Going to Grad School: Taking the GRE


Looking back on everything, I would say that the most stressful portion of applying to graduate school (besides actually deciding to apply) would be between taking the GRE and asking for letters of recommendation. This however, is about the prior not the latter. Let me just preface this by saying that I am not a good test taker. I'm forever second guessing myself and stress myself out insanely bad when I go to take tests. So for me, taking the GRE was one of the most nerve wracking days of my life. 

I ended up taking the GRE twice, and getting the exact same score each time. The first time I prepared for it a bit, sitting and studying and actually trying to learn. The second time I didn't really prepare - I wanted to see how I could do on my own. However right before I walked into the testing center I got the news that my uncle passed away. I ended up compartmentalizing how I felt and just focused on the test. I'm not upset with my scores either time, though they're not the highest - especially since I feel like I did the best I could. 

I would personally advise giving yourself enough time to be able to take the test twice before the application deadline. The first time you take it, you'll probably be insanely nervous and won't really know what the tests looks like. You're not sure what's on the test or what kind of experimental section you're going to receive. Once you finish the first test, you'll receive your score and then you can decide from there if you need/want to take the test again. The second time you'll go in feeling more relaxed because you know what to expect. Your nerves will still be high because you know you'll be sitting there for around 4-4.5 hours taking what feels like the longest test of your life, but you'll be less stressed than the first time. 

The first time I took the GRE was in early August, and I took it for the second time in early November. I allowed for a month before the applications were due just in case the scores wouldn't be able to sent to the different places that I applied to right away. After I took the test the second time, I made sure that I sent the scores to the same place that I had the first time. This allowed me to get four schools the scores for free. The other seven schools that I applied to I then had to go on the GRE's website after my scores had finished posting and order extra scores to be sent out to the remaining schools. 

If you’re interested in graduate school and are unsure where to start, I’ve done a couple of posts describing my experience with the application and the process. You can check out these posts if you are thinking about if you want to go to graduate school, need to know how to find a graduate school once you decide to apply to graduate school, how I wrote my resume for grad school or want to know what the application looks like

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