Raise your hand if after you got to know GRE was mostly just a bunch of quantitative and verbal questions (before you started answering any of the questions yourself), you began wondering why people made so much fuss about it.
That was me after I eventually made the decision I would be writing GRE earlier in 2019. I kept wondering why in the world many people I knew made so much noise about the difficulty of the test. Mere quantitative reasoning? The last time I did anything with that name was primary school! Acing GRE shouldn’t be a problem!
Those were my thoughts until I did my first diagnostic test and with my scores right before my eyes, I became humble. It wasn’t that I flunked the test; rather my score was way lower than I expected. Almost everyone whom I have spoken with about writing GRE had always recounted very similar experiences. We all agreed that GRE had that effect of making you question yourself and your intelligence.
The most interesting part of my earlier experience came when I was trying to understand why I missed out on the questions I flunked only to find out that I knew most of them! All that led to my error were tiny mistakes here and there.
That experience and subsequent ones led me to the discovery I made about acing GRE that became a game-changer for me as I employed study strategies: GRE is not a test of your intelligence. I believe GRE is more like a test of how you can cleverly find the right answers that have been craftily hidden from you. I found that the test was designed such that the right answers are deliberately concealed while the wrong answers are intentionally and shrewdly made to look like the right ones. This led me to make a rule that in my GRE study strategy that the readily obvious answer is never the right one and I found that I was almost always correct with that rule.
Coming from my conclusion above, I realized that my GRE study strategy has to include deliberately honing my ability to believe in myself. In acing GRE, I realised my strongest weapon had to be my confidence. I needed my confidence to be intact even when I get confused about a question and many answers are looking alike to me. That way, I can quickly move on and answer the next one without feeling like the world had just collapsed and I was the stupidest person. That way, I don’t throw in the trowel inwardly and start to think I already flunked the entire test. So, in my GRE study, as I was growing my ability to decipher the right answer, I was intentionally growing my confidence about acing the test too.
On my test day, I found this strategy paid off! I had a particular section in my verbal part where I honestly felt like I didn’t know what I was doing. My mind was at the brink of giving up and saying this was over. And then I remembered my secret weapon of acing GRE and encouraged myself that no matter what happens, I was not stupid and “we die here!”. You can imagine my exhilaration when I found that I scored a total of 320/340 in the exams!
As you design your GRE Study Strategy and prepare for your test by practicing more quant questions and checking the meaning of every new word, remember to pay attention to this usually underrated requirement for acing GRE: your confidence. It can be as simple as putting up a sticky note with words that remind you that you are going to ace the test, like a friend of mine, did. Just keep that weapon. It is potent. You can do this. That’s not just a slogan. You really can. I wish you all the best in your exams!
Written by: Oluwatoyin Ajilore