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How to Prepare for GRE?

The Graduate Record Examination (GRE) is a standardised test commonly required for admission to graduate programs in various fields. It is a vital part of the graduate school admissions process, especially for abroad study programs. Here are some key points highlighting the importance of the GRE in graduate school admissions:

  • Standardised Assessment: The GRE measures an applicant's abilities and knowledge in critical areas such as analytical writing, verbal reasoning, and quantitative reasoning. It allows admissions committees to compare applicants from different educational backgrounds on a level playing field.
  • Demonstrates Academic Readiness: Performing well on the GRE showcases a candidate's preparedness for the rigour of graduate-level coursework. The exam assesses :
  • critical thinking, 
  • analytical reasoning, and 
  • problem-solving skills

These are essential for success in advanced academic programs.

  • Competitive Advantage: A strong GRE score can give applicants a competitive edge in admissions. It demonstrates intellectual abilities and showcases a candidate's potential to excel in their chosen field of study.
  • Funding Opportunities: Many scholarships, grants, and funding opportunities for graduate studies consider GRE scores as a criterion for eligibility. A high score can increase the chances of securing financial aid to support academic pursuits.

Now that we understand the significance of the GRE, let us explore the content structure of this comprehensive guide on how to prepare effectively for the exam:

  • Understanding the GRE: This section provides an overview of the GRE format. It helps familiarise you with the structure of the test.
  • Creating a Study Plan: A well-structured study plan is crucial for effective GRE preparation. This section offers guidance on setting realistic goals, organising study materials, and creating a study schedule that suits your needs.
  • Reviewing Content Areas: Here, we delve into the specific content areas tested in the GRE, such as verbal reasoning, quantitative reasoning, and analytical writing. We provide tips on how to strengthen your knowledge and skills in each area.
  • Practice and Mock Tests: Practice is essential for GRE success. This section highlights the importance of practice and offers advice on utilizing practice tests and mock exams to simulate the test-taking experience and identify areas for improvement.
  • Test-Taking Strategies: Effective test-taking strategies can help you maximise your performance on the GRE. This section provides valuable techniques for managing time, approaching different question types, and avoiding common pitfalls.
  • Additional Resources: We conclude the guide by recommending additional resources, such as GRE prep books, online courses, and study materials, to enhance your preparation further and ensure comprehensive coverage of the exam content.

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Understanding the GRE

It is essential to have a solid understanding of the GRE exam structure in order to effectively prepare for the GRE. Let us explore each of these aspects in detail:

The GRE consists of three main sections:

  • Verbal Reasoning: This section assesses your ability to analyse and evaluate written material, understand relationships among words and concepts, and identify the author's perspective and intentions.
  • Quantitative Reasoning: This section measures your problem-solving ability in areas of arithmetic, algebra, geometry, and data analysis. It tests your understanding of quantitative concepts and your ability to apply them to solve problems.
  • Analytical Writing: In this section, you are required to write two essays - an "Issue Task" essay and an "Argument Task" essay. The "Issue Task" assesses your ability to present a well-reasoned argument on a given issue, while the "Argument Task" evaluates your critical thinking and analytical writing skills in analysing and critiquing a provided argument.

GRE Scoring System and Test Duration:

  • Verbal Reasoning and Quantitative Reasoning sections are scored on a scale of 130-170 in one-point increments.
  • Analytical Writing essays are scored on a scale of 0-6 in half-point increments.
  • The total score range for the GRE is 260-340, based on the combined Verbal Reasoning and Quantitative Reasoning scores.
  • The test duration is approximately 3 hours and 45 minutes, including one-minute breaks between sections and a 10-minute break after the third section.
  • Each section has a specified time limit. Verbal Reasoning and Quantitative Reasoning sections have two subsections with 30 minutes per subsection, while Analytical Writing tasks have 30 minutes per essay.

Importance of Familiarising Yourself with the GRE Format and Question Types

Familiarising yourself with the GRE format and question types is crucial for efficient and effective preparation.

  • Understanding the format helps you develop strategies to manage your time effectively during the exam.
  • Becoming familiar with the question types allows you to practice specific skills required for each type, such as critical reading, problem-solving, and analytical writing.
  • By knowing the question types, you can focus your preparation on areas that require improvement and gain confidence in tackling different question formats.
  • Additionally, being aware of the exam format and question types reduces test anxiety and enhances your overall test-taking experience.

This knowledge forms the foundation for developing a targeted study plan and adopting appropriate strategies to succeed in the GRE.

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Creating a Study Plan for GRE Test Preparation

Creating a structured study plan is essential for effective GRE preparation. It provides a roadmap to guide your study efforts, ensures comprehensive coverage of the exam content, and helps you stay organised and focused. Let us explore the key aspects of creating a study plan:

Importance of a Structured Study Plan:

   - A study plan helps you allocate time efficiently to different topics and sections, ensuring a balanced and thorough preparation.

   - It helps you track your progress and identify areas that need more attention and improvement.

   - A structured study plan instils discipline and consistency in your study routine, preventing procrastination and ensuring regular practice.

   - It reduces stress by breaking down the extensive GRE content into manageable study sessions, making the preparation process more manageable.

Assessing Your Strengths and Weaknesses:

   - Before creating a study plan, assessing your strengths and weaknesses in each section of the GRE is crucial.

   - Take a diagnostic practice test to gauge your initial performance and identify areas where you excel and areas that require improvement.

   - Analyse the results to understand your performance patterns and prioritise your study focus accordingly.

   - Understanding your strengths allows you to allocate less time to those areas and concentrate more on improving your weak areas.

Setting Realistic Goals and Timelines:

   - Set clear and realistic goals for your GRE preparation. Consider the score you aim to achieve and the time available before your test date.

   - Break down your goals into smaller, achievable targets for each study session or week.

   - Create a timeline that includes specific study milestones, such as completing a content review, practising timed sections, and taking practice tests.

   - Be mindful of your other commitments and ensure that your study plan aligns with your schedule.

Tips for Creating an Effective Study Schedule:

   - Allocate dedicated time for GRE preparation in your daily or weekly schedule.

   - Divide your study sessions into focused blocks, each targeting a specific content area or skill.

   - Prioritise difficult or weaker areas, but also allocate time for review and practice in areas where you are already strong.

   - Mix up the study materials and resources to keep your study sessions engaging and varied.

   - Incorporate regular breaks to avoid burnout and maintain focus during study sessions.

   - Monitor your progress regularly and make adjustments to your study plan as needed.

Remember, a study plan is not set in stone. It is a flexible guide that should adapt to your evolving needs and progress. Regularly assess your performance, seek feedback from practice tests, and adjust your study plan to address improvement areas.

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Familiarising Yourself with the Exam Content

To excel in the GRE, familiarising yourself with the content and question types of each section is crucial. Let us break down each section and provide tips and strategies to enhance your performance:

Verbal Reasoning:

Tips for improving vocabulary:

     - Build a strong vocabulary by regularly learning new words and their meanings.

     - Use flashcards, vocabulary-building apps, and mnemonic techniques to reinforce word retention.

     - Read extensively, including newspapers, magazines, and academic articles, to encounter new words in context.

   - Reading comprehension strategies:

     - Practice active reading techniques, such as underlining key points, summarising paragraphs, and identifying the author's tone and purpose.

     - Familiarise yourself with various passage types, such as arguments, explanations, and critiques, to understand their structures and main ideas.

     - Strengthen your critical reading skills by analysing the logical flow of information, identifying supporting evidence, and making inferences based on the text.

Quantitative Reasoning:

Review of basic math concepts:

     - Brush up on fundamental arithmetic, algebra, geometry, and data analysis concepts.

     - Focus on topics like fractions, percentages, equations, ratios, geometric shapes, and statistical measures.

     - Create a formula sheet or cheat sheet with key formulas and concepts for quick reference during practice and the exam.

   - Strategies for solving quantitative problems:

     - Practice problem-solving techniques, such as identifying relevant information, breaking down complex problems into manageable steps, and checking your answers.

     - Work on mental math skills to improve speed and accuracy in calculations.

     - Learn to recognise common question patterns and apply appropriate problem-solving strategies, such as plugging in values, estimating, and using the process of elimination.

Analytical Writing:

Understanding the essay prompts:

     - Analyse the essay prompts carefully, identifying the main issue or argument.

     - Identify the key components of the prompt, such as the position to be taken, the evidence required, and the logical reasoning expected.

     - Practice brainstorming ideas and constructing outlines before writing your essays.

   - Tips for structuring and writing an effective essay:

     - Start with a strong introduction that clearly presents your position and previews your main points.

     - Develop coherent body paragraphs that provide supporting evidence and logical reasoning.

     - Use transitional phrases to ensure a smooth flow between paragraphs and ideas.

     - Conclude with a succinct summary that restates your main points and reinforces your position.

     - Proofread your essays for grammar, punctuation, and clarity of expression.

Remember to focus on your individual strengths and weaknesses, reviewing and practising accordingly. With diligent preparation and consistent effort, you can enhance your performance in each section of the GRE.

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Recommended Study Resources

When preparing for the GRE, it is crucial to utilise a variety of study resources to ensure comprehensive coverage of the exam content. Here is an overview of some recommended study resources:

1. Official GRE Study Materials:

The Educational Testing Service (ETS), the organisation that administers the GRE, offers a range of official study materials

  • The Official GRE Guide: This book provides a comprehensive overview of the exam, including practice questions, explanations, and test-taking strategies.
  • The Official GRE Verbal Reasoning Practice Questions and The Official GRE Quantitative Reasoning Practice Questions: These books focus specifically on Verbal Reasoning and Quantitative Reasoning, providing additional practice questions.
  • The Official GRE Super Power Pack: This bundle includes The Official GRE Guide and the Verbal Reasoning and Quantitative Reasoning practice question books.

2. Online Resources:

  • Official GRE Website: The official GRE website offers a range of free resources, including sample questions, practice tests, and test preparation tips.
  • Practice Tests: Various websites provide free full-length practice tests, which closely simulate the actual GRE test-taking experience.

3. GRE Prep Books and Courses:

  • You can get various study materials and prep books online.
  • Various mobile apps are available, which provide on-the-go access to practice questions and study materials.

4. Importance of Utilising a Variety of Study Resources:

  • Each study resource offers a unique perspective and approach to GRE preparation.
  • Utilising a variety of resources helps you gain different insights, strategies, and practice opportunities.
  • Different resources may cater to different learning styles and preferences, allowing you to find the most effective methods for your individual needs.
  • Using official GRE materials ensures familiarity with the test format and question types, while supplemental resources can provide additional practice and reinforcement.

Test-Taking Strategies for GRE

Developing effective test-taking strategies is crucial for maximising your performance on the GRE. Here are some key strategies to employ during the exam:

1. Time Management Techniques during the Exam:

   - Familiarise yourself with the time limits for each section and subsection of the GRE.

   - Allocate your time wisely, keeping in mind that some questions may require more time than others.

   - If you encounter a challenging question, consider making an educated guess and moving on to ensure you have time for the remaining questions.

   - Use the on-screen timer to track your progress and adjust your pace accordingly.

2. Guessing Strategies and How to Approach Difficult Questions:

   - The GRE does not penalise for incorrect answers, so it is beneficial to make educated guesses when you are unsure.

   - Use the process of elimination to eliminate obviously incorrect answer choices, increasing your chances of selecting the correct option.

   - If you are running out of time or faced with a particularly difficult question, it is better to make an educated guess than to leave it unanswered.

3. Importance of Practicing under Test-Like Conditions:

   - Simulate the actual test environment as closely as possible during your practice sessions.

   - Take full-length practice tests under timed conditions to familiarise yourself with the pacing and endurance required.

   - Use official practice materials to ensure that the questions closely resemble the ones you will encounter on the actual exam.

   - Analyse your performance after each practice test, identifying areas for improvement and adjusting your study plan accordingly.

4. Tips for Staying Focused and Managing Test Anxiety:

   - Get a good night's sleep before the exam to ensure you are well rested and mentally alert.

   - Eat a nutritious meal before the test to maintain energy levels.

   - Arrive at the test centre early to avoid unnecessary stress and allow time for check-in procedures.

   - To manage test anxiety, practice relaxation techniques, such as deep breathing or visualisation.

   - Maintain a positive mind set and stay confident in your preparation and abilities.

Remember, test-taking strategies are most effective when combined with thorough content review and ample practice. 

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Additional Preparation Tips for GRE

In addition to the core components of GRE preparation, several additional tips and strategies can enhance your overall performance. Let us explore these additional preparation tips in more detail:

1. Importance of Maintaining a Healthy Lifestyle during Preparation:

Maintaining a healthy lifestyle during your GRE preparation is crucial for optimal performance. Here are some key aspects to consider:

- Physical Exercise: Regular physical exercise improves blood circulation, reduces stress, and increases energy levels. Even a short walk or workout session can boost your mental focus and productivity.

- Balanced Diet: Fuel your brain with nutritious foods that provide essential vitamins and minerals. Include fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and healthy fats in your diet to support cognitive function.

- Adequate Sleep: Ensure you get enough sleep each night to allow your brain to rest and consolidate information. Aim for 7-8 hours of quality sleep to maintain mental clarity and enhance memory retention.

- Stress Management: Find effective ways to manage stress during your preparation. Practice relaxation techniques, such as deep breathing, meditation, or yoga, to reduce anxiety and promote a calm state of mind.

2. Utilising Flashcards and Mnemonic Devices for Vocabulary Building:

Building a strong vocabulary is crucial for success in the verbal reasoning section of the GRE. Here are some techniques to enhance your vocabulary skills:

- Flashcards: Create or use flashcards to learn and review new words regularly. Include the word, its definition, and usage examples. Review them consistently to reinforce your knowledge.

- Mnemonic Devices: Use mnemonic devices, such as acronyms, visual imagery, or associations, to help you remember definitions and word relationships. Create mental images or stories to make the words more memorable.

- Contextual Reading: Read extensively to encounter words in context. Pay attention to the words' usage, tone, and connotations in different texts. This exposure will deepen your understanding and retention of new vocabulary.

3. Strategies for Improving Reading Comprehension and Speed:

Effective reading comprehension and speed are essential for success in the verbal reasoning section of the GRE. Here are some strategies to improve your reading skills:

- Active Reading: Engage in active reading techniques such as highlighting key points, underlining important information, and making brief notes. This helps you stay focused and retain essential details.

- Skimming and Scanning: Practice skimming through passages to get an overview and scanning for specific information. These techniques help you locate relevant details efficiently.

- Timed Practice: Set a timer and practice reading passages within the time constraints of the GRE. This helps you develop pacing skills and improve your reading speed without sacrificing comprehension.

- Summarisation: After reading a passage, summarise the main ideas, supporting details, and author's perspective in your own words. This exercise enhances your comprehension and ensures you grasp the core concepts.

4. Importance of Reviewing and Analysing Practice Test Results:

Regularly taking practice tests is an integral part of GRE preparation. Here is how you can make the most of your practice test results:

- Thorough Review: After completing a practice test, carefully review all the questions, including both the correct and incorrect answers. Understand the reasoning behind each answer choice.

- Identify Weak Areas: Analyse the questions and topics where you struggled the most. Identify patterns of errors or content areas that require further review and practice.

- Adjust Study Plan: Based on your performance analysis, adjust your study plan to allocate more time and focus on areas of weakness. Devote additional practice and review sessions to those specific topics.

- Track Progress: Monitor your progress over time by comparing your performance on different practice tests. Observe improvements and identify areas where you need to continue strengthening your skills.

With consistent effort and a comprehensive approach, you can increase your chances of achieving your target GRE score.

Final Weeks Before the Exam

As the exam date approaches, the final weeks of your GRE preparation are crucial for reinforcing key concepts and fine-tuning your test-taking strategies. Here are some essential tips and strategies for the last weeks before the exam:

1. Revision and Reinforcement of Key Concepts:

  • Focus on reviewing and reinforcing the key concepts and strategies that you have learned throughout your preparation.
  • Prioritise areas where you need additional practice or feel less confident.
  • Use your study materials, such as textbooks, flashcards, or online resources, to revisit important concepts and practice-related questions.

2. Last-Minute Tips and Strategies for Each GRE Section:

  • Verbal Reasoning: Continue building your vocabulary by reviewing flashcards and practising with sample questions. Focus on strategies for analysing passages efficiently and answering questions accurately.
  • Quantitative Reasoning: Review essential math concepts and formulas. Focus on problem-solving strategies and practice applying them to different question types.
  • Analytical Writing: Familiarise yourself with various essay prompts and practice writing timed essays. Focus on structuring your essays effectively and providing clear, well-supported arguments.

3. Importance of Getting Adequate Rest and Avoiding Burnout:

  • In the final weeks, it is important to strike a balance between focused preparation and taking care of your well-being.
  • Prioritise getting enough sleep each night to ensure mental alertness and optimal cognitive function.
  • Avoid excessive study hours that could lead to burnout. Instead, focus on quality study sessions that are manageable and productive.
  • Take regular breaks during study sessions to refresh your mind and maintain concentration.
  • Engage in activities that help you relax and relieve stress, such as exercise, hobbies, or spending time with loved ones.

4. Practice with Official Practice Tests:

  • Take official practice tests under timed conditions to simulate the actual exam experience.
  • Analyse your performance on these tests to identify areas where you may still need improvement.
  • Pay attention to time management, pacing, and maintaining focus throughout the test.
  • Use these practice tests to fine-tune your strategies and gain confidence in your abilities.

5. Mental Preparation and Confidence Building:

  • Visualise success and positive outcomes. Cultivate a positive mind set and believe in your abilities to perform well on the exam.
  • Reflect on your preparation journey and acknowledge the progress you have made. Trust in your hard work and preparation.
  • Practice relaxation techniques, such as deep breathing or mindfulness exercises, to manage test anxiety and stay calm during the exam.


In this comprehensive guide, we have discussed key points to help you effectively prepare for the GRE and increase your chances of success in the graduate school admissions process. Let us recap the key points covered:

  • We emphasised the importance of the GRE in graduate school admissions, highlighting its role as a standardised assessment that demonstrates academic readiness and provides a competitive advantage.
  • Understanding the GRE's format and question types is crucial for effective preparation.
  • Creating a structured study plan, assessing your strengths and weaknesses, and setting realistic goals and timelines are essential for a focused and organised preparation journey.
  • We provided strategies and tips for each section of the GRE, including Verbal Reasoning, Quantitative Reasoning, and Analytical Writing.
  • Utilising a variety of study resources, such as official GRE materials, online resources, prep books, and courses, ensures comprehensive coverage of the exam content.
  • Test-taking strategies, including time management, guessing techniques, practising under test-like conditions, and managing test anxiety, can significantly improve your performance.
  • Additional tips were given, such as maintaining a healthy lifestyle, utilising flashcards and mnemonic devices for vocabulary building, improving reading comprehension and speed, and reviewing and analysing practice test results.
  • In the final weeks before the exam, revising key concepts, following last-minute tips and strategies, and taking care of your well-being is crucial.

We strongly encourage you to follow the suggested strategies, utilise the recommended study resources, and implement the test-taking techniques discussed in this guide. By incorporating these strategies into your GRE preparation, you can optimise your performance and increase your chances of achieving a competitive score.

In closing, remember that success in the GRE is within your reach. Stay motivated, believe in your abilities, and trust in the preparation you have done. Embrace the challenge, remain focused, and approach the exam with confidence. With dedication, perseverance, and the strategies outlined in this guide, you are well-equipped to excel in the GRE and pave the way for your academic and professional goals. Best of luck on your GRE journey.

  • Ravi Garg
  • October 20,2023
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