Your mind is set! You want to go to graduate school but, wait, you have to take an exam to apply? That’s right! Mentally and physically preparing yourself for graduate entrance exams can be a lengthy process. But, if you’re strategic in your study approach, you’ll get through your exam with ease! Here are are a few suggestions to help you get your head in the game.



Every graduate school is different, so program research should be on top of your to-do list. Which exam does the program you are applying to want to see as part of your application? Does it have specific required or recommended scores? Does the program administrator recommend taking an additional subject exam to explore your in-depth knowledge of a subject?

Once you know which exam you will need to take, begin researching the exam itself. How does the exam’s scoring system work? Does it contain a writing portion? How long should you expect to set aside to take the exam? How much is it going to cost?

Answering these questions before you begin preparing for an exam is important. Don’t stress yourself out for an exam you may not have to take, and make sure you spend time preparing for the sections that may be more difficult for you rather than focusing on the questions that you can answer easily.



With graduate entrance exams, practice is critical. Not only will you need to answer questions about a variety of subjects, but you will need to answer these within a certain amount of time.

Start by taking a diagnostic test to see where you stand and which areas you need to improve in order to achieve your ideal score. If you’re not a good test taker, or if you are really struggling with a certain area of the exam, consider purchasing a test preparation package. These can be expensive (like $800!), but you can get a deep discount on either the GMAT or GRE test prep packages by attending our Graduate Pathways events this month. If you’d rather spend only $50 on a test prep package, click here.

Once you feel like you’ve improved enough, begin practicing the exam in a simulated testing environment. Time yourself and limit distractions, like snacks or music, that you won’t have when you take the exam for real. Practicing the exam this way physically and mentally prepares you for the exam and helps you become comfortable with the testing structure.



It would be wonderful if we could put life on hold to study for entrance exams, but we all have places to be, things to do, and people to see. Creating a study schedule that accounts for your normal routine and class deadlines can help you stay on top of your preparation for each section of your exam. When making your schedule, keep your exam date and graduate program application deadlines in mind and build back from that, leaving plenty of room to retake the exam if you need to.

Be sure that your schedule is flexible. You may not think that you want to take part in an online or in-person test prep course, but once you start studying, you may find that the level of structure it provides could be helpful. You also want to make sure that your schedule isn’t so rigid that taking a break from it will put you behind. If you’re not feeling well or if you have to complete a class assignment you weren’t anticipating, don’t force yourself to study. Give yourself time to heal or finish other projects, and then refocus on your exam.



Graduate exams are important, so take them seriously. Taking time to prepare will give you the best chance to score well so that you have a compelling application to your future graduate school!


What’s next?


An Evening with Don Asher

Tuesday, October 24 / 6:00p.m.- 7:30p.m. / MSC 2709

Don Asher returns to USF to share current tips, tricks, and techniques for successfully applying to and pursuing graduate and professional school studies. Come out and enjoy free pizza! Oh, and by the way, Don Asher has a history of handing out money at this signature event! Don’t miss out!


Graduate & Professional School Fair

Thursday, October 26 / 11a.m. – 2p.m. / MSC Ballroom

Explore graduate and professional schools from all over the country and meet with admissions staff to discuss their program details and application requirements.


To be eligible for the test prep discount, you must attend four out of five of our Graduate Pathways events this month. If you weren’t able to attend one of the three workshops we’ve held over the last couple of weeks, visit our website to find out how you can still get your attendance counted by viewing them online.


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