The Graduate Record Examination (or GRE) is a standardized general test that assesses the test-taker’s analytical and reasoning skills in mathematics, writing, and reading. This exam isn’t specified in just one particular course taken in college. The purpose of the GRE is to estimate a student’s readiness to conduct critical thinking and problem solving required in a graduate school.

Not all programs require the GRE scores, but those that do usually expect to receive them within the strict deadline. When it comes to preparing for the GRE, a lot of students realize they are short on time for various reasons. If you are one of those who desperately need GRE study help, we are here for you. In our free online guide, you’ll find a terse schedule of studies, a detailed checklist to get yourself organized, and some effective GRE tips and tricks that will help you score high on the day of your exam.

Preparing for the GRE: How long does it take?

There’s no precise answer to the question “What is the sufficient amount of time one needs to prepare for the GRE exam?” While it may take some students up to six months to review, the others who do well in all subjects but one may need only one month of intense studies. Generally, experts advise having three-four months in order not to rush self while preparing for GRE.

Before you dive into studying, we recommend you to take a free GRE practice test. It’ll help detect your strong and weak areas, choose which section to focus on, and realize how long it will take you to get ready.

GRE study guides online and other kinds of useful materials that can aid you

Once you’ve figured out how long to study for the GRE, it’s time to learn what materials you’ll be using. You may want to try several variants or combinations to figure out what works best for you. Generally, print outs, study guides, flashcards, various apps (e.g., vocabulary), online resources, study groups, and practice GRE sections all work great when you aren’t too tense on time.

When you have only 1-2 months, your only way to succeed is to fully immerse into the studying process. Two-three hours set aside each day for the intense revision should be enough to finish preparation on time. Even 30 minutes on your busiest days will make a difference.

GRE study tips: getting organized

When you have little time to prepare for the test, it’s crucial to stay organized – and do everything quickly. Follow this quick checklist to make sure you don’t miss out any important things.

  1. Register for the test. The registration deadline is 5-6 weeks before the day of testing.
  2. Take one of the free practice tests provided by such companies as Manhattan Prep, The Princeton Review, Kaplan, etc.
  3. Prepare yourself a study space. It should be quiet, clean, and convenient to help you focus on reviewing.
  4. Create a study schedule and follow it daily not to get lost.
  5. Buy a printed or an online study guide. These detailed prep materials are a non-expensive alternative to pricey classes and tutors.
  6. Download free study apps, and let technologies help you. The best ones available are Magoosh GRE Prep, Official GRE Guide, PrepGame Math, etc.
  7. Take a second practice test with real-like conditions (limited time, breaks between sessions, etc.) closer to exam day.

One month GRE study plan

To get ready for the GRE when you have only one month left, we recommend you to follow a detailed four-week schedule provided in the “Official Guide to the GRE” (OGG) by ETS study guide.

Visit the official site to find this and other useful prep materials. Alternatively, you can choose one of these study plans.

How to prep for GRE sections in one month

Here are a few helpful recommendations for each GRE section.

Quantitative reasoning. Many students prepping for GRE realize they’ve forgotten all basic algebra, although it’s not harder than the math of SAT-level. The best decision for them is to hire a qualified tutor to quickly revive your knowledge.

Critical reading for GRE is way harder than STA. For the first two weeks of preparation, read all passages slowly, take time to find and understand the subtle core ideas. You’ll improve the speed and skill over the next two weeks.

Verbal reasoning will require more of your attention and time. Don’t expect to find the right answers by eliminating the wrong variants. Often questions may have several correct answers, so be ready to mark them all. Learn the real, direct solutions.

GRE test study guide: getting ready for the exam day

When the day of the exam arrives, you should be physically, emotionally, and mentally prepared for it. Follow these useful tips to successfully sit for the GRE.

  • Do not study or review anything 24 hours before the exam! Relax and clear your mind.
  • Eat healthy, substantial, protein-rich meals.
  • Pack your things: photo identification, email confirmation, authorization voucher, a sweatshirt, and water. Snacks and mobile phones can be used only during breaks.
  • Go to bed and wake up earlier than usual.
  • Arrive at the testing center 30+ minutes early.

Tips for taking the GRE without studying

Some students wonder how to pass the GRE without preparation. They wish to save themselves some time and take the test without studying for it. Although this may seem tempting, the experts and teachers don’t recommend doing it. Unless you are familiar with most of the exam topics, the possibility to earn a great score is not high. Your score won’t reflect what you’re really capable of.

However, if you want to try your luck or have no time to study, there’s one basic thing you should do: familiarize yourself with the structure and content of the GRE. At least, this way you will be aware of what to expect and will have some extra confidence on the day of the test. Learn general information about the GRE, look through a detailed online guide (like the one you are reading now), speak to people who have passed the exam in the past. Taking a practice test could help you even more.

Remember, though, that the results of the GRE will influence your future career in the long run. That’s why the excellent score is totally worth the effort you take to prepare for this exam.