Feb 19, 2008

Success story

First, I studied for three months everyday two to three hours a day for six days a week. It was like a workout for me.

Second, the books I referred to were Cell by Alberts and Biochemistry by Voet and Voet. Any genetics book from your university is fine. As long as you use a genetics book that is easy to understand and easy to get the correct information from. Genetics problems on the exam are not difficult questions...they are problems we all did in the university but just never used in upper-classes...so we eventually forgot them all. They are really simple questions that only need a few minutes of review...such as tetrad analysis and somewhat intricate genetic/epistatic experiments.

Third, people on the forum have made it a habit to suggest putting full effort into studying...sometimes instilling fear into future testakers. As you can see, I didn't study myself to death...and there were two reasons why. 1) I had a research job...I am a junior specialist in my lab and was asked to juggle everyone's experiments as they were coming. During the time I was studying, I was extremely stressed out at work and was required to produce several papers in some top journals...in which I did. In my opinion, this experience helped me and will help me in many ways. Coming into the experimental section of the Biochem GRE, I answered all questions easily, averaging every problem in less than thirty seconds which I thought was pretty good since I wasn't able to answer the factual questions in that an amount of time. I have developed very good analytical skills. 2) Graduate schools do not want to hear that you took off three to six months just studying for an exam that only plays about 5% of your application process. It is a way to gauge whether you'll be a good student...but it won't gauge whether you'll be a good researcher which is what they want from you in the end.

4) The two exams given out...one from 1994 and one from 2000 are decent exams to study from. They are the ONLY exams out there and you should study these exams to get an idea of the style they are testing...DO NOT use these exams as what they are looking for. I never used any references from the net or any outside source...just what I developed in research and what I remembered from the university through the books. You'll realize that your own personal academic experience will give you an advantage over other testakers. For example, we had a cholera toxin question, a protein complex pull down assay, and a protein kinase C question in the GRE. The cholera toxin question was more in depth than I would have thought for the factual questions and the latter two topics were in the experimental section. In my three labs i've been in, I worked with the man who brilliantly devised the protein complex pull down assay and the man who discovered protein kinase C. Currently, I work with Vibrio cholerae...the agent that causes cholera. I was lucky and those experimental questions that would have taken the usual testaker several long minutes to orient themselves with data...was a piece of cake as I've been taught the methodology and the theory behind some of those expeirments.

Don't get scared...it's only going to bring you down. Relax and focus and you'll do fine. Ultraspiracle (from other posts) is a good friend of mine and we both attacked the test differently. I went for an all-out method...trying to answer every question not going back for corrections since I believed that my first instinct would be right. Ultra went slowly and methodically and answered questions he could answer correctly. He skipped quite a few questions and I only skipped about 8. We scored the same (93-94%) though. So, you need to figure out the best method for you in studying and test-taking.

Good luck!

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