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GRE Student Post: “If you want to get there, you need to stop procrastinating.”

Screen Shot 2014-05-07 at 11.21.31 AMAnother Thursday, another student post! Today we’re hearing from Bryce. He has some awesome (and very witty!) tips for all you GRE-studiers. Thanks, Bryce! ūüėĬ†

About me: My name is Bryce. I grew up in small town Texas, and completed my undergraduate degree at Goizueta Business School (Emory). I’ve been working in the Accounting field for the past three years and will be applying to graduate school this year to matriculate in Fall 2015. I currently live in Birmingham and am living the dream.

Biggest challenge:¬†Being a ‚Äúmath‚ÄĚ person, I initially practiced¬†problems from the quant section, almost exclusively. Even though my degree¬†field does not favor verbal or quant, it was very hard to practice something¬†that didn‚Äôt come as naturally. I somehow convinced myself that I would work¬†every math problem, and THEN start working on verbal. Luckily, two weeks into¬†studying I came to my senses. My biggest struggle turned out to be the Sentence¬†Equivalence. I really had a hard time choosing two words that meant the same¬†thing, if a third word could fit the sentence as well.

What I would change: I would dedicate a little more time to the flashcards. As I was taking the test I remember seeing two or three words that I recognized from the advanced flashcards, but couldn’t recall their definitions. I memorized all of the common and basic words. My only change would be to just go ahead and have the whole thing memorized. The words are such a goldmine for the exam, and there is no better way to lose easy points than to ignore vocabulary.

Helpful tips for other students: 

1. Find a partner, but¬†not one to talk to.¬†‚ÄstThe best thing about studying for the GRE was my girlfriend ignoring me. Let me¬†clarify that. My girlfriend is in Medical school and was studying for Step 1 of¬†her board exams. I decided to schedule my exam the day after hers. This way,¬†over the next weeks we would both be pressured to study and not waste time (gazing¬†in each other‚Äôs eyes is NEVER a waste of time). During those weeks we held each¬†other to higher standards than we would have on our own.

¬†2.¬†Don‚Äôt neglect anyone. ‚ÄstOn that note, don‚Äôt¬†completely ignore everyone else in your life until after your exam. You do have¬†time to occasionally go out to grab a quick dinner. You do have time to go for¬†a run. You do NOT have time to help your friend move to a new apartment (a few¬†people probably think I‚Äôve been studying for the GRE for about 5 years now).

3. Set a specific timeline, and anything longer than 6 months is WAY too long. РFrom when I decided on my test date, I had 8 weeks to study. That included nights after work and a few longer weekends. Once you’ve got a time selected, don’t even consider moving the exam to a later date. That will make it too easy to not get down to business. Instead, act like this is your only chance. You’ll be much happier with yourself later (there are some good reasons to postpone your exam, but the season finale of The Bachelor is NOT one).

4.¬†Don‚Äôt get drained.¬†‚Äď No matter what your timeline is¬†(unless you signed up a week out, and I have no idea why you are reading this.¬†Get back to your Magoosh Dashboard!), studying every night of every week is¬†going to start working against you. This sounds counterintuitive, but those¬†habits are overwhelming and misery-inducing and most likely you are just¬†burning yourself out. Yes, I dedicated many nights to coming home from work and¬†studying until bed time, but I also dedicated some (alright, a lot) of time to¬†watching House of Cards. I would agree to study an hour or so and then reward¬†myself with something more exciting.

5.¬†Find other ways to trick yourself into studying. ‚Äď I really like¬†puzzles, and typically do Sudoku. For the past 8 weeks I gave those up and¬†instead worked crosswords when I was bored. I knew it probably wasn‚Äôt the best¬†use of my time, but it was closer to studying verbal than say playing Candy¬†Crush (I refuse to admit the hours I‚Äôve committed to that). I also exchanged my¬†standard reading (reddit) for the suggested ‚ÄėThe Best American Essays‚Äô. This was¬†just a small extra helper that let me ‚Äústudy‚ÄĚ without actually having to answer¬†a question.

¬†6.¬†Really want it.¬†‚Äď Every time I would open up my phone and¬†want to click on an app, I would have to pass over the Magoosh GRE Vocab Flashcards.¬†Initially I would skip right over it and think, ‚ÄúAh, it‚Äôs just for five minutes‚ÄĚ.¬†But soon I realized, five minutes in the elevator, three minutes waiting in¬†line at the store, ten minutes in the bathroom (this is just an example ‚Äď I err..¬†would never use my phone there) would all eventually add up to a significant¬†amount of time I could be practicing. Change your background on your phone to¬†the logo of your dream school. If you want to get there, you need to stop¬†procrastinating.

¬†7.¬†Go on a road trip.¬†‚Äď A few of the weekends I went on¬†longer drives out of town and listened to the lessons. While it is not probably¬†as good as watching (I do not recommend doing this while driving), listening to¬†the lessons helped solidify a lot of the methodology used to solve the¬†questions. For verbal, it helped me get used to actively taking in each word,¬†and create my own answer for the blanks. This is probably not a good idea for¬†quant.

¬†8.¬†Have a big reward waiting for you at the end.¬†‚Äď It doesn‚Äôt have to¬†be expensive. It doesn‚Äôt have to be shiny, but it does need to be waiting for¬†you once you finish. Giving yourself a largish reward for getting the whole¬†thing over with is another incentive to work harder. I suggest scheduling a¬†massage for the big finish. Your neck probably needs it after all the studying¬†you‚Äôve been doing.

Good Luck! Though, I’m sure you won’t need it!

By the way, students who use Magoosh GRE improve their scores by an average of 8 points on the new scale (150 points on the old scale.) Click here to learn more.

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