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Student Post: Returning to the GRE After a 20 Year Break

Today, we’re hearing from Amy. She has some great tips for those who are returning to the GRE after a long break. Thanks, Amy! 🙂 

About me: My name is Amy Parks, and I am an Associate Dean at a large community college in the Midwest. My background is in music, and I hold degrees from the University of Delaware and the Peabody Conservatory of the Johns Hopkins University. In the fall, I’ll return to school to pursue my Ph.D. in Higher Education Administration. With what free time I have, I enjoy reading, swimming, and gardening, and fine dining with my husband (he’s an excellent cook).

My GRE experience: I took the GRE over 20 years ago when I was applying to Masters programs, and scored very well with little preparation. But mid-career, I found the experience to be completely different. Some of the math concepts had faded so completely that I didn’t even recognize them. I viewed the Clemmonsdogpark videos, did the quizzes and practice problems, but found the complexity of the math problems to be prohibitive. On the recommendation of one of the Clemmonsdogpark blogs, I purchased a basic math book with lots of drill problems. After working through that book, the Clemmonsdogpark problems were much more manageable, and I worked through the rest of the math content more easily. On test day, my math score was actually better than the one I received 20 years ago.

Advice for other students: If you take the GRE after a hiatus of many years like I did, the test is likely to be more difficult than you expect. Start your preparation early and work through the setbacks, like I did with the math section. If you also work full-time, your time to study will be limited, so create a plan for what time you have. Finally, be sure you do at least one full-length practice test. The actual test will seem much easier if you’ve had a “dress rehearsal”.

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