The GRE - the first hurdle to jump towards a master's degree or Ph.D. Failing could be the only thing standing between you and your dream graduate school, or maybe any school at all!
Successfully studying for the GRE in one month means you'll have to use your time efficiently. Commitment, concentration, and a solid study plan. But don't fret, we're here to help you get a head start with your one-month GRE study plan.
4 Steps GRE Study Plan for One Month
Step 1: Practice Test
Before you step into the world of GRE, the first thing you should do is take a full-length, realistic practice test. This way you'll be able to find out where you stand now, with both your Verbal and Quantitative scores.
A good test and official guide will not only tell you your results, but it'll assess which topics to focus on, saving time when it comes to GRE studying. Another great thing about practice testing is that you'll quickly familiarize yourself with the test's timing and format.
When it comes to studying, you can use what you learned to nail the test questions! Try to simulate the same conditions as you would experience on your real test day. If you choose to write the essays, schedule 4 hours to take the test.
If you choose to skip them, schedule 3. Take at least 1.5 hours out of your day to review your mock test results, preferably the same day. You can find the list of top GRE practice tests on this link.
Step 2: Review Foundations
During week 1, work on your GRE test foundations. You should focus on the ones you got wrong on your GRE practice test. This will generally apply to the GRE quantitative section questions since the other portions won't necessarily have foundations for you to review.
Getting the basics down will help you master the higher-level questions, which in turn will improve your GRE score.
Step 3: Develop a Study Plan
Of course, making sure you're studying most days of the week will improve your score more than if you were to only study a day or two. As a general rule, studying 5 days a week in three 30 minute segments for about 1.5 hours will speed up your progress.
Since your GRE is in a month's time, try upping those study times to four or five 30 minute segments. Make time for 2 more full-length practice tests in week 3 and week 4.
The GRE practice tests will help you measure your progress and see how your GRE preparation is going. After each GRE test, give yourself 1.5 hours to review your test answers.
Remember, the GRE score is a scaled scoring system. In order to achieve a good equivalent mark, you'll have to do well in all question types. You can not focus on just one part of the exam; you must prepare well for all parts. 
Step 4: Take A Break
Test prep and studying for a huge exam like the GRE can be exhausting. But, with only one month left to prepare for the actual exam, you can't afford to lose even a day of motivation.
Study breaks are essential to maintain a healthy mind and well-being. Feel free to take 10 - 30 minutes to rest before you move on to another part. It may seem like you're wasting time, but these little breaks may be what gets you to that GRE finish line.
"Taking a test is not just a passive mechanism for assessing how much people know, according to new research. It actually helps people learn, and it works better than a number of other studying techniques."
- Pam Belluck, Writer for The New York Times.
GRE Study Essentials
Before you drive in, you'll have to gather together your learning materials. Here are a few we recommend:
- Prep Books: Having a GRE prep book on hand can help add structure to your study. Barron's GRE Prep Book comprises different sections covering practice GRE questions and their answers, technique tips, and explanations.
- Manhattan Prep GRE offers verbal strategy and math guides as well as a big book of GRE practice problems. There you can find over 2000 problems with explanations that are easy to follow.
- POWERPREP Test Preview: An overview of the GRE, POWERPREP provides you with information about the types of questions you'll see, the structure of the GRE, and tools available on the day of your test.
- Online Practice Tests: POWERPREP offers two free practice tests available through ETS. They mirror the actual GRE, including navigation from page to page, time limits, use of the on-screen calculator, and changing answers within a question. You can also try out the free untimed practice test available. Having a go at a practice test before you start studying for your GRE can help gauge what you need to work on. Manhattan Prep also has a free GRE test available too.
- Flashcards: Having flashcards on standby are super handy when you only have a few minutes to study. You can make your own or check out Magoosh's online GRE flashcards. You can either use them on the web or download them on your phone.
- Online Calendar: Using a calendar, especially one available online, is a great way of tracking your personal studying plan on the go. You can also share the calendar with others - may be your learning buddy - so you can help each other stay on track.
- Take A Class: Some people struggle in self-studying, and staying on track of a personal schedule may seem impossible. If so, it's a smart idea to consider signing up for a class. Working alongside others, with a set schedule and expert instructors may be exactly what you need to stay motivated.
- Kaplan offers quite a few in-person or online GRE classes. The course covers the skills and strategies you need to pass the GRE, and the set study plan will help you decide when to take a practice test, what you should be studying and how to get you to the GRE finish line. To learn more about what Kaplan has to offer check out our review of the Kaplan GRE Prep course.
One Month GRE Study Plan Example
Take a look at this plan to see how other students best prepare for their GRE test from week one:
- Practice test + review (6 hours)
- Study 4 days for 2 hours a day (8 hours)
- Study 5 days 2-3 hours per day (10-15 hours)
- Practice test + review (6 hours)
- Study 4 days for 2-3 hours a day (8-12 hours
- Practice test + review (6 hours)
- Study 5 days for 2-3 hours a day (10-15 hours)
If you decide to take classes to aid your study, your schedule may look slightly different. You may choose to incorporate 2 classes into your week, averaging around 5 hours. If so, you can cut back a few hours of your personal study time.
Things You'll Need For Your GRE Study
As mentioned above, to help get started on your GRE test, you'll have to do some GRE preparation. The best way to prepare for the test day is to purchase a prep book or a one month GRE test prep course.
It may seem a little costly, but the materials that are provided to you will better facilitate your preparations each and every week. The materials are proven to dramatically improve the test scores of their GRE students.
Pick out your strengths and weaknesses, covering all inside a prep book or 1 monthly course. Make sure to cover all question types, including reading comprehension, text completion, math, and verbal reasoning.
Having a dedicated study space free from all distractions is essential. Having a physical calendar in view where you can see your study plans will make it difficult to stray from your studies. Setting up this area will help separate the rest of your life from your GRE exam prep and review but also leave you room to take a break when necessary.
Arguably the most important aspect when it comes to creating a successful GRE study plan - motivation. Giving yourself one month to do GRE prep may be stressful, but it is far from impossible. That is if you have a good amount of motivation behind you.
Always remind yourself why you've made these study plans, look towards the future, and why an ace GRE score will better your life. You can do this!
Additional GRE Prep Tips
When you have motivation behind you, there's nothing you can't do. To best ace your GRE prep, take a look at the following GRE prep tips:
- Only focus on the practice questions you need to know and not the practice questions you already know. For example, if your reading comprehension section is solid, try focusing more on topics you lack in math or the verbal section.
- Set a goal score. Having something specific to aim for when preparing for GRE tests will help you stay motivated. It'll also help you create your study guide since you'll know how much you need to improve.
- Spend at least 2 or 3 hours a day reviewing questions as this will help soak in information despite not having much time.
- Practice all types of questions, GRE verbal, GRE vocabulary, sentence equivalence, etc. Do not just focus on one aspect of GRE prep. By the time your real GRE test rolls around, you'll know all subtests.
- Don't pressure yourself. Take a break when necessary, and remember to take care of your mental state too.
Feel free to read our blog on proven GRE test day tips to learn more.
The Takeaway: Your Month-Long GRE Study Plan
While we don't recommend leaving yourself a month to prepare, if you ever find yourself in that situation, there is hope, especially if you follow a solid study schedule.
Whether you choose to follow a handy one-month study guide like Manhattan Prep or Barrons GRE prep or take classes via Kaplan, always keep in mind your motivation is the key to your success.
Giving yourself some time out to regenerate some sanity is important. The questions don't answer themselves, so keep calm and study on!