A GRE score is crucial for admission to a reputable international graduate school. The pressure can be overwhelming with a test that determines your future, and your mental health shouldn’t be taken lightly. Over 50% of test takers repeat the exam, accrediting their poor performance in the first test to anxiety.
A little stress can boost performance, but it can be counterproductive when it limits one's ability to study. If you are the type of person who tends to fret over their GRE score or feels nervous while taking the GRE, we have a variety of techniques that are both simple and effective that can assist you in overcoming GRE test anxiety and performing to the best of your ability on the test.
Table Of Contents:
What is GRE Test Anxiety?
Educational Testing Service (ETS) developed and is responsible for administering the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) to determine whether or not an applicant is ready for graduate school. Therefore it is understandable why the weight of this test can induce anxiety.
A little anxiety is a typical physiological response to dangerous conditions requiring heightened awareness. Anxiety enhances awareness, processing, and visual and aural stimuli. However, anxiety rises, and higher-order thinking drops, which is required for the GRE. If you're too anxious throughout the GRE, your fight-or-flight response may make it hard to focus.
Suggested:Take control over your anxiety by going through the GRE syllabus and structure
How to deal with GRE Anxiety?
In addition to learning GRE test material, it's important to minimise exam-related GRE stress
and GRE test anxiety. Any GRE student can follow these practical, concrete ways to reduce exam anxiety and improve scores.
1. Be Prepared
Knowing the content well is the most obvious yet underrated way to reduce GRE stress. Prepare for the test, so the content isn't stressful. Once you're confident in your GRE preparation, the test may become pleasurable. The best way to prepare for your GRE exam is to understand the GRE exam structure and get started accordingly.
2. Take Every Official Test You Possibly Can
Take (and review) all four ETS practice tests before the GRE to reduce stress. You'll gain GRE familiarity and comfort via problem sets and timed practice. When you take full-length practice tests under realistic conditions, you desensitise yourself to the GRE procedure and make the real test feel like a practice test.
3. Exposure Therapy
Exposure therapy involves putting a person in a situation that provokes fear and anxiety to make them more comfortable with the stimulus. Incidentally, a fearful circumstance causes a fear reaction. Visualise yourself taking the GRE, feeling any anxiety responses, and learning to practise managing them.
4. See Your Success
We typically underestimate how our cognitive patterns affect our performance. If you don't believe in your ability to achieve, you may sabotage yourself before you put your skills to the test. If you think can't lose, you'll do your best. Visualise yourself acing the GRE, answering questions properly, and scoring well 15 minutes a day. Visualisation is as simple as thinking optimistically for five minutes three times a day.
5. Reassess Hazardous Attitudes
If we allow it, our attitude can exacerbate a difficult situation. Students with exam anxiety likely have a wide range of destructive, negative thought patterns or "hazardous attitudes." Negative self-talk can be eliminated by recognising harmful attitudes. When you discover yourself having a negative thought, replace it with a good one.
6. Turn Anxiety Into Excitement
If you're nervous about the GRE, tell yourself you're excited. When you practise GRE problems, remind yourself, "I'm excited to prepare for the GRE" or "I'm excited to master these GRE questions" Use a motivating phrase before taking the GRE. If you feel stressed during the GRE, reassure yourself that the anxiety is keeping you alert.
7. Take A Deep Breath
Another great way to recenter yourself and quell your anxious impulses is to practise controlled breathing. As we've established, rapid breathing is a common indication of exam anxiety, so it makes sense that taking long, deep breaths will calm you down. When you relax, your body does too. To place yourself in a relaxed condition optimum for learning and problem-solving, take numerous abdominal breaths rather than chest breaths. This style of breathing helps reduce anxiety.
Even 1.5% dehydration can affect a person's mind and body, but thirst usually doesn't occur until 1% to 2% is dehydrated. Even minor dehydration can produce stress and anxiety. Hydration boosts performance and decreases stress. Drink water before and during the GRE to avoid dehydration. Drink enough to keep thirst away during the 3-1/2-hour test. However, don't drink so much that you're uncomfortable.
9. Recognize And Limit Anxiety In Your Life
If you feel upset and agitated on a regular day, staying calm in the test centre will be hard because you're conditioning your body to be on edge. Be kind to yourself when you prepare for the GRE. Don't fret over wrong answers; use them to learn. Recognize that GRE prep can be unpredictable, and try your best. Consider your overall benefits and understand that the difficulties you're facing are probably minimal.
10. Don’t Compare Yourself To Others
Comparing yourself to peers is normal when preparing for the GRE. However, the comparison might distract you from your GRE goals, so compare yourself only to your best self. Comparing oneself to others is a GRE anxiety-inducing distraction. Focus on your goals.
11. Get Busy Answering Questions!
Eliminating GRE anxiety entirely is unrealistic, and the notion that you should be crippling. You may think you've already lost if you get anxious throughout the test. Eliminating anxiety isn't the goal. The aim is to manage anxiety and not allow it to overwhelm you. Focus so intently on the question that you forget you're anxious or relaxed. Focusing on the question is a wonderful test-taking technique for many reasons, including keeping you too occupied to get anxious.
Suggested: Check out Yocket's GRE mock test
While these tips are helpful, there is one more convenient way to reduce stress. As you continue to prepare for this exam, your anxiety is bound to increase since there are multiple sections to cover. However, if you focus on the sections that require your attention, your mind will ease its anxiety thoughts. The best way to do this is to get started with Yocket GRE Prep. This free tool lets you undertake mock tests and provides you with a scoring board.
Based on this, you will understand which areas you are good in and which require more attention. Isn't this a better way of studying?
If you wish to receive the advanced version of this tool, our premium platform Yocket GRE Prep+ will also help you. The top features you will be able to access are a quick diagnostic dashboard, 40+ topic-wise practice tests tailored to your performance and much more.
Frequently Asked Questions About How To Deal With GRE Anxiety?
Ques. Is the GRE test at home harder?
Ans. There is no distinction between at-home and at-centre testing. Both have the same structure, length, and difficulty.
Ques. Should I be nervous about the GRE?
Ans. GRE anxiety is normal. Don't let the anxiety overwhelm you. Instead, reframe it as excitement. This can help your score.
Ques. What are the common symptoms of test anxiety?
Ans. Some symptoms include nausea, vomiting, or diarrhoea, stomach pain, rapid heartbeat, and shortness of breath.
Ques. Why do students go blank during exams?
Ans. Test anxiety triggers a fight-or-flight response in the brain. This inhibits the memory-retrieval prefrontal cortex, causing us to forget what we've learned.
Ques. Is test anxiety curable?
Ans. Test anxiety is distressing but manageable. If test anxiety is affecting your performance, consider some of the above self-help tactics to reduce your nervousness.