This Thursday, we’re hearing from Mailee, who has some great tips to help you focus your studies. Thanks, Mailee! 🙂
About me: I was born and raised in the California Bay Area and ended up going to school around there too: University of California, Santa Cruz. I got my BA in Studio Art with a sculpture emphasis and minored in History of Art and Visual Culture. I’m currently applying to PhD programs across the US for Visual Studies. My proposed project centers around the ways in which technology shape our ontology and cultural identities. Other than academia, I’m really into science fiction books and films and love rock climbing—I have been bouldering/lead climbing for 6 about years.
My biggest challenge: I always knew that math was going to be a difficult subject for me. My problem come test day was two-fold: first, I didn’t cultivate good time-management skills. I was so focused on getting the right answer that I was unprepared to make educated guesses, and when I practiced on Magoosh I rarely timed myself (oops). Second, I had thought that the test would be a little more balanced when it came to question types, but I got unlucky and over half of the questions asked were centered around a topic that I was particularly shaky on (absolute values, even for quant comp!), and hardly asked me any questions for topics that I was good at (geometry, statistics). I think that if I went back to take the test now, I would practice much more with general math strategies. It doesn’t matter if I can plot out age matrix problems if I can’t do it in under two minutes, and it especially doesn’t matter if I’m never asked! The GRE is pretty unpredictable when it comes to problem sets, so you’ll be in MUCH better shape if you go in with a strong grasp of basic concepts and ballparking. All in all, I ended up getting scores that fall right in the range of accepted PhD candidates for my proposed field, so I got off lucky…but I think I could do much better knowing what I do now!
Tips for other students: Practice beating that clock. As often as you can, put yourself in a situation that mimics the GRE itself so you can really take a hard look at how well you’re doing on a section. And, frankly, there will likely always be question types that you’re pretty bad at whether it’s on the verbal or the math section, so rather than freaking out about every little thing, work on strengthening your overall test-taking skills.