Last Updated On: April 19, 2021
The average student spends 3 months preparing for the GRE exam. While it sounds like a long time, you'll find that it's the perfect length for these kinds of tests.
When you take it day by day, you'll see growth. This plan will help you figure out where to start, ways to study, and how to meet your GRE goals.
Why Should I Create A Study Plan?
According to the Education Testing Service (ETS), half a million individuals take the GRE each year. You are competing for spots with applicants from around the world.
This GRE test is available and taken in over 160 countries . With many individuals vying for spots, it's important you take GRE study seriously.
Having study time ranging anywhere from 1 to 3 hours will give you enough practice to excel on test day. It will help to take a practice test as well.
Quantitative reasoning questions aren't easy. Having a GRE study plan will help you get a specific test score.
You'll want a result that puts you on par with the current students in your chosen program. While some school programs have an average GRE score of 153, other schools average a 162.
How to Use this GRE Study Plan - 3 Months
This GRE study plan can help you rock this assessment. The hours you put into studying will reap benefits on the assessment day.
Before starting this GRE study plan, gather your study materials in one place, so you are ready when you want to study.
- ETS-approved GRE book - Having an official guide test prep book will be beneficial. It will have approved sample questions. It covers strategies and content review for each section; it's a great place to start your GRE journey. Companies like Magoosh, ETS, or Kaplan have the best GRE prep books that you can use to study.
- Vocabulary Flashcards - Your word knowledge will play an important role in the GRE Verbal Reasoning portion. By reviewing regularly, preferably each day, along the three months of studying, you'll see a significant jump in that test result.
- Reading Material - For the next couple of months, read books each day. The majority of questions are testing your reading comprehension skills on complex topics. By reading a book, you'll be expanding your content knowledge. Set aside 15 minutes a day to do this.
- GRE Practice Tests - ETS offers free practice tests that will allow you to prep and answer questions that you'll see on the real test. A practice test should have both the Verbal Reasoning and Quantitative Reasoning section. Take a practice test twice a month when studying. A good study plan will have you doing this every couple of days. It takes two to three hours to complete these free GRE practice tests.
Take a Diagnostic Test
Take a practice test at the beginning of your study. The good news is that there are many free GRE resources out there. These hours-long practice tests are designed to help you get comfortable with the different question types. They take time (hours) to complete, but they will help you study. You'll see if your test-taking strategies and time management skills are working.
ETS is your official guide to the GRE. It lets you complete a full-length practice test. It will cover verbal reasoning and quantitative reasoning. After you take a practice test, you'll receive your score. Now create a day-by-day study schedule with time blocked out.
Set a Goal
Once you take a practice test and your results, you'll review where you stand against other students. The goal you set is based on your school choice, program choice, and financial need. The GRE preparation needed results for law versus social work are different. How you study might vary depending on your goal. Some students study a couple of hours every day while others might study a couple of hours every couple of days.
Develop a Schedule and Execute
Create a guide for a study schedule that meets your goal. Some individuals find that 3 months of review for 3 hours a day is appropriate, while others do better with one hour a day. Be honest with yourself and think about what plan will help prepare you for test day. Evaluate your pacing after week 2. You might add hours each day or stay the same.
You want to target each of the sections: Verbal Reasoning and Quantitative Reasoning. If GRE math is your weakest area, plan to spend more time on that each day. Pick up an official guide to help you hit each section and study practice questions you'll see on test day. Remember that your plan and practice should be fluid. Something you study in week 1 might need to be studied again in week 4.
We recommend you take complete practice tests each week of both the verbal and the quantitative reasoning portions. It will take a couple of hours and one complete day of studying. Review the practice test the day after you take it. The writing analysis section can be done every other week or every couple of days.
Take the Test
After all those practice questions and 3 months of hard work, you are ready for test day. Go to the ETS site, which is the official guide to the GRE, and review test day procedures. The full length typically takes anywhere from three to four hours. Each section length might vary as they have different amounts of questions. Before starting, review the instructions.
To make sure you have everything to get into the testing center feel free to read our GRE test day tips.
Should I Take the GRE?
The GRE is a test that gives graduate schools an idea of how you'd in their school programs. They use the scores from this test as another factor in admissions. They review these scores along with your other information. Many students study and take a practice test or two before sitting for the main test. Let's take a closer look at the three-section content of the test.
- Verbal Reasoning - This section focuses on your ability to analyze incomplete written data. You'll need excellent reading comprehension and vocabulary skills to do well. It's about summarizing text, distinguishing big and small details, and figuring out the author's intent.
- Quantitative Reasoning - This portion of the GRE focuses on understanding and using quantitative information to solve math problems. You'll need a knowledge of basic arithmetic, algebra, geometry, and data analysis.
- Analytical Writing - This is the final section. It focuses on using critical thinking to write a well-thought-out answer to a tricky question. You must have writing skills that allow you to articulate and support ideas with practical examples.
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Here's an Example of a 3-Month Plan
Use this GRE 3 months of prep schedule to get you to your GRE goals. It's broken down by month, week, day, and hours.
Month 1 (Week 1- Week 4)
Week 1: Take a complete ETS practice test and review your strengths and weaknesses. This will be test 1 of many. Practice vocabulary words. You will want to learn 100 words a week or 14 words a day. Also, spend your time learning mathematical concepts, such as data analysis, and get a feel for the multiple-choice questions. Schedule two to three hours for studying each day.
Week 2: Learn new words and try the verbal reasoning portion of the GRE. You will be focusing on reading comprehension. Brush up on basic math concepts like fractions, inequalities, and formulas for quantitative reasoning. Spend a day doing a practice assessment. Spend two to three hours a day studying. Pick a book to read for this month.
Week 3: Take an ETS practice version of the verbal reasoning portion. See what areas you struggled in and focus on those questions specifically. Move from basic math to advanced math concepts like roots, percentages, and data analysis. You have learned a total of 300 words by the end of week 3. That is equivalent to a little over 14 words a day. Allocate two to three hours each day for practicing.
Week 4: Read about and write a practice test essay. Review your answer and the GRE example. Work on various math problems. For GRE verbal reasoning, become quicker at answering problems correctly. Spend two to three hours a day studying.
Month 2 (Week 5- Week 8)
Week 5: Continue the reading practice from the week before and take a practice quantitative reasoning test. Review the complete practice test. Also, remember to keep up with the vocabulary learning. Do practice problems each day this week. Spend three hours a day studying.
Week 6: Focus on studying the sentence equivalence question types. They show up in the verbal reasoning portion. This week in GRE math, practice geometry skills, such as coordinate geometry. Try reviewing one type of question each day. You have learned a total of 600 words by the end of week 6. Evaluate how many hours you are studying each day and make adjustments as needed. Pick out a new book to read this month.
Week 7: Take a full practice test this week. Set aside four hours with no distractions. Review the results. How do these results compare to the first test you took? What practice questions are giving you trouble? Spend three hours a day studying. It's week 7, and you're halfway there!
Week 8: Work on implementing the strategies and techniques you've learned into your practice each day. In your GRE prep, try doing the easier math problems in your head. This review of strategies will make them become second nature. Spend two to three hours a day studying.
Month 3 (Week 9 - Week 12)
Week 9: Double-check test registration and practice writing another complete essay. Review where you are struggling. If you need more help, try writing a paragraph a day on various subjects. Spend two hours studying each day.
Week 10: Work only on problems and question types that are giving you trouble in all sections. Maybe practice coordinate geometry or text completion questions that gave you trouble on another day. As you take practice tests this week, try to get faster while increasing your score. You have learned a total of 1,000 words by the end of week 10. Always review words that you've mastered on a previous day. Spend one to two hours a day studying. Pick a new book to read.
Week 11: Focus on accuracy and quickness in the math practice questions. Look back at a GRE practice test from a previous day and review questions and any errors. Cut back on the number of hours you spend studying. If you are studying for three days, think about reducing that to a day or two. One to two hours each day should be sufficient. Week 11 is the last one of intensive studying.
Week 12: Take the last-minute complete GRE practice test and review some words. You should have learned a total of 1,200 words by the end of this guide. Decrease your practice hours to under an hour a day. Continue to read a book up until the GRE assessment.
With three months of studying done, you are prepared to take on the GRE on the assessment day. The day before, gather the materials you'll need to bring to the GRE test center. Day of, eat a healthy breakfast so you have enough brain energy for the test.
Finally, slow down and skip difficult questions. This ETS assessment takes hours. Don't rush.