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How to Study for the GRE

February 27, 2024
Contents

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Reviewed by:

David Merson

Former Head of Pre-Law Office, Northeastern University, & Admissions Officer, Brown University

Reviewed: 2/27/24

If you’ve decided to write the GRE for your law school application, it’s essential you craft an effective study plan. Read on to find out the top study tips for the GRE.

Since the LSAT was created in 1948, it has been the only form of standardized testing accepted by law schools. But, within the last few years, more and more schools have begun accepting the GRE in lieu of the LSAT in order to encourage a more diverse applicant pool. Many different kinds of medical schools accept the GRE, including nursing school, vet school, and PA school.

If you’ve decided to write the GRE instead of the LSAT, this guide will go over everything you need to know about how to study for the GRE.

Building the Best GRE Study Plan For You

In order to get the best score possible on the GRE, you’ll need to create a solid study plan. Here are some steps you can take to prepare the best study plan you can. 

Decide on Your Timeframe for Studying

First of all, you need to determine how much time you’ll actually need to study well. Spend some time considering your study habits and personal tendencies. How long does it realistically take you to learn concepts and memorize techniques? 

You’ll also need to consider the possibility of re-taking the GRE test if your score isn’t satisfactory. Make sure you factor that into your timeline as well. 

It’s helpful to decide on a set number of hours that you’ll spend studying each week. Then, you can block off study time just like you would any other commitment, like work or class, and you can prepare accordingly. 

Begin with Test Content

Every student knows the horrible feeling of studying your brain out and then sitting down to take the test, and nothing you studied is on it! 

That’s why it’s important that you study using content that is applicable to the GRE test. GRE-specific practice tests are the best way to study to help you get acquainted with how questions are phrased and formatted. Make sure you understand what exactly is on the GRE so that you can find study materials that are most helpful. 

Commence Your Practice

The best thing you can do to study for the GRE test is just that: study. Using your timeline and our study schedules below, it’s time to dive into your practice materials!

You should take several full-length practice tests so that you can get used to sitting and thinking hard for nearly four hours. Also, remember to review your answers and pay special attention to your mistakes. 

Adjust Your Schedule 

Remember not to be rigid - your needs are fluid. What works for you in one stage of life may not work at another. Maybe you thought you needed to spend five hours a week on arithmetic, but once you started studying, you realized you only really needed three. 

Don’t be afraid to change your schedule if you feel you need to. You should still commit to regularly studying, but the specifications of what that looks like are up to you. 

Schedule Templates for GRE Exam Preparation 

It’s important to make an action plan when preparing to take the GRE. We recommend taking as much time as you can to study so that you can achieve the highest score possible. 

Here are some study plan recommendations for the GRE: 

2-Week GRE Study Schedule

Two weeks to study for the GRE may be challenging, but it’s doable. We do not recommend using a shorter timeline than two weeks to study, as this schedule may conflict with full-time employment or school. 

Check out our 2-week study schedule to help you out! 

1-Month GRE Study Guide

Similar to our 2-week timeline, leaving only one month to study for the GRE may prove a challenge, but with this schedule, you can handle it! Remember to keep our tips in mind as you study. 

Download our month-long study schedule for the GRE test! 

2-Month GRE Study Plan

Giving yourself two months to study is more feasible. This way, you’ll feel far less hectic and can spend more time going through your study materials carefully. 

Our 2-month study plan is available to download here!

3-Month GRE Study Plan

With three months to study, you’ll be able to take your sweet time. You can spend more time sharpening up your weak areas and hammering down your strengths. By the time the GRE rolls around, you’ll be more than prepared! 

Here’s how we recommend you create your 3-month GRE study plan

6-Month GRE Study Guide

If you have many other commitments in your life, this 6-month study guide is for you. It can be difficult to manage your time well, especially if your schedule is full and you have very little free time. This guide makes it simple to carve out time for studying well in advance so that you can ace your GRE test. 

Take a look at our 6-month GRE study guide

How to Study for the GRE

To prepare for the GRE, start with a practice test and set a target score to see where you stand. Use free resources like online materials and tutorials to focus on areas you need to improve. 

Get comfortable with the digital format, work on expanding your vocabulary, and practice using the calculator effectively. If you need help, consider reaching out to tutors. Also, make sure to tearn from your mistakes to get ready for test day.

To ensure you understand how to study for the GRE, let’s take a closer look at each of these tips. 

1. Assess Your Starting Point

Begin by taking a full-length practice test to gauge your current level of readiness. This initial assessment provides valuable insights into your strengths and weaknesses across different sections of the GRE.

2. Set Your Target Score

Research the average GRE scores of the graduate programs you're interested in. Aim to achieve a score that aligns with or exceeds these program averages. Having a clear target score in mind helps to direct your study efforts effectively.

3. Plan Your Approach

Consider your preferred method of study – whether it's enrolling in a structured course, utilizing online resources, or self-guided study with test prep books. Create a detailed study plan that outlines specific goals, study materials, and a realistic timeline for preparation.

4. Work Efficiently

Practice regularly, but also focus on quality over quantity. Instead of simply completing practice questions, pay attention to the strategies and techniques required to tackle different question types effectively. Practice smart by identifying patterns in your mistakes and addressing them systematically.

5. Get Comfortable with the Digital Format

While traditional paper-and-pencil practice tests are beneficial, make sure to incorporate online practice tests into your study routine as well. Familiarize yourself with the computer-based test format, including the navigation tools and on-screen calculator, to feel confident on test day.

6. Take Practice Tests

Practice tests are crucial for GRE prep. They simulate the actual test with timing and an on-screen calculator. They also help you get used to the format, find out what you're good at and what needs work, and refine your strategies for the test.

Once you’ve taken a practice test, you’ll have an understanding of what your basic abilities are. Use your final score to figure out how far off you are from the average GRE scores of students accepted into your desired law schools

However, since the GRE was only recently introduced to law schools, your school may not have information on its GRE requirements. Instead, figure out the required LSAT score and use the ETS conversion tool to determine what GRE score is equivalent to it.

7. Learn from Your Mistakes

After completing practice tests and drills, take the time to review your performance thoroughly. Identify recurring mistakes, weak areas, and time-consuming question types. Adjust your study plan accordingly to focus on areas needing improvement.

8. Expand Your Vocabulary

Strengthen your GRE vocabulary by engaging with challenging reading material, such as academic articles, reputable publications, and high-quality literature. Keep a running list of unfamiliar words encountered during practice sessions and make a concerted effort to learn their meanings and usage.

9. Master Calculator Usage

Understand the role of the on-screen calculator as a tool during the GRE. Practice using it effectively for calculations while also developing your ability to solve problems mentally when appropriate. Recognize scenarios where the calculator can streamline calculations and when relying on fundamental math skills is more efficient.

By following these steps and maintaining a disciplined approach to preparation, you'll be well-equipped to achieve success on the GRE.

10. Take Advantage of Free Resources

Start with the ETS website, where you'll find a helpful 47-page math review with practice exercises. Khan Academy offers free videos on math concepts similar to ETS material. For verbal and writing, ETS has free questions, explanations, tips, and sample essays.

11. Trust the Experts

Studying for the GRE on your own and staying motivated can be difficult, especially if you aren’t reaching your target score even after following all the steps above. Rest assured, there are easily accessible experts who can help you get your perfect score!

Juris has a team of 99th-percentile tutors who hone in on your improvement areas through one-on-one personalized tutoring. These experts know exactly how to ace the exam and can give you tried and true GRE tips to boost your score!

How Long Does It Take to Study for the GRE?

The time you allocate to studying depends on your progress. While the general rule of thumb is to study for around two to three months, you may need longer than this to get to your target score.

So, you should set a test date at least two months after you begin studying and adjust this date as needed.

What is on the GRE?

The GRE contains five different sections:

Analytical Writing

This section requires you to write an essay articulating complex ideas clearly while supporting your ideas with evidence. You must get straight to the point and avoid flowery language. You will have 30 minutes to complete this section. 

Verbal Reasoning

The Verbal Reasoning section is divided into two subsections and requires you to analyze and draw conclusions, identify the author’s perspective, understand multiple meanings, summarize and synthesize text, and understand the meaning of words and concepts. This section involves complex vocabulary.

Quantitative Reasoning

This section is also divided into two subsections and requires you to understand and interpret quantitative information and solve mathematical problems involving arithmetic, algebra, geometry, and data analysis.

What is on the GRE?

The GRE contains five different sections:

Analytical Writing

This section requires you to write an essay articulating complex ideas clearly while supporting your ideas with evidence. You must get straight to the point and avoid flowery language. You will have 30 minutes to complete this section. 

Verbal Reasoning

The Verbal Reasoning section is divided into two subsections and requires you to analyze and draw conclusions, identify the author’s perspective, understand multiple meanings, summarize and synthesize text, and understand the meaning of words and concepts. This section involves complex vocabulary.

Quantitative Reasoning

This section is also divided into two subsections and requires you to understand and interpret quantitative information and solve mathematical problems involving arithmetic, algebra, geometry, and data analysis.

GRE Preparation Tips

Here are some GRE tips to keep in mind as you begin preparing for the GRE:

1. There Are More Ways To Practice Than Practice Tests

While the majority of your studying should involve completing practice tests, you can also practice your verbal reasoning and analytical writing by reading and writing.

Since these sections require you to read quickly, you should spend time reading complex academic writing, synthesizing this information, and creating sample essay questions to answer.

2. Don’t Overcomplicate It

With the GRE, it’s important you focus on getting the right strategies down to answer the questions correctly and punctually. Don’t waste time memorizing content unless you find yourself struggling with it.

If you have a good grasp on certain math equations, give yourself the benefit of the doubt! While you should continue practicing them through sample tests, use your time to memorize content you aren’t comfortable with.

3. Develop Good Reading Skills

Of course, you know how to read, but you also need to know when not to read; you need to know which information is important in a question and which isn’t. Look for main arguments, supporting details, and evidence rather than context or background information that has little real relevance to the questions.

4. Answer Every Question

On test day, even if you feel like you’re stuck on a question, don’t leave it blank! Points aren’t taken off for wrong answers, and you might just get lucky and guess correctly.

FAQs: Studying for the GRE

What is the GRE? How do I prepare for it? Keep reading for the answers to learn more about how to study for the GRE below.

1. How Do I Prep for a GRE Study?

You should begin by determining what your base abilities are, using free resources to get a grasp on the content of the exam, and then continue to practice. As you practice, you should focus on your weaknesses and seek the help of experts to get the perfect GRE score.

2. How Difficult is the GRE?

The GRE is a generally challenging exam, but the difficulty is subjective. If you spend enough time preparing for the GRE, it shouldn’t be hard to pass!

3. Can I Prepare for the GRE by Self-Study?

Yes, you can! However, this requires discipline and high self-motivation. You may also reach a certain score that you just can’t get past without the help of GRE experts who know the correct tips to get you to your target score.

4. Are There Essays on the GRE?

Yes, there is one essay in the analytical writing sections.

5. When Should I Take the GRE?

Give yourself at least a few months before law school application deadlines to ensure you have enough time to study and retake the test if necessary.

6. How Many Times Can I Take the GRE?

There is no limit to how many times you can take it in your lifetime, but you can only take it five times per year.

7. How Long is the GRE Test? 

The GRE test takes roughly 1 hour and 58 minutes overall. 

8. Can You Use a Calculator on the GRE?

The GRE offers an on-screen calculator that you can use, but you may not bring your own calculator. 

9. What is a Good Score for the GRE? 

A good score on the GRE is largely subjective, as different schools have different requirements. However, you can refer to the section percentile rankings in order to interpret the quality of your GRE score

Final Thoughts

Whether you choose to self-study or study with the help of skilled GRE tutors, it’s essential you create a comprehensive study plan to ace your GRE. By following the steps and tips in this guide, you should be able to get the most out of your GRE studying! 

Good luck!

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