Test-Day Tips to Maximize Your GRE Score

02/12/2015 03:17 pm ET | Updated Apr 14, 2015

Once you master the GRE's content and format, there is only one thing left to do -- ace the exam! Unfortunately, earning a high score isn't as simple as arriving and logging on to your computer terminal. Your test-day experience may be marked by anxiety and excitement. However, with the right day-of strategies, you can earn the score you deserve. Here are four such strategies to consider before you take the GRE:

Review your pacing (but don't become a slave to it)
For some students, pacing themselves throughout the course of the GRE is easy. For others, time management is a significant concern. You may even find that nervousness quickens or slows your usual pace.

For these reasons, it's important to practice your pacing strategy in advance. Your pacing strategy can (and should) serve as a general guide to each section of the GRE. Keep in mind, however, that because the computer-delivered version of the test is adaptive, question difficulty may vary. For example, if you do well on the first portion of Quantitative Reasoning, the second section will be more difficult. If you do poorly, the GRE will offer you easier questions next.

If you find yourself falling a minute or so behind your usual pacing, try not to panic. Instead, remember that the adaptable nature of the GRE makes it nearly impossible to strictly adhere to a rigid schedule.

Remind yourself that you likely won't answer every question correctly
Very few students earn a perfect score on the GRE. Even if you answer some questions incorrectly, you can still earn a competitive mark. If you feel as though you are taking more than the allotted time per problem, flag the question for later review and move on. Each question contributes equally to your final mark, with the number of correct answers forming your raw score.

One great strategy is to guess only when you're able to narrow down your answer choices. Occasional guessing may add several points to your raw score, but blind guessing may actually harm you. Too many wrong answers on the first section of each subject (Quantitative and Verbal Reasoning) can impact how high a mark you are able to earn on the second portion, due to the adaptive aspect of the test as described above.

Don't fret if you encounter unusual questions
Remember that the GRE may include an unscored or research section in your test session. Unscored portions are not identified, while research sections are. (Research sections do not affect your results.) The GRE occasionally tests new questions, some of which may be vastly different from the problems you studied and mastered throughout your prep. Thus, failing to understand a problem doesn't necessarily mean that you are doing poorly.

Comply with all GRE rules and regulations
Like most standardized exams, the GRE has very strict rules and regulations. You can view these rules and regulations here, and it is well worth reading them before your test date. This can help you avoid unfortunate circumstances like being dismissed from the test center because you forgot that your cell phone was in your pocket.