GRE Excellence: Your Training Plan
What was your favorite part of the recently-concluded London Games? Was it watching competitors smash world records? Seeing veteran champions such as Misty May-Treanor and Michael Phelps end their athletic careers on high notes? Gasping at the dramatic upset victories by up-and-comers, à la Katie Ledecky? I’ll tell you what my favorite part about this Games was: The coaches. Every coach of a world-class athlete understands that reaching peak performance is more than just being in top physical form – to take home the gold, a lot of other factors have to come together. The same is true for acing the GRE: While content practice such as building up your vocabulary and mastering the exponents rules is crucial to hitting your target score, mental preparation and stamina are just as important to both your preparation and your plan of attack on Test Day. Here are three lessons from London coaches that can help you train and be at your best when you take the GRE:
- Bob Bowman is known for pushing Michael Phelps to his physical and mental limits from the time Michael was 11 years old. He would make Michael swim for several consecutive days at meets, so that the young swimmer was exhausted to the point of tears. The goal? To give Michael the capacity to concentrate and perform under any circumstances. While you shouldn’t study for 12 hours straight for days on end to prepare for the GRE, you do need to prepare for a four-hour or longer marathon of a testing experience. The best way to ensure that you can focus for the duration of your GRE test is to regularly take full length practice MSTs (multi-stage tests) – this is the only way to guarantee that you’re in top form on GRE Test Day.
- Mark Cannella, the coach of rising weightlifting star Holley Mangold, posts her workout schedule at her gym, so that the other patrons know when she’ll be there – in fact, he encourages the public to observe her workouts. For Holley, constantly having an audience motivates her to put all of her energy in every single lift, even if it’s just practice. How can this preparation tactic help you? Tell people that you’re getting ready for the GRE – having the support of others will keep you motivated, keep you from slacking off, and will overall create a more conducive environment for GRE prepping . This will likely result in fewer invitations to Tuesday-night happy hours with your friends, but remember that 1) it’s only temporary, and 2) they’re doing it for your own good.
- Liang Chow, the coach of double-gold gymnastics medalist Gabby Douglas, gave her advice during her all-around competition that is very applicable to how you should behave on Test Day: He forbade her from looking at the scoreboard until she had completed her last event. He didn’t want her to know how she was stacking up against the competition – he wanted her 100% focused on her own performance, regardless of the score. That compartmentalization paid off, and it will help you too: While taking your GRE, do not¸under any circumstances, dwell on any of the sections that you’ve already completed. Yes, the GRE does adapt between quant and verbal sections, but there’s no way to determine the difficulty level of the second quant or verbal section with any certainty. Don’t even worry about questions within each section that you don’t know how to solve right away – simply flag them, move on, and only come back to them if you have time at the end of the section. Giving each problem your full energy, and not splitting your focus, will maximize your GRE score.
You’re well on your way to training like a London champion. What other lessons did you learn from the athletes or coaches that you can apply to your GRE prep? Let us know in the comments!