Trevor Klee - GMAT and GRE Expert Academically reviewed by Trevor Klee - GMAT and GRE Expert
How to Study for the GRE

Learning how to study for the GRE is an important step to getting into graduate school. This standardized test measures whether a student is ready to enter into graduate school and is one of the deciding factors that graduate programs use to determine student eligibility. 

If you are planning to apply for graduate school, then you may need to prepare for this important exam. Do not put off studying or try to cram for the GRE. 

The GRE is a challenging exam and will require significant preparation for most students. 

Summary: Learn how to study for the GRE and use our GRE study guide below to help guide you through the study process.

How to Study for the GRE

There are a couple of ways most students study for the GRE. The three most popular methods include self-studying, prep courses, or using a tutor. All three ways are great ways to prepare for the exam. Your desired method will depend on how you best study and what you are looking for. 

Self-Studying

Self-studying will be the cheapest method available. Students will have to figure out what concepts to study, where to find materials on those concepts, and will need to stay motivated throughout the whole process. 

Students who decide they want to self-study can use our GRE study guide below to help them get started and get a better idea of what they should be studying. 

Prep Courses

GRE prep courses are a great way of studying for students who want an efficient way of studying for a good price. Prep courses will provide you with all of the materials, lectures, and practice questions you need to succeed on the GRE. 

Many prep courses come with a pass guarantee or a score improvement guarantee. There are plenty of great options out there - you can check out our reviews of the best GRE prep courses for a better idea of what is a good fit for you. 

Tutors

A GRE tutor is another effective method used by students preparing for the GRE. This method will be the most costly. However, there are some great GRE tutors out there. If you have the money, and think you would enjoy working 1-on-1 with someone, this is a great option. 

GRE Study Guide

Below is a study guide to help you get a better idea of what you should be studying. The GRE study guide below is based on someone who is spending one month studying for their exam. 

Students who are spending one month studying for this exam should be spending a majority of their day studying. If you are not able to do that, you should consider lengthening you study period. 

Students who are still in school, working full-time, or have other obligations should consider a 2+ month study period. 

The one-month study plan below can be lengthened to fit your needs. 

Week 1

Day 1

  • Diagnostic Test – Take a practice test to get a gauge of how you do without any studying. 

Day 2

  • Learn About Basic Principles of the GRE
    • What is on the GRE
      • Quantitative reasoning section
      • Verbal reasoning section
      • Analytical writing section
    • How the test is laid out 
      • Computer adaptive testing (CAT)
    • Intro to quant
      • GRE math
      • Doubling and halving
    • Into to verbal
      • Text completions
      • Methods for elimination

Day 3

  • Math Concepts
    • Quantitative comparison
    • Estimation
    • Matching operations
    • Real numbers
    • Mental math
  • Verbal Concepts
    • Learn and review 50+ GRE vocab words
  • Practice Questions
    • Review practice questions on the concepts you learned above

Day 4

  • Math Concepts
    • Order of operations
    • Decimals
    • Fractions
    • Conversions of fractions and decimals 
    • Operations with fractions
  • Verbal Concepts 
    • Simplifying sentences
    • Answer choices (testing)
    • No shift sentences
    • Cause and effect 
  • Practice Questions
    • Review practice questions on the concepts you learned above

Day 5

  • Math Concepts
    • Improper fractions
    • Word problems and fractions
    • Percentages
    • Interest
    • Ratios
    • Divisibility
    • Prime numbers
  • Verbal Concepts 
    • Elaboration sentence
    • Sentence shifts
    • Double shifts
  • Practice Questions
    • Review practice questions on the concepts you learned above

Day 6

  • Math Concepts
    • Least common multiple
    • Even and odd integers 
  • Writing Concepts
  • Intro to analytical writing sections
    • Tips for this section
    • Issue task
    • Argument task
    • Logical fallacies
  • Practice
    • Write an argument task essay

Week 2

Day 1

  • Math Concepts
    • Algebra
    • Expressions – simplifying and multiplying 
    • Factoring 
  • Verbal Concepts
    • False contrast 
    • Double blank sentences 
  • Practice 
    • Review practice questions on the concepts you learned above

Day 2

  • Math Concepts
    • Equation solving
    • Eliminating fractions
    • Factoring 
  • Verbal Concepts
    • Relationship between blanks
    • Multiple sentences 
    • Using other blanks
  • Practice 
    • Review practice questions on the concepts you learned above

Day 3

  • Math Concepts
    • Absolute value equations
    • Function notation
    • Operators
    • Inequalities 
    • Substitutions 
  • Verbal Concepts 
    • Triple blank sentences
    • Learn and review 50+ GRE vocab words
  • Practice
    • Review practice questions on the concepts you learned above

Day 4

  • Math Concepts
    • Motion questions
    • Average speed
    • Work questions
    • Venn diagrams 
  • Practice 
    • Review practice questions on the concepts you learned above

Day 5

  • Math Concepts 
    • Sequences
    • Sums of sequences 
    • Backsolving 
  • Verbal Concepts 
    • Working backwards
    • Sentence equivalence 
    • Synonymous sentences 
  • Practice 
    • Review practice questions on the concepts you learned above

Day 6

  • Mock GRE Exam
    • Take a mock GRE exam and see how you do

Week 3

Day 1

  • Math Concepts 
    • Exponents 
    • Units digit questions 
    • Square roots 
  • Verbal Concepts 
    • Sentence equivalence 
  • Practice 
    • Review practice questions on the concepts you learned above

Day 2

  • Math Concepts 
    • Roots 
    • Rationalizing 
    • Formulas 
    • Angles and lines 
  • Verbal Concepts 
    • Word roots 
    • Mnemonics 
  • Practice 
    • Review practice questions on the concepts you learned above

Day 3

  • Math Concepts 
    • Triangles
    • Quadrilaterals 
    • Polygons
    • Circles 
  • Verbal Concepts 
    • Learn and review 50+ GRE vocab words
  • Practice 
    • Review practice questions on the concepts you learned above

Day 4

  • Math Concepts 
    • Volume
    • Surface area
    • Units of measurement 
    • Coordinate plane
    • Vertical and horizontal lines
    • Slope 
    • Intercepts
  • Verbal Concepts 
    • Reading comprehension
    • Review the short passage 
  • Practice 
    • Review practice questions on the concepts you learned above

Day 5

  • Math Concepts
    • Slope intercept form
    • Distance on a graph
    • Mean, median, and mode
    • Standard deviation
  • Verbal Concepts 
    • Active reading
    • Primary purpose 
  • Practice 
    • Review practice questions on the concepts you learned above

Day 6

  • Mock GRE Exam
    • Take a mock GRE exam and see how you do

Week 4

Day 1

  • Math Concepts 
    • Normal distribution
    • Quartiles and boxplots
    • Statistics
  • Verbal Concepts 
    • Inference questions
    • Select the sentence 
  • Practice 
    • Review practice questions on the concepts you learned above

Day 2

  • Math Concepts 
    • Probability
    • Multiple answer questions 
  • Verbal Concepts 
    • Multiple answer questions
    • Structure questions
  • Practice 
    • Review practice questions on the concepts you learned above

Day 3

  • Math Concepts 
    • Review concepts you are not comfortable with 
  • Verbal Concepts 
    • Arguments 
    • Assumption questions 
  • Practice 
    • Review practice questions on the concepts you learned above

Day 4

  • Math Concepts 
    • Data interpretation
    • Data interpretation graphs
  • Verbal Concepts 
    • Review concepts you are not comfortable with 
  • Practice 
    • Review practice questions on the concepts you learned above

Day 5

  • Math Concepts 
    • Quantitative comparison 
  • Verbal Concepts 
    • Review concepts you are not comfortable with 
  • Practice 
    • Review practice questions on the concepts you learned above

Day 6

  • Mock GRE Exam
    • Take a mock GRE exam and see how you do

Tips for Studying for the GRE

The GRE study guide above will help you get started. Implement some of these tips to help make studying for the GRE an easier and smoother process. 

Take a Practice Test

Always begin by taking a GRE practice test to see where you stand. It’s important that you know your baseline score so that you can create a study plan based on that information. Make sure that you simulate the testing environment while taking this test. 

Set a Goal for your GRE Score

By this point, you’ll have set your eyes on specific graduate schools so it’s time to do a little research. Look at each program to find their score requirements. Your goal for the GRE will be to exceed this score. 

Create a Study Plan

Your study plan will depend on how you scored on your practice test. If you were close to your goal, then spend most of your time enforcing your strengths. However, if you were under goal then you’ll have to work on some of your weakest areas too. Plan your studies around this information. 

It’s also important that you find the right study environment. You want a place that’s free of distractions and allows you to focus. 

Plan an Approach for Each Question

An often overlooked step for learning how to study for the GRE is practicing how you approach individual questions. You need to create a consistent approach and reinforce it in all of your studies. The mind loves consistently so having a specific approach will boost your confidence. 

Take a Practice Test Every Week

In addition to the initial practice test, you should also test your progress every week to see where you stand. Take note of areas where you are still struggling and review them after each test. Look through the explanations for each missed question to see why you missed it. You should use an entire study session for this. Moving forward, try to strengthen some of the weaker areas. 

Work on GRE Vocabulary

Understanding the vocabulary used on the GRE will make or break your score. You can’t just memorize the definition of words. You have to truly understand their meaning and context. When you come across words on practice tests that you don’t understand, make a note. Then review them in detail as part of your studies. 

Use the On-Screen Calculator

Finally, get into the habit of using an on-screen calculator during your studies. Since you will have to use one during the actual test, you need to develop a habit of using it now. The last thing you want is to struggle with a calculator during the real test. 

Furthermore, there are times when using a calculator is less efficient so learn to identify those moments.