Pre-Physician Assistant Student – Taking on the GRE
July 20, 2010 in Prospective PAs
First off, I want to quick toss in this apology for the rather boring topic…the GRE…sigh…a dismal reality for all us grad school applicants. Seeing that I just aced (wink wink) the GRE this past Saturday, I figured it would be a good time to share my newfound wisdom and knowledge on the topic! Just kidding, I certainly did NOT ace it, but I do contribute my decent scores partly to having a positive attitude so there’s tip #1 for all of you taking on the big bad GRE
HAVE A POSITIVE ATTITUDE! Tell yourself you WILL ace it. Positive thoughts and energy can work wonders in athletics and I truly believe you can psych yourself up to perform at your best academically as well. This will help you out especially when the very first word of the verbal section is NOT one of the hundreds you studied and you’re not recognizing any of the answer choices either!
TIMEOUT! Before I get too excited with my words of wisdom I should back up and give you some background!
What the heck is the GRE?
Well, GRE stands for Graduate Record Examination. It is required by many, but not all PA schools. The exam consists of 3 main sections: Analytical Writing, Verbal Reasoning, and Quantitative Reasoning. You can take the computer-based test or the paper-based test. I took the computer-based test which is how I received my scores (verbal and quantitative) right away.
Analytical Writing (45 min)- Issue Task. Two issues/opinions are stated and you choose one to discuss. Taking your own perspective on the issue, you construct your essay providing support and examples for you views.
Analytical Writing (30 min)- Argument Task. One argument is presented to you and you must critique and assess the argument according to logical soundness and valid reasoning.
Verbal (30 min)- 30 questions. Content: antonyms, analogies, sentence completions, and reading comprehension questions.
Quantitative (45 min)- 28 questions. Content: arithmetic, algebra, geometry, and data analysis.
Verbal Reasoning score reported on a 200 – 800 score scale, in 10-point increments
Quantitative Reasoning score reported on a 200 – 800 score scale, in 10-point increments
Analytical Writing score reported on a 0 – 6 score scale, in half-point increments
So I know what you’re asking… “What is considered to be a good score?”
According to the data from http://www.ets.org/gre/, the mean verbal score for all test takers from 2005-2008 was 457, the mean quantitative score was 586, and the mean writing score was 3.9.
(check out more details by clicking here)
Now back to me! I scheduled my GRE at the end of spring semester and back then, July 17th seemed extremely far away and I figured I would have plenty of time to study and prepare. Boy was I wrong! Time flew like it usually does and between summer school, work, research, my service trip, and volunteering, I found myself spending very little time studying for the GRE. This led to some pre-exam anxiety the week before…but the test came and went and in the end I was pleased with my scores. In hindsight of the whole wonderful experience, this is my advice to those of you who have yet to participate in the exciting event:
1) Read over the GRE website (here is the link again http://www.ets.org/gre/) for test details. Knowing what to expect relieves half of pre-test anxiety!
2) Purchase a used copy of a GRE prep. book. I used the Barron’s book and I really liked it! Read through the tips for each section and do a diagnostic test to see where your weak areas are and after studying up on those, take a practice test. The Barron’s book came with a CD-ROM which was nice for simulating the actual test complete with time limits.
3) Do LOTS of practice questions.
4) I suggest reading through the entire math review section. For me, I hadn’t seen most of that material since middle school and I had forgotten things like triangle properties and factoring polynomials. No worries though, it all comes back fast and easy!
5) I personally wouldn’t obsess over memorizing vocabulary words as I have seen some fellow students doing. The GRE is testing a vocabulary that takes years to accumulate and the odds are slim that of one of your studied words will appear on the test out the thousands of big scary words out there! I’m not saying don’t study up on word lists, but just don’t go crazy or you will make yourself miserable! When studying for the verbal section, try to come up with games, like matching or goofy ways to remember words.
6) Finally, RELAX and BREATHE. When the outrageous alien language vocab. words start intimidating you and seem impossible to remember, remember this instead: the GRE is only one of several factors that PA schools are looking at on your application.
I must say it feels great to be finished and exciting to be one step..no scratch that…HURDLE closer to my final destination
7) If you’re really feeling overwhelmed listen to that Hercules “Go the Distance Song”
GOOD LUCK EVERYONE!