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First of all; don’t panic. Understanding the “why” behind the GRE requirement is the first step. The GRE (Graduate Record Examinations) is a standardized assessment test used to measure graduate-level skills and comprehension. As a tool for universities and colleges, the GRE can allow schools to concretely see how adept an applicant is at tackling complex problems that require analysis and reasoning. These skills are relevant for graduate-level academic work and real-world applications. Schools want to know that an individual who is a potential student in their program has the ability to think critically and reason both verbally and quantitatively.
Once you are set in the knowledge that you need to take the GRE, the next course of action is to practice, practice, practice. Take a full exam to see where you need the most work. There are many services that offer GRE study plans and packages. You can also check out your local library; in addition to the free internet, most libraries offer free resources to help you study and prepare for the test. Your alma mater or a nearby community college is also likely to offer courses to help prepare and take practice exams–either for free or for a relatively small fee. There are books that can be purchased that include tips and study guides and practice tests to take, and any number of blogs that also specialize in GRE assistance.
Make sure you have a plan and a self-imposed study schedule. You know yourself better than anyone–how much time can you devote each day to studying? Are flash cards your thing? Do you need the absolute quiet of a library study room or do you thrive in the hustle and bustle of a busy coffee shop? Figure out how you best learn and the place you need to be in order to really get into your critical-thinking head space. Think about the times of day that you feel most motivated and stimulated. Are you a night owl or does that first cup of coffee in the morning really get your blood pumping? These things may seem trivial, but the key is making sure you give yourself every opportunity to succeed based on your unique make-up. Because let’s be honest–if you hate late night cram sessions but that’s the only time you allot to prepare, you might still accomplish what you need to and get the scores necessary for your grad school applications, but you also might be setting yourself up for a whole lot of unnecessary stress and worry.
So what if you just don’t want to put in the money or the effort to take the GRE, but you really feel like you need that advanced degree? Well, you are in luck–there are many schools that have exceptional online programs that DO NOT require the GRE as part of their admissions requirements. Intrigued? Check out the 50 Best Online Master’s Programs That Do Not Require the GRE for a healthy list of programs that could be just right for you!