Update: This GRE study guide is now available in a redesigned, printable version!
From my experience, the majority of hopeful graduate school or business school students spend between two and three months preparing for the GRE exam. Given we all struggle to sustain our attention and concentration for more than this long, such a duration of test prep makes perfect sense. After all, there are more opportunities to get distracted in six months of preparation time rather than 2 or 3 months. Here is the perfect GRE study guide for those who can commit both the time and the cognitive resources necessary for a few months.
Unlike my other two study guides (the one week and one month), this GRE study guide has a range of two to three months. This wiggle room allows those who have unpredictable schedules – or who simply cannot allocate enough hours each week — to choose the three-month plan. For those who have the time and/or simply want to be more aggressive, it’s a good idea to shorten this study plan to two months. For the layout below, however, I will use 8 weeks. You can slow down or speed up accordingly — whatever seems to be the best way for you to manage your time.
This GRE study guide gives general goals by week and requires about 2 to 3 hours of studying per day. Within this plan, you’ll receive an overview of how much time to be dedicating to everything — from skills to help you with quantitative reading questions to data analysis math skills — in an effort to improve your actual GRE score. if you’d prefer a more specific version, with daily instructions, I’d recommend one of these 3 month schedules instead:
- 90 Day Daily Study Plan for Beginners
- 90 Day Daily Study Plan (Math Focused)
- 90 Day Daily Study Plan (Verbal Focused)
- 90 Day Daily Study Plan for Advanced Students
Finally, if English is not your first language, and you are struggling to learn vocabulary (while trying to wrap your head around academic prose), you may want to consider my six month plan. The bottom line is that you will need a competitive score. Those students – at least those who posted their scores on the blog – will want to reconsider the 2-3 month plan if their verbal score is still in the 140-range or below. You should do your best to at least get into the mid-150s in verbal. Of course, achieving this feat will require the six month plan.
- Magoosh’s GRE Book (Although the Magoosh GRE Book isn’t out on the market yet, it’s coming soon. Once it’s out we’ll be updating this study guide to include it.)
- Magoosh GRE Prep– Lessons and Practice Problems
- ETS’s Official Guide to the GRE, 2nd. edition
- ETS’s PowerPrep Software
- If you would prefer to take the practice test on paper, you can print out ETS’s practice test PDF. Take note that the Powerprep software and the paper-based test have overlapping material, so it won’t be of much help to do both, unless you space them out far enough so that you won’t recognize the questions and answers! I recommend using the Powerprep software if you can, since taking the test on a computer is a better simulation of test day conditions. Also, PowerPrep 2.0 comes with two tests. The PDF is only one test, which overlaps with Test 2 from the PowerPrep 2.0 Software.
- Magoosh’s online GRE Flashcards and GRE Vocabulary Builder app. They’re free and you can use them on the web, on your iPhone/iPad or Android!
- Index Cards (Quizlet.com)
- Stopwatch or Timer
Strongly Recommended Materials:
- ETS’s Official GRE Quantitative Reasoning Practice Questions (These questions are tough – great practice for 160+ math scorers)
- ETS’s Official GRE Verbal Reasoning Practice Questions
Note: These materials are not extensively broken down within the schedule, as they are optional.
- Magoosh’s GRE Prep App (our free study app that gives you access to blog posts, study guides, practice questions and video lessons all from your Android or iPhone)
- McGraw Hill Conquering the GRE Math (for those who need additional work on basic math fundamentals)
- Manhattan GRE (including 6 extra online practice tests)
- LSAT 10 Actual Tests (for 160+ verbal scorers)
A note about additional materials:
Magoosh contains all the information you need for wild success on the exam and many students have achieved spectacular results using nothing but Magoosh. Nevertheless, this plan recommends that you buy additional materials and use them, in addition to the Magoosh materials. Here’s why: These plans were structured with far-reaching pedagogical principles in mind, and a deep consideration for how the human brain learns. Most people cannot hear or read something just once and, from that single hearing, remember it completely and understand it fully.
At Magoosh, we are very ambitious for our students; we want them to learn as thoroughly and as masterfully as possible. We recommend using these additional resources to provide additional practice, alternative explanations, and extra review. Not every student will need or want additional materials, but for those who do, the books we recommend are the best for the overall goal of doing very well on the exam.
Primary Goals During Weeks 1 & 2 of the GRE Study Guide:
- Work your way through Magoosh’s Math and Verbal Video Lessons. Your aim should be half of the verbal videos and about a third of the math videos (there are more of these). An effective learning strategy is to follow up a video by practicing questions that relate to the concept discussed in the video. Don’t simply watch hours of lesson videos without doing questions. You will quickly forget what you learn, unless you do practice questions to back up those concepts. For instance, if you watch a few lesson videos on exponents, make sure you complete the quiz that accompanies each module. (Using the McGraw Hill book will give you even more practice with the fundamentals).
- Where necessary, work through practice problems in the ETS Official Guide or the two ETS practice question guides, if you need to reinforce a given concept. It is okay to skip around in these books looking for relevant questions.
- Complete 100 Magoosh practice questions each from Verbal and Math (this can include quiz questions that come after the lesson videos).
- Determine which of the Manhattan GRE guides will help address your weaknesses (you only need to purchase one in order to access all of the 6 online tests, and the math guides tend to be better than the verbal ones).
Secondary Goals During Weeks 1 & 2 of the GRE Study Guide:
- Read two articles from The New Yorker/Atlantic Monthly/Economist/ALDaily.com. Find fifty words you do not know. Reference in Vocabulary.com (articles should be 4 – 15 pages).
- Write a quick summary/review of one of the two articles you wrote, threading new words you learnt these two weeks (can come from any of the sources, e.g. lesson, sample questions, etc), and apply them where necessary.
- Make your way through 10 words a day from Magoosh free GRE Flashcards. The goal should be 150 words after 15 days. For further context on how the words you are learning are used consult Vocabulary.com.
- Use quizlet.com to quiz yourself on 200 vocabulary words from articles and continue to quiz yourself with Magoosh GRE Flashcards.
Primary Goals During Weeks 3 & 4 of the GRE Study Guide:
- Finish watching all video lessons within Magoosh
- Take the Powerprep 2.0 Test 1 to assess your level.
- Check your answers to review mistakes. Watch explanation videos in Magoosh forums.
- Use the test to identify areas in which you need more practice.
- Practice 75 more questions for Verbal and 75 Math within Magoosh.
- Work through the beginning of the ETS Official Guide 2nd. edition, and cover the easy and medium sections at the beginning of the book for both math and verbal.
Secondary Goals During Weeks 3 & 4 of the GRE Study Guide:
- Continue working through vocabulary from Magoosh GRE Flashcards, five a day, quizzing yourself on all the words you have learned up to this point. Don’t forget to use the Magoosh Vocabulary Builder app.
- Up your reading to two articles a week
- Solidify fundamentals using Magoosh and any Manhattan GRE guide
- Pick fifty words each week from the two articles (a total of four articles for each week)
- Make sure you continue practicing problems from the McGraw-Hill Math if you are struggling with any fundamentals (fractions, exponents, etc.)
- If you are strong with math concepts, then move directly to the ETS Official Quantitative guide, working through specific problem types contained towards the beginning of the book.
- For the high scorers, take a practice Manhattan GRE test, reviewing all your mistakes once you are done.
- Instead of the MGRE tests (or in addition to), work through the practice sets in the ETS Official Verbal and Quantitative question guides.
Primary Goals During Weeks 5 & 6 of the GRE Study Guide:
- Practice 175 more questions for Verbal and 175 Math within Magoosh.
- Work through the rest of the ETS Official Guide 2nd. edition questions up to the practice tests at the back of the book.
- Return to any Magoosh lesson videos in which you need a refresher
Secondary Goals During Weeks 5 & 6 of the GRE Study Guide:
- Continue practicing vocabulary in the same manner described above.
- Work through much of the Official GRE question guides (quantitative and verbal section). Work on specific sections and do at least one practice set for each.
- Depending on your level (master, beginner, or somewhere in between), complete all the math problems from the Official GRE Quantitative Questions Guide (the higher the number, the harder the problem). You may also want to pick and choose based on your perceived areas of weakness.
- If lower level math, focus more on Manhattan GRE math and easy-level Magoosh questions.
- Just for advanced verbal learners, do some reading passages and paragraph assumptions (Logical Reasoning in the LSAT guides). Do one timed test, not including “games” section.
Primary Goals During Weeks 7 & 8 of the GRE Study Guide:
- Customize practice sessions within Magoosh product to target weaknesses. You should complete all of the verbal and all of the math questions.
- Take both tests at the back of the Official Guide, including the AWA section.
- Take the Powerprep 2.0 Test 2.
- Make sure you are doing as many timed sections as possible from various sources. If you can’t work through an entire section, always have a stopwatch whenever you work through questions.
Secondary Goals During Weeks 7 & 8 of the GRE Study Guide:
- Continue learning vocabulary as before, perhaps challenging yourself with more advanced words. You should know at least 800 words by now, and should probably know even more from working with the GRE Official Guide and Magoosh product.
- Take a Manhattan GRE practice test. (Review mistakes).
For advanced Verbal students:
- Do a timed verbal LSAT Reading Section each day and 5 Critical Reasoning questions. Try to determine why answers are wrong on your own.
- Take no fewer than two Manhattan GRE on-line practice tests.
For advanced Math students:
- Finish two Manhattan GRE online tests (focusing just on the math sections).