Every student’s nightmare: Another life altering standardized test. To make matters worse, it’s increasingly likely college seniors won’t be able to find a job after graduation. You might have heard your friends talking about graduate school. Is everyone doing it? You don’t need to look far to see: Graduate and professional school enrollment is on the rise across America.

The recently unemployed, college seniors, and those looking for a career change are lining up. A high test score may be the only difference between your acceptance into graduate school and a place in the unemployment line.

A major criticism of these exams is that, to perform well, you need to enroll in an expensive test prep course. Thankfully, there are some relatively free steps you can take to rock these entrance exams.

1) Start Hard. Finish Easy.

Dr. Ben Bernstein, owner of Dr. B Performance Coach, suggests, “Don’t wait to study the hard stuff. Determine right away the sections that give you the most trouble. If you avoid the more difficult material and focus only on the easy stuff, you’ll get more and more nervous and sabotage your chances to do well.”

2) Prepare For Material You’re Not Familiar With

For The LSAT:

Professional LSAT Tutor Steve Schwartz offers a tip to ace the hardest part: “Make simple diagrams for the logic games.” “Creating a solid diagram will save you a great deal of time, so make one on the bottom of the page (there is no scrap paper on the LSAT). For each “if” question in the games, draw a small diagram next to that question. I always tell my students to save their work from previous questions, rather than erasing it. This allows them to look back at it later in the game. A few minutes here or there are crucial in allowing you to finish in the allotted 8 minutes and 45 seconds per game.”
For The GRE:

Bara Sapir, Founder and Executive Director of Test Prep New York, provides advice for students who may struggle with the Math section: “The math on the GRE is 7th, 8th and 9th grade math. If you find you¹re getting particular things wrong, any straight math book will do to learn the material.”

Homework Spot’s math section is a great place to start for those of us who need to learn middle school math.

3) Be Ready For Anything:

Law school graduate and Public Relations Director at Brio, Sara Lien, discusses the issue of your test taking environment: ” The best advice I can give is to simulate test-taking conditions. I don’t know about the GRE but the LSAT is VERY time sensitive. Have a clock next to you while you answer each section. Also, if you don’t answer all the questions, it is not such a bad thing because it is based on how many answers you get right and blanks don’t count against you.”

Note: Unlike the LSAT, incorrect answers on the GRE do count against you, so you might want to consider CBAD if you need to guess. CBAD is a trick teachers use to guess on a multiple choice test. The rationale is that the correct answer is less likely to be first or last, so you’re better off guessing in the middle.

4) Don’t Break The Bank

Marist College media professor, Mark Grabowski, Esq., offers this tip on what to purchase to prepare for the tests: “Be wary of the prep books that are sold in bookstores. They often make up their own questions, which may not be indicative of the kind of questions you’ll find on the actual LSAT. Instead, purchase official previous tests by going to the Law SchoolAdmission Council’s website, LSAC.org.”

5) Finally, Relax

Jeanne Perdue, Editor of the award-winning Zeus Technology magazine, says, “I took the GRE to get into the Master’s program in Petroleum Engineering at University of Houston. The thing that works well for all major tests for me is to get a very good night’s sleep the night before (no crammingor all-nighters!) and to do something that relaxes you before the test so you’re not over-nervous.”

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