the average student in mind.
gre classroom


How to Prepare for the GRE: Self Study Plan

1 Build your Vocabulary With Kaplan's Flash Cards

Kaplan has put together a cute little box of flash cards containing the 500 highest frequency words that appear on the exam. Other test prep companies sell similar products, but we favor Kaplan's for its choice of vocabulary and simple, uncluttered design. Even though the GRE no longer tests vocabulary explicitly since analogy and antonym questions have been retired, a strong vocabulary is essential to achieving a top score. Each card has a word on one side and the definition, along with a sample sentence, on the other side. Bring these flash cards with you everywhere – on the subway, at work, in the bathroom, in the car, etc. You should try to learn a certain number of words each day, anywhere from 10-30, acknowledging that the human brain has limits to how much it can retain. In addition, you can complement your Kaplan flash cards with Dictionary.com's GRE words. They pull words from different databases, so between the two you'll have plenty of practice. Start early to avoid an ignominious fate (GRE word – definition: marked by or attended with ignominy; discreditable; humiliating).


2 Read Barron's GRE Book Cover to Cover

Each of the three major test prep companies – Barron's, Kaplan, and The Princeton Review – publishes a study guide. In our estimation, Barron's is the single best resource for math and verbal. It offers clear explanations and practice questions that are on the harder end of the spectrum. It also contains a 3,500 word vocabulary list that can supplement Kaplan's flash cards. Ideally, you should set aside 3-4 weeks to go through this material.


3 Do Lost of Practice Questions from the Official ETS Book

After completing the above books, we recommend doing practice exercises in the official guide published by the ETS. This is the only book published by the creators of the GRE and has hundreds of actual GRE questions that have appeared in past exams. In total, you should set aside 1 week to go through its many practice questions.

 


4 Take At Least Five Practice Tests

In order to avoid a panic attack on the test day, we recommend that you take five or more practice tests simulating real exam conditions. That means no distractions, no calculators, and strict timing. Both Barron and Kaplan's books contain CD-ROMS with computer adaptive practice tests. In addition, the official test maker, ETS, lets you download two full-length exams (for free) through their PowerPrep software. Taking two or more tests is an indispensable step to building confidence prior to the exam.


5 (Optional) Read Nova's GRE Math Book

A lesser known guide is Nova's Math GRE book. It contains a thorough review and hundreds of practice questions focusing exclusively on the quantitative section of the exam. This is a great resource if you want to achieve a high score on the math section, or simply want more practice. The authors review the full range of mathematical concepts, which will reinforce what you've learned in the Barron's book. Set aside 2 weeks if you'd like to take this extra step or find yourself scoring low on the math section.


 

How to Prepare for the GRE: Classroom Plan

Kaplan's "GRE Advantage On Site" Course

Kaplan Test Prep and Admissions (Kaptest.com)Kaplan is the leader in the test prep industry and offers a 4-5 week course called Kaplan GRE Advantage On Site. It is their most popular service and offers a comprehensive review of the exam in a structured classroom setting. You will meet twice a week in two and a half hour sessions and supplement your learning with homework assignments. This is a great option if you: (a) learn better with an instructor; (b) require motivation; and (c) have the financial resources. So if these apply, you'll know how to prepare for the GRE. Kaplan's instructors must score in the 90th percentile or higher to teach, so you'll know that you're being taught by the best and brightest. They also offer a higher score guarantee – if your score doesn't go up, you get your money back!

 

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