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Last Minute GRE Tips

After weeks of preparation, the GRE sits on the horizon. You’ve spent hours and hours attacking practice problems and testing out strategies in mock tests. Now the time has come to apply all that you’ve learned. And there is a lot you can do to optimize what you’ve learned. But there is a lot you can do to derail what you’ve learned.


One Week Until the GRE (7 Days Left)

Keep the intensity high and continue to study. No need to change anything at this point. If you are unsure what to do in your final week, here are some suggestions:

  • Take a practice test 5 – 7 days before the actual exam so that you can practice your pacing and build up your stamina for the long test ahead. Make sure to include all the essays and an experimental section too.
  • Review your notes, especially problems and concepts that you have struggled with. It’s important to have everything you’ve learned fresh in your mind on test day.
  • Any practice you do at this point should be timed.
  • Work on your weaknesses as much as you can.


One Day Left

Do nothing! That’s right. It might seem counterintuitive and it might seem like the last thing you should do, but you need to rest up for the big day. Cramming is not going to help you one bit on the test.

  • No test preparation all day! Seriously!
  • Eat a large, healthy, leisurely dinner—no alcohol!
  • Lay out all that you will need for test day.
  • Go to bed earlier than usual.


The Day of the GRE

  • Eat a large breakfast, full of protein.
  • Do relaxing, fun activities to pass time until the test.
  • Light exercise is a great way to burn off anxiety and prime your mind for the test.


What to Bring to the Test

  • A valid ID that includes your full name, photo and signature
  • A liter of water
  • Healthy energy-packed snacks (nuts, protein bar, etc.)
  • On breaks, make sure to get up and move. Moving and stretching the large muscles of the body (legs, torso, and back) will get oxygen flowing, which will help keep you awake and keep you thinking clearly.


Closing Thoughts

The power of positive thinking is profound. Every person at every moment freely decides their attitude. Regardless of all else that is happening or will happen, we all choose how we react and deal with struggles, challenges, and adversity. Now you are faced with quite a challenge—the GRE. So choose to walk into that testing center with some swagger. Stand tall and choose to be positive. Decide that you will totally dominate the GRE. Be confident in your abilities and trust yourself. At that point, you have no other recourse. You first must believe that you can dominate the GRE and reach your target score. After that anything is possible.


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.

14 Responses to Last Minute GRE Tips

  1. Kesavan July 8, 2016 at 8:39 am #


    I am planning to apply for the Phd programme in Economics. I am struggling with my GRE scores where I could not go beyond 149 in QR and 143 in verbal. I did four times but still I could not improve my scores. I have to get at least 158 for the GR. Pls let me know how I can improve my scores. I think I have one more chance to do the exam.

    • Magoosh Test Prep Expert
      Magoosh Test Prep Expert July 13, 2016 at 12:46 pm #

      The best plan for improving your scores depends a lot on what is hardest for you on the test. If you haven’t done so already, I’d start keeping a “mistake journal.” Note the kinds of mistakes you’re making in practice. Check both the answer keys and answer explanations so that you can also figure out why your’e making mistakes, and what is causing you to choose wrong answers. Doing this will help you see the patterns in your mistakes, so that you can address specific weaknesses and build certain kinds of skills.

  2. Belinda June 18, 2016 at 10:16 am #

    Hi! I am premium member using the 12 week study guide. I have a few more weeks left, but my last practice exam is on a Sat and my exam is the following Tuesday. I noticed that you suggested taking your last exam 5-7 days before. Should I omit the last practice exam?

    • Magoosh Test Prep Expert
      Magoosh Test Prep Expert June 19, 2016 at 8:33 am #

      Hi Belinda 🙂

      These are general suggestions for student who may or may not be following a study plan. I’d recommend adjusting your schedule a little and taking the practice exam Thursday or Friday, if possible. If not, it’s ok to stick to your plan and to take your last practice exam as per the schedule, the Saturday before your exam. If you take the exam on Saturday, you’ll want to to review it that same day, so that you can spend Sunday reviewing the topics that you may feel least comfortable with. And, as mentioned in this post as well as the study plans, I’d suggest taking Monday as a rest day, so that you arrive to your exam fully charged and ready to face the challenges that await you 😀

      Hope this helps!

      • Belinda June 19, 2016 at 10:10 am #

        It does! Thanks so much! 🙂

  3. Shraddha March 21, 2016 at 10:11 am #

    What is the score required for MS in marketing?

    • Magoosh Test Prep Expert
      Magoosh Test Prep Expert March 23, 2016 at 10:49 am #

      Hi Shraddha,

      Unfortunately, we don’t have nearly as much expertise and experience in graduate school admissions as we do with GRE prep, so I’m afraid we can’t be of much help. Here are a few blog posts to help you evaluate your scores:

      What is a Good GRE Score?
      GRE Scores by Program Major
      GRE Scores for Top Universities

      Additionally, I’d recommend directly contacting the schools/programs you’re interested in to see if they can offer any insight, or check out the programs’ websites to see if they have any info!

      I hope this helps at least a little 🙂

  4. Khob Raj Bhandari October 15, 2015 at 7:52 am #

    i am going to sit for my exams tomorrow! Here i am writing! i believe we should not cram at the last minute! still, reviewing the strategies and turning pages to visualise question patterns, will of course be handy! hoping for the best scores! Thanks a lot Magoosh team!

    • Dani Lichliter
      Dani Lichliter October 15, 2015 at 9:44 am #

      Best of luck on your exam tomorrow! 🙂

  5. Nupur October 7, 2015 at 10:19 am #

    Hello Kevin,

    I’m planning to go for a PhD in Philosophy, e.g. Yale, Colombia University- could you suggest me an expected score for philosophy! I would start now to appear in December. Will it be possible to get a good score within the this time ?

  6. vani September 25, 2014 at 8:43 am #

    Thanks for the great tips, Kevin!

    • Kevin Rocci
      Kevin September 25, 2014 at 9:36 am #

      Happy to help! 😀

  7. Sarah Ghabrial August 21, 2014 at 11:04 pm #

    Great blog! I’m getting to write the GRE tomorrow. I’m going to walk in with a lot of swagger and aim for the scores I want! 🙂

    • Kevin Rocci
      Kevin August 22, 2014 at 9:53 am #

      YES!! Swagger in there and show that test who’s the boss! 😀

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