Practice and Register

Now that you've got an understanding of what you're in for, you probably want to get right out there and begin tackling some of the poems, at the very least.

According to posters on CollegeConfidential, the admissions advice Web site, most people found the Norton anthology helpful. Some even suggested an audio version called "81 Famous Poems," that can be purchased for a little less than $20 here.

Michael Blancato, a 21-year-old English and psychology major who wants to attend the University of Pennsylvania, said the test was rife with Shakespeare. He said he saw Hamlet, A Midsummer Night's Dream, Othello, The Tempest and MacBeth questions on the test, and his only piece of advice is to know the characters in Shakespeare's plays by looking here.

Now that you've listened to the poems and learned the Shakespeare, here is a practice test. It is important to take the test under timed conditions.

According to posters on CollegeConfidential, a score that would put you into the range for a top-tier grad program is around a 700. Anything above a 600 is considered "good." The average score is a 521 with a standard deviation of 98, according to ETS. You should try to score 1 or 2 deviations above the mean.

Some suggest that you take time off after undergrad to study for the test, but I think that would be a mistake. With some effort, it is entirely possible to get through this entire ordeal more or less unscathed.

If you decide to take the plunge instead of relegating yourself to years of whatever job you can get with a B.A. in English, you can register with ETS here.

Copyright 2008, Alexandra Conti, University of Florida