According to forecasts, Hurricane GRE will be making landfall tomorrow. My November resolutions held up fairly well. I missed a couple practice tests, and I didn’t study my vocabulary quite as assiduously as I had hoped, but I still feel like my study strategies have prepared me pretty well — at the very least, they’ve given me confidence.
Since we’re only allowed to take the GRE once per calendar month, I picked a date near the end of November so that I can take it again in December if I have to. Also, I decided to sign up for an afternoon test because I wanted to make sure I was fully awake and so that I could spend a few hours beforehand warming up; the downside is that I’ll probably be spending all day pacing around my house swimming in a sea of vocabulary words, trying to cup as much as I can in my hands. The one thing that morning tests really have going for them is the fact that you don’t have time to sit around and stew beforehand.
We wish all grad students were this cute.
We have talked to several grad school faculty members to ask their opinions about the GRE, including the new changes, the rationale for looking at the scores, and the need for taking the GRE subject tests.
Few schools have a specific cut-off score for the GRE. Some weigh the GRE more if the GPA from the Bachelor’s degree is lower. Several departments in colleges do require the Subject test; however, even for some, this is just a formality; for others, a respectable score is mandated. Some require the GRE Subject test just for the PhD program; others need to see the results before admission to a Masters program is guaranteed.
The following is a brief interview with Huey Huang, a professor of physics at Rice University, concerning the relationship between the GRE and their admissions process.
Continue reading “Rice Graduate Admissions: A Spotlight Interview” »
California State University, Fresno
The Collegian, California State University at Fresno’s daily newspaper, published an article a couple days ago about why students choose to go to graduate school.
If I ever wrote an autobiography, I could probably copy and paste this piece directly (with appropriate citations, of course!) into it to describe my thoughts during my senior year. The job market, even for an electrical engineer/programmer was kind of bleak. I was constantly competing for the jobs I wanted with people who had years of experience in the field. Every time I found a job that sounded like something I really wanted, I would look down at the requirements and see “at least 5 years of experience.” Rage.
It seems like almost every person I know who has decided to go to grad school is doing it for the same reason — to find a job. Many graduates these days are finding that bachelor’s degrees aren’t enough to get the jobs they want because they’re not specific enough or because the four years in school didn’t provide them with enough real-world experience. It’s rough.
Continue reading “Why Should I Go To Graduate School?” »
While I stand by my earlier statement that the math section of the GRE isn’t significantly different from the math section of the SAT, there is one caveat to that — data interpretation. I actually think that data interpretation on the GRE is more comparable to data interpretation on the science section of the ACT. It’s a good idea to actually spend some time looking at the graph before diving into the questions. At the very least, you should examine the following:
1. The Title
What is the graph/table/chart depicting? There will often be more than one graph on the GRE, so knowing the difference between what each graph is showing is an absolute must for answering the questions.
2. Graph legends
Is there more than one set of data on your graph(s)? (Almost definitely.) Better figure out which symbols correspond to which data sets!
3. X and Y-axis labels
Sometimes you can figure out exactly what the graph is depicting by reading the title, but sometimes you can’t. It’s important to know what each axis of the graph represents. Also pay attention to units!
Let’s take a look at an example (from the ETS’s Practicing to Take the GRE General Test 10th Edition):
Continue reading “GRE Math: Data Interpretation and Analysis Questions” »
See how happy they are? This is exactly what it will be like.
Even the most studious of us need some help keeping ourselves accountable. So here are some tips on how to stay on task:
1. Make a schedule
Block out specific times around your school/work schedule. Dedicate these times to GRE preparation and graduate school applications. Stick to it! What’s the point of a schedule if you just push things aside willy-nilly? I study best at night, so my studying times are mostly in the evening. If you don’t like studying in the evening but work during the day, maybe you can take long lunches and practice/study during that time, then stay a little later at work to make up for lost time. The key is to make sure that you create a schedule that works for you and maximizes productivity.
2. Come up with a study plan
Use practice tests to guide your plan of attack. Keep taking practice tests at regular intervals to track your progress and adjust your plan accordingly. Is math your strong point? Spend some more time on verbal. Is verbal a piece of cake? Practice more math!
3. Find study buddies
I prefer to study on my own most of the time, but having a study buddy is by far the best way to keep myself accountable (that I know of). Study buddies inherently pull each other out of the pit of procrastination — when you bring someone else into the mix, it’s no longer just about you and your schedule. Plus, meeting at an agreed location (quiet libraries are better than noisy Starbucks, btw), is a great way to remove yourself from distractions at home and really focus on the task at hand. Finally, it’s always great to be able to go over problems with someone else, who might see them from a different perspective.