How to Prepare for the GRE General Test

You have decided that you want to go to Graduate school. And while you are excited about having a student life and getting groomed for the corporate world, you have to crack the GRE first. It is a prerequisite for the application process and it might well be the redeeming factor for having a shot at your dream school.

GRE or Graduate Record Examination is a test required of most graduate applicants for admission into US schools. The exam tests vocabulary, reading, logical thinking, problem solving and math skills.

Here are some tips to help you get started and do your best on the test.


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    Decide when you want to take the test. You can work on a study plan based on how much time you have for preparation. Ideally you’ll need at least a couple of months. Also ensure that you schedule the test allowing time to re-take it if needed.
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    Understand the test format and acquaint yourself to the different test patterns and sections.
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    Start out by practicing a couple of tests without timing yourself.
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    Note the sections you spend the most time for and start working to improve on them.
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    Invest in a GRE study book and use it. There are many, so read some reviews and browse around a bookstore until you find one you like.
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    Set aside some time every day for the preparation. Do not let anything or anyone disturb you during that time.
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    Make a timetable to complete a section of the syllabus each day.
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    Get a lot of practice. You have to get used to sitting and testing for over four hours so you won’t be in for any surprises on the day of the test.
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    Search the web for resources. You will find many practice questions.
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    Keep yourself motivated. Track your success with another test taking friend to keep yourself going if you are the kind of person that needs an extra push.
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    Sleep well. A well-rested body and mind has the capability to learn and retain more information.
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    Remember that learning and preparation should be fun. Have confidence in yourself; take breaks in between study times and enjoy the entire process.


  • Use the context of the sentence. If the sentence implies that you're looking for a positive word, then your answer should be a positive word also.
  • Read ALL of the choices before you pick an answer.

Quantitative Tips

  • Answer based on the reading. Do not use existing knowledge on a given topic to answer the questions. Remember, the directions say to choose the best answer and not correct answer.
  • Look at the display time on the computer occasionally and pace yourself accordingly.
  • Remember to eat a healthy breakfast, drink plenty of fluids and dress comfortably on exam day.
  • Use an essay template. The Issue Essay should include a summary of the argument, a summary of the opposing side and at least three points supporting your argument choice. The Argument Essay you are evaluating should include conclusion, premises, and assumptions. Practice writing sample essay questions, especially if you have not done thesis style writing or have not done it lately.

Verbal Analogies Tips

  • Look for the parts of speech of the words. The answer choice words should have the same parts of speech as the ones in the question.

Verbal Sentence Completion Tips

  • Get rid of answers that don't match your words.
  • Do not learn the content. You don't have to understand the passage to get the main idea of the article. Your ability to comprehend the material is tested here.
  • Be clear about basic math vocabulary (words like LCM, HCF, integers, etc.).
  • Use the scratch paper for calculations.
  • Pack your exam materials (identification, pencils, directions, etc.) and arrive early at the test site to reduce stress.
  • If the sentence has more than one blank, make sure all the blanks fit in correctly.

Verbal Antonyms Tips

  • Do not assume anything until it is explicitly stated.

Analytical Tips

  • Use the process of elimination in finalizing an answer choice when you are not sure. Eliminate any answers you know are wrong, then take your best guess as to which of the remaining choices are correct.
  • Come up with your own opposite. Eliminate answers that do not fit in with the mood of the word.

Verbal Reading Comprehension

  • Schedule the test for a day and time that work best for you.
  • Use reverse calculation or logic to eliminate unrealistic answers.
  • Learn word lists early in the morning. That's believed to help you remember the words longer. Also concentrate on word lists starting with A, P, S, R, T, and C if you are short on time.
  • Determine the relationship between the two words and use it in a sentence.
  • Get to the word etymology if you have a hard time remembering the word’s meaning. Try to read the word in context and use it.
  • Come up with your own words for each blank without looking at the answers.
  • Look for common relationships: part to whole, cause to effect, person to occupation, word to definition, and synonyms.
  • Review:
    • Statistics (averages, mean, median, mode, range)
    • geometry (triangles, area, perimeter, circles, Pythagorean Theorem)
    • exponents, factorials, fractions, inequalities, proportions
    • order of operations (ODMAS-brackets, division, multiplication, addition, subtraction)
    • permutations, probability
    • quadratic equations, ratios, roots
  • Use abbreviations for names, colors etc.
  • Be prepared with the CAT computer format.
  • Read the GRE website [1] thoroughly and carefully. It includes a wealth of information about what to expect on the test.

General Tips


  • It’s easy to get off the track or discouraged if you lagging behind schedule. But you can always continue working harder to catch up to speed.
  • Do not let the idea of retesting come to your mind often. It’ll send you to a lax mode.
    • Additionally, shy away from taking the GRE itself for practice; there are many preparation materials available for free and for purchase that simulate the testing environment. While a new feature of the GRE allows you to send only your best scores to your schools of choice, the GRE is only one facet of your candidacy for admission and scholarships/funding opportunities.

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Categories: Tests and Exams