Gearing up for grad schools

For those considering Graduate School, The Sam Center’s Academic Support Programs offer a GRE/GMAT Test Taking Technique Prep Sessions. The GRE and GMAT exams are required for Graduate school applications, and the sessions are an available method for effectively preparing for the tests.

“For the student who is willing and able to devote the necessary time and energy to studying for the exam, the prep session has proven to be extremely beneficial,” Associate Professor Dr. Linda Cook said.

Every semester, the Sam Center offers a seven-night course, for two hours per night. There is also a mini session each semester, which runs Friday night and all day Saturday. Prep classes are also offered during both summer sessions.

Each session has spots for 25 to 30 potential graduate students looking to improve test scores. Organizers aim to keep classes smaller in order to focus more on each student and give more individual instruction.

To make the program more accessible, the prep classes are free of charge to enrolled students. However, participants must purchase a study manual to complete the course. Manuals can be found at any bookstore for purchase.

“Many of these programs that provide tutorials and prep are very expensive, and my goal is to make certain that our students are able to compete with any other student in the nation,” Director of Academic Support Programs Dr. Bernice Strauss said.

The classes cover the range of material that the GRE and GMAT test covers. In addition to reviewing some subject matter, the course offers aid in the style of the test questions.

“We cover all the areas of the exam and provide the students with strategies based on a POE (process of elimination) system. So, our primary focus is on the questions for which the student does not know the answer,” Cook said. “We explain the strategies and do many practice exercises in class.”

Sam Houston faculty members trade off teaching the English and Math portions. Participating faculty include Dr. Jacqueline Jenson and Dr. Brian Loft from the math department, and Dr. Linda Cook and Dr. Tracy Bilsing from the English department.

Before entry into a graduate school, students should thoroughly research programs appropriate to their needs and interests. Preparation for the GRE or GMAT exam is only one step in the Graduate degree process.

“We encourage getting graduate advisors in the department they’re interested in going into. The more information they have about what’s required of them to enter a certain masters program, the more prepared they’re going to be,” Margaret Ferguson, Staff Associate, said.

There are many factors when considering admissions in graduate programs. Although the GRE and GMAT tests are important, the overall package a student presents determines acceptance.

“The test itself is meant to be an evaluation and a tool. It is not meant to say whether you live or die, it is one of many things that are used to evaluate a student entering a masters or MBA program. Their undergrad GPA is important, letters of recommendation are very important – there are many variables for candidates. This is just one of the elements,” Ferguson said.

The Sam Center offers several programs along with the prep program. The Graduate School Program, for example, is a session held twice a semester that outlines the entire process behind application and admission. The Academic Support directors have also considered programs for tests like the LSAT and MCAT.

“We wish they could offer more programs like this. As the demand rises, we always try to work in new programs. Hopefully someday they’ll be able to have prep sessions for LSAT or MCAT. It would be great to offer that kind of program but it’s being able to find the faculty available to be able to do this. It’s a major time commitment,” Ferguson said.

The Sam Center’s GRE/GMAT Test Taking Technique Prep Sessions are a useful and available tool for students interested in furthering their education with a graduate degree.

“I wish I had these opportunities when I was in college. It would have made a big difference in the direction I would have gone, it’s just an opportunity students need to take advantage of,” Ferguson said.

For more information, visit the Graduate School Program at

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