15 Tips for GRE Prep

Prepping for the GRE can feel overwhelming and stressful. But it doesn’t have to!

We asked grad students from across the country for their best GRE prep tips. Here’s what they suggest …

Study Tips

  • Prepare a 3- or 6-month study plan. Don’t forget to build in time to practice taking the test under simulated testing conditions: Spend 4 quiet hours taking a practice test, time yourself to see how long it takes you for each section, and give yourself the same amount of breaks they allow you to take during the GRE.  
    – Natalie Sfeir | University of Texas at Austin 
  • Download a study app on your phone. Instead of pulling up Instagram while you’re waiting for class to start or sitting on a bus, pull up your app and study vocab or run through some practice questions.  
    – Rebecca Willer | University of Wisconsin, Madison
  • Schedule the test date during your summer or winter break. This will help you from feeling overwhelmed while also having to study for classes.  
    – Leilani Melendrez | San Diego State University 
  • Don’t just focus on single vocab words—study roots, prefixes, and suffixes as well. I bought a used library book that discussed common roots (Greek, Latin, etc.) of English words and it helped broaden my understanding of vocabulary.
    – Delphanie Wu | Vanderbilt University
  • I scheduled my exam for the end of summer before my senior year, and used Manhattan Prep (an online study program) throughout the summer to prepare.
    – Tabitha Syme | Idaho State University, Pocatello
  • Don’t just focus on prepping for the math and writing sections, study test strategies as well. Find test prep materials that teach you ways to manage your time, avoid brain farts, and actually break down the problems in front of you.
    – Aya Khalil | California State University–Sacramento 

Study Resources

  • Find a prep solution that gives you balance and doesn’t drive you crazy. I get pretty bad test anxiety, so I used varied resources to prepare: Private math tutors, test prep websites, Quizlet flashcards, and studied with friends with the same work ethic as me. 
    – Amanda Yoss | Florida State University
  • I downloaded the Magoosh GRE prep app and went through the GRE vocabulary flashcards whenever I was commuting to school or waiting in line at the store. There are different levels of difficulty and each word has a definition, sentence, and rating option for how much you knew the word.  
    – Lauren Mann | University of Arizona
  • In addition to the Magoosh app, I purchased a couple of the official GRE test prep books from ETS. They both made a huge impact on my studying! 
    – Kaleigh Johnson | James Madison University
  • Borrow the Princeton Review’s GRE prep book from your local public library. It’s free and this version explained tactics along with practice problems and practice tests. 
    – Karlie Mayer | Minnesota State University, Moorhead
  • There’s no need to shell out cash for boxed study prep packages. Hit up your local library … many carry several prep books, and some will even have periodic used book sales where these kinds of materials pop up! Ask friends or anyone in your community about using their old books, too. Download a free app with flashcards and practice problems (Magoosh, Kaplan, Barron’s). Instead of scrolling through social media while waiting somewhere, pull up the app and see how many vocab words you can get through! 
    – Delphanie Wu | Vanderbilt University

Come Prepared

  • Ask someone to drop you off at the testing center rather than driving yourself. This will allow you to have a right frame of mind and may be a nice distraction from your nerves. Family or friends will also give you the right amount of encouragement before taking the big exam! 
    – Jordan Girola | California State University, Chico 
  • Make sure you have a few grad schools in mind when you take the GRE. Once the exam is over, you can submit your scores directly to programs for free!  
    – Nardine Taleb | Case Western Reserve
  • Before taking the GRE, I went ASHA EdFind to see what score I should aim for based on the grad schools I wanted to attend. Bonus tip: Bring healthy snacks to eat during breaks to help with fatigue!  
    – Erika Baldwin | University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee
  • Use noise-cancelling headphones if they’re provided them at the testing center. I did and it helped me feel less distracted and overwhelmed by other test-takers—contributing to my high score! 
    – Jennifer Blake | Long Island University, Brooklyn

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