One of the most dreaded experiences leading up to grad school is taking the GRE. When you see a crowd of college students, you can pretty much pick out the ones who are preparing for the exam by the lack of sleep and loss of hope in their eyes. Still, testing companies keep this in mind, creating courses designed to prepare you for the challenging admissions examination. However, they can be costly and time-consuming. So, should you sign up for a GRE prep course? Let’s take a closer look at what it would mean to do so.
The Upside of GRE Prep Courses:
- They give you a better sense of what to expect on the exam.
- They provide an analysis of your strengths and weaknesses, showing you where you need to place your efforts.
- You will learn test-taking strategies, such as time management and choosing between similar answer options.
- Your instructor will be someone who knows the test and how to avoid its pitfalls.
- Learning in groups can offer insights that wouldn’t otherwise be realized.
- There is a motivation outside of yourself pushing you to work as hard as you can.
- You will be able to understand why you chose the wrong answer and how to correct your mistakes in the future.
- You may be able to take advantage of individualized instruction with your teacher.
- You will maintain a consistent study pattern, as opposed to cramming at the last minute.
The Downside of GRE Prep Courses:
- They can be expensive, with most courses in a classroom setting averaging a cost of around $1,000.
- Much of your performance is dependant on the teacher’s ability, which may not be as masterful as advertised.
- Classroom settings do not work for everyone, and you may find it difficult to work in a group of other people.
- They are plenty of free and cheap study materials available, such as websites, prep books, and smartphone apps.
- It requires a lot of time inside and outside of the classroom, which has the potential to be extremely taxing on people with strict schedule requirements such as college students and full time workers.
How do you know if a GRE prep course is right for you?
Before signing up for a prep course, you should get your hands on a GRE study book, either through a bookstore or local library. With this, you will be able to test yourself and see how well you do. A diagnostic test will help you determine how prepared you are for the actual exam.
If you feel like you’re able to continue with your personal preparation, then a GRE prep course might not be a valuable use of your time or money. However, if you realize that you’re not as proficient in your verbal and qualitative skills as you would like to be, it might not be a bad idea to start looking at what prep courses are offered around you.