How Long Should I Study for the GRE? (Take the Quiz!)

How Long Should I Study for the GRE?

Here’s the answer to one of the most common GRE FAQ questions: You need at least 1 month and probably no more than 6 months to study for the GRE, depending on your situation. Factors that change how long you need to fully prepare for the GRE include the GRE test scores you need for your target grad schools, how long you’ve been out of school, how much you read, your language skills, your experience with standardized tests, and more. All of these factors will affect how hard the GRE is for you.

So what does this mean for you? Take Magoosh’s quiz to see our recommendations for how long you should study for the GRE, then come back to this post to find out everything you need to figure out when to start studying for GRE.

Set Your Test and Score Goals

You should carefully consider how long you should study for the GRE. Other students report needing one to six months to study, which is a pretty wide range. Ultimately, you need to figure out what works for you based on your unique situation.

First things first! To answer the question “How long should I study for the GRE?” you’ll need to know what your goals are. To do this, you’ll need to consider a few things:

Is English your first language?

Many GRE students don’t speak English as a first language. If you’re bilingual, this won’t be an issue. If you’re working on your language skills at the same time, we strongly recommend taking the TOEFL first if you can, but giving yourself an extended period of time to study even if you have to take the two tests the same week. Simply put, the GRE verbal is insanely difficult for non-native English speakers. If you fall into this camp, do not despair. You can still do well on the GRE verbal. But you may have to study for six months, or even longer (depending on your answers to the quiz questions).

How big a point increase do you want?

Improve your GRE score with Magoosh.

Of course, to know this, you’ll need to know what your current range is. The best (and only) way to get an accurate picture of this is to take a GRE practice test to identify your strengths and weaknesses. Then, with that range in mind, look at the programs you’re applying to and see how close you are to their students’ average scores.

How strong are your math skills?

Maybe you’re a quantum physicist. Or maybe you hear “pi” and think “apple.” If you work with math on a daily basis, you’re likely to need less preparation in that area, which may lower the amount of time you need to efficiently prep for the GRE. If you’re unsure about how strong your GRE math skills are, try a few GRE math practice questions out and see how you do! A GRE diagnostic can also help with this. (This is also a great way to see different math question types before test day.)

How competitive are the programs you’re applying to?

There is a big difference between a state college and a Harvard Ph.D. program. Most likely, your choices will fall somewhere in between. The more competitive the grad schools, the more you should prep. Also, note that some programs will only care about your score in one area, while some will care about your score in both. It’s usually pretty easy to tell which (physics programs tend to care far more about the quantitative section, while lit programs tend to be pretty focused on the GRE verbal section), but check with them just to be sure before devoting (or writing off) six months of GRE study that may not make a difference in your admissions chances.

Are you a reader?

If you have been reading diligently over the years, it is very likely that you’ve developed a strong sense of how vocabulary works in context. This will pay off big time and cut down on your need to study GRE vocabulary. And hence, you will not need as long to prepare for the GRE.

Do you like standardized tests?

I’ve tutored standardized tests for a while now. Some of my students seem to have a sense of how the tests are put together and how the answers are meant to trick you. Others are simply good at focusing for four hours at a time. None of this is a bad thing. If you are good at taking tests (scored well on your SATs, AP tests, etc. in high school), you should not have to study for more than four months.

Once you’ve thought honestly about all of those factors, you may not have an exact timeframe in mind for the GRE. However, you will have an answer to this question: how much do I need to prepare for the GRE? Your answer should be somewhere on the scale of “a little” to “a ton.” This translates to between 25 and 100+ hours of study. There are more ways, though, to narrow down that answer even more!

Decide How Many Hours per Week You Have Available to Study for the GRE

You’ve already seen that there are many factors that go into how long should you study for the GRE. Time to make that answer more concrete! Your personal schedule is going to affect how long it takes to prepare for GRE.

We’ve worked with a lot of students over the years, and we know that it’s very easy to fool ourselves when answering the question “How much time do I have to study for the GRE?” A lot of students answer the question “How much time do I wish I had to study for the GRE?” instead. To be honest with yourself, try this:

  • Take a blank weekly planner page or a piece of paper you’ve divided into seven equal slots.
  • Block out time for sleep (it’s important!)
  • Block out all of the time you spend at work or school each day.
  • Block out all the time you spend traveling to work or school.
  • Look over your schedule for (or think back to) the past few weeks. How often have you seen friends, gone on dates, socialized? Put a block for that amount of time in your calendar, too.
  • What family commitments do you have each week? Block out those (or an equivalent amount of time if they change).
  • What other regular plans do you have? Even if it’s catching up on Netflix, if you’re going to do it, you should put it in. Block that time out, too.

The remaining amount of time on the calendar is how many hours you have to study for the GRE each week. You can be even more specific with this if you’re someone who loves following schedules and work out how many days to prepare for GRE you’ll spend…but it’s not necessary at this point.

Decide When You Want to Take the GRE

So when is test day? We’ve already said it:

you should study for the GRE for between 1 and 6 months

But with that said, very few of us have the free time needed to take a test available each week. How long does the GRE take? Around 275 minutes maximum, which is a big chunk of your day! Plus, booking a spot early is important, since GRE test dates can fill up pretty early—particularly weekend dates.

Here’s what to keep in mind when you decide when you want to take the GRE:

  • When are the deadlines to your programs? How early do they need your scores?
  • How much preparation do you need for the GRE?
  • How many hours a week do you have to prep for the GRE?
  • Are there any weeks in which you cannot prep for the GRE? Going out of town, attending a conference, having a new baby…all of these things are super important, yet can hold up your study for anywhere from a few days to a few months.

After taking Magoosh’s GRE quiz and considering the above factors carefully, you know about how many hours of test prep you’ll need for your target score. You also know how many weeks you’ll have to do that prep. Divide the weeks by the hours, then look for a date in that range! As soon as you’re sure, book it in.

The other side of that question is when to start studying for GRE prep. The sooner, the better! (As long as you’re not too much more than six months away from your test date.) Even if you can only get in a few hours a week at the moment, sustained test prep over time really will make a difference.

Set up Your Timeline on a Calendar

Now that have a personalized answer to how long does it take to study for the GRE?, you can make specific study plans! With your timeframe in mind, check out Magoosh’s GRE study plans and guides for detailed, step-by-step study plans to get you the score you want on the GRE. We have everything from a one-week plan to a six-month plan; plans for those focused on verbal or math; plans for beginners and plans for advanced students. Trust us: there’s something for everyone!

To help you schedule, here are a few quick tips from me—including how to set up your practice to maximize your score as you figure out how to prepare for the GRE.

How can you start studying for the GRE today? Get those plans into your calendar (or at least, the dates on which you’ll follow them). Even more than that, Once you commit to studying on paper, it becomes much easier to fit into your life—and you become that much closer to the GRE score that you want!

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  • Chris Lele

    Chris Lele is the Principal Curriculum Manager (and vocabulary wizard) at Magoosh. Chris graduated from UCLA with a BA in Psychology and has 20 years of experience in the test prep industry. He's been quoted as a subject expert in many publications, including US News, GMAC, and Business Because. In his time at Magoosh, Chris has taught countless students how to tackle the GRE, GMAT, SAT, ACT, MCAT (CARS), and LSAT exams with confidence. Some of his students have even gone on to get near-perfect scores. You can find Chris on YouTube, LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook!

105 Responses to How Long Should I Study for the GRE? (Take the Quiz!)

  1. Mohanish Patel November 21, 2019 at 7:19 pm #

    Hi Chris,

    I am a student of BCA 3rd year taken GRE in my 2nd year itself. I scored 163 q 149 v. I would like to ask how much time should I give for my 2nd try to increase till 330. I am in touch with vocab and also somewhat of maths. Should I prepare for 3 months or more than that

    • Magoosh Test Prep Expert
      Magoosh Test Prep Expert December 7, 2019 at 2:32 pm #

      Hi Mohanish! It’s hard to say how much time you’ll need. 3 months is about average for our students, so that’s a good rule of thumb. Just make sure you’re studying every day, working to identify weak areas that need more attention 🙂

  2. Aditya Dash April 18, 2018 at 12:52 pm #

    I am a student studying B.Tech and have completed 4th semester in India. Can you tell me the ideal time to prepare for GRE and TOEFL?

    • Magoosh Test Prep Expert
      Magoosh Test Prep Expert April 20, 2018 at 2:55 pm #

      Hi Aditya,

      This really depends on your level of English, your comfort with standardized test, and your test timeline. We recommend that students prepare for the TOEFL first, and then study for the GRE. You can determine how long you should study for the TOEFL with this blog post, and then come back to this blog post to determine how long you should study for the GRE. While the time you need depends on your personal skills and abilities, we generally recommend around 2 months for the TOEFl and 3 months for the GRE, so expect to spend at least 5 months on your studies 🙂

  3. Saurabh Dadhich January 29, 2018 at 1:47 am #

    Hey, I’m planning to take the Magoosh Premium Plan. I would like take the exam in the first week of April so would be following the 2-3 months weekly plan. Just tell me how many hours do I need to study daily to achieve my target score.

    • Magoosh Test Prep Expert
      Magoosh Test Prep Expert January 29, 2018 at 10:53 am #

      Hi Saurabh,

      I forwarded your message to our team of tutors who can give you some more personalized help. You’ll get an answer in your email from them soon, and it will give you a taste of the sort of support you will get as a Magoosh Premium student 🙂

  4. George June 19, 2017 at 6:28 pm #

    I am a Master’s student of Electrical Engineering with industrial, academic and research background planning to do my PhD in one of the top 10 schools in the US.
    I believe I will be able to get a full score in the quantitative part and my main concern is that I am not a native English speaker and I will have only a month to get 160+ in the verbal part. Do you think it is possible? do you have any tips for me?


    • Magoosh Test Prep Expert
      Magoosh Test Prep Expert June 21, 2017 at 10:46 am #

      Hi George,

      So, unfortunately, it is hard to say whether or not you can get a 160+ in the verbal section as there are so many variables. For example, this will highly depend upon what your starting point is, your flexibility and ability to devote quality time to your studies, how you already handle standardized exams and the stress, etc. If you’re not that far off from your goal, then it may be very attainable. If you’re very far from your goal, it may be more challenging. I would begin by first taking a mock exam or doing some Verbal problem sets to gauge your current level. Then, if that 1 month deadline is not flexible, I would check out our study plans, go through the content, and spend extra time focusing on your areas of weakness.

      Best of luck George! 😀

  5. EA December 13, 2016 at 10:45 pm #

    Dear Chris,

    I am a beginner for GRE test and I need 160+ in both sections and at least 4 in analytical writing.I am planning to take IELTS and GRE exam in 2017 (earliest time might be in July). So, probably I have about 6 months to prepare for exam. Is it possible to get these scores with this time frame? As I am working person, I can spare 1-2 hours per day and 5 days a week.
    May I kindly ask your expert suggestion to reach my goals. Thank you so much.

    Best regards,

    • Magoosh Test Prep Expert
      Magoosh Test Prep Expert December 15, 2016 at 10:42 am #

      Hi EA,

      It’s very difficult to say your score potential. Some people can take the GRE and score that high without studying at all, and some will study for months or years and still may not reach that goal. Whether or not your can achieve those elite scores has to do with your study habits, ability to assimilate and remember information, your critical thinking abilities and, of course, time. The longer you give yourself to study, the better your chances at a strong score!

      There is one things that is very clear, however: in order to reach that score, you will need to understand all of the concepts and best strategies for success on the GRE. You will also need to practice a lot and make sure that you know how and when to apply these strategies. I suggest that you take a look at our six month study plan to get an idea of what you will need to do over the next several months. You’ll notice that much of the studying involves building up your basic skills such as reading comprehension and knowledge of math fundamentals. You can definitely complete this plan with 1-2 hours a day 🙂

      And if you haven’t already, I recommend that you give Magoosh a try. Our comprehensive GRE Premium package provides you with all of the information and strategies you need, along with 1100+ practice questions and the support of our talented group of tutors. You can try us for free for 7 days 🙂

  6. Annette A November 9, 2016 at 1:26 pm #

    Hi Chris

    I have a week to prepare for the GRE Test. I am not a Math person at all. I can say that I will do well in Verbal Section so I intend to put in the hours for that. I am scared about the Quant. section. Any additional advise for me? I am using the 1 week study plan. What is the best advise for me related to the Math section.



    • Magoosh Test Prep Expert
      Magoosh Test Prep Expert November 10, 2016 at 8:35 pm #

      Hi Annette,

      A week isn’t a long time to prepare, but you can definitely do your best to improve your understanding of the most important math concepts!

      First, check out this blog post which lists the most commonly tested quant concepts:

      You can use this to guide your studies. For example algebra is much more important than probability, so it’s best to focus your energies in the concepts that can help you the most!

      I recommend that you focus your studies on understanding the most basic and fundamental math concepts and practicing them as much as you can. These fundamental math concepts will help you in a wide variety of problems, because they make up the foundation of most of the questions you will see. We have a whole section of our blog dedicated to them:

      I also recommend Khan Academy. They offer amazing free videos that cover many of the concepts you will see on the GRE, as well as practice problems for each one. While the practice problems are not similar to the ones you will see on the GRE, they will help you to practice and understand the math basics:

      So learn as much as you can about the basic math concepts, and make sure to do as many practice questions as possible! You won’t be able to get through all of the material, but you can improve your understanding on some of them 🙂

  7. Farhan November 7, 2016 at 9:28 pm #

    There are the couple of things I want to know regarding GRE.
    1) Is the period of 3 months is enough to ace GRE (300+)? how much time should i spend daily?
    2) What strategy do you think must be devised to ace GRE for the period of three months? 3)There is a lore that reading too much will help in acing GRE verbal section; I am an avid reader Which authors should I read for GRE or books that are full of GRE vocab?
    Thanks in anticipation

    • Magoosh Test Prep Expert
      Magoosh Test Prep Expert November 10, 2016 at 8:06 pm #

      Hi Farhan, I’ll answer your questions in order 🙂

      1. How long you need to study is individual to each person, so it’s hard to tell! We recommend a three month study plan for most of our students, but it really depends on your starting point and your target score. Whether or not you can ace the GRE in 3 months depends on a lot of different factors, such as your comfort with standardized tests, your ability to remember and assimilate information, and the time you can dedicate to studying. One option is to start studying for a few weeks before you set your test date. You can check your progress and determine whether you can be ready in three months or if you think you need more/less time 🙂

      2. I recommend that you check out our three month study guide for inspiration. You notice that from the beginning we work on understanding concepts and strategies, solving practice problems, learning fundamental math concepts and vocab words, and, of course, reading! We also recommend that you study for both at the same time and start solving problems as early as possible. Our study plan requires 1.5-2 hours of study per day. If you want to get an idea of what this study guide looks like in practice, try out a free 7-day trial of the Magoosh program 🙂

      3. Yes! Reading is the BEST way to improve your overall verbal abilities in order to get a solid score 🙂 It’s great that you are already an avid reading–you may find the verbal part a bit easier because you will be familiar with complex sentence structure and vocab. For some ideas on what to read, check out the following:
      GRE Article of the Month Roundup:
      Reading Vocabulary in context:
      Fiction and non-fiction books:

      We also have a Chrome plugin that highlights common GRE words on your web browser–it can be a great way to recognize and continually learn vocab words:


  8. Khurram October 20, 2016 at 8:27 am #

    Hi, I have graduated last June but MS was not my plan until now. I have just made up my mind to apply MS for fall 2017, but i haven’t started any preparation for GRE.

    So my question is that do i have enough time for preparation and text because most deadlines for most of unis on my wish list is early December 2016….?

    Many thanks for you help.

    • Magoosh Test Prep Expert
      Magoosh Test Prep Expert October 21, 2016 at 9:23 am #

      Hi Khurram,

      You need to remember that it takes a minimum of 2-3 weeks from the date of your test for the scores to even reach the universities, so it is probably too late to hit early December deadlines unless you can take the GRE in the next two weeks or so. Are you sure that is a hard deadline? Often it is still possible to apply later, though you aren’t given preference.

      I would suggest doing 2 weeks of crash GRE studying so you can have at least a score to send, and then if you have opportunities to apply later, you can also prepare for a retake with more time to properly study. Good luck! 🙂

  9. Smriti October 2, 2016 at 5:00 am #

    I have recently completed my bachelor in civil engineering.I am planning to apply for the fall session 2017. Having said that, I am worried about the deadlines of universities, I am looking to apply for since I haven’t start to prepare for GRE . Is one month is sufficient enough to get a high score as I need a full scholarship. How shall I plan for preparing GRE?

    • Magoosh Test Prep Expert
      Magoosh Test Prep Expert October 4, 2016 at 8:36 pm #

      Hi Smriti,

      How long you need to study really depends on you–how much you need to learn, how quickly you assimilate new materials, how ‘good’ you are at standardized test, and how much time you put into your studies. If you are already pretty comfortable with the subjects that will be covered in the test, then a month can definitely be long enough to get a solid score!

      You’ll need to make sure that you learn the best strategies, most efficient problem-solving methods, and have high-quality practice material. If you like our blog, you might like our comprehensive GRE product. You can try a 7-day free trial here!

  10. Mukesh September 29, 2016 at 11:58 pm #

    I got 280 in first time gre and I am taking second time on oct 27 so I need atleast 300 please give some suggestions for preparation

    • Magoosh Test Prep Expert
      Magoosh Test Prep Expert September 30, 2016 at 5:50 pm #

      Hi Mukesh,

      A 20-point increase in a month is ambitious, and will require a lot of hard work and dedication on your part. You need to make sure that you use high quality materials and really take the time to learn the concepts and strategies you will need for the test. You can check out our 1 month study guide for an idea of the pace you should work at and what concepts you should cover.

      To start, I recommend that you check out our verbal section for information on strategy for each question type, the math section for a refresher course on the concepts tested, and the following blog post for some tips on studying for a retake:

      If you are serious about this score increase, I highly recommend that you use some sort of program that can guide you through the materials and provide plenty of practice problems. Magoosh offers a comprehensive GRE-study program as well as 1100+ practice problems. You can try us out with a 7-day free trial to see if it might be a good fit for you 🙂

  11. Tess September 26, 2016 at 9:04 pm #

    I am an american citizen (native English speaker) but have received my entire education (bachelor’s degree included) in Belgium, in French. I also graduated 5 years ago from my Bachelor’s degree (studied in French) so not so fresh! I just ordered my books from ETS and am starting a 10 session prep course mid October (goes until mid November). I am applying to grad school and the deadline for applications is January 15th so I will need to send my GRE score by that date with my application. Do you think I will have enough time to study and get a good score to get into grad school? Also, how much time daily should I plan on studying? When should I take the test? Thank you for the help!

    • Magoosh Test Prep Expert
      Magoosh Test Prep Expert September 28, 2016 at 8:15 pm #

      Hi Tess,

      That is certainly a unique situation! If you have never used English in an academic setting, the biggest issue for you will likely be the obscure vocabulary and difficult reading comprehension passages. The best way to prepare for this is to read as much as possible! Reading helps you improve your comprehension, ability to process and understand difficult texts, as well as your vocabulary in context. I recommend that you start reading GRE-level material at least 30-60 minutes per day. You can use our Article of the Month Series for inspiration 🙂

      Verbal skills take a while to build, so I recommend that you try to study for 2-3 months. We recommend that you finish with your standardized tests at least 4-6 weeks before your school’s deadline so that you can focus on crafting a strong application and to ensure that your scores reach the school in time (it can take a few weeks for them to get there!) If you take the test towards the end of November, you should be in good shape! In our three month study plan, we recommend 1-2 hours of daily studying with a longer stint on the weekend. If you are only studying for two months, I recommend that you aim for 2 hours a day.:-)

    • anne September 29, 2016 at 7:15 am #

      im in the same situation as you Tess

  12. Nikee September 11, 2016 at 12:18 am #


    I got a email from a university asking to retake a GRE exam inorder to reach there minimum requirement. I had got v-144 and Q-155. They dont have problem with my quants, they only asked me to improve my verbal. I have scheduled my exam after 3 weeks, i am a non-native English speaker, can you give some tips which can improve my verbal in 3 weeks.

    • Magoosh Test Prep Expert
      Magoosh Test Prep Expert September 11, 2016 at 6:53 am #

      Hi Nikee,

      Happy to help 🙂 Unfortunately, there’s no magic way to drastically improve your verbal score overnight. The verbal section is testing your overall ability to use and understand the English language. That’s a large task and one that takes a lot of time to fully prepare for. That said, you can definitely work to improve your performance and leverage your current knowledge so you can get the highest score possible 😀

      The first thing I’m going to recommend is that you work on making sure you are comfortable with high frequency words. So go to our Vocabulary eBook. You should look at the chapter “Most Common GRE Words” that starts on page 11. You will want to be as familiar as possible with all of these words. They are the most likely to show up and be important for you on the exam. Then, when you’re comfortable with those words, head to our GRE vocabulary flashcards. Try to learn 10 new words each day. Instead of thinking about learning all the advanced words, focus on just adding a few more to your vocabulary each day. When learning new words, make sure you learn them in context. That means learning the definition AND learning when, where, why, and how the word is actually used.

      The next thing you want to do is to spend some time doing more practice questions. In addition to practicing your pacing in these practice sessions, I recommend that you study as many questions as possible—particularly the questions you answer incorrectly. Studying your questions means:

      1. Watching the explanation video and/or reading the text explanation.
      2. Looking up the words that you didn’t completely understand.
      3. Rereading the passage or sentence, question, and answer options. Challenge yourself to understand the question and answer so well that you could explain them to somebody else.

      You will also want to read as MUCH as possible over the next few weeks. This will improve your knowledge of vocabulary in context as well as your comprehension. As you read, make flashcards of the vocabulary words that you don’t know. Pause every so often and recap the main message in your own words. For some specific articles suggestions, I’d recommend browsing through our “GRE Article of the Month” series.

      Also, to help you identify important vocabulary words as you read, Magoosh has a Google Chrome extension that highlights high-frequency GRE words on any website! =) By using this tool at the sites recommended earlier, you can quickly identify real-life examples of the words found on our list of the 1000 Most Important GRE Words that make up our flashcards 🙂

      Remember to keep reading as much as you can and diligently work through practice problems to learn from your mistakes! I hope you find these suggestions and resources helpful!

  13. Akshay Gupta September 5, 2016 at 8:10 am #

    I have been preparing for GRE for a month now. I scored 310 the mock test a week back. I aim for a score above 320 and I’m giving the test in October end. Please tell me how should I go about increasing my score. I’m making silly mistakes in quant whereas only after the mock test did I get acclamated to the verbal section. I scored 157 in quant and 153 in verbal.

    • Magoosh Test Prep Expert
      Magoosh Test Prep Expert September 9, 2016 at 2:54 pm #

      Hi Akshay,

      Happy to help 🙂 In order to see that sort of improvement, you must ensure that you have the best study materials and stellar study habits. You have to make sure that you are studying from high-quality sources.So, have you considered Magoosh? On average, our students raise their score by 8 points and many improve by much more. Assuming that your practice test score is similar to what you would score in an actual test, this would put you right about the 320 mark 🙂

      Our video lessons and practice questions provide you with the comprehensive information and practice that you need to excel in the GRE, along with the support from our tutors who can answer questions like this. Best of all, we also provide comprehensive study plans that will help to guide you through all of the material you need to know. This sort of focused study plan could really help you to improve in both sections and give you the practice you need to excel in the GRE 🙂

      Try us for free for 7 days! And as you are deciding, I highly recommend that you check out this blog post for some ideas on how to avoid those ‘silly’ mistakes.

  14. Rachel August 26, 2016 at 6:23 am #


    I am unsure what I should do. My scores aren’t consistent. When I first started studying about a month and half ago I took Manhattan prep test and scored a 307. I then took the first ETS powerprep and scored a 294. I took the Kaplan test and then scored 304. I then retook the first ETS and received a 312. This week I took a princeton review and Kaplan test (paper based) got a 297. I am taking the GRE next week (September 1st). I am shooting for about a 310 or higher. However, since my scores are not consistent I don’t know if I should push it back. I still have a week, but is that enough time? Also when should I take the second ETS to see where I am at?


    • Magoosh Test Prep Expert
      Magoosh Test Prep Expert August 26, 2016 at 4:56 pm #

      Hi Rachel,

      Inconsistent testing scores is a frustrating problem, but a common one. One important thing to remember is that “real” GRE exams from ETS are the only truly reliable measure of the score you might get on test day. So it’s hopeful that you got a 312 on your ETS retake. But you should take a few additional ETS tests in the next week, to make sure you really can get 310+ consistently. I’d advise you to take the PowerPrep test and the 4 tests formt he Official Guide to the GRE. (If you don’t have the OG, you can order the ebook version of it instantly through the official GRE website.)

      Testing conditions can make practice test scores inconsistent as well. You should do your practice tests under conditions similar to that of the real testing center. Other factors can sometimes cause your practice tests to fluctuate too. To think about the “whole picture” of your practice scores, read this post by Magoosh GRE blogger Kevin Rocci on why practice test scores vary. (Kevin wrote this one for the GMAT, but this post applies to GRE practice too.)

      So take that second ETS test, and a few more from the OG, ASAP. If you’re well below a 310 on your ETS exams, you may not have time to get your score to where it needs to be by test day. But it sounds like you may be where you need to be. Either way, it certainly doesn’t hurt to try for 310+!

      • Rachel Amoah August 30, 2016 at 10:00 am #

        Thank you so much for the great advice! I have decided to push back my test two weeks. I took the second ETS and scored a 296. Besides taking the other practice test. What would you suggest I do in the next week weeks. It seems like my problem lies with verbal.

        • Magoosh Test Prep Expert
          Magoosh Test Prep Expert August 31, 2016 at 9:03 am #

          Hi Rachel,

          You are quite welcome! I’m glad this was helpful 🙂

          The verbal section is testing your overall ability to use and understand the English language. That’s a large task and one that takes a lot of time to fully prepare for. That said, you can definitely work to improve your performance and leverage your current knowledge so you can get the highest score possible 😀

          The first thing I’m going to recommend is that you work on making sure you are comfortable with high frequency words. So go to our Vocabulary eBook. You should look at the chapter “Most Common GRE Words” that starts on page 11. You will want to be as familiar as possible with all of these words. They are the most likely to show up and be important for you on the exam.

          The next thing you want to do is to spend some time doing more practice questions. I recommend that you study as many questions as possible—particularly the questions you answer incorrectly. Your goal is to understand inside and out how to answer verbal questions (strategy) as well as why the right answer is right and why the wrong answers are wrong. Your goal is to be able to explain the question to another student! This will increase your knowledge of what and how the GRE tests your verbal knowledge, and help you maximize your current level of knowledge. Studying in this way will also help you practice the exact kind of deep, active reading skill that you need to succeed on the GRE.

          Then about two days before the exam, I recommend doing a practice exam if you have one available. This will help you continue to improve and work on your pacing and overall focusing abilities 🙂

          • Rachel Amoah September 7, 2016 at 4:00 am #


            Thank you again for all the great advice! As you mentioned above, I should get the OG revised book. However, are the test in this book different from the free download of the powerprep II?

            • Magoosh Test Prep Expert
              Magoosh Test Prep Expert September 9, 2016 at 3:25 pm #

              Hi Rachel,

              You are very welcome 🙂 The tests that you find in the back of the OG are completely different from the Powerprep tests, but there is overlap between the CD that comes with the OG, the Powerprep Test and the free paper-based practice book. You can see more information about this here 🙂

          • Rachel Amoah September 8, 2016 at 11:48 am #


            I have one more question. I just took another practice exam, Crunch prep. I am unsure how accurate that test is but I scored a 302. (152 in math, 150 in verbal). My test is next Friday September, 16. This is the latest I can take it because my scores are due October 1st. I am becoming a bit nervous because I am not reaching that 310 mark like I hoped. Other than the tips given above, do you think it is possible to raise my score by next week?

            • Magoosh Test Prep Expert
              Magoosh Test Prep Expert September 9, 2016 at 3:37 pm #

              Hi Rachel,

              Unfortunately, we don’t have much information about the quality of Crunchtest’s tests or questions. But in general, I would trust a practice test score from a free source like ETS Powerprep or Manhattan much more than CrunchPrep–so if you haven’t taken those tests yet, I highly recommend that you check them out! While it is difficult to say how much you can improve in just a week, I recommend that you spend some time with focused review and take at least one more practice tests, preferably Powerprep. Once you take a Powerprep test, look at the results and see where your weak points may be. Take the time to really study the questions you miss and see if you can understand how to correctly solve the problem (we provide free explanation videos for some of the questions in Powerprep–just google “Magoosh + first few words of question” to see if we have it).

              If you have trouble understanding a question, take some time to review the related concepts and strategies to see if you can gain a deeper understanding. While it’s unlikely that you can deeply understand some concepts in just a week, this approach can leverage your current knowledge for maximum improvement in a short time 🙂

  15. Ahsan August 14, 2016 at 2:31 pm #

    Ive scored 316 on the ets powerprep mock test .. Should I take my test withing the next month to get a 325+?

    • Magoosh Test Prep Expert
      Magoosh Test Prep Expert August 15, 2016 at 3:30 am #

      Hi Ahsan,

      It’s hard to say exactly how long you will need to study to reach your goal score. However, improvements of the magnitude you’re talking about often take longer than a month to achieve. At Magoosh, our students improve on average 8 points after at least a few months of hard work and preparation. That said, if you scored 316 without any prep and without knowing the format of the exam, then it might be possible to improve by 9 points over the next month. However, I would recommend giving yourself more time to study in order to maximize your improvement 🙂 To help you determine how long to study, I’d suggest check out our 1-month daily schedule. You’ll see how we suggest organizing your prep to be fully prepared for the GRE in a month’s time and this may help you decide whether or not a month is enough time to study 🙂

      Hope this helps! Happy studying 😀

  16. Natasha July 28, 2016 at 4:31 am #

    I’ve just started with my undergrad college and I’m really determined about getting highest marks in GRE. I know I have 4 years but I really want to start now. Do you think it’s a good idea as I’ve heard that people often get bored and they are not that productive compared to when people study for shorter period of time but intensively? And what should I study now if you say that the shorter but intense study is better?

    • Magoosh Test Prep Expert
      Magoosh Test Prep Expert July 28, 2016 at 11:44 am #

      First of all–I am impressed that you are already thinking about studying for the GRE! You are already way further ahead than many of your peers 🙂 There are a few things that should think about as you make your decision. The longer you study, the better your chances of getting a high score–but you must be studying consistently and intensely for the duration of this time, because the GRE requires specific knowledge and strategies that are easily forgotten! Most students find that they are prepared after they study about 2 hours a day for three months. This allows you to delve deeply into the content and gain a deep understanding of the methods and strategies, but it’s not so long that you will burn out or forget what you learned at the beginning. Some people study for longer (4-6 months) because they need to build skills such as reading comprehension and general math knowledge. You also have to consider that GRE scores are only valid for five years, so you don’t want to take it too early!

      If you start thinking about the GRE about a year before you plan to apply to grad school, that should be plenty of time to take the test well before you have to worry about applications. For example, you might decide to dedicate the summer after your sophomore or junior year to studying. But there are definitely things that you can do right now to start preparing, such as improving your overall reading comprehension and vocabulary through, building your mental math skills and understanding of, and researching the schools you are most interested in to set realistic score targets.

      If you work on these skills right now, it will be much easier to study for the GRE when the time comes!

  17. maria June 6, 2016 at 8:14 pm #

    I have done 1 GRE practice test so far without preparation and I scored 284.
    My question is, ¿How many points I can improve in 3 months?¿What is the average score that people normally improve?

    Thanks in advance.

    • Magoosh Test Prep Expert
      Magoosh Test Prep Expert June 16, 2016 at 9:54 am #

      Hi Maria,

      That depends a lot on your background and how much time you can devote to studying. If you got a 284 because of content and because of the odd GRE style, it would be absolutely doable to see an increase of 15-20 points once you have internalized the GRE style and more content. If you only missed problems due to concepts, then you have a lot more good, old fashioned studying ahead of you and our students in that case typically improve 8-10 points on average (though some do far more)!

      The most important thing is to analyze what your strengths and weaknesses are from that test and moving forward so that you can ideally study according to what you need most. Good luck! 🙂

      • maria June 16, 2016 at 1:40 pm #

        I have taken one GRE practice test and I scored 287. I have also taken a GMAT test and scored 400. Do you think it would be easier for me to get a competitive score with the GRE test? My verbal and math abilities are equal.

        • Magoosh Test Prep Expert
          Magoosh Test Prep Expert June 18, 2016 at 3:01 am #

          Hi Maria,

          So your GMAT score puts you about in the 12th percentile and the GRE score of 287 is hard to judge without knowing the quant and verbal scores individually. If we assume they break down evenly, that means you are roughly at 143 in each skill, which is between the 15th and 18th percentile. This means that you have a slight advantage in the GRE versus GMAT, but they are close enough that you could select the test that you feel more comfortable tackling (assuming both the GRE and GMAT are accepted for the programs you want).

          I hope that helps put it into perspective! 🙂

          • Maria June 18, 2016 at 9:45 am #

            Thanks for the prompt response. In the GRE test I scored 145 in verbal and 142 in quant. I really do not know which test to choose.

            • Magoosh Test Prep Expert
              Magoosh Test Prep Expert June 19, 2016 at 8:50 am #

              Hi Maria 🙂

              You’re very welcome. Since your scores are pretty similar between the exams, I recommend looking at the application requirements for the programs you’re interested in applying to. Most MBA programs require the GMAT, whereas MS/MA and PhD programs often prefer the GRE. So, knowing what programs you’re going to be applying to and what exam these program prefer can help you make a decision 🙂

  18. Irfan May 27, 2016 at 1:03 pm #

    Hello, I have bought the subscription and have been practicing both quant and verb questions. since being a non native English speaker, how many hours should i put in to achieve a respectable score in verbal section. Also, i would like to ask the best way for learning words in context.

    • Magoosh Test Prep Expert
      Magoosh Test Prep Expert May 27, 2016 at 7:45 pm #

      Exactly how many hours you need for GRE Verbal study actually varies a lot. It all depends on how confident you are with your English skills, currently. As you practice GRE Verbal questions, do a lot of self assessment. Really figure out where you’re at with English. How many questions you get right and wrong, what kind of Verbal questions re the hardest for you, what your vocabulary is, and so on.

      To learn vocabulary in context, I recommend reading GRE-like materials online. There are a lot of interesting news and educational websites with articles that use the kind of graduate level vocabulary words you’ll also see on the GRE. Here is Magoosh’s go-to list of recommendations:

      The New York Times
      The Wall Street Journal
      BBC News
      The Economist
      The MIT Technology Review
      Arts & Letters Daily

      On top of that, I’d recommend any movie or TV reviews you can find online. You’d be surprised at just how advanced and GRE-like most online film reviews are!

  19. Neil April 24, 2016 at 10:44 am #


    I am from India.
    I have 2+ years of experience in an IT company as a Software Engineer. I have done B.E. in Computer Scinece & Engineering.

    I have 2 years gap in my engineering time i.e. I completed my engineering in 6 years instead of 4 years.

    Also I have 1 year gap in between My High School and Higher Secondary.

    Though, I was not a good student but I am very serious for my future now and want to do MS from some reputed university. I have some queries regarding the same:

    1. If I get good score in GRE, will a reputed university in US/UK/CANADA/AUSTRALIA/ETC give me the admission for MS?
    A. If YES, How much score will I have to secure?
    B. How much time will it take me to get prepared?
    2. Will it be worth doing MS for me (will it give me benifits as others who have been good in thier academics and all)?
    3. Companies will give me job after doing MS ?

    Please provide your valuable guidance for letting me off from the soup like situation and let me know if any other information you need to answer my queries. Thank you.

    Kind Regards,

    • Magoosh Test Prep Expert
      Magoosh Test Prep Expert April 25, 2016 at 11:45 am #

      Hi Neil,

      Unfortunately, we don’t have nearly as much expertise and experience in graduate school admissions or career planning 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 Infographic
      * GRE Scores for Top Universities
      * GRE Scores by Program Major

      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! This website is also a great place to start your research:

      * Best Grad Schools

      I hope that helps at least a little!

  20. Rebecca November 9, 2015 at 4:54 pm #

    I’m a 44 year old lawyer who has been out of school for 15 years. I’ve got a little kid at home and a full time job. But, I’m looking to take the GRE and apply to a Masters Program in Asian Studies. My undergraduate, law school, and legal job require almost no math. I’m trying to make this process as “do-able” as possible. Is there any merit to the idea of totally ignoring the math and focusing only on the verbal and writing only? I honestly don’t think that most Asian Studies program look at the math school, but does it affect my overall ability to get into a program?


  21. Sergio Tarquinio October 26, 2015 at 6:59 am #

    Hi everyone, I’m applying for Ph.D. in urban planning in Harvard and I’ve just obtained an high score in the toefl test (I’m from Italy) for which I’ve studied for two months!
    I’ve been studying for the GRE for two weeks now and I’ve scheduled the test for the 17th of November!
    Giving that, and considering that I’m quite good with the math part, do you think that there would be enough time for me to go through this test? I feel like the toefl writing preparation have helped me in strengthening the GRE writing part, but I’m not sure!
    What do you suggest to do in order to reach my goal? I’ve plenty of material for my studies!

  22. Noone Special October 22, 2015 at 7:16 pm #

    I find this article hilarious because I recently graduated. I scored very highly on all standardized tests in grade school including the ACT and scored highly on outside academic/intelligence testing. But I keep getting DISMAL (below average) quantitative scores. I cannot for the life of me understand why the comparative questions are so hard for me to figure out.

  23. Jamie Stewart October 13, 2015 at 9:58 pm #


    I am planning on taking the GRE in early December. To that effect, I am unsure of which materials I should use in order to maximize my chances of achieving a high score.I recently bought the ETS Official Guide to the GRE, and Barron’s GRE vocab flashcards. Right now, I am following the advice of my friend who scored very well on the GRE (165 quant and 162 verbal) and reading one chapter a day of the ETS while also learning 10 new vocab words from the flashcards daily.

    However, I am wondering if I should take advantage of extra preparation since I am applying to 4 top programs. Though my GPA (3.9), letters of rec, and statement of purpose are solid, I do not have a great standardized test history. I am generally very good at English; however, I am not naturally strong in math. That said, what preparation materials would you recommend given my timeline and strengths/weaknesses ?

    Please get back to me at your earliest convenience.


    Jamie Stewart

  24. Sofia Castro October 6, 2015 at 12:42 pm #

    Hello Magoosh team,

    I brought the Magoosh GRE prep and I have a month to study for the GRE. I work full time so I would like to know how many hours would you recommend to study per week or per day. It is very difficult for me to study after work because I am already super tired and overloaded with information.


    • Jessica Wan
      Jessica Wan October 7, 2015 at 11:24 am #

      Hi Sofia!

      Thanks for your question! Since you’re a premium subscriber, I went ahead and forwarded your question to our remote tutor team. Someone from that team will respond to you directly over email.

      Have a great day!

      • Naima March 9, 2016 at 4:11 am #

        Hello, I am planning for taking GRE but i have only a month for that. Please recommend me how much time i need to give it. I am so confused already.

        • Magoosh Test Prep Expert
          Magoosh Test Prep Expert March 10, 2016 at 6:58 am #

          Hi Naima,

          As we said, it varies, but we recommend typically 1-6 months. Since you only have a month, let’s make the most of your month! 🙂

          You should determine as soon as possible what your weaknesses are and make sure you tackle those extra hard on top of doing a general overview of all GRE material that you need. Ideally, you might want 2-3 months, but if you only have 1, make that the best 1 month you can!

          Best luck to you, Naima. 🙂

  25. Nene July 30, 2015 at 7:06 am #

    Hello Chris,
    Thanks for this blog.
    I aim to apply to a PhD program in Political Sciences for the Ivy league schools. Most of the deadlines are for the first week of December have been out of school for a year now and I am not maths-savvy at all. There are so many online tools available and I am so confused.
    I have decided to dedicate 2 months: August and September to studying ( I am taking a break off work), so I will be solely focused on the test. I need your advice on:
    -The best time to write the test considering the deadlines and my prep time
    -Do you think two months is enough for preparation?
    -The best materials to use for preparation
    Thanks so much

  26. Hans July 29, 2015 at 10:52 pm #


    I am considering taking the GRE within the next 6 months and have just started gathering up information on the test and studying techniques. As expected I am seeing a lot of GRE prep books out there. My question is, do I need the most up-to-date edition if I’m to take the test late 2015 – early 2016? would a 2014, 2013 edition be sufficient?

    Thank you!

  27. Bryce June 20, 2015 at 6:56 pm #


    I am thinking about taking the GRE soon. I work full-time as a tutor for both math, statistics, and economics. I spend almost all of my free time reading difficult poetry and novels (I am not kidding). I also write in my spare time.

    I am applying to programs that do not even require the GRE, but where a “higher” GRE score may help me attract scholarships or financial aid, or so the schools’ websites say.

    I am planning on studying for two weeks, then taking the exam. I am horrible at making decisions, so I’m afraid if I put it off longer than that, I will never take the test. Do you think this sounds like a good plan?

    Thank you

  28. Brooke May 4, 2015 at 9:29 pm #

    Yikes! I’m a little scared… I’ve been out of school for 20 years and my undergraduate degree was in art history (not exactly math heavy). I’m applying to a graduate program in December and I have no idea where I should even start on this journey.. I assume I need to be studying several hours a day for the next 4-5 months.. yes?

    • Rita Neumann
      Rita Kreig May 6, 2015 at 4:18 pm #

      Hi Brooke,

      Oh man, I feel you – remembering old math is rough. I think a couple hours a day for a few months can definitely get you where you need to be, as long as you follow a structured study schedule and remember to review along the way. We have two study plans that might work well for you: 6 Month GRE Study Plan for Math Beginners and 90 Day GRE Study Plan (Math Focused). Both spend a lot of time reviewing math, while also spending time covering the other sections that you might already be more comfortable with.

      I hope that helps! I think once you start studying it won’t be as overwhelming as you think. And, of course, let us know if you have any other questions. 🙂


  29. DnO June 16, 2014 at 9:03 pm #

    I took the GRE for the third time (I took the GRE twice two years ago), and didn’t got the score I wanted. I want to apply to a quant oriented program and they ask for a minimum of Q164 and got Q162. I studied 3 hours daily for the last month (last time I scored Q770). I think this time I got a little weaker because the adaptative section was also about math, and I got tired by the end of the exam. I scored a little higher on my practice tests (Manhattan Prep, Q 163 – 164). When is too much GRE studying? At what point should you say that you are will not score higher? If it is not the time yet, what kind of plan would you suggest me?
    Depressed student.

    • Chris Lele
      Chris Lele June 17, 2014 at 1:35 pm #

      Hi Dno,

      It’s tough to say. I’d look at it from a standpoint of pacing and careless errors. Perhaps you are continuing to make certain errors that you are not really aware of–or as aware of as you should be. By anticipating reasons you get questions wrong you’ll be more on guard during the test (the reason I say this is because you’ve studied a lot–gotten 770–so basically know most of the concepts). Sometimes slowing down and being more on guard against subtle tricks can net you those extra few points.

      So don’t get depressed. Get a better sense of what you’re doing wrong, and use that knowledge to your advantage :).

  30. Alex April 22, 2014 at 2:28 pm #

    Hi Chris and Margarette,

    I recently took the GRE about two weeks ago and I received my scores today and I not reach my target score ( I started to prepare 2 1/2 months before the test ) ; the deadline for the universities that I’m applying to is July 1st, and after communicating with ETS and the universities back and forward , I have till the first week of June to take the exam again so I can summit my scores in time, and based on the availability of test centers, I have 3-6 weeks to prepare for the next exam; but I don’t feel comfortable taking exam so close to the deadline so my actual time frame to prepare is 3-4 weeks. my question is the following:

    Can 3-4 weeks of preparation make a difference in improving my score??
    ( I’m in a position where I can devote day and night to study, ranging from 6-10 hours per day inclusively to studding )

  31. haris February 14, 2014 at 7:47 am #

    Hi Chris,

    i just now started my preparation and want to take my gre test on or before march 31st, so can you please suggest me the studying tips as i am working and unable to go for any class room trainings.
    Thanks for your information


    • Chris Lele
      Chris Lele February 14, 2014 at 2:07 pm #

      Hi Haris,

      Well you’ve come to the right place :). So we’ve come up with these pretty helpful e-books, which we offer for free:

      Those guides will offer many study tips, everything from how to take apart a 3-blank Text Completion to the best study materials. Once you’ve gone through the book, let me know if you have any questions. I’d be happy to answer them :)!

  32. Charu February 2, 2014 at 11:04 am #

    Hi Chris,
    I am currently pursuing Msc degree and am planning to take up GRE on August 2014,I really have ample time to prepare but a lot scared to balance between academics and GRE.I have lost touch in Math as am basically from Computer science background, and am not that frequent reader too.Still, am very keen on learning and aiming for 320 or above.
    Could you suggest a way to kick start my preparation from fundamentals?


  33. Nelson January 12, 2014 at 8:50 pm #

    Hey Chrie, I am really stressed out because I just finished a heavy fall semester and I plan to enter graduate school for 2014. Their is no deadline for the admission but i want to send it in as soon as possible. If I register to take the exam in February, how do you think i will work out for me? I would like to take it later but then i dont want to complete my application late. Please help me in what you believe I should do.

    • Chris Lele
      Chris Lele February 4, 2014 at 1:40 pm #

      Sorry Nelson :(,

      This comment somehow got lost in the shuffle. But better late than never, hopefully :). So I say go ahead and register for the test this month. Just learning to prepare for the test and become more skilled at it will help, even if you don’t end up scoring that well (remember, you don’t have to send your scores to the schools). Of course if you do well, then you can apply this year. If you don’t do well, you’ll already have some GRE experience under your belt so you can retake the test and reapply next year.

      Good luck, and hope that helps!

  34. Abisha January 3, 2014 at 12:49 am #


    I am very confused on which study plan to follow. I gave a practice GRE test from Manhattan Prep Blog simulating actual test conditions and I have scored 155 in Quants and 152 in verbal . Will 3 month study plan be helpful for me to prepare for GRE? I haven’t booked my GRE dates yet .But I want to give my test by mid May 2014.

    Please help !!

    • Chris Lele
      Chris Lele January 3, 2014 at 10:26 am #

      Hi Abisha,

      Yes, the three-month study plan should work well for you, given how much time you have. If you find you are completing it before your test day, just take more practice tests. You can even repeat practice tests, esp. if there is a few months in between them. Just sitting through an ETS again is very helpful. If you need some other possible sources/problem sets you can “pick at” the 6-month plan for stuff you haven’t yet covered.

      Good luck!

    • TR May 8, 2014 at 8:56 pm #

      Those are good scores. Take it!

  35. siddharth December 11, 2013 at 1:25 pm #

    Hi ,

    Please let me know is it possible to get a good score in GRE just by preparing for 3 months.
    Am planning to give the exam by mid April 2014.

    sorry to post for the second time.(Am Freaking out T_T because of this limited time to prepare).

    Thanks and Regards,

    • Chris Lele
      Chris Lele December 12, 2013 at 11:32 am #

      Hi Siddharth,

      3 months is definitely enough time to improve by a significant number of points. A “good score” depends on the program. But as long as you can get close to 155 in both quant and verbal, you are in a good spot.

      This 3-month study guide should definitely help. It will tell you which resources to use and how to use them.

      Good luck!

      • Adam December 16, 2013 at 6:41 pm #


        I have been studying on and off for the past 2 months for the GRE. I scored 148 on the verbal and 143 on the Quantitative on the practice test on ETS. I am taking my actual test mid January and I was wondering if I could improve my score by 5 points each by that time. I have decided to use the Magoosh Prep and can spare up 6 hours a day on studying. Is this a realistic goal within this short time?

        • Chris Lele
          Chris Lele December 17, 2013 at 10:39 am #

          Hi Adam,

          I think that is definitely a realistic goal.

          At the same time the points won’t magically come just by following the path mentioned above. Make sure–in those 6 hours–to learn from your mistakes, and work at ways to constantly improve those areas in which you are struggling. That level of self-reflection is important. Some students will just watch hours of lesson videos, then do hundreds of questions, and never really look at where they are going wrong.

          Also, make sure that you do a few practice tests along the way to make sure you are increasing by a few points each time.

          Good luck!

  36. Hala November 21, 2013 at 5:49 pm #

    My Gre test is in 2 weeks from now and I’ve been studying for GRE for 3 months about 2 hrs every other day. the last time I did the ets exam i got 161 on the math section ( however when I attempt to solve the challenging questions you post i score around 60% but it takes me time to solve them). In addition to that I didn’t even attempt to take the English at that time ( since im not a native english speaker) ever since then I’ve been memorizing words and up till now they count to 300 words ( i heard its too little little)

    My concern is that I don’t feel ready at all for the exam I’m very scared of it( I tend to get really nervous in exams) , I heard once you score low on your first test it will effect your university acceptance even if you do well the second time, would you advice me to reschedule my test or should I give it a shot regardless.

    • Chris Lele
      Chris Lele November 22, 2013 at 4:54 pm #

      Hi Hala,

      Let me start off with the important part first: The first time you take the test–even if you decide to submit your score–does not have a greater weight than subsequent test scores. You can decide not to submit scores to a school, and submit only after the test. Basically, there is nothing to lose by taking the test once, but a lot to lose if you are worried about taking the test and keep pushing it out.

      So take the test once and think of it as a practice run. If you feel you’ve done well, accept your scores. Even if the scores aren’t great, don’t send them.

      As for vocab, I’d recommend about a 1,000 words. Have you seen our flashcards? Or our flashcard app?

      Finally, the math questions I write tend to be on the hard to the very hard side. So don’t feel discouraged :).

      Good luck!

      • Hala December 1, 2013 at 12:12 am #

        Thank you Chris 🙂 I needed a push !! I saw the flashcards they are very helpful indeed.

        My exam is in a day ( to my bad luck I just caught the flu) so I’m just going to take the test if I scored well then great if not then no big deal Ill just study harder for a month and repeat it (studying and helping out with a 2 year old and a newborn baby isn’t the easiest thing lol )

        Wish me luck 🙂

        • Chris Lele
          Chris Lele December 2, 2013 at 12:06 pm #

          Good luck Hala!

          Sorry you got the flu–but think of this as a trial run, one in which you get to see what it is like to take the test.

          And yes, I know how much time little ones can take up :).

  37. Jason November 5, 2013 at 6:40 am #


    I’ve been out of school for about 10 years now. I’m planning to do my Masters in Information Systems, but don’t know yet at which school.

    I’m a non-native English speaker, but completed my undergraduate program in the United States.

    I’m planning to start studying for the GRE by joining Magoosh. However, before I do so, I would like to know my baseline prior to any studying, so I can know where I’m standing.

    To do that, what practice test do you recommend? How should I get started with measuring my baseline?


    • Chris Lele
      Chris Lele November 5, 2013 at 10:42 am #

      Hi Jason,

      Good question!

      The best–and indeed some would say only–way to test your baseline is to use the PowerPrep tests. There are two of them. Use the first one for your baseline and the second one for right before you take the actual test.

      Good luck!

  38. JP September 10, 2013 at 3:17 am #

    Hello Magoosh Community,

    I am a VERY average student (not a great test taker) who has not studied in 4-5 years and I have scheduled my GRE Test 3 months out (DECEMBER 7TH = D DAY,) will this be enough time to prepare thoroughly using the Magoosh 90 Day plan? Or should I keep in mind that I may have to retake the test. My goal is to get into a top tier school. However, I would like to take the test once and move on with my life.

    Thank you.

    • Chris Lele
      Chris Lele September 10, 2013 at 10:54 am #

      Hi JP,

      Thanks for reaching out to us :)!

      The key is how you progress over the next three months. The 90-day plan is a great place to start. As you do practice tests make sure that you are steadily improving. If for any reason you are not, you can always send us a “support ticket” and we can troubleshoot ways to optimize a study schedule for you. The goal, of course, is that you don’t have to take the test again in 3 months :). To prevent them from happening, communicate with us frequently and we’ll help you get that top-tiered score :).

  39. Hannah September 9, 2013 at 12:10 pm #

    I graduated from college a few months ago. I decided that I wanted to go to grad school, but I didn’t start looking at schools and GRE materials until recently. I have purchased the magoosh premium package and also have ordered a few of the recommended texts.
    Most of the deadlines for my program are at the beginning of December and January.
    I have not signed up for the GRE yet because I am afraid that I will pick a date too early/too soon. Some schools say take the GRE 6 weeks before the deadline, but that doesn’t leave me much study time.
    I know I can be dedicated to studying, I just don’t know how to pick the right date.
    I’m looking at taking it Nov 1, but I don’ know if that’s too late, or if I can push it back and study more.
    Any suggestions?

  40. Sady May 16, 2013 at 10:12 am #

    Hi Chris

    I have been out of school and studies for about 9 years now. My job consumes about 60 hours a week, have a kid to look after, am a non-native English speaker and am out of loop from maths since high school.

    Considering the goal of a Neuroscience PhD in an Ivy league; how much time (in months and number of hours to be required per weekday and weekend) do you think will I be requiring to prepare for the GRE from scratch?


    • Chris Lele
      Chris Lele May 16, 2013 at 2:11 pm #

      Hi Sady,

      Well, you’ve come to the right place :). I commend your ambition (I have a little one at home too and know how much more difficult everything becomes :)). My advice is to definitely take it slow at first but be prepared for the long haul. In terms of hours a week, if you could squeeze in between 45 min to an hour a day, 4 days during the week, and about 4 hours scattered over the weekend, you’ll be in a good position. I discourage the weekend cram sessions, since you lose so much week to week.

      So let’s see…that works out to about 7-8 hours a week. At this pace, you should target anywhere between 3-6 months. That number depends on how quickly you get back into things after your study respite. Also, your baseline score is important. If you are already in the upper 150’s in both verbal and math, then getting to the mid-160’s (a good spot for an Ivy League Ph.D.) shouldn’t take too long.

      Check out our 3-month and our 6-month study plans. These will give you structure and guidance in the beginning–though you can tailor the plans to your needs once you’ve studied for awhile.

      Hope that helps, and good luck!

      • Sady May 16, 2013 at 2:16 pm #


        Thanks a lot for your detailed reply. This might sound dumb, but how can I know my baseline score?

        Thanks again and I really appreciate your help.


  41. mitul February 28, 2013 at 7:30 am #

    Hi Chris & Margarette,

    i am going to take GRE next week and i wanted to know how many question should i do correctly to get a score of 330+.

    thanks in advance..:)

    • Chris Lele
      Chris February 28, 2013 at 3:02 pm #

      Hi Mitul,

      That’s a laudable goal :). To get 330+, you can miss more questions on verbal than on quant, if you are going for a 165/165 split. I’d say you can miss about six questions on verbal and two questions on math and you should end up with a 330+.

      Hope that helps, and good luck!

  42. Sury October 15, 2012 at 2:34 am #

    Helli Chris,

    I just took the GRE after 1 month of prep (very hard to prep while working). I got 143V and 148Q. I am not happy with my results but retaking the GRE is difficult for me since the test center is very far from my location (I guess this is why I had a bad score, I went for the test after traveling 8 hours to reach the place and I was super tired!!!). I am trying to decide whether I should apply even with this score or should I retake it and how long should I study to improve this score?

    • Chris Lele
      Chris October 15, 2012 at 1:03 pm #

      Hi Sury,

      Just to be on the safe side, I would recommend that you study long enough so that you are comfortable scoring 150+V and 155+Q on an ETS practice test. That way, you can give yourself a little wiggle-room considering the lengthy travel time to the testing center.

      To get you started, you should look over our study guides. I’d recommend the 3-month plan, mainly because you have some experience with the test and it is a more sustainable plan than the 6-month plan (which takes an awful amount of commitment).

      Don’t hesitate to ask any questions. I definitely want to help you break 300 test day :).

    • siddhant October 26, 2012 at 6:10 am #

      I am applying to a MPH course. They require minimum GRE scores of 295 odd.. 295-300.

  43. D October 11, 2012 at 7:16 pm #

    I took the GRE back in January and scored a 330 (163Q, 167V) and 4.5 writing. Do you think retaking it would be at all worthwhile? I’m disappointed mostly with the 4.5, and raising that score seems possible as I took the test on three hours of nervous sleep and had hardly prepared for the AW section (and consequently got steamrolled by the time limit). The rest of my grad school application is of inconsistent strength. At this point, is a higher GRE score (in any section) even feasible, and if so would it be significant to adcoms? (A no to the latter wouldn’t necessarily be a dealbreaker, it’d just mean I’d have to admit I’d be retaking it entirely for my own ego. Which I’m not totally opposed to, as long it wouldn’t be futile. And I’m aware that I may be a gigantic tool for even asking this question.)

    • Chris Lele
      Chris October 12, 2012 at 4:02 pm #

      Hi D.,

      I would definitely retake it :). Even if your other scores tank, you don’t even have to submit them. The key is doing well on your AWA. For competitive programs a 4.5 just doesn’t cut it (esp., as you noted, the rest of your app is inconsistent).

      Basically go through the topic pool on Arguments and Issues on the ETS site. Practice brainstorming/outlining, plus actually writing the essay under time conditions. During the process let me know if you have any questions.

      As for the V and Q scores, I don’t think scoring even higher would make too much of a difference. That is not to say that a perfect score doesn’t have that wow factor. Still, you are a competitive candidate with your current scores.

  44. Rohit Chawda October 10, 2012 at 9:37 am #

    I’ve already taken it 15 days ago scored just 301 (V139, Q162). Right now dedicated just for GRE, how soon do you think I should retake the test ?

    (I am planning to apply for Fall’13)

    • Chris Lele
      Chris October 10, 2012 at 1:58 pm #


      That depends on where you hope to score on the verbal section. If you want to score close to 150V that will take awhile of diligent and focused prep. You may want to take a look at our different study plans (I think that the 3-month plan–given you hope to apply in Fall–would probably suit you best).

      Also, remember to take practice tests (pick up a copy of the 2nd. Edition Official Guide). This book offers 4 tests. Space them out and make sure you are improving and getting closer to the 150-level. It will be tough, but following a study guide should definitely help.

      Good luck!

  45. Craig October 3, 2012 at 12:37 pm #

    Chris. I take my test Friday. What is the most important things I should remembe for the test?

    1. Formulas?
    2. Time management strategies?
    3. When to skip and when to stop and think of the formula I know for a question?

    This is my last post possibly ever. Whatever my score, knowing I didn’t have to take the test. I felt it would have been a great idea to improve my score. Thanks for all the help. I have told people about your site and by telling them, You grade all of the books, and I have told people to just look at your blog. Keep up the good work for a future PHD such as myself. Regards, Craig.

  46. BBV October 3, 2012 at 11:17 am #

    What if you already took it but it’s been 9 months since you studied and haven’t cracked anything open since.

    • Margarette Jung
      Margarette October 3, 2012 at 2:57 pm #

      How did you do the first time? If you did okay and you just want to improve your score by a few points, 3 months or so should be sufficient! If you had a terrible time of it during your first try, then it may be worth studying for about 6 months.

      Does that help? 🙂

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