In Focus: The GRE English Subject Test

Posted by Jonathan Evans on

The Who, What, Where, When, and Why of GRE Subject Tests

  • Who?  You are an aspiring graduate school student applying to a program in one of many STEM fields, in Psychology, or in English Literature.
  • What? In addition to the basic GRE score, many programs (especially highly competitive ones) either recommend or require a particular GRE Subject test. The tests are knowledge-based. In other words, they test broadly your achievement levels in particular subjects. The standardized scores range from 200-990, though the highest score on different administrations of the tests can vary (e.g. the highest score might sometimes be 830; at other times it might be 910). Some of these tests include subscores in different subject areas. The tests are one section each and 2 hours 50 minutes in length. 
    • The tests offered are as follows:
      • Biochemistry, Cell and Molecular Biology
      • Biology
      • Chemistry
      • Literature in English
      • Mathematics
      • Physics
      • Psychology
      • (A Computer Science subject test was formerly offered but was retired in April 2013)
  • Where? The subject tests are paper-and-pencil Scantron based tests offered at designated test centers.
  • When? All the tests are administered simultaneously on three different dates (usually) every year (usually).
  • Why? While flawed, these tests offer an indication of how broad and deep your knowledge is in particular subjects relevant to graduate studies. As a former literature graduate student myself, I can attest to how the GRE English Subject test levels the playing field somewhat for applicants, since many students even with identical undergraduate coursework and grades may have different achievement levels in the subject they wish to pursue. Further, students who may not have the coursework background in a subject can demonstrate an aptitude in Mathematics, for instance, with a high score on the relevant GRE Subject test.

In this post, I will discuss the structure and composition of the GRE English Subject Test and offer some tips and resources for preparation.

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Topics: Grad School Admissions, GRE prep

EdTech and the GRE

Posted by Jonathan Evans on


What is EdTech?

While you may have never heard the term, you have almost certainly used "EdTech." Short for Educational Technology, according to the Association for Educational Communications and Technology, EdTech is "the study and ethical practice of facilitating learning and improving performance by creating, using, and managing appropriate technological processes and resources." Everything from trendy quiz apps to educational software classics like The Oregon Trail and Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego? falls under the EdTech umbrella. In fact, as a computer based test, the GRE itself could be considered a form of EdTech. 

If you're anything like me, your eyes are probably glazing over already. The very name EdTech conjures up a second-rate Ted Talk given by a C-list entrepreneur trying to hawk his latest startup to jet-setting angel investors. Indeed, EdTech has been a source of controversy in many forms of education. Are MOOCs all they’re cracked up to be? Are iPads in classrooms anything more than an excuse for kids to spend hours more staring at screens instead of engaging with each other in class?

Putting aside all the hype and debates, let’s consider some of the EdTech resources available to help you prepare for the GRE and how you can make the best use of them.

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Topics: Verbal, Grad School Admissions, GRE prep

GRE Vocabulary: The Saga Continues

Posted by Jonathan Evans on


THE NEVERENDING STORY:

There were some pretty strange children's movies when I was a kid. Jim Henson's The Dark Crystal and Labyrinth, the so-bad-it's-good Ron Howard movie Willow  (featuring Real Genius and Top Gun star Val Kilmer), and the still-disturbing leporine epic Watership DownBut insofar as capturing the imagination of the archetypical misunderstood eight-year-old (imagine the eighties version of Harry Potter), nothing surpassed The Neverending Story, a child's acid trip literary fantasy Mi'raj  on the back of a Cocker Spaniel dragon, featuring a theme song by Kajagoogoo lead singer Limahl

Buried amidst this B-movie esoterica there is a point germane to your GRE preparation. In my previous blog post, I discussed how to prepare to prepare for the GRE Quantitative Reasoning section. I emphasized the importance of a seamless grasp of math definitions and fundamentals as stepping-stones for success with more sophisticated test-taking strategies. With this blog post, let's shift our attention to GRE Verbal, specifically the importance of a strong vocabulary. 

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Topics: Verbal, Grad School Admissions, GRE prep, Analytical Writing

Everything Counts

Posted by Jonathan Evans on


Have you ever seen this formula?What about this one?These are combinatorial formulas, used to solve counting problems, and if you’ve been preparing for the GRE, you might be familiar with them as the formulas for permutations and combinations, two of the most misunderstood and most fun concepts tested in the Quantitative Reasoning section.

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Topics: Grad School Admissions, GRE prep, Quantitative, GMAT

The Increasingly Versatile GRE

Posted by Jonathan Evans on


In September, I spoke at an LSAT clinic at a North Texas law school. Before my presentation, the Dean of Admissions addressed the attendees and spoke about her own experience with the LSAT and her desire to emphasize the importance of well-rounded students. She downplayed the significance of the LSAT, suggesting that while an excellent LSAT score is important, a low score should not prevent otherwise qualified candidates from applying.

Truth be told, the LSAT is the gold standard in law school admissions, and a high LSAT score correlates with good performance in law school. Law schools are also invested in ensuring that their students have high average LSAT scores because, along with high average undergraduate GPAs, these averages are an important factor in determining law school rankings.

Therefore if you are an applicant considering only law school, I wholeheartedly recommend that you focus your attention exclusively on preparing for the LSAT. However, if you are a student who is considering other options, including grad school, business school, or a dual degree program, the GRE may be worth your consideration as well.  

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Topics: Grad School Admissions, GRE prep, Law School Admissions, lsat, GMAT

How do "Implicit Associations" Affect Your Performance on the GRE?

Posted by Jonathan Evans on

Two students are identical in most respects. They have identical SAT scores, identical GPAs, and are both preparing to take the GRE. They both say they're very motivated to get a top score. Which of them is likely to earn a higher score? 

A fascinating new article by Melissa J. Ferguson, Professor of Psychology at Cornell, and Clayton R. Critcher, Assoc. Professor of Marketing, Cognitive Science, & Psychology at UC Berkeley, describes significant research they conducted into "implicit associations" and how measurements of these automatic associations can predict success or failure at a variety of important tasks, including the GRE.

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Topics: Grad School Admissions, GRE prep

GRE vs. MAT: Which test is for you?

Posted by Ryan Born on

Exam acronyms and grad school admissions go hand-in-hand. 'GRE' comes up a lot, of course. But there's also 'MAT', which stands for Miller Analogies Test. A program you're applying to may accept scores from either exam. If you have the choice, which test should you take?

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Topics: Grad School Admissions

GRE Verbal Scores for Top Education Programs

Posted by Ryan Born on

Education is a popular field of graduate study in the US. It's the number one discipline for doctoral degrees (MD and JD excluded) and a close second to Business for master's degrees. Hoping to get into a top program? A strong GRE Verbal score may help. Take a look at the Verbal scores for Education programs ranked in the top 25 from the latest U.S. News Best Grad Schools.

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Topics: Verbal, Grad School Admissions

GRE Math Scores for Top Education Programs

Posted by Ryan Born on

Educators are communicators, so top Education schools tend to see a lot of strong GRE Verbal scores. What about Quant scores? Take a look at the Math scores for Education programs ranked in the top 25 from the latest U.S. News Best Grad Schools.

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Topics: Grad School Admissions, Quantitative

GRE Math Scores for Top Engineering Programs

Posted by Ryan Born on

Engineering is a math-heavy discipline. Unsurprisingly, high GRE Quant scores abound among Engineering grad students. Take a look at the scores for Engineering programs ranked in the top 25 in the latest U.S. News Best Grad Schools.

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Topics: Grad School Admissions, Quantitative