5 Tips to Prepare for the GRE and Get a Top Score

  • Study
  • Know What’s Tested On
  • Target Weaknesses
  • Do More Reading
  • Learn from Past Mistakes

The GRE is a required exam for many applicants who want to earn a master’s or doctoral degree at a university, and these five tips for success on the GRE will help a student use their preparation time wisely. The GRE scores are reviewed by admissions officers for them to determine if the student has the skills required for a good experience in graduate school. Each of these five tips is designed to avoid pitfalls and maximize the results of each study session.

1. Study

The more hours a student studies, the higher their score tends to be on the GRE. Studies have shown that for every 40 hours a student spends thoroughly studying and practicing for the GRE, they can raise their total score by five points. To achieve a significant increase in GRE scores, a person may have to start studying many months before they plan to take the test. It is also wise to schedule the test several months before a school’s application deadline. This gives the student a chance to retake the test if they weren’t happy with their score.

2. Know What’s Tested On

Studying the wrong materials will not help a student ace the GRE. A student needs to know what is on the test. This can be found in the prep guides and online practice materials issued by the testing service and other companies that offer study materials for a fee. The questions on the GRE are more focused on reasoning and critical thinking than on processes.

3. Target Weaknesses

Most people tend to either be better at language or mathematics. A person needs to know where their weakness is and target that problem area. For example, a person challenged by analytical writing should work on their ability to create a cohesive argument with concrete examples.

4. Do More Reading

People who are more challenged by the verbal reasoning part of standardized tests should plan to do more reading in the months leading up to their GRE test day. Students should read all types of materials, including classic literature, historical fiction, science fiction, biographies and other non-fiction books. Each of these types of books will help a person with the language and reasoning skills they need to get a good score on this subset of the test questions.

5. Learn from Past Mistakes

According to U.S. News and World Report, another way a student could raise their GRE test scores is to pay attention to the types of mistakes they frequently make. They could review their college work or tests to see if they tend to forget certain mathematical formulas or equations. They could review their papers and see if they frequently make the same type of grammar mistake. Learning from one’s mistakes on past tests is a simple way to do better on future tests.

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A person should spend one to two hours per day studying and practicing for the GRE in the months leading to the test day. There are online and printed practice tests, study guides and other reference materials that a student can use to work on their skills. Each of these five tips for success on the GRE requires some time and effort, but the results will be noticed when the test is scored.