So you want to take the Paper Based GRE?

So after taking the GRE today in Ouagadougou, I decided to talk about it and share my experiences. These are things that you should keep in mind during the test.

  1. Testing conditions were favorable. We each had our own large table. We also had air conditioning!
  2. We did indeed have our 10 minute break between the two Analytical Writing sections and the multiple choice sections, however we did move from section to section without a break within the multiple choice portion.
  3. The proctors should be reading off a script. They are technically not allowed to deviate from it.
  4. You are given a rickety calculator for the math section. It is not particularly user friendly but it does get the job down. You have to constantly keep clearing it.
  5. You are not given any scratch paper. All answers are written in the booklet, you must keep your scratch work away from the answer bubbles.
  6. You may start later than expected. In our case the HCNs taking the test were unfamiliar with bubbling in numbers and letters, and some of them were filling it out in pen. We also had someone almost accidentally cancel their test scores.
  7. Get someone to send you pencils from the US. They may be hard to find in country.
  8. Take as many practice tests as you can before the exam
  9. In my experience the Princeton Review GRE book and the Gruber’s GRE book are the best. The McGraw Hill Book has 8 practice tests (4 in the book, 2 online, and 2 on CD).  The materials from ETS are quite limited and are not as helpful, but the Powerprep software is good if you are taking the computer based test.
  10. Look at the pool of writing topics on  Here are the writing topics that WILL APPEAR ON YOUR GRE.
  11. Try and go to the testing center before the exam so you are familiar with it. Perhaps during a routine visit to the capital city.
  12. Breathe. Worst case scenario, you retake the exam in the US and study more

 And hopefully in 6 weeks I will have my scores!


3 responses to “So you want to take the Paper Based GRE?

  1. linda marcuccilli

    hi sara!! wow! air conditioning!! good luck! i’m sure you did great!!

    linda marcuccilli

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 )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ 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