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How to Prepare for the GRE: Examining Your Options

  • by John
  • Jun 10, 2011
  • GRE Blog

The GRE is an important part of your admissions process, so it’s worth devoting the blood, sweat and tears to prepare thoroughly for it. But how should you do so? You have three options: self-study, a class, and tutoring. In this post I’ll discuss the pros and cons of each.
You could just buy a book, set aside some time and study for the GRE by yourself. How hard could it be, right?
Pros: It’s cheap, you can do it on your own schedule, and you’ll only work on the skills you need to improve.
Cons: Self-study is tough for a couple of reasons. First of all, anyone who has tried to teach herself something knows that it’s tough to stay organized. Most people who decide to study on their own do a good job for the first week or so, then lose interest and procrastinate until a week before the test. The other problem is that it’s tough to teach yourself what you don’t already know: You’ll keep making the same mistakes without being able to figure out how to fix them.
Take a ClassDozens of companies offer GRE prep classes, and this is the option most students choose.
Pros: A class will keep you organized, and you’ll get lots of inside information on test-taking strategies if you go with a reputable test-prep company.
Cons: A class is aimed at the average student, which means that it’s not aimed at any particular student. If you’re doing okay on the verbal section but need help with math, you’ll waste some time listening to stuff you don’t need to know about the verbal section and then feel like the math curriculum moves way too fast for you. Every test-taker has different strengths and weaknesses, but a class can’t address all of them.
Hire a TutorMany students hire a tutor to prep them for the GRE one-on-one.
Pros: In addition to organizing your study, a tutor provides education addressed specifically to your needs, goals, strengths and weaknesses. For this reason, tutoring provides the best results in terms of score improvement. If you feel you need to significantly up your score to get admitted to the programs you’d like to attend, you should consider hiring a tutor.
Cons: Tutoring can be quite expensive– some companies charge more than a hundred dollars an hour for one-on-one sessions. Next Step, however, offers GRE tutoring at a far more affordable price.

Next Step Test Preparation offers complete packages of one-on-one GRE tutoring for less than the price of a packed prep course.  For more information, see our GRE tutoring page, contact or call 888-530-NEXT.
Photo credit Newton Free Library under a Creative Commons license.

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