Thursday, March 24, 2011
Subject: Getting Ready for Grad School Part One -- Preparing for and Taking the GRE
The following is a guest blog by Reinhardt alumna and Hill Freeman Library & Spruill Learning Center employee Kirsten Rodning
Hello, Kirsten here. I am one of the newest members of the Hill Freeman Library and Spruill Learning Center team, having started work here after graduating from Reinhardt last spring. After graduation, I had to think through a lot of different options for my future, and while I was fortunate to get a job here at the library, I also decided to start planning for a future in Graduate School.
One of my first steps in preparing for Grad School was to take the GRE (the Graduate Record Exam). After doing a bit of google research and asking the friendly Reinhardt library staff for help, I discovered that I could easily sign up for a test date at a local test center on the Educational Testing Service’s website (http://www.ets.org/gre/). I signed up for a date that was a couple of months away, so I would have time to study before taking the test. The website also gave me many useful pieces of information regarding the GRE. The most important piece of information that I needed to know before signing up, however, was that there was a $160 fee that I was required to pay at the time of sign-up. This means that if you choose to take the GRE, you should make sure you have saved some money for the process.
After I had signed up for a test date, my next step was to visit Amazon.com and purchase study books to help with preparation for the test. I read reviews of various different study books, and finally chose the Princeton Review’s Cracking the GRE, along with a book of advanced study of the verbal section from Kaplan (this was especially important for me as an English major, since English programs look almost exclusively at the verbal section of the test). I also used the books and resources that we have available here in the Reinhardt library. These books included sample questions, practice tests, and other hints and tips for test day. Prospective GRE testees may wish to note that after taking the exam I donated all of my GRE test books to the library, so they will be available to other Reinhardt students as needed.
Finally, two months later, my test date arrived. While I cannot tell you what was on the test (I was sworn to secrecy!), I can tell what you should expect from the testing center and the conditions in which you will take the test. The first thing I am going to tell you is of vital importance: do NOT stress out too much over the test. Working yourself into a panic will only cause you to leave the test with worse scores than you were expecting. As long as you have given yourself plenty of time to study (several months – preferably more than two, as I felt rushed with that amount of study time), there is nothing else you can do. Just relax. It is also important to visit the testing center prior to your test date. This way you won’t get lost on the way and you’ll have a better feel for what the place is like.
The following is a list of things that you might want to bring with you when you go to take your exam: food/ drink (these will be left in a locker, but you will have a break in which you can grab a quick snack), Jacket (though if you choose to wear it, you must keep it on the whole time. If you take it off during the test, someone will interrupt you to take your jacket away – yes, I speak from experience), Earplugs (the testing center may have some they can give you, but you probably want to have these, as you will be in a room where other people are typing, sneezing, and tapping their pencils), your up-to-date Driver’s License or state issued ID (It can not be expired, and you will not be allowed to take the test without this), and a printout of your confirmation for your test date.
I also have a list of things that you might think are necessary, but should be left at home, in your car, or in the provided locker: study books (these are no longer needed!), a watch (you will not be allowed to have this in the test room), and your cell phone (also contraband).
Once I finished the test, my scores on the verbal and quantitative sections were shown to me (the writing score came in the mail a few weeks later). After I signed out of the testing center, I was free and clear! My scores were mailed to the Universities of my choice, and my next step was to begin filling out grad school applications (which will be covered in the next exciting blog entry!).