The GRE examination is a standarised test that is necessary for taking admissions in many graduate schools worldwide. It is the most widely accepted admissions test and has primarily three sections: Verbal Reasoning, Quantitative Reasoning, and Analytical Writing Assessment (AWA). The GRE exam syllabus mostly covers rudimentary concepts and while the questions by itself are not difficult, the exam duration and myriad topics can be challenging to test-takers. It is also notorious for putting up pitfalls and traps to confuse students, so you should pay special attention to the GRE exam pattern and avoid common GRE mistakes that students make.
In this article, we will talk about these common GRE mistakes- both during the GRE preparation and on the test day. We will also be detailing ways using which you can avoid the mistakes and ace your exam.
Common mistakes during GRE preparation
Procrastination- Delaying preparation until only a couple of weeks is left for the GRE examination
This is the first GRE mistake that aspirants do. Even after having all the resources and enrolling in GRE classes the motivation to study just doesn’t crop up. That is because the concepts in GRE are rudimentary and the questions appear very easy the first time you look at them. It is only when you start practicing, you will realize that while the questions are easy, there are small tweaks in each format. You need to do extensive practice and give enough mock tests for spotting them.
Not scheduling the GRE exam before starting preparation
This is the second GRE mistake and it encourages the first one. The GRE can be given all through the year and it’s a blessing as well as a boon. You see, once you have the liberty to schedule any time, you will keep on delaying it until its too late. Then only about two weeks will be left and you will be underprepared to state the least. Schedule the exam before starting your preparation. Ideally, about two to three months away from the current date. This way you will also have a deadline in mind and it will motivate you to start your GRE preparation.
Not giving enough mock tests
You should give at least 5 full-length mock tests before attempting the actual GRE exam. There are two reasons for it. The GRE exam duration is about 3 hours and 45 minutes with only a 10-minute break in between. We are not accustomed to sitting for that long at home without any distractions. This will cause a lapse in the concentration and hence affect your performance.
Not analyzing the mock results
Giving mock tests is a futile practice if you don’t analyze your performance. Analyzing results and discussing with your mentors for possible improvement is a time-taking procedure. So be patient and make this a habit. It will not only improve your performance drastically, but you will also learn about unknown hacks.
Focusing on just one section
This is one of the most common GRE mistakes, and most of the time it is the Quant section that is left out. GRE verbal is considered to be very difficult because of the extensive usage of vocabulary. As a result, students focus on GRE verbal and learning vocabulary much more than they do for practicing quant problems. Balance your GRE preparation so that you cover both the sections. Because while quantitative reasoning has simple concepts, the question formats are confusing. So you need to have a good understanding of the different question types.
Ignoring the AWA section
Another common mistake, especially because AWA marks are not a part of GRE scores. AWA does not have any specific syllabus and overs a huge range of topics. But if you do not cultivate the habit of writing over a period of time, you will not be able to write during the GRE. So practice writing on at least one AWA topic each week.
Also Read: 25 AWA Tips you should keep in mind
GRE Mistakes to avoid on the test day
Spending too much time on a tough question
This GRE mistake arises from the confidence and prior knowledge that GRE questions are mostly rudimentary. So when you face a tough problem, you cannot make the judgment and let it go after a point. This not only hampers your performance in that section but also your overall performance. So, quickly understand if the question is a tricky one and if you cannot figure out the method to solve it in the first 30-40 secs, skip. Come back to it later once you are done with the easy ones.
Worrying about previous section performance
Every time the computer prompts you to go to a new section, you get a fresh start. You can’t switch back to a previous section if you suddenly recall a vocabulary word that had escaped you. You can’t double-check your arithmetic on a math question. Forget the current section as soon as you enter the next. Many aspirants make this GRE mistake and underperform in the section they could have excelled in. We understand, this sounds easy but is actually tough. And this is where the GRE mock tests will help you.
Panicking over/Losing track of time
A very common GRE mistake which can easily be dealt with by giving more and more GRE mocks. Every section of the GRE has a specified time limit. The on-screen clock (which can be turned off, in case it’s making you anxious) displays the remaining time you got. You know before going into the test exactly how many questions are in each section and, therefore, how many minutes you should devote per question. Have a strategic approach for each type of question during your preparation to avoid missing out on easy questions.
Confirming the answer hastily without double-checking
When you answer a question, the computer gives you a second chance. Your screen offers you a Confirm button that you have to click on before your answer becomes permanent. So don’t rush and double-check for any careless mistakes.
Leaving questions unanswered
Most of the competitive examinations in India like CAT, XAT, AIEEE, etc have a penalty to a wrong answer or negative marking. The GRE exam pattern is different in this aspect. And this is why it is a crucial mistake to leave out questions unanswered in the GRE exam paper. There will be tricky questions you cannot figure out the answer to. Focus on making an educated guess in those situations and quickly move on.
Ignoring the breaks in between
You are offered a short break (usually five minutes) between sections (Verbal, Quants, and Analytical). It is usual for you to aim to finish the GRE exam as quickly as possible especially if it’s going well. Many aspirants feel they will lose focus if they take those breaks. However, our brain is not equipped to concentrate at a stretch for such a long time. So utilize those breaks to relax- stand up, swing your arms, just walk around, or have some water. Any physical discomfort will result in the lapse of concentration, so make sure you are taking that opportunity.
Expecting a particular score while giving the test
This seems a very small thing but in reality, is one of the most understated GRE mistakes that test-takers do. It is motivating to have a target score in mind while doing GRE preparation, giving GRE mocks, and analyzing them. But do not carry that score in mind while giving the paper. It will make you unnecessarily anxious and your concentration will surely take a hit.
There are two kinds of examinations: One where the topics are complex and most of the time is spent in figuring out the method of solving. The second where your aptitude, quick thinking, and logical deduction is tested. The GRE examination falls in the second category. It is a speed test which does not believe in cramming formulas or figuring out complex equations. It tests how you make sense of data, logically connect random pieces of information, and how quick you are while doing so.
Keep the above tips in mind while doing your GRE preparation and on the test day.
Stay Relaxed, Believe in the hard work you’ve put in and Ace the exam!
Read More: Low GPA? Know How to Shine Through!