The GRE day – How to keep your ship afloat

This article is about how to handle the GRE test while it is going on. During the 3-4 hours of the GRE, you have to deal with a lot of things other than the questions that are on your screen. These challenges are vital because they directly and indirectly affect your score and yet there is no book you can read to prepare for them. Performance, for instance. As the test progresses, you get more and more exhausted with every section and your performance significantly decreases. And if you are unprepared to deal with this situation when it presents itself during the test, you’ll end up underperforming even if your knowledge of the test syllabus is on par with the top performers. I had to deal with some of these challenges during my GRE test and still I was able to score a decent 329. Let’s explore some of these challenges and effective strategies against them.

Technical Issues

Easily the most senseless tragedy that could befall any test-taker during one of their most important expeditions. It is especially serious if you’re taking the “GRE at home” version of the test because it is the test-taker who has to manage their internet connection and their machine. In such a case, it is best to complete multiple times the diagnostic tests that ProctorU provides. And make sure you can run the sample test. Turn off all notifications and windows updates on your machine prior to the test. This article can be helpful:

Keep your laptop fully charged from the get go. If you live in a place where there are power outages, it is a good idea to keep some sort of backup power handy.


The first section of the GRE is Analytical Writing. And sometimes even experienced writers struggle to write with a timer running on their heads. As such, this section requires an exemplary amount of effort to get through. And chances are you won’t be satisfied with what you wrote. That’s just human nature. However, you cannot let the Analytical Writing section destroy your self-confidence and your morale because it will be fatal to the rest of your test. I know this because I almost steered right into this maelstrom. One excellent remedy for this is: After you click the submit button, take a few seconds to convince yourself that you did well. Or that you did way better than you expected. Convince yourself that your essays are good and proper. Lie to yourself, if necessary. Exaggerate. Congratulate yourself on outperforming beyond your wildest imaginations. Whatever saves your ship. Remember, what’s important at this time is keeping your chin up for the rest of the test.

Do this after every section if you need to. It helps.


The GRE drains a lot of energy from the minute it begins. As fatigue takes over your body, performance goes down significantly. This is inevitable. What you can do is adjust your body cycle prior to the test so that you’re taking the test during your best hours of the day. And if you have a strong bladder, it wouldn’t hurt to gulp down an energy drink before you start. Eat some chocolate, regardless. Make sure you’re neither hungry nor full during the test.

Even after doing all of the above, near the end I was struggling to keep my eyes open. Exhaustion is unavoidable. It IS going to happen. How you react to it is in your control. I’ve found that taking an occasional deep-breath helps.

Stay aware

In conclusion, It is difficult to imagine everything that can go wrong. However, my advice is to keep going and make it to the end. And pull yourself up when necessary. During the GRE you need to stay vigilant about your physical and mental state and take corrective actions as necessary. Ask yourself after every section: “How am I feeling?”. Keeping your mental fortitude during the test is imperative. Failure to take cognizance of a brewing problem in a timely manner can and does prove fatal.

Hope this article helps you. Good luck.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: