Use GRE Strategy on Your Grad School Applications

April 8, 2014
Lauren Bernstein

Photo Credit: UBC Library via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: UBC Library via Compfight cc

Studying for the GRE is critical to Test Day success. You must learn the structure of test, familiarize yourself with GRE strategy, master methods and strategies for every question type, and review content such as math concepts and vocabulary. With all the work that you’re going to be putting in to preparing for the GRE, you’ll be pleased to know that this prep work can help you accomplish more than simply doing well on the GRE.

Many of the skills that will help you succeed on Test Day can also help you succeed in your graduate school admission process. I recommend that you get your GRE studying in first, take the test and get the score that you need for the programs you are applying to, and then dedicate the time your graduate school applications.

Apply GRE Prep Tips to Your Grad School Applications

  • Always read the instructions carefully.The first step of many of our Kaplan Methods is to read the question carefully. It’s really frustrating to get the right answer on the GRE—but to the wrong question. This attention to the important details is also a necessary strategy for your applications. Follow your target schools’ directions to the letter. Watch out for any page limits, make sure you send in every part of the application, and pay attention to deadlines.
  • Your first try shouldn’t be on the real thing. Just as taking practice tests and knowing what to expect on the GRE takes some time, so does applying to graduate school. Your first draft of your graduate school applications should not be your last. Just as it’s okay—nay, necessary!—to make mistakes and learn from them in your GRE practice, you can also learn from working through several drafts of your applications. If you lock yourself into the need to be perfect from the get-go, you won’t see your true potential for an excellent application (or a higher GRE score).
  • Treat every task as a new challenge. On Test Day, you want to focus in on one question at a time. It’s important to approach each question strategically by focusing in on what that particular question is asking. The same is true when you approach your applications for each school. You are the same person for each application, but you want to approach each school’s application with new eyes, marketing yourself for that particular program. Handing in the exact same package to every school will not allow each school to see why you’re a right fit for them.  A little personalization can go a long way to moving your application to the top of the stack.
  • Check to make sure that your answer makes sense. This is the last step of many of our Kaplan Methods, as checking your work can be the difference between a waste of time and a correct answer. You want to make sure that your time and energy pay off. There are few things more frustrating than going through all the steps necessary to solve for x, only to realize right after you click “confirm” that you were supposed to solve for x/5 or for y. Paying attention the right details is also important for your graduate school applications.  No matter how well-written your personal statement is, if the University of Texas receives your essay about how much you want to go to NYU, your hard work is for naught.

By using these Kaplan Methods, you can succeed not only on GRE Test Day but also on your graduate school applications. The key is to use all the skills you’ve developed in order to get into your target graduate school and achieve your goals!

Lauren Bernstein Lauren Bernstein holds a BA in History and a Master’s in Social Work, both from Washington University in St. Louis. She considers herself not only a peddler of esoteric vocabulary and obscure math concepts but also a coach dedicated to showing her students that they can and will score higher on Test Day by using Kaplan’s strategies. Lauren enjoys commuting by bike, creating art, and cooking her way through every vegetarian cookbook she can find.

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