Saturday, November 23, 2013

My tips for taking the GRE (or any huge standardized test)

*biiiiig sigh* I'm finally done with the GRE and I can breathe!!!

Now that I have taken the GRE I'm practically an expert, right??? Right, I am. I decided I'd share of few of the tips that I found most useful during this crazy, stressful time. These are mostly tips for the actual test day because that was the part that stressed me out the most.

Get a prep book/take a prep course if you can afford it. Do some sort of preparation. I decided not to take a prep class because that seemed like a waste of money (in my opinion). I'm sure it would've been a great way to get prepared. But just using the book was enough preparation for me. I loved being able to practice concepts that would be on the test. Almost more than the concepts, the book just helped me get familiar with what the test would be like. It was great at telling me how the scoring works, strategies for being logical, and just the general format. For me, the unknown is what makes me anxious. So just knowing what to expect truly helped lessen my anxiety level.

Absolutely follow the suggestions and dress in layers to accommodate for any changes in temperature. I was so glad I did because I rolled up my sleeves a couple of times. In conjunction with dressing in layers, dress in comfy clothes. You don't want to be squirming around in your seat trying to get comfortable during the test. It's hard enough to focus already, so making sure you are comfy in the first place is a must. Additionally, if you have long hair, tie it back or bring a hair tie. I like having my hair down because it's most comfortable, but sometimes it just gets in the way.

Figure out a way to calm down and reset ahead of time. I'm kind of an expert to letting one little detail affect how the rest of my day turns out. Anyone else great at that? Not something you want to have happen on a big test like this. So I had to think of what to do in my short breaks to reset and be ready for the next set of questions. For my general relaxation methods, I love imagining I'm laying on a cloud, completely weightless, and letting my stress rise away from me. I adapted this imagery for my breaks between sections. I decided to close my eyes and imagine that section of the test sitting on top of a cloud and floating away. I just smiled and waved as it rose into the sky. I also forced my face into a smile. I recently listened to a Ted Talk that mentioned if you even just put your face into the shape of a smile you will feel happier. I figured that couldn't hurt, right??

Figure out your way to wake up. I honestly believe that half of this experience was testing my endurance more than my knowledge. Four hours? Really??? It was insanely long. And there were a couple moments during the test when I got tired and started not comprehending what I was reading because I was bored. I did expect that. Sometimes the questions or readings just aren't very interesting. But it was at the end of the sections right before my break, and I did not want to run out of time. And ya know what I did? I scrunched my face up really tight and clenched the butt cheeks. I heard in one of my classes that it's a very effective way to stay awake and alert. I probably looked weird, but I was awake, so I don't mind. I did that a few times and it seemed to at least get my muscles active again.

Just relax. First, relax during the test. If you have very high anxiety for situations like this, research some relaxation techniques that you can do before and during the test. Second, relax after the test. Celebrate that you just took a big test that you have probably spent hours, weeks, or months preparing for! I was so happy when it was over, and my sweet hubs took me out to dinner afterward. And I got a facial today to kind of give me a "detox" from all the stress that has been building up for weeks.

Now, I'm going to go hang out with my yarn. I can finally focus on starting Christmas presents and projects. YAY! :D

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