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How to Study for the GRE

October 13, 2023


Reviewed by:

David Merson

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

Reviewed: 10/13/23

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.

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.

How to Study for the GRE

The GRE has often been compared to the SAT because it tests students’ competence in areas like reading, writing, and math. Accordingly, to ace the GRE, it’s essential to create a comprehensive study plan. To get your plan in motion, here are some steps to follow to begin studying for the GRE.

1. Begin With Practice Tests

Before you think about going through the dictionary to memorize difficult vocabulary or sifting through your Grade 12 algebra notes to relearn equations you haven’t seen in years, you need to know what your weaknesses are.

Your first step should be completing a full practice test to assess your strengths and weaknesses. This will allow you to get an understanding of the type of content on the exam. Use practice tests that provide you with the correct answers and a final score similar to the one you’d see after writing the test.

You can pick between the three free practice tests ETS, the creators of the GRE, have on their website. Two of these practice tests simulate test conditions by being timed and having test features like the ability to move back and forth between questions and an on-screen calculator. One practice test is untimed.

2. Figure Out What Score You Need

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.

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 figure out what GRE score is equivalent to it.

3. Take Advantage of Free Resources

Once you've figured out your target score, you need to make good use of the study tools at your disposal. The best place to begin is the ETS website, which offers good starting material to set you in the right direction. For instance, they have a 100-page math review document that goes over concepts you might see on the GRE test.

This document even includes practice exercises to ensure you have a good grasp of each mathematical concept!

Khan Academy also offers free instructional videos on the quantitative reasoning section of the test that covers many of the math concepts found in the ETS math review document. For those of you who need to brush up on your math, these videos will be extremely helpful in retraining your brain’s ability to tackle math problems.

As for the verbal reasoning and analytical writing sections, ETS also offers some free questions and explanations, tips, and sample essays for you to go over.

4. Continue Taking Practice Tests

Once you’ve gone over these free resources and have a better understanding of the content and formatting of the test, you should continue taking practice tests under the same conditions you’ll be in on test day:

  • Complete tests online
  • Use an online calculator 
  • Mimic the test times: 30 minutes per section with a 10-minute break after the third section

This method will help you be proactive. Instead of feeling unprepared and stressed on test day, you’ll be familiar with the test conditions and feel comfortable in them.

As you continue taking practice tests, focus on your strategy. See what works best and make a note of it. You should also begin noticing the areas you’re scoring higher and lower on.

5. Focus on Your Weaknesses

Once you’ve figured out the types of questions you tend to score lower on, focus on improving these. While you should still continue practicing your strengths, pay more attention to your weaknesses.

Whenever you get a question wrong, go over it and try to answer it again before looking at the correct answer. Looking at the answer right away isn’t the most helpful way to learn because it doesn’t force you to problem solve and think critically.

If you aren’t able to get the answer right on your second attempt, look at the answer and make a note of the question. Come back to it after you’ve completed a few more sections, so the answer isn’t fresh in your mind, and you can re-try the question. Keep track of all the questions you get stuck on and continue practicing them until you get them right.  

6. 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 that 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 three different sections:

Analytical Writing

This section requires you to articulate complex ideas clearly, support ideas with evidence, examine claims, and create coherent discussions. Essay writing is also required in this section.

Verbal Reasoning

The Verbal Reasoning contains 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 also has 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 information 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

You can find the answers to any remaining questions about how to study for the GRE below.

1. How Do I Prepare 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. Is the GRE Hard to Pass?

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! Although, 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 that 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 section.

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.

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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