How to create a GRE study plan

Man working on laptop

Whether you have a full-time job or are a full-time student, finding the time to study for the GRE can seem like an impossible task. No matter where you are in your academic journey, creating a GRE study plan will help you to use your limited time more efficiently and keep you motivated. Your study plan will be unique to you, however we’ve compiled four components you’ll want to consider while making yours. 

Determine your target score. At this point, you likely have a target score in mind based on the graduate programs you are considering. Take a practice test to determine your baseline score, then determine how many points you’ll need to increase it by to reach that target score (if you haven’t reached it already!) PrepScholar uses the estimates below for the amount of hours you should expect to devote to studying to increase your scores:

  • 5 points = 40 hours 
  • 10 points = 80 hours 
  • 20 points = 160 hours 
  • 30 points = 240 hours  

Establish how long you’ll need to prepare. Once you’ve determined by how much you’ll need to improve your score,  you’ll need to establish the amount of hours you want to allot to study. Be mindful of how long you have before test day. For example, if you are trying to improve your Quantitative score by 10 points and you have two months, that will be about 10 hours a week to set aside for GRE prep. If possible, waiting to schedule your test until you’ve established how many hours and weeks you’ll need to prepare can help in this process. 

Figure out which resources you’ll use. There are a multitude of resources designed specifically to help students prepare for the GRE. These range from practice tests to flashcards to personal tutoring. Find out what works best for you and look online for resources to aid your studying. Tools like Khan Academy and Magoosh have a variety of GRE practice and lessons.

Outline your schedule. After determining how long you’ll need to prepare, write a list of all the tasks (practice problems, review, flashcards, etc.) you’ll need to complete to feel prepared.  Roughly outline your time in weeks, or even days and split up the tasks in a way that will be manageable. Make sure to also block off time to take multiple full-length practice tests. Magoosh has monthly and weekly sample GRE study schedules for some reference. 

Dedicating time and effort before the GRE will help calm nerves on test day thanks to the hard work you’ve put in. A study plan will help you stay on track and use your time more efficiently to ensure success on test day.