Opinion letter to the editor

Advice on the GRE for MIT students

MIT students should actually prepare for the GRE

Ah, spring. When blossoms bloom, a young man's fancy turns to love, and we get yet another blizzard. Spring, coincidentally, is also when most students start worrying about the GRE, that ubiquitous exam required for graduate school, most business schools, and even some law schools. Soon, prep books will be checked out of libraries, video courses will start filling up, and my phone will start ringing off the metaphorical hook with calls from worried test takers.

Those worried test takers, though, will probably not include MIT students. As I've found, most MIT students are pretty confident about the GRE. Indeed, some just walk in and wing it on the day of. But, this is not such a good idea. It's true that MIT students are better prepared than most college students. Not only do they obviously have a leg up in math, but whatever preparation they did for the SAT or ACT will still serve them well on the GRE.

However, that doesn't mean that the GRE will just be a walk in the park. After all, MIT students usually want above 90th percentile scores, and that's not easy. To get those sorts of scores, you have to master vocabulary ("objurgation," anyone?), speed-reading of dry literary analyses, essay writing, and even some math concepts that you haven't covered in forever, like standard deviation.

My advice for MIT students considering the GRE is to start your preparation at least couple months before. You don't have to attend a prep course or hire a tutor like me, but you should take a practice GRE from the official ETS website. See how you do! If you don't get the score you want, then you'll still have time to prep. Reddit (r/gre) is a great resource for quality GRE materials. And, remember, if you don't get the score you want, you can always take it again. The GRE is held year-round, and most students take it more than once.

Trevor Klee is the official GRE instructor for MIT's Laureates and Leaders program.