Don’t Be Fooled by Common Misconceptions About the GRE

April 1, 2014
Craig Harman

April 1st is here, and you know what that means: pranks, jokes, and odd press releases in which companies make outrageous claims: “Wow, Google says they’re going to set up a colony on Mars!” . . .  “Hey, Nike has invented an anti-gravity shoe!” . . .  “Whoa, did you see that McDonald’s is going to start serving kale and quinoa?” On one level, most of us are naturally skeptical of any seemingly suspicious claim made on April Fools’ Day. One another level, what harm is it to entertain the thought? Perhaps some of us choose to believe these stories simply because we want them to be true.

When it comes to the GRE, be careful to separate what you want to be true, and what is actually true. Don’t fall for the common misconceptions that so many test-takers believe. In fact, I believe Mr. T put it best when he said, “I surely do have pity upon the person who acts in a foolish manner.”  Wait, no, that’s not right, is it? I think it was more like:


Yeah, that’s it. And if Mr. T happened to be a GRE instructor, I believe he’d pity fools for a number of reasons. Check his list and make sure you’re not on it.

Fools that Mr. T pities (for believing common GRE misconceptions)

  • Those who believe the GRE tests intelligence. GRE Mr. T says: “Quit yo jibber-jabber! The GRE tests your ability to recognize patterns in a highly predictable format. Prepare and practice, and your score will improve, sucka!”
  • Those who believe the GRE will be a breeze. GRE Mr. T says: “You making me mad, sucka! While the GRE is a highly beatable test, even those who score in the 99th percentile give it the respect it deserves. Some of the questions on the test can be extremely challenging, and unless you’re scoring a 170 in both sections, you still have room to improve.”
  • Those who don’t think they have to practice the essays. GRE Mr. T says: “Take it from me, Mr. T (first name Mister, middle name period, last name T!): in addition to testing content knowledge, the GRE is a test of endurance. Spending an hour to write two essays is pretty tiring, so get used to it by the time Test Day rolls around.”
  • Those who wait until the last week to prepare for the GRE. GRE Mr. T says: “Listen up, fool! The GRE isn’t a test you can cram for! Though the concepts and question types are predictable and repeated, it takes consistent practice to improve.”
  • Those who think that they should shoot for minimum requirement scores. GRE Mr. T says: “Gotta teach these fools some basic rules! While lots of schools post minimum requirement scores for various programs, that doesn’t mean that a program will accept you if you hit those scores. Scoring well above the minimum requirement will make you a more competitive applicant. On top of that, great GRE scores can lead to financial scholarships and grants.”

This April Fools’ Day, cut out the jibber-jabber and be sure you don’t fall for common misconceptions about the GRE.

Craig Harman Craig Harman has been teaching and tutoring GRE and GMAT students in Central Pennsylvania for over three years. A graduate of Denison University in Ohio, Craig spent a couple years working in film production before discovering his inner test-prep geek. In addition to having helped hundreds of students achieve their academic goals, Craig also enjoys concocting elaborate plans for his garden, playing basketball, and working on documentary film projects.

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