Preparing for the GRE: The right way

Preparing for the GRE: The Right Way

If you are a first-time GRE test taker, you’re probably clueless about how to approach your prep or even how, to begin with. In this post, we are going to demystify the GRE preparation. 

Begin with a diagnostic test

It is best to begin your GRE preparation with a diagnostic test. This test should be taken before any sort of preparation. There are several free diagnostic tests available online that you can choose from such as the ETS. This test will gauge how much you need to prepare and the areas you need to focus on. It will also give you an idea of the test itself and what to expect on the final exam.

Consult experienced GRE mentors

It is possible that if you begin studying for the GRE on your own, you are likely to be confused about the correct course of action and, therefore, would be prone to wasting time and resources. That can, in turn, get frustrating and won’t lead to a score improvement. Hence, it is always a better idea to reach out to someone who is experienced in the GRE, likely an experienced mentor, and ask them to guide you. You should tell them about your diagnostic test score and ask them to guide you based on that for a personalized recommended course of action. 

You may also contact an experienced mentor for FREE step-by-step guidance on

Prepare a Study Plan

Making and sticking to a study plan is difficult. Many students prefer to do random preparation which is not helpful at all for the GRE. This is truly one of the most critical elements when deciding how to prepare for the GRE test. A good study plan is one that accounts for the time and amount of preparation required, and so it varies from person to person.

Your plan should be flexible enough to cater to personal or external emergencies. But at the same time, it should be rigid enough to not make you comfortable or lose sight or give up on the plan altogether. Once you have covered a particular section, take a mock test to test your prep, and you will have a clear idea of the progress you have made.

Additionally, if an experienced GRE mentor suggests you work with a particular study plan then you should stick with it. 

Avoid generic plans

Sometimes, standard plans are not helpful at all. Rather, we would argue that they could actually have a negative impact. Coaching centers or even plans found online are based on specific time periods of 1, 2, or 6 months, but since they are generic to fit a wider audience, they are not helpful to your specific needs. Instead, it is always a better idea to create a customized plan based on your needs and areas of required focus. There is no “one size fits all” solution. To ace your GRE exam, you need a tailored solution customized to your specific needs.

If you are confused about making a study plan, you can view generic plans found online and then make one for yourself based on the patterns you see in other plans. 

Give realistic time to improve your score

Preparing for the GRE can not be rushed. It requires time and dedication, without which it becomes very hard to improve your score. Learning and developing the skills needed to ace the GRE exam takes time & effort. 

Prep time is directly proportional to the gap between your current diagnostic score and target score…these are the average score improvement of hundreds of students in the past 6 years;

260 to 300 = 40 points = 6 months

300 to 330 = 30 Points = 5 months 

300 to 320 = 20 Points = 3 months

290 to 310 = 20 Points = 3 months

280 to 300 = 20 points = 3 months

300 to 315 = 15 Points = 2 months

The longer you study, the greater your score is likely to improve. 

Spend time building strong Math and English concepts

It’s impossible to get a high GRE score without clear concepts. Before diving into deep practice, it is essential that you work on your concepts in both Maths and English. Alongside, you should focus on your vocabulary and building your wordlist. Once you are clear with the theories and concepts for each type of question, you can go ahead and begin practicing questions. 

Focus on reading skills

The GRE verbal section depends a lot on your reading skills. If you are not an avid reader, you will face issues in improving your scores. So it is important, if you have not read American newspapers or literature, then you should start it asap and spend 60% of your Verbal preparation time on it.

Avoid cramming words

Many test-takers believe for GRE Verbal score improvement, they need to cram as many words as possible before the exam, which is false and rather hinders your overall effort. Instead, they need to focus on understanding the contextual meaning of words. How they work in sentences and how each word is linked in different parts of the sentence and passage. It is an important skill that one should learn during the GRE preparation.

Review mistakes and improve your weakness

As you continue doing practice tests, you will get a clear idea of where you stand. You might be able to score well in specific parts and not so well in others. For instance, you can be good at the quantitative section and weak at the verbal section. Focus, therefore, on areas that require more attention to get a better score.

Just solving questions won’t help!

The whole preparation is a step-by-step process; you begin by first studying the concepts, after which you practice the questions. You should review the practice questions, identify weak areas, and then revisit lessons on those concepts again. Practice those questions again to check if your understanding has improved. Continue this until you are clear with all the types of questions that will appear on the test. 

During preparation, look carefully at the mistakes you’re making and then accordingly review those concepts that you are still unclear about. After that, practice again and see if you do better. It is important to focus on your weak areas and learn from your mistakes rather than just continuously solving questions. 

Take Multiple Practice Tests

Make sure to take practice tests during multiple phases of your preparation. The entire test will take 3 hours and 45 minutes. Attempting practice tests will take a big chunk of your prep time. Make sure that you are well-prepared before taking the test.

Try taking tests in a similar environment as the actual GRE. Do not take breaks between and complete the test in the same time duration to assess your performance. Moreover, it will build up your stamina and will surely give you an edge over those students who haven’t taken practice tests before.

Proper break before the real GRE

Your last practice test should be at least 2 days before your final exam. After that, it is important to rest. Make sure you have a proper sleep schedule and don’t eat or do anything that can make you sick. It is important to relax, watch a movie, and get enough sleep so that you can be fresh and ready for the exam. 

Remember, the GRE test preparation can not be crammed into a few days; it requires months of preparation and proper guidance. Review your notes, relax, and ease your mind before the big day. 

The Takeaway

Preparing and practicing for the GRE involves a lot of patience, dedication, and hard work. It is not an easy task, but it can become possible if you study smartly and follow the above guidelines. If you are in need of guidance from an experienced GRE mentor, feel free to connect with ScholarDen mentors for individualized, step-by-step FREE GRE guidance. 

Good luck with your exam!


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