Because of Covid-19, I returned from studying in Seattle to Taiwan to cram for the GRE. I am a current undergraduate student at the University of Washington in the major of Psychology. Before taking the GRE, I have previously taken two other standardized tests- the SAT and the TOEFL. However, while I did study hard for the SAT, I did not cram at all for the TOEFL. With the GRE, I felt like it was essential to study for, since I was using it to apply for graduate school in the US. Most of my schools required it for the PhD of psychology, and so I decided to study for two months under Merica's programs.
I think the class that helped me the most were the math-based ones. Coming from the US's system of teaching, math is not my strong suit. I would argue that it is my weakest subject. The math class in Merica was very helpful by providing many practice questions for students so we could grasp what the questions on test day would be like. I especially appreciated my teacher and fellow students who did not hesitate to help me answer difficult questions. Going in, I thought that I would only benefit from the math classes, but the vocab, reading, and writing classes also helped me tremendously. Since I have already studied in America for more than ten years, I thought that I did not need any more review on vocab and reading. Despite this, I found the vocab book given in class useful in reviewing terms as well as learning new terms that I have never heard of.
Additionally, the teachers going through the Latin roots of each word made it easier to remember large quantities of words in a short time frame. One of the practice tips I used was to try to use the new vocab words with friends in a real life setting. When you talk to other people with a new word or phrase, it is easier to remember it's meaning, and more importantly, its connotation. The GRE does not only test you on a word's dictionary meaning, but on its negative or positive connotation. Another tip I used was to create several quizlet sets to review new words I have never heard of. When I rode on the MRT to class, I used that 30 minute period to review words from my last class. The set included new words and common Latin roots the teachers had gone over. On test day, I also used Latin roots that I had memorized in order to deduce the possible meaning of new words on the test.
Reading wise, I didn't have much problem going into it, however, it was still a good idea to get a sense of what the passages would be formatted before taking the official test. I found the practice booklets aided me in understand how the GRE structured the questions, especially when it is the opposite of TOEFL. Furthermore, practicing reading long passages two months beforehand definitely allowed me to read quicker on test day.
The most helpful tool Merica provided were the two mock tests. I took the first mock test a month into the two month classes, and the second mock test when classes were over. The first mock test provided me an accurate experience to what the actual GRE is like, and it gave me pointers on where else to improve. Looking at my first mock test scores, I could tell I needed more work in both my math and verbal sections, so for the next month, I kept on practicing math questions even though our classes had transitioned into reading materials. The improvements were clear in my second mock test. By that point, I had reached the end of my studying and was getting prepared for the actual test in about a week's time. The second mock test just confirmed what score I might get for the actual test, but it also calmed my nerves since I knew what the format was going to look like exactly in a week's time.
For those who are studying for the GRE right now, my biggest recommendation is to keep on practicing throughout the day. Keep some of the materials for studying with you at all times, and study whenever possible. For me, I kept my quizlet account offline and studied vocab whenever I had a short break of time. And for the math questions, I was constantly asking the people around me new ways to solve problems I did not get the first time around. Also, don't be afraid to ask questions in class! Everyone in Merica was super helpful in answering my questions, and they were very nice as well. All students are there to learn, so don't be shy about materials you don't understand!