Hope you find this study plan helpful - please PM me any of your tips or suggestions for those just starting out on their GRE Journey You can bookmark this topic on GRE Prep Club by clicking the STAR button to the top right corner or you can print it out for future reference.
GRE Study Plan 2016 Edition
The decision to go to Grad school is a big one in itself. The biggest hurdle that students face in the process is the GRE. Although GRE is easier compared to other standardized tests such as GRE, it is extremely competitive. Students require high accuracy and speed in solving GRE Questions. Hence it is of great importance that a student has a well crafted study plan to bolster her/ his hard work. A systematic study plan has shown to achieve better scores.
Step 1: Familiarize yourself with the GRE Environment
The first step of GRE preparation is understanding the test if you haven't done so already - See GRE FAQ for Details
. This step is very important an often ignored by test takers. It is important that you understand how GRE works and why it is important for your Grad school application. Feel free to poke around the website of ETS
. While you are there feel free to download the PowerPrep test
. These are the test by the makers of GRE and contain real GRE questions. They are at any given point of time the best tool to evaluate your scores.Step 2: Take a Diagnostic test
After you have familiarized yourself with the GRE the next step is to take a diagnostic test to evaluate your current position. The Official GRE test
might be the right weapon of choice. The main reason it is a good use is that you can see your starting point (now) and then compare it against the ending (taking GRE). Alternatively you can use any other computer adaptive tests:PowerPrep GRE Practice Tests by ETSManhattanPrep GRE Practice TestKaplan GRE Practice TestPrinceton Review Free GRE Practice TestGRE Prep Club Practice Test
Other Major TestsStep 3: Outline your requirements and expectations
Find out what GRE score you actually need. Just to give you an idea the current top 10 Grad schools require 330 plus GRE in the highly competitive departments. Most people are able to improve between 20 and 40 points - that should give you an estimate of what you can count on based on the diagnostic test you just took. You can check out the Current Average GRE Scores for US Universities
. Step 4: Identify your weaknesses
Take a look at your practice test score and note the raw score distribution topic wise. This would enable you to identify the area where you might be particularly week. It is good practice to maintain an Excel file having your score distribution and how it changes over time. This tool might be particularly helpful in tracking improvements over time. You could use the following Format:
|Topics||Test Name 1 and Date||Test Name 2 and Date||Test Name 3 and Date|
|% Score||% Score||% Score|
I highly urge you to make this file yourself. Its very important that you identify individual topic on the GRE and work on them, and making the excel file is a very important part of the process.Step 5: Adopt a winning strategy
You need to build up your toolkit and get some ammo for the GRE. You will need books or a course (online or in person) to refresh/learn fundamentals and then test taking strategies. You will also need GRE tests to practice those strategies and also evaluate your prep level. See these links for: Official GRE course reviews by GRE Prep Club
, GRE Courses General User Reviews and Resources GRE Books reviews
. If you need some motivation and need to find out more about other students who have been successful in the past have a look at GRE Experiences Step 6: Polish your test taking skills
Here is the most common one I see - jumping into questions and tests completely unprepared and expecting results/miracles. GRE consists of several layers and it is important to master each one before moving on to the next - think of it as of Maslow's need hierarchy of needs. There is no use in satisfying your social needs before you can take care of basic needs such as safety and food. The same is here, if you don't know the underlying principles that GRE is testing (such as grammar, arithmetic, etc) there is no use in solving hundreds of questions or taking multiple GRE tests. This means that if English is not your native language, you should not work on the RC strategies if you can't understand half of the passage - you need to get comfortable reading long passages of text before moving on. To illustrate this principle, consider the following hierarchy for the GRE:Step 7: Quantify your Improvement
To do this you need to maintain a detailed error log
. This error log
can be used for tests as well as regular practice problems. Maintaining a detailed error log
will help you identify your weaknesses and help map your study strategy. The error log
would have a structure similar to Step 4 score log. It is very important that you do not spend too much time obsessing over your scores. The error log
addresses the following issues:
Step 8: Get the right Temperament
- Time Management: You can monitor if you are spending enough time on questions. Conversely if you spend too much time you would have to rush through the final few questions which is undesirable.
- Question Management: You can also find out if you are effectively able to solve difficult problems. Although difficult problems are far less in number on the GRE but for a high score you need to perform well on these questions. You can also find out if you applied the best problem solving strategy for the easy questions
- SWOT Analysis: With en error log you can clearly identify your areas of strengths and weaknesses. These could be particular Question type or even a topic. For example you might be consistently scoring low on Numeric entry question or you might be scoring particularly low in Permutation Combination. Once you can identify your weaknesses you can proceed to work on them.
There are many highs and lows of a GRE Prep. We all went through it. Sometimes we are able to solve quite difficult problems with relative ease and other times we might commit a silly error. It is part and parcel of the prep and you need to move on after learning from your mistakes. There a few key good attitudes that you can cultivate, these might help you in GRE and Grad School:
- Researching a topic on your own: It is very important that you take the pains to research a topic or a problem on your own. It is a very important character building step that would later enable you to solve tough problems.
- Asking for help from an Expert: There are places you might get stuck and you might not be able to find a solution without sacrificing a huge chunk of your prep time and resources. In those circumstances it might be a good idea to approach an expert. Experts are useful in helping you out of tough corners and can make your life easy. However your effort is the key ingredient in the test, hence use the power of experts but don't abuse it.
- Knowing when to give up: Sometimes a problem or a topic might be particularly difficult for you. If a particular topic is becoming a huge drain on your resources it would be advisable to abandon that topic and focus on others.
- Understanding the test and how it is scored: As we have stressed this before, understanding the GRE test is the key. Once you know what the test is looking for and what kind of questions it might through at you your prep becomes efficient and effective.
Best of luck with your preparations.
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