Studying for GRE – A Quick Guide to Making a Study Plan

Studying from GRE

Studying for anything, be it your annual exams, SATs or GREs can be a daunting task, especially if your study plan lacks structure and clear deadlines. If you just pick up GRE preparation books  randomly and start going through them, you’d be wasting not just your time but valuable brain power as well.

Instead, formulating an exam study plan can help you make the most of your time. Creating a GRE study plan is not easy. However, once you have this set up it help your study efforts tremendously.

Today, we’ll guide you through the process of making a GRE study plan. Along with with that we have a sample study plan that you may use as s guide to get started. 

Before we get into it though, we would like to point out that in order to ensure that everything goes according to plan, you need to stick to it like a gum under your shoes. If you’re having trouble doing that, we recommend asking a friend or family member to keep you in check.

So, let’s dive in!

Sample GRE Study Plan

For this sample, we’re assuming that you have budgeted at least three months of study time before sitting for your exam.

Here is an overview of what you’ll be doing each month, followed by a table elaborating what to do on a weekly basis.

  1. The first month will act as the ‘baseline’ for your GRE study plan and show you where you stand. You’ll focus on the test format and review the overall content.
  2. The second month will be more strategic as you delve deeper into the prep books.
  3. The third month will be a ‘revision’ month as you tie up loose ends and focus on Analytical Writing.
MonthWeekWhat to Do
Month 1Week 1Take a past or sample test  and see how you’re faringTake a break and then go over your test. Compare answers with a key, if possible Review mistakesMake note of parts where you did well and where you faltered
Week 2Go over your notes and sort everything from where you performed the worst to better, to good, to exceptionalNow you know where to begin. Start with the hardest bits. If you lack vocabulary, go through it
Week 3Take a test again – preferably not the same oneTake a break and review testSee if there is any improvement. Work on the same topic throughout the week
Week 4Start touching base with other parts as well. Move on to other chapters. Move on to verbal reasoning and quantitative reasoning slowly (if you lacked there)
Month 2Week 1Give the worse part (vocabulary, in this example) a break and now focus on other parts
Week 2Take a test again – preferably not the same oneTake a break and review testSee if there is improvement. Highlight where you need more work.Start working on the worst bit again
Week 3Take it light. Study, but rest as well. Catch up on exercise and sleepTake all the tests again, if possible. Same tests and see where you stand. You should perform better at this point
Week 4Finalize everything except the analytical writing and things you’re good at, at this pointUse notes from the three tests you just gave
Month 3Week 1If things need some more polishing, do that. Otherwise, move on to analytical writingWork through the nights at this point, if need be, to get a good grip on everything you have worked on so far
Week 2Again, if anything needs more work, focus on that and get it done with within the first 3 days of the week. Don’t let anything leak furtherNow review everything, revise the whole content and give a practice test on day 6Review the test on day 7 and if you’re tired, take a break. Point out anywhere you’re lacking as well at this point
Week 3Now move on to analytical writing. Just write. Take samples from here and there and keep exercising. This is more of a grind than the rest, which is why you leave it for the end. Dedicate the whole week to it
Week 4Finalize everything. Go over things you performed well at as wellGive another practice test. Make it picture perfect and give it your best shotRelax on the last day, but not too much. Keep revising everything slowly throughout the day

Of course, you can tailor this sample according to your requirements. For example, if you’re very good at analytical writing already and need to dedicate a whole week just to quantitative reasoning, do that.

It all depends on how much time you have. This will dictate how many hours you’re going to have to commit per day to your GRE study plan. The less time you have, the more hours you’re going to have to put in.

Creating Your Own GRE Study Plan

When creating a study plan, be it for yourself or for someone else, a lot of thought and consideration goes into it; and with good reason. The slightest mistakes and you’ll end up not only overburdening the learner, but also leading to poor results in the GRE exam.

So, here’s a quick guide to help you create a GRE study plan that will get you results.

Step 1: Set Your Goals

This depends mostly on what schools or programs you’re looking to apply to. For example, the average GRE scores of Harvard admitted applicants range from:

  • 155 to 166 for verbal
  • 155 to 170 for quantitative

Set a 5 to 10 point above the required range as your goal for best results; just keep it realistic and achievable.

Step 2: Test the Waters – Take a Practice Test

Many GRE preparation books have sample practice tests within as well. Remain serious throughout the test and take it as if you were actually taking a full test. Results will give you a good idea of what your current baseline score is and how you can improve it.

This step is crucial, since it will shape your entire GRE study plan.

Point out what needs work, and how much work it needs. The less you score here, the more hours you need to put in.

Step 3: Figure Out How Much Work You Need to Do & Make a Time Table

Once your scores are in and you have figured out your weaknesses, it’s time to make a time table for it. Seeing the results of the sample test, allocate hours to each subject (total) and divide the total by the number of weeks left.

For example, if you think your analytical writing section needs around 80ish hours and you have 3 months (12 weeks) left, then that’s around 6.67 hours per week. Make that an even 7 hours per week and one hour per day. Sounds doable, right?

Break everything down accordingly, and you have yourself a digestible time table to work off of!

Step 4: Gather the Right Material

When it comes to preparing for GRE, you’ll need a library of books and practice tests to give you a better grasp over what’s coming. You’ll need up-to-date problems to solve and material that will help you grasp concepts better.

You’ll also need books to understand GRE strategies better, which will help you tackle the test in the most time-efficient way possible.

Step 5: Execute Your GRE Study Plan!

Once you have a detailed plan in place, it’s time to start working. Put everything aside and focus on your time table. Try not to cut corners or make compromises; when it’s time to start working on math problems, work on math problems.

However, if you’re working on analytical problems right now and are in a good flow, don’t break that flow. Go with it for as long as you can and once you’re done, move on to math. But just because you worked half an hour extra on the analytical problems today doesn’t mean you get to work half an hour less on math!

Try to stick to your timetable and GRE study plan as closely as possible. If changes are required, try INCREASING the time, not decreasing. It’s good to be over prepared than under.

GRE Study Plans – Are They Necessary?

A common question we get asked is ‘why not just wing it?’

Well, if we started to list out the problems that could arise because of just ‘winging it’, the blog post would fall too short. One of the most helpful things that a study plan can help you with when preparing for your GRE exams is to keep you on track.

You’ll be more time efficient, more strategic and cover your bases better. It provides you with a checklist that you can check off week by week or day by day; something that encourages you to go further with every tick.

Starting is easier than finishing, and people often start studying but lose motivation with time. A GRE study plan can help you keep that motivation up.

If you’re having trouble formulating a study plan or are simply looking for GRE resources for help through the studying process, we recommend you check our list of prep courses and prep books today! The right resource and GRE study plan can help you leap miles ahead in your preparation, helping you achieve better results, no matter how short of a time frame you have.

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