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Prepping for the GRE General Test When English is Not Your First Language


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Prepping for the GRE General Test When English is Not Your First Language

English is a complex language. Ask around and you’ll hear that even native speakers can find it complicated and sometimes confusing. This can make the GRE General Test particularly challenging when English is not your first language. With adequate practice, however, you can be sure to feel confident on test day. The following tips will help you do your best.

Immerse yourself in the English language

It’s so much more than memorizing vocabulary. Being comfortable with English comes with understanding context. Watch English TV and movies. Read English books and publications. Listen to podcasts in English. Practice speaking and texting with your friends in English. The more you use it, the more natural it will become. And even if you don’t know a word on the test, you may be able to figure it out based on the context.

Don’t ignore math

Yes, mathematics is a universal language and you might find it to be an easier topic than the purely verbal sections. However, you’ll need to understand the questions as they’re presented to you on the test, which is often within a word problem or at least among some math terms. Be sure you review the basics (PDF) ahead of time.


Make time for practice

The more you practice, the more you’ll be exposed to English as it’s used on the test. You’ll have the chance to formulate a plan for the writing tasks. You’ll also be able to hone your pacing, since the timing on the test can be tricky for those who read and digest English more slowly. The benefits of practice are endless, which is why the makers of the GRE General Test provide some of the best materials to help, including:

  • POWERPREP® Online
    These simulate the actual test and include the test-taker friendly design features you’ll encounter on test day, like moving back and forth between questions, changing answers within a section and the on-screen calculator. Try the test for free.
  • Official GRE Mentor Course
    This self-paced, online course includes 640 real GRE test questions, skill-building content to help you brush up, and a full-length, timed practice test. Set personalized goals, proceed at your own pace and get immediate performance feedback so you feel confident on test day. Enroll today.
  • The Official GRE® Verbal Reasoning Practice Questions
    150 real GRE Verbal Reasoning questions with complete explanations, plus sample writing tasks and scored examples. Learn more about this guide.
  • The Official GRE General Test Social Communities
    Find insider advice, strategies and the opportunity to connect with experts and your peers on Facebook®Instagram®LinkedIn® and our LinkedIn page for business school.

Explore additional official preparation materials. By increasing your familiarity with the English language and knowing where to focus your preparation, you’ll soon be on the path to success.