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An efficient schedule for GRE preparation

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In any test preparation, having a good schedule is key to your success on the actual test day. It not only provides structure, but also allows you to vary your schedule if you notice some lacking areas. Below is a possible outline that works for most students. Because needs will vary on an individual basis, the following provides only a rough guide. It would be best to examine this and adapt it based on your specific needs.

The best first step would be to take a practice test. This will help you assess where you stand and what areas you should focus on. Depending on where you stand, you will figure out where you should spend the bulk of your time in your review. [For those who have been out of school for a while, I recommend skipping this step and focusing on the fundamentals -- the reason being that there are only so many practice tests, and it is more worth your time to save them for when you are ready to take them.]

Next, build up your fundamentals. For the Verbal, this really boils down mostly to flashcards. I recommend the “Common Decks” in the Magoosh App. Reading comprehension is typically the hardest to improve upon, and there is no easy way around it. Practice makes perfect here.

For the math, focus on sections with which you are most uncomfortable. Students often find trouble with probability and sequences. Reviewing these concepts in the beginning of any practice book and doing practice questions will help solidify your understanding. As with the reading comprehension, after this step, it really comes down to practice. First work on getting the questions right, and then worry later about time.

After you feel comfortable with the basics, start doing practice sections. The best resource is the official ETS practice books (Verbal and Quantitative Sections). For students aiming for a 170 on the quant, do the “Advanced Quant” section in the back of the Manhattan Prep 5 lb. book. The key is to review afterwards and really understand why you got certain questions incorrect; this is where the bulk of improvement happens.

After the section-based prep, it is time to do the actual practice tests. The best resource here would be the official ETS practice tests. [You can purchase this along with the practice section books on Amazon as a bundle.] Try to pace yourself to do these tests evenly before your exam date (i.e. if you have one month, do one test a week). As before, make sure you review your errors.

Lastly, the last two tests to take would be the online ETS tests that you get for free when you sign up. These are the most accurate representations. As they are the last in your chain of preparation, these should reflect your progress and serve as confidence builders.

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