So, you’ve procrastinated, or have maybe just learned that you have to take the test, because the program you are looking to get into happens to require the GRE.
Obviously, this isn’t an enviable position to be in, but, if you have to take the GRE within a week or so, do not throw up your hands in despair, exclaiming that there is nothing to be done.
Despite the belief that the GRE isn’t teachable (trust me, this attitude is quite common), you CAN study and cram for the GRE, even if you have very little time. Below is a 1 week GRE study guide to help you improve your score!
- Magoosh GRE Prep
- Magoosh’s online GRE Flashcards. They’re free and you can use them on the web, on your iPhone/iPad or Android!
- Vocabulary.com (In-context vocabulary), Quizlet.com (on-line flashcards)
- ETS’s Powerprep 2.0 Software (Test 1 and Test 2)
(If you would prefer to take the practice test on paper, you can print out ETS’s practice test PDF (with video explanations here). Take note that the Poweprep software and the paper-based test have overlapping material, so it won’t be of much help to do both! I recommend using the Powerprep software if you can, since taking the test on a computer is a better simulation of test day conditions.)
- ETS’s Official Guide to the GRE (video explanations here)
- Stopwatch or a timer for using the paper-based practice tests in the Official Guide
Day 1 – 3 – Identify your strengths and weaknesses
If you are struggling in Math, then begin with Magoosh Math Lessons. You should spend at least two days reviewing basic concepts. An effective learning strategy is to follow up a video by practicing questions that relate to the concept discussed in the video. For instance, if you watch a few lesson videos on exponents, make sure you complete the Quiz that accompanies each module.
For more practice questions, you can also go to the “Customize your practice” feature on your dashboard. You can then choose to only see questions that fall under “Powers and Roots,” for example. It’s also a good idea to select the “easy” option so that you can be sure to answer the question correctly. Conversely, if you sit back and only watch the lesson videos, you will not be able to apply the many concepts you learn (remember: use it or lose it!).
Often, students are more casual towards the verbal section then they are the math section. They reason that if they know how to read, then they should be able to score well. The Revised GRE has many obstacles that can stymie even careful readers. You must learn the lay of the land, so to speak. Spend time going through Magoosh’s lesson videos to learn essential tips and strategies.
If vocabulary is daunting for you, use Magoosh’s GRE flashcards, which not only define words for you but provide example sentences gleaned written by the GRE content team at Magoosh. To memorize words as you go through practice questions, you can also use quizlet.com, which allows users to create online flashcards. Then, go through Magoosh’s verbal practice questions to hone your newfound strategies, and strengthen your vocabulary.
If you are having difficulty with both sections, then make sure not to neglect one. Try as much as possible to balance your prep. This goes for those topics that you find difficult. So let’s say you struggle with bar graphs and pie charts. Head over to Magoosh’s excellent Data Interpretation lessons.
Day 4 – Mock Test
There is no better way to prepare for the big day than by taking a practice test. Both the Official Revised Guide and the Powerprep offer you tests—the former paper-based, the latter online. After a few days reviewing concepts and doing practice problems on Magoosh (you will have already become used to the stressful countdown timer), the test shouldn’t be as daunting as it may have been only four short days ago. While you many not get your target score, you shouldn’t despair. You still have time.
Day 5 – Continue to do questions and lessons.
Continue doing practice questions from Magoosh and, if you have it, the Official Guide. Just as importantly, revisit questions you missed in the past. Can you get them right the second time? If not, why? Are there certain techniques and strategies that you are struggling to apply? You may also want to consider going back over videos and lessons.
If you haven’t already, be sure to make your way through all of the lesson modules. By this time, you should have reviewed the basics.
Day 6 – Almost There
You are getting very close. It is key not to become too stressed out. I know this is hard, but even if you are still missing many questions at this point, know that each error is an opportunity for improvement.
If you are not ready to take another PowerPrep test, don’t feel you have to (if you have time, make sure to review your mistakes). Review questions, and do more questions from Magoosh.
If you are struggling with vocabulary, don’t worry too much (after all, memorizing a thousand words in a week is difficult – and won’t necessarily help you identify words in context). Do your best to eliminate. And don’t be afraid to guess on test day. Still, it doesn’t hurt to try to learn the words you encounter in Magoosh’s lessons. Many of these are high-frequency words.
You should have gotten a good night’s rest. Make sure you are calm and as collected as possible. If you still need to go through formulas or strategies, do so, but make sure the experience isn’t making you feel stressed. If it is, stop. Remember, going in with a clear head is far better than shaking in trepidation as you walk into the test center. And remember, if you’ve followed the above GRE study guide, you have much to be proud of. You’ve come a long way in so little time.