How to Plan Studying for GRE
7 Essentials of GRE Study
Studying for GRE is not as difficult as students have hyped it up to be. Getting a high score on the test is not an impossible goal. It is quite possible provided you work in a systematic manner - setting target goals, disciplining yourself to follow a study plan, reviewing progress and just being regular with your studies. Here is a brief overview of the 7 essentials you should keep in mind while framing your 'study' plan.
Step 1: Familiarize Yourself with the Pattern of the Test
The GRE is just another standardized test and the key to acing any standardized test is to acquaint yourself with the pattern of the test. The official website of ETS (http://www.ets.org/gre/revised_general/about) is the best resource to consult in this aspect. You can learn about the formats of the Paper-based Test as well as the Computer-based Test. The test is broadly divided into three sections - Verbal Reasoning, Quantitative Analysis and Analytical Writing which assess your knowledge of grammar, basic concepts of mathematics and your writing abilities.
Step 2: Setting a Target and Estimating Time Needed
You need to set a target score which you wish to achieve on your examination. Frame a study plan keeping in mind this target score. The minimum time you will need to prepare for the test is 4 months. If you wish to obtain a very high score, you could even start as early as 8 months. Do not make the mistake of registering for the test and then starting your preparation. Choose a test date only after you feel you have covered at least 75% of your preparation. Studying for 4-8 hours a day is a must.
Step 3: Taking a Mock Test
A mock test is essential to judge where you stand right now and how much you need to study in terms of preparation. Taking a mock test will help you to find out your strengths as well as your weaknesses and make you aware of how many hours of studying you need to put in each day to achieve your target scores. You can take this mock test by downloading the PowerPrep software that is available for free on the ETS website (http://www.ets.org/gre/revised_general/prepare/powerprep2/) or you could find similar options on other free preparation websites. You can also consult a study guide for finding such a practice test or mock test.
Step 4: Deciding on Mode of Preparation and Assimilating Study Materials
Study can be done by yourself or you can take coaching classes from a physical or virtual training institute. Decide on a mode which you feel will suit you best. Once this is done, go about accumulating study materials. The first stop that you should make is on the ETS website which has practice questions for all sections of the test. Next, choose a preparation book. You have a number of options in this regard, such as Cracking the New GRE by The Princeton Review, Barron’s New GRE, The Official Guide to the GRE revised General Test, New GRE 2011-2012 Premier by Kaplan, etc.
Step 5: Starting Preparation
Start studying a topic which captures your interest and then incorporate all sections of the test in your routine study. You can focus on one section at a time too, but it is recommended that vocabulary practice should be done every day. You can use flashcards to help you remember words and formulae.
Step 6: Reviewing Progress
Take a mock test every week to review how far you have come in your preparation. This is very important so that you do not develop any delusions of being more prepared than you actually are. Taking a mock test will also point out the areas in which you need to improve. You can alter your study plan accordingly.
Step 7: Discipline and Regularity
Being regular with your studies is very important. As they say, 'Slow and steady wins the race!' Prepare over a period of time and do not wait till you have only 2 months left for the exam leading to cramming uselessly for the test.