A GRE study plan is a well-organized timetable or schedule that outlines study periods and learning objectives for the GRE test preparation. Every prospective GRE test taker should set an organized schedule for studying to increase the chances of getting a high score.
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50 to 200 hours of studying must be spent to prepare for the GRE test. The amount of time varies depending on the difference between the prospective taker’s baseline score and target score.
GRE study plan schedule templates are available on the following sites:
- Shemmassian Academic Consulting. The available templates here include a 2-week, 1-month, 2-month, and 3-month GRE study schedule.
- Magoosh. Whether it’s a 1-week study schedule or a 6-month, Magoosh provides a wide variety of study schedule templates for different timeframes.
- PrepScholar. 4 sample schedules are provided by PrepScholar.
- TestPrep Nerds. There are 4 available study plans in TestPrep Nerds which include 1-, 2-, 3-, and 6-Month Plans.
- Kaplan. Monthly GRE study schedules are available in Kaplan including a 1-, 2-, and 3-month study plan.
To build your personalized GRE study schedule, follow these steps:
Step 1: Determine the goal score based on the requirements of the chosen graduate program and school.
Step 2: Determine the baseline score by taking an initial practice test. This will show which types of questions are the most challenging and which sections need more preparation time.
Step 3: Find out the total hours needed for test preparation based on baseline and target score. The amount of time that should be allocated depends on the test taker’s goal scores. An estimated 40 hours should be added for a desired 5 points increase in total score.
Step 4: Divide the total hours needed to study from the number of weeks until the test. If the test taker only has 4 weeks and needs to prepare for 160 hours, that’s 40 hours per week.
Step 5: Gather practice test materials to prep content. ETS has released an official GRE study guide, and this is an ideal resource since the information and sample questions contained here correctly represent the actual GRE.
Step 6: Plan the weekly activities. The first thing the test taker should do after taking the baseline is to review the GRE test format, move on to content review, and then start reviewing and practicing strategy.
Step 7: Finalize GRE study plan. It is important to keep an open mind after the initial draft of the GRE study plan, and don’t be afraid to refine the schedule if something isn’t working.
Here are the following GRE Study Essentials to help for the test preparation:
- Flashcards. This studying tool can help improve learning efficiency. Flashcards can be personalized or retrieved online from Magoosh’s online GRE flashcards.
- POWERPREP Test Preview Tool. This prep tool comes for free after signing up for an ETS account. It is ideal for those who want to accustom themselves to the test ahead of time. It can demonstrate how to use various features such as navigating the questions, skipping problems to work on later, and using the on-screen calculator.
- Online Programs. While numerous major test-prep providers offer online GRE prep programs, Magoosh has grown in popularity in recent years.
- GRE Prep Books. Prep Books are one of the best study tools to use, especially if the test taker is studying on their own.
- Online Practice Tests. Practice tests can assist test takers become accustomed with the actual test features they will encounter on the exam day. Free online GRE practice tests can be found in many online resources including Manhattan Prep.
Here are the following GRE resources that can be used for studying:
- GRE vocabulary flashcards from Magoosh. One of the most challenging components of the test is the vocabulary, and these flashcards are designed to help test takers strengthen their vocabulary skills.
- The Official Guide to the GRE General Test. ETS, the makers of the GRE, has also released an official GRE study guide, and because the study guide was prepared by the same experts who make the tests, the information and sample questions contained here correctly represent the actual GRE.
- PowerPrep II. This free software offers free online practice tests. The test’s fundamentals or basics are taught, such as how to use the calculator and how to flag and return to questions.
- Manhattan Free Practice Test. This is considered one of the best online GRE practice resources. The format of this exam is extremely close to that of the actual GRE in that it mimics the section-adaptive format of the test.
- Kaplan Free Practice Test. This practice test is also an online practice resource. Keep in mind, however, that Kaplan tests are often regarded as difficult. The questions on this practice exam are more challenging than those on the actual GRE.
The best way to build a perfect GRE study plan is to follow these steps:
- Make a realistic study schedule and use time efficiently.
- Determine the goal score required by the chosen graduate school program.
- Take a GRE practice exam to determine baseline score.
- Determine the needed time to prepare (total number of hours) based on the target score and baseline score difference.
- Begin filling in the calendar with the current date and end on the exam day.
- Begin filling in any classes, work schedule and other time commitments you may still have.
- Assess the available or remaining free time and allocate study hours accordingly.
- Allow for a breaktime schedule and remember not to overwork. Rest is as important as studying.
- Try to schedule a study session for up to 4 hours daily.
- Devote enough time to all areas of the test, at the same time work on the weaker points.
- Practice on the actual GRE study material, if possible.
- It is important not to be afraid to change study strategies if something doesn’t work.
Here is a sample of a 1-week GRE study schedule:
Day 1: Make a list of strengths and weaknesses. If the test taker finds a particular test subject difficult, then they should start with that. For instance, if it’s vocabulary, begin by strengthening the vocabulary skills.
Day 2: Continue reviewing the basic concepts of the particular subject the test taker finds difficult. It is recommended to take practice problems after every lesson.
Day 3: Proceed to the second most challenging test subject. It is good to balance the test preparation as much as possible.
Day 4: Take a mock test. Practice tests are available from PowerPrep Online and The Official Guide to the GRE.
Day 5: Continue doing lessons and questions. It is important to revisit the missed questions from the previous days, and review these topics.
Day 6: Review more topics, and do more questions. It is ideal to focus on the test subject that tends to be more challenging.
Day 7: Before the test day, make sure to get enough rest. Having enough rest is as important as studying for a test.
Here is a sample of a 4-week GRE study schedule:
- Learn how to approach verbal questions. Start by watching Text Completions Overview lesson videos and Magoosh Reading Comprehension lesson videos. After the lessons, begin answering practice questions for corresponding lesson groups.
- Learn math fundamentals. Start by watching lessons on General Math Strategies, the Arithmetic and Fraction, the Percentages and Ratio, and the Integer Properties. Answer equivalent practice questions relating to each lesson group mentioned.
- Learn 150 new words each week. Read two articles from recommended resources such the The Economist, and The New Yorker. Learn unfamiliar words and study them. Write a short summary or review of one of the two articles you read, using GRE the new words learned.
- Watch GRE Introduction videos.
- Review words from the previous week while learning 150 new vocabulary words.
- Many concepts from week 2 need a clear understanding of the lessons from the previous week. Make sure to understand previous concepts.
- Start studying the following lessons: Algebra, Equations, and Inequalities, the Word Problem lessons, and the Powers and Roots. After doing so, start answering at least a hundred practice questions of the aforementioned lesson groups.
- Proceed to the remaining Verbal lessons in Magoosh, and complete at least 75 questions about Text Completions, Sentence Equivalence, and Reading Comprehension.
- Answer PowerPrep Online Test 1.
- Read another two articles from the recommended sources and make sure the content is different from the previous week. Begin writing another two reviews about the articles read. Remember to incorporate any new GRE vocabulary words learned from the very start of the study guide.
- Study all math modules except Probability. It is only recommended to spend time on Probability lessons if the test taker is already advanced at math.
- Customize study sessions to focus on areas that need the most work.
- Study additional two hundred new words.
- Revisit lesson groups that are deemed challenging. Quiz on the vocabulary learned from the first two weeks. Also, work on 150 math problems based on areas that need the most practice, and complete additional 75 verbal questions.
- Prepare for the actual feeling of high pressure of taking the actual exam. Start practicing mock tests with a timer.
- Take a final vocabulary test to see how well you know the words you’ve learned throughout the 4 weeks.
- Take PowerPrep Online Test 2, or a Manhattan GRE practice test.
The sample 30-day schedule is made on the following rules:
Step 1. Determine the baseline score by taking a practice test. Determine where you are in comparison to where you need to be. Taking a mock GRE exam early on can also assist you in identifying trouble areas, determining scoring targets, and establishing priorities.
Step 2. Establish foundations by familiarising yourself with the test, including its format, question kinds, and scoring.
Step 3. Create a study schedule. Planning is essential with only a short period of time to study for the GRE test.
Step 4. Practice on a daily basis. This includes preparation for both the GRE Verbal and GRE Quantitative sections, as well as GRE vocabulary study and lectures on GRE-specific strategies.
Step 5. Have a practice test. Completing daily practice questions on the topics and strategies you’ve recently learned will increase study retention.
Step 6. Start preparing for the whole exam. This includes studying for the Analytical Writing Assessment. Essay writing practice and mock GRE practice tests will help do this.
Step 7. Get enough rest before the test. Get enough sleep, do confidence-boosting exercises, and eat healthily in the days leading up to your official exam day.
Here is a sample of a 3-month GRE study schedule for beginners:
Week 1: Study about GRE and its contents, the question types in each section, the Official Guide on GRE Analytical Writing, Introduction on Quantitative Reasoning, Quantitative Reasoning Basics, Introduction on Verbal Reasoning, and Verbal Reasoning Basics.
Week 2: Official Guide to GRE Quantitative Reasoning, Quantitative Reasoning Operation Mastery, Official Guide to GRE Verbal Reasoning, Verbal Reasoning Solution Strategy Basics, VR Deconstruct the Question Stem, Vocab Words cabal through desultory, and VR Wordlists.
Week 3: QR Solution Strategies, GRE QR Practice Questions, VR Analyze the Answer Choices, VR Decode the Vocabulary, Official Guide GRE VR Practice Questions: Complete only the Fill-in-the Blank questions, Take a practice test on every topic covered, and QR Solution Strategies.
Week 4: QR Arithmetic Mastery, Official Guide Complete the Arithmetic section, Arithmetic Practice test, VR General Reading Strategies, VR RC: Strategies for Long Passages, VR RC: Strategies for Short Passages, and GRE VR Practice Questions: Complete the Reading Comprehension.
Week 5: QR Algebra Mastery, QR Practice Set 1, Quantitative Reasoning, RC: Analyze the Answer Choices, VR RC: Read the Question, Vocab Words, Take a practice test on the whole RC, and QR Algebra Mastery.
Week 6: Take a practice test on QR module, QR Review, Take a practice test on VR module, VR Review, Practice Vocab Words, Take a practice test on QR module, and QR Review.
Week 7: QR Algebra II Mastery, Complete the Algebra section, Timed Quantitative Reasoning, Practice Algebra questions, VR RC: Vocabulary-in-Context Questions, VR RC: Literal Comprehension Questions, and VR: Timed Verbal Reasoning.
Week 8: QR Algebra II Mastery, Timed Quantitative Reasoning: 40 minutes, VR RC: Extended Reasoning Questions, Timed Verbal Reasoning, Take a practice test from thescorebooster, QR Algebra II Mastery, and Timed Quantitative Reasoning: 40 minutes
Week 9: QR Coordinate Geometry Mastery, Complete the Geometry section only, QR Geometry, VR RC: Argument Passages, Start the Analytical Writing, Practice Timed Analytical Writing, and Take a practice test on QR section.
Week 10: QR Data Analysis, Statistics, and Probability Mastery, Complete the Data Analysis section , Timed Quantitative Reasoning, QR Data Analysis, VR RC: Putting It All Together, Timed Verbal Reasoning, and AWA- Analysis of an argument.
Week 11: Complete QR Review, Reread Quantitative Reasoning, Timed Quantitative Reasoning, Complete VR Review, Reread Verbal Reasoning, Timed Verbal Reasoning, and Vocab Words Review all words.
Week 12: QR and VR Test Readiness, Final QR Review, Reread GRE Math Review, Final VR Review, Vocab Words Review all words, Final AWA Review, and Take a practice test on AWA.
Here is a sample of a 6-month GRE study schedule:
Weeks 1-2: Strengthen reading ability and vocabulary recognition by reading articles from Time Magazine and Newsweek. Then, write summaries that incorporate new words learned from the articles.
Weeks 3-4: Begin answering Sentence Completion question types from ETS GRE Guide after completing Text Completion lessons. Additionally, start doing lessons that cover math fundamentals, and answering easy-level math problems.
Weeks 1-2: Reading materials with more complicated vocabulary such as The Atlantic and The New Yorker will push reading skills even further. Also, start answering easy to medium level verbal reasoning test questions.
Weeks 3-4: Start answering medium level math problems and strengthen weak areas such as data Interpretation.
Weeks 1-2: Take a full mock exam. For both Math and Verbal, try to complete all the hard questions. Helpful study materials include Reading Comprehension guide and math volume from Manhattan Prep for GRE.
Weeks 3-4: Add The Economist to the reading list, and drop Newsweek and Time Magazine. Learn more Analytical Writing Assessment (AWA) lessons.
Weeks 1-2: Explore the more difficult math and verbal topics. Among the helpful study materials are the GMAT Official Guide (GMAT OG) and Barron’s New GRE Guide.
Weeks 3-4: Do timed questions by taking 2 Manhattan GRE Prep tests. This will gauge progress and help prepare for the upcoming PowerPrep in month 5.
Weeks 1-2: Finish the GMAT OG book and the most of Magoosh’s problems for Math. Finish all of the problems in Barron’s and the rest of the relevant questions in the GMAT OG for Verbal.
Weeks 3-4: Answer all sections in the PowerPrep and carefully understand each problem. Use the Magoosh customized tests to work on weaknesses, and take the 3rd Manhattan GRE test and do one mock test from Magoosh.
Weeks 1-2: Focus on The Official Guide to the New GRE. Take timed sections regularly, and customize the problem types that are most difficult.
Weeks 3-4: One week prior to the test, do mock tests to better improve test taking ability. Examine a large set of vocabulary words, focusing on word usage.
Yes, it is possible to make a GRE study plan that is focused on one section because there are prospective test takers who might find a certain test section more challenging than the other, so they’d like to focus more on that subject. There are readily available study plans that are verbal reasoning focused, analytical writing focused, and quantitative reasoning focused.
Verbal reasoning-focused study plan consists of Verbal-focused lessons, in addition to Math lessons that are mostly just review for the test taker. This is designed to improve English and vocabulary skills which is perfect for GRE takers who are mathematical or techie types.
Analytical Writing Focused Plan consists of Analytical Writing-focused lessons designed for GRE takers who are not confident in their critical thinking and analytical writing skills but are confident enough about their knowledge on verbal reasoning and quantitative reasoning.
Quantitative reasoning-focused study plan consists of math-focused lessons designed for GRE takers who can already score above the 95th percentile in verbal questions, and need a more comprehensive review of math questions and problems.
The common mistakes test takers commit in building their GRE study plan are:
- Making an unrealistic study schedule, and not considering other time commitments at work or school that might get in the way of test preparation.
- Not allotting time for rest and overdoing it. Resting is as important as studying.
- Not finding the right test materials. The study materials you use should be suited to your learning style. If the test taker prefers to learn visually, then test preparation books, videos, and flashcards are ideal for you. Whereas, a class or course will be most beneficial to you if you are a traditional learner.
- Not taking an initial practice test. Before making a study plan, it is important to take a full-length GRE practice test in a realistic way as the real exam because this will help determine which sections need studying the most.
- Miscalculating the needed time to study in order to reach target score. The number of hours that needs to be allocated to the test preparation depends on the baseline and goal score. Not allocating enough time might badly affect test results.
To balance work and GRE study plan, follow these tips:
- Manage time well. For those moments when it is needed to knuckle down and focus, learn to manage distractions by disabling internet and social media on your devices. Set goals, reminders, and to-do lists to help in time management.
- Learn how to deal with stress. It can be stressful to work and study at the same time, but there are numerous methods to deal with stress. Breathing exercises, yoga, and meditation are all activities that can help reduce stress and improve physical and mental health.
- Set boundaries. If someone asks you to do something that would compromise with a task for studying and work, say no. It’s one of the simplest ways to strike a balance between work and study. Because you can’t do everything, you should set limits for what’s realistic.
- Increase study retention and efficiency. Self-testing through practice tests has been shown to boost the performance of students across many criterion tasks and even in educational contexts. Reading is passive, but answering practice questions is an active recall technique that helps learning.
- Manage expectations. Acknowledge that studying for the GRE test can be difficult – there will be some temporary sacrifices in your personal life as a result. You will need to be extremely disciplined and focused. Be honest with yourself about your spare time and capacity to focus; otherwise, you will be working hard but not smart. (11)
Timed practice is taking sample exams under time pressure while untimed practice is taking the test for as long as the test taker would like. The advantages and disadvantages of each are the following: