For some undergraduate students, going to graduate school is just another stepping-stone on their career path.
However, in the process of applying to graduate school, there is one thing that stands in the way: the Graduate Record Exam — better known as the GRE.
To help students succeed on the GRE, experts from Ohio State and McGraw-Hill, a company that makes GRE preparation guides, among other books, weighed in on how undergraduates can better prepare themselves for the exam, and ultimately, graduate school.
The right time to take the exam depends on the person taking it, said Carolyn Morales, the director of recruitment and diversity initiatives at Ohio State’s Graduate School.
“You have to align the test times of the admission deadlines with whatever respective program you’re interested in applying to,” Morales said.
As for when to prepare for the GRE, Morales aid to think in terms of application deadlines, adding many graduate schools have an early admissions period in the fall, and regular admissions in the early spring.
“If their goal is to get in early, then they’re going to have to be, of course, looking at starting that process early in the fall semester of getting prepped,” she said. “If your downtime is this summer, then that’s when you’re practicing the tests.”
Erfun Geula, author of “McGraw-Hill’s 2017 Premium Guide to the GRE,” said students should practice for the exam consistently before taking it. He said it becomes difficult for students to study during academic years due to course loads, so balancing studying is key.
The weight of the GRE score on whether a student gets into graduate school is dependent on the program, he said.
“Some programs, for example, like getting a master’s in philosophy, they’re not going to care too much about the GRE,” Geula said. “The flipside is programs where the GRE score is very relevant. So for example, if you’re applying to an economics program or a math program or a computer science program, they want to see that you can handle their curriculum on the quantitative side, so they’re going to expect a very high GRE score.”