Do not study for the GRE the day before the test.
Let’s say that again. Do not study for the GRE the day before the test. For many who’ve been diligently preparing for the GRE, this advice elicits no argument. Yet, acting on it can be surprisingly challenging. Why not try another problem set or two? Maybe attempt a few more timed practice sections—or an entire practice test! Here are a few reasons why these last-minute efforts are a bad idea.
One Day Won’t Make the Difference
If you’re still trying to learn new things the day before the test, consider changing your test date. The GRE isn’t like a high school vocabulary quiz, to which you can successfully utilize your short term memory. It’s a test of your abilities in reading comprehension, argumentation, and the logical and analytical application of math concepts. You can’t “cram” to become a better reader or a more skilled problem solver. These skills take considerable time and effort to develop. What you can cram for are things like math formulas, but if those types of fundamentals are still worrisome for you the day before the test, chances are you’re not ready to take the GRE.
Skills Don’t Disappear Overnight
Everyone wants to stay sharp for the GRE! You need to be fluent in the language and content of the test. But, that doesn’t require constant prep without a break. The skills you develop over time won’t disappear overnight. Rest and relax the day before the exam and you’ll have more energy and focus on the real thing. If you want to hit the ground running, you can do some work on the morning of the test. Some things you can do the morning of include going over a few math problems or a couple of passages that you already know well. Doing some warm-up exercises can reinforce your confidence and put you into “GRE mode” before you arrive at the test center.
You Need and Deserve a Break
Perhaps you’ve spent weeks or months preparing. If so, the eve of the exam is the time to give yourself a pat on the back and take a break. Regardless of how long you’ve prepared, the day before the GRE should be used to rest up for an exam that’s a pretty grueling test of endurance.
So enjoy a bit of rest and relaxation the day before the GRE. You’ll be more likely to bring your A-game when you walk into the test center. Still feeling nervous? Read our post on The GRE and the Power of Positive Thinking to ease some of your text anxiety.