Mastering the GRE: 5 Essential Tips for Students

For admission to many graduate schools in the United States and Canada, candidates must pass the Graduate Record Examinations (GRE), a standardized test. Students’ GRE scores can be raised and their chances of admission to prestigious graduate programs increased with the right preparation. Here are 5 suggestions to aid in your efficient GRE exam prep.

Tip 1: Start Early

The GRE is a challenging exam that tests students on various quantitative, verbal, and writing skills. With contents from arithmetic, algebra, geometry to critical reasoning and analytical writing, it covers a wide range of topics. To perform well on the GRE, students need to dedicate significant time to prepare for all these sections thoroughly. However, as a student, one may already have many commitments taking up their time like a job, family responsibilities or ongoing coursework. It is difficult to find large chunks of free time close to the exam date to prepare for the GRE. That is why it is highly recommended to start the GRE preparation journey at least 3-4 months before the scheduled test date.

Starting early allows students to break up the preparation into small, manageable sessions spread over many weeks or months. They can dedicate even 1-2 hours every other day to learn new concepts, practice questions and review concepts at a steady pace. This ensures all topics can be covered in-depth without feeling rushed. Students also have time to take full-length practice tests multiple times to get accustomed to the exam format and experience. Additionally, an early start reduces stress and anxiety levels as last-minute cramming is avoided.

Tip 2: Assess Your Strengths and Weaknesses

The GRE exam tests students on their general reasoning abilities in both quantitative and verbal sections. However, every student has their own strengths and weaknesses when it comes to subjects like math, vocabulary or writing. To prepare for the GRE effectively, it is crucial for students to identify these strong and weak areas first before devising a study plan. Taking initial test prep GRE under timed conditions is the best way for students to assess themselves.

Carefully analyzing performance on each quantitative reasoning, verbal reasoning and analytical writing section will reveal where more focus is needed during preparation. For example, if math concepts and complex calculations are a challenge, one will know to devote extra sessions to practice math questions and learn new formulas. On the other hand, strong math skills but a smaller vocabulary may require building verbal power through word lists, context clues and reading comprehension exercises.

Tip 3: Improve Your Vocabulary

Vocabulary is extremely important when it comes to achieving a high score on both the Verbal Reasoning and Analytical Writing sections of the GRE. As a non-native English speaker, you may be at a disadvantage compared to test takers whose first language is English. For this reason, it is crucial to make vocabulary learning a daily habit in order to close this gap. There are several effective methods to improve your vocabulary on a daily basis. Using flashcards is a great way to learn new words and their definitions. You can carry flashcards with you and review them whenever you have a few spare minutes.

Creating word lists is also useful, as is practising with vocabulary questions from GRE practice tests and books. The key is to expose yourself to 5-10 new words every single day through active learning techniques. Merely seeing or hearing new words is not enough – you need to consistently review and test yourself to truly retain what you’ve learned. Test yourself without looking at the definitions to check your understanding. Review old words along with new ones so you don’t forget earlier vocabulary. Spacing out your review over time is better than cramming.

Tip 4: Practice Timed Mock Tests

Taking practice tests under timed conditions is one of the most important ways to prepare for the GRE. While doing practice questions and sections is useful, it does not fully replicate the experience of taking the actual multi-hour exam. Practising full-length timed mock tests allows you to experience the GRE format, build your endurance for the length of the test, and get comfortable with the pacing. When you take a practice test, be sure to follow all of the same procedures as the actual GRE. Block out sections of multiple hours to sit for the full timed sections without any breaks in between, just as the real test is administered.

During the designated breaks, allow yourself to walk around and relax your mind before returning to the next section. Taking multiple full practice tests, spread out over the months of preparation, will help you identify your strengths and weaknesses while getting used to the fatigue of focusing intensely for hours. Analyzing your performance on each practice test is key to maximizing your preparation. Note the types of questions that gave you trouble, whether you struggled more on one section than others, and how your performance and pace changed over the length of the test.

Tip 5: Seek Help from Others

Preparing for the GRE while studying abroad can feel isolating as you do not have the same support system around you that you may have at home. However, it is important to seek help from others during your GRE preparation to stay motivated and get different perspectives on concepts you find challenging. Don’t be afraid to reach out to your network for assistance.

Friends who have taken the GRE before can offer advice based on their experience with content areas, practice tests, and the test day experience. Reach out to seniors at your university who have already completed the GRE for tips. Forming a study group with other international students also prepping for the GRE is a great way to discuss topics, quiz each other, and keep each other accountable to a study schedule. Even if you can’t meet in person, online study groups using video chat platforms allow for collaboration from anywhere.


With strategic planning and consistent practice over several months, students can optimize their GRE preparation. Following these 5 tips will help boost your scores and confidence for the exam. Proper GRE preparation at Jamboree education coupled with a strong application can open doors to top graduate programs abroad. All the best with your GRE preparation and future endeavours!