Yep, it's time. Time to study for the Revised GRE, that is! I'm not gonna kid ya. Learning how to study for the GRE is about the most fun you're going to have with this bad boy. It's a whale of a test. But nothing that's truly worth it comes easily, right? And, if you follow the nine steps below, your study time will be more effective, so the whole "sutdy for the GRE" process will be a bit easier. Read on.
Study for the GRE Early
Studying for a multiple choice standardized test requires that you start early, as in months, not weeks or days. Months! For the Revised GRE you'll have vocabulary to learn, testing strategies to master, practice questions to figure out, and tests to take before you ever sit down for the actual test. More than likely, you're in the middle of your LIFE (hello!), and fitting in GRE prep is going to be tough. So start a few months in advance.
Get a Baseline Score
Buy a GRE test prep book or download a complete GRE practice test and take it blind. What you'll end up with is your baseline score. By determining where you are without any prep, you'll know where you need to go to improve.
Learn the GRE Test Basics
In the book you've purchased or here on this site, spend some time learning the GRE basics. Yes, we all know it has three sections, Verbal Reasoning, Quantitative Reasoning and Analytical Writing, but do you know how many questions are on each? How long will the test take? What's a good GRE score? How do you register? Learn that stuff immediately, so you'll know how to book your study time.
Set a Goal
Once you've figured out what a good GRE score is and what your baseline score is, then determine the score you want by learning the average score your school of choice requires. Do some research. Many schools publish their 25th and 75th percentiles for admitted students; if not, contact an admissions counselor to get a feel for what the school is after. Most will tell you if you ask. Get a number in mind and it will help you determine how much time and help it'll take to get you there.
Figure Out Your GRE Prep Options
It couldn't be easier to study for the GRE than it is right now. Well, I wouldn't say it's easy per se. It's just that you have many options for helping yourself if you really want to study for the GRE. You can purchase GRE study apps for your phone, find free practice GRE tests online, purchase a book, hire a private tutor, and on and on. You have many GRE prep options out there, so do a little research and figure out which is right for you!
Create a Study Schedule
To study for the Revised GRE effectively, you have to carve time into your daily schedule, which is tough to do because you're probably really busy, right? One way to do that is with my time management chart. Figure out your time drains, and work in studying as much as you can. If you don't have much time per day, then you need to start studying even earlier. Plan your time based on whether you have months or just weeks. Build test prep into your schedule like it's a meeting you can't miss, and you won't be tempted to skip.
Take Practice GRE Tests
You don't have to purchase a fancy practice class session to take practice GRE tests. There are quite a few full-length tests available for free online. Be sure to choose a reputable company when taking a test, though; you don't want to prep for questions that look nothing like the ones you'll actually see.
If you're not hiring a tutor or don't want a study partner, then get someone (a girlfriend, a husband, a mom) to hold you accountable and harass you if you're not studying. It's tough to fit studying in! That's why you need someone who will be strong for you when you're busy. Even better, find a study partner who's willing to go the GRE distance with you. You can bounce ideas off of each other and pep each other up when you're too tired to pick up the book.
Learn the GRE Test Strategies Before You Test
Should you guess on an answer if you don't know? Are you penalized for wrong answers? Can you go back and change answers? If you don't know the GRE test strategies before you go, you could get answers incorrect when you didn't need to. Memorize these bad boys and increase your score.