Tuesday, February 1, 2011

GRE Literature in English Study Guide

The test date for the Literature in English GRE is rolling around much too quickly. This past week I signed up for the test, so there's no backing out now. I thought it would be advantageous for those of us taking it to compare practice test scores and share study materials. Can't hurt! 

I just took my first practice test – well, it was just the 150-question sample section in the 1990 ETS book, but I'm pretty pumped about it...because somehow I scored alright. I got a 71%. Provided I score similarly on the actual exam, and leave about a third of the questions I don't know blank, I'll score above the 81%tile, which is enough to get the full 30 credits.

I still have over a month to study, so there's hope that I can get a grip on everything left for me to do. The sample questions were organized by topic, very helpful for figuring out my study priorities. 

My Strengths: American Literature before 1900, Classical Literature, English Literature after 1660. 
My Weaknesses: Identification, Factual Information, Literary Criticism (no surprise here).

The identification and factual information sections concentrate on being able to recognize a passage based on an author's style or being able to simply look at a passage and say “That's from The Scarlet Letter by Nathanial Hawthorne.” Neither are very difficult...you just have to know the author whose style you're supposed to recognize, or be able to pick out something about the passage that makes it seem to be a particular answer choice.

My plan is to look up every passage on the sample questions that I don't recognize, regardless of whether the materials had wanted me to recognize it. Who knows what I'll have to identify on the real thing.

Here's what I've been able to scrape up for practice tests:
  • Official ETS test available on their website
  • Old 31-question sample booklet put out by ETS - http://www.washjeff.edu/users/ltroos...%20english.pdf
  • 150-question sample test & official test from 1989 - ETS's 1990 edition of Practicing for the GRE Literature in English
  • The Princeton Review practice test
  • An old edition of the infamous REA book, which I found on Half.com for $4 and is in transit
  • The CLEP Official tests for American and British Literature
  • A Peterson's test for American Literature - http://www.petersons.com/pdf/clep_am...it_q_print.pdf - http://www.petersons.com/pdf/clep_am...it_a_print.pdf
  • An English Literature Quiz in a Pass Your Class guide that I happen to have
  • A couple old copies of the ETS book are on their way through interlibrary loan, and I have a lead on the 1996 version through a friend's college library
  • Isn't that enough?
In theory, this alone should give me enough practice for the test, but I'm also supplementing it with readings from the Norton Anthologies of American Lit and British Lit. 

A thousand thanks to alissaroot for posting all the resources she found for the GRE Literature in English. I took the materials from one of her links – GRE in Literature Test Preparation – and turned it into a 32 page PDF, which refuses to be uploaded to IC. PM me if you'd like a copy.

I plan on using the Vade Mecum, which I have set as my homepage, in my boundless free time. Vade Mecum: Home

This Wikipedia page appears to be of great use for anyone wanting a quick overview of poetic history: List of years in poetry - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia


  1. Looks hard, hope one month is enough.

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