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Preparing, Part 1: My Stats and Game Plan

So I think before I get started on this journey I should probably go a little bit more in-depth about myself. I mean, the GRE is a difficult test—you know that, I know that, blah blah blah. But I mean really, if you’re somebody like me, this is going to be REALLY difficult. Let’s see:

NAME: Trisha

AGE: 20

HOMETOWN: Redlands, CA (A quaint small town two hours east of Los Angeles. Yeah, you’ve probably never heard of it.)

OCCUPATION: Third-year college student at UC Berkeley

MAJOR: English. By the way, please don’t ask me who my favorite author is… that question always makes me paranoid that people may be judging me based on the books I read. (But if you must know, I recently finished Zeitoun and that was a spectacular book).


HIGHEST LEVEL OF MATH: Calculus BC (But that was in 12th grade, which was quite a few years ago). I think I got a four on the AP test. If I took that same test now… well I would be lucky if I got a 2.

COMMITMENTS FOR THE SUMMER: A night class at Berkeley City College and a two-day a week internship. Squeezing in time for the GRE might be a little bit difficult, but I have big blocks of Nothing time on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays.

WORK ETHIC: Eh… but I could get better.

As you can probably see, my area of weakness will most likely be math. I haven’t thought of math since I finished that AP test back in May of 2008 (whoa… so long ago) and, frankly, I stopped being interested in math long before that. It just wasn’t my thing, you know? I’ve always loved the humanities side of life. This is the reason why I think I should devote a lot of time toward relearning a lot of the math principles covered here. That means I’ll spend probably a good month and a half on that section.

But just because I’m an English major doesn’t mean I don’t need practice on the verbal/analytical writing section. I think I also need to work on my general test-taking skills. The best SAT score I got was a 2050, which I know isn’t something to be ashamed about. It’s a competitive score. But I studied obsessively for the SATs and (oh I know I shouldn’t be ungrateful) after a few months of hard work I felt like I could have done better… or should have done better. I know a ton of classmates who took their SATs on the fly and scored well over the 2100s. Being around these naturally smart people just kind of got me down. I mean, there are times I actually believe what those ETS people always declare: that this test is a measure of natural intelligence.

Well you know what? I say screw that. I’m going to do well on this test, dang it! And you’re going to help me.


(Which is, of course, subject to change.)

The GRE that I’m planning to take will be either in October or November of this year. If I take it in October, I’ll have three months to prepare, but if I take it in November I’ll have a little bit more leeway in terms of my studying plan. Most likely in November though.

WEEK 1. (July 4-10)

Online preparation—read up on the basics of the GRE. Look through book reviews. Buy books! Also, when they come, start memorizing words.

WEEKS 2-4. (July 11-31)

Verbal—this is where the bulk of my studying vocabulary will be. Here I’ll systematically go through the infamous Barron’s wordlist. While I do that, I’ll study up on analogies and sentence completions. I anticipate the last week (week 4) to be dedicated to reading comprehension, which is probably my worst section on the verbal.

Also—take a diagnostic practice test!

WEEKS 5-9. (The WHOLE month of August)

Math—since August will be my least busy month, I plan to devote four weeks to it. I’ll probably be seeking help from friends about individual questions, answering problems online, and trying to remember all of those simple principles of math that I forgot. Wish me luck.

Verbal—I will also probably continue some light exercise work, but I plan to pound through the vocabulary list some more.

WEEKS 10-12 (September 5-25)

**I will have started my junior year, so I’ll probably be doing a little less work. But I do plan on reviewing.**

Math—keep truckin’ along! Take a sample test every week.

Verbal—Start reviewing some vocab learned in July. Continue with light exercises.

Take a practice test!

WEEK 13 (September 26-Oct 2)

BREAK. (Subject to change)

WEEKS 14-15 (Oct 3-16)

Take a practice test!

Math—continue worksheets.

Verbal—more vocab review, and review analogies.

WRITING! Most of these weeks’ work will be spent looking at sample prompts and how to answer them.

WEEKS 15-GRE day (Oct 17-?)


Now of course, I must reiterate: this game plan is subject to change. It’ll all depend on availability, vacation, whether or not I feel like it (hopefully my laziness doesn’t interfere with my schedule too much, though) etc. But for the most part this will be how it will look like.

Also, my mom is going to send me a digital camera through the mail this week, so I promise posts will have pictures soon. This week is going to be a crazy week (I have an essay due this Saturday), but I’ll keep you posted on which books I buy.

Now, let’s get this ball rolling!

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