How to Study for the GRE

Woman typing on laptop while studying for the GRE.

GRE Study Guide

Preparing to Succeed

While some students take the GRE after a few weekend cram sessions, this approach isn't the best way to earn good scores for your preferred education, engineering, or psychology graduate program.

To maximize your results, you'll need to create a weekly study schedule, choose your GRE test prep materials, set your study goals, and focus on success.

Getting Started

How Long Should You Study for the GRE?

In most cases, students spend between one and three months preparing for the exam. However, you'll need to decide how many hours to study for the GRE within that time frame. Use the following guidelines to create an effective, realistic GRE study schedule:

  • Consider Commitments: Family, work, and class responsibilities take up a lot of time. Think about your normal schedule and calculate your available free time to figure out how many hours you can devote to GRE test prep every week.
  • Review Test Prep Resources: Explore your GRE test prep options and look for resources that offer customizable plans, focused lessons, and multiple practice exams to optimize your study sessions.
  • Find Your Target Score: Research your preferred graduate programs' entry requirements to find out what GRE scores you'll need for admission. Set your sights on the numbers you need for your academic plans.
  • Plan for the Unexpected: Emergencies and unforeseen events can easily derail your GRE study plans. Give yourself a little leeway by building in some time buffers in case life throws you a curveball.

Your GRE Study Plan

Try a Practice Test First

Before finalizing your GRE study schedule, take a practice test to determine your baseline score, so you can see your current skill level before you begin.

Taking a practice test highlights your strengths and weaknesses in each section, so you can zero in on the best way to study for the GRE and set your goals.

Analyze Your Skills

Discover What Needs Work

Don't be discouraged if you get a low baseline score on your first try. This initial attempt just lets you know where you stand without prior preparation, so you can prioritize difficult topics and questions in your study plan.

The more you prepare, the more your scores will improve. Keep a positive outlook and focus on future results to stay motivated through long study sessions.

Devise Your Plan

Prioritize Topics that Are More Difficult for You

After learning your practice test score, you can map out how to study for the GRE on your own. Take a close look at any sections that gave you trouble and put them first on your study plan.

For example, if you had difficulty writing clear responses on the Analytical Writing portion, make it a point to cover that section more thoroughly during your next study session.

Track Your Progress

Measure Improvements to Gauge Your Learning

In addition to highlighting sections where you need additional practice, this focused approach to studying for the GRE also helps measure your progress. Revisiting a practice test after several study sessions lets you see and celebrate your improvements as you get closer to your target GRE score.

Stay the Course

Avoiding Distractions During Study Sessions

Avoiding distractions while studying for the GRE can become a challenge after a while. Even with a personalized study schedule and plenty of time set aside for preparation, daily life is full of disruptions ready to sabotage your success.

Consider the following tips to help you stay on track and make the best use of your study time:

  • Restrict your internet use to GRE materials
  • Wear noise-canceling headphones
  • Listen to calm instrumental music or white noise
  • Take frequent breaks to avoid study fatigue and loss of concentration
  • Schedule study sessions for quiet days or times when you're alone

Plan for Success

Proper Preparation Is the Key to Your Best Score

Getting a high GRE score depends solely on how much time and effort you put into achieving it. By sticking to your study schedule and focusing on areas that give you trouble, you'll build more and more confidence in your ability to succeed. At the end of the day, the best way to study for the GRE is the method that aligns with your schedule and academic goals.

Practice Tests & Study Resources

Online GRE Test Prep

GRE Sections

GRE Quantitative Reasoning Tips

GRE Analytical Writing Advice

GRE Reading Comprehension Tips

GRE Verbal Reasoning Guide

GRE Scoring Breakdown