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How to Stay Motivated and Positive for the GRE

There are many reasons students lose motivation while studying for the GRE. For some, studying for three months, hours each day, is a draining experience, especially when their scores are not going up. For others, they are taking the test a second, or even a third, time. If any of these scenarios describe you, here are a few tips to help you stay positive.


Vary up your study routine

Perhaps GRE studying means the same thing for you each time. You (grudgingly) take your practice materials, sit in your usual spot, and open the book. After a few minutes you already feel your eyes drooping. This reaction isn’t necessarily because the material is exceptionally dry (though that is one factor); you are so accustomed to studying in the same place and in the same manner that your brain has become bored.

Ways to vary it up include studying in a different place: a quiet café, library, friend’s place, or simply a different room in your home. Also, if you always start with math, start with verbal. Or, during your quantitative practice set, throw in some reading passages. If you only look at the answers after solving all the questions of a practice set, try another approach. For instance, look at the answers after each question and try to figure out your mistake, before moving on to the next question.

Basically, there are countless ways to vary up your studying. Yet once you become habituated to a certain way of studying, you can easily forget this. Staying positive, sometimes means keeping it fresh.


Use different materials

Are you only using one prep book? Even if the prep book seems to be helping, remember that there is a wealth of prep materials out there—some very good, some not so very good. Simply reading about a different approach to the test can help you change something you were doing incorrectly—which, in turn, can help boost your score and help you stay positive.


Spend some time with a good tutor

Oftentimes when you are in a rut, you might not exactly know why. An experienced tutor can help you pinpoint where you are struggling. Indeed, just a couple of hours may be all it takes to help snap you out of your GRE funk. That few point boost can turbo charge your motivation.


Take a break

This may sound highly counterintuitive. However, if your test date isn’t right around the corner, you may want to take a break. For one, taking time off from something can help you recharge your batteries. GRE-wise you can allow much of the vocabulary you learned to incubate. The same applies to math formulas and concepts. When you do start up again, you will surprise yourself: you will see GRE concepts and questions with fresh eyes.


Go on the forums

Other GRE test takers are struggling with the very same problems you are, whether those problems consist of staying motivated, learning vocabulary, or how to best crack long science reading passages. You can find them on the GRE forums. Just make sure you don’t get caught up with the people obsessing over their scores. That’s a surefire way to get burnt out.

To glean some useful feedback from other user’s experience, or simply to commiserate, check out or


How do you survive the studying doldrums? Let us know below!

By the way, students who use Magoosh GRE improve their scores by an average of 8 points on the new scale (150 points on the old scale.) Click here to learn more.

3 Responses to How to Stay Motivated and Positive for the GRE

  1. jayesh raj July 19, 2016 at 8:14 pm #

    i gave my GRE on 12th july – scored really bad 304

    i am completely frustrated and i don’t know what to do .

    i want to go for spring 2017
    i am having cgpa of 8.38/10

    but i am not sure i will get an admit with this score to electrical program or not.
    i want to give gre again, but i am completely demotivated.

    • Magoosh Test Prep Expert
      Magoosh Test Prep Expert July 21, 2016 at 12:51 pm #

      Sorry to hear about your bad experience, Jayesh. It really can be very discouraging when you don’t get your target score on the first try, and need to retake the GRE. Staying motivated is a matter of having a concrete plan for improvement. Chris offers some good advice on assessing what went wrong and making a new game plan to keep you motivated. You can read Chris’s thoughts on this in his post about how to study for a GRE retake.

  2. Sonal June 14, 2014 at 9:49 am #

    Helpful article

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