Personal statements, writing samples, and the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) are all parts of what may sometimes feel like an overwhelming process when applying to graduate programs in the U.S. While putting in time and effort is necessary for the applications, getting stressed is not! Taking the GRE outside of the US is definitely doable and the best place to start is www.ets.org/gre.
In Ireland, the only testing center offering the GRE is in Dublin, but there are several appointments each week so it is relatively easy to plan ahead and work out a travelling plan, if necessary. Once the appointment has been set, the next step is looking at what the GRE assesses and what kind of information to study. The aforementioned website offers a computer-based prep program, but it does not run on Mac computers, so I used a GRE review workbook. If a physical workbook is not accessible, there are several other free online review programs through different companies.
Because I registered relatively close to my exam date (only a month prior), I made sure to do a little bit of reviewing every day. Studying for about 20 minutes a day helps to make sure you are properly preparing without being overwhelmed. After learning the format of the test and the questions to expect, I felt prepared to finally take the test. The night before the test, I made sure to set out my required ID and get a good night’s sleep.
The test center, on Barrow Street, off of Pearse Street, is relatively easy to find and the check-in process was simple, as well. Make sure to eat before the test, as you will be in the center for over four hours and are not allowed to leave the building. The GRE takes place in a computer lab, where each student is given his or her own computer and cubicle, which makes it easier to stay focused. Earplugs are provided to keep out any other noise. During the breaks, you have access to the bathroom and any snacks and/or drinks that you brought. Sitting through four and a half hours of testing can seem a little overwhelming, but when focusing on the questions, the time seemed to go by much faster. With proper preparation and a positive mindset, the GRE can become just another step towards receiving a graduate education in America!
Erin Eife and Shannon Chance, current US Fulbrighters, practicing their Irish!
For more information on postgraduate study in the U.S., please see the EducationUSA page here.