How to Study for the GRE in One Month

In order to study for the GRE in a month and see a significant score improvement, you will need to use your time very efficiently. Studying for the GRE in a month requires commitment and concentration. First, you need to know what your strengths and weaknesses are on the GRE. Then, you need to target your weaknesses while also building on your strengths.

RELATED: 2-Month GRE Study Plan ]

GRE Study Essentials

Before you get started, you’ll need to identify and gather your study materials. Here are some we recommend:
  • POWERPREP Test Preview Tool

    The POWERPREP Test Preview Tool is a free overview of the GRE, accessible through your ETS account. You’ll be given information about the structure of the GRE, question types you’ll see, and tools available to you on test day.

  • Full-Length Practice Tests

    ETS’ POWERPREP Online provides two free practice tests that simulate the actual GRE, including time limits, navigation from page to page, using the on-screen calculator, and changing answers within a question. POWERPREP Online also includes one free untimed practice test. 
    Taking a practice test at the beginning of your GRE prep is an excellent way to gauge what you need to work on. Kaplan has a free GRE practice test that comes with a score analysis and answers and explanations for every question. Manhattan Prep has a free full-length GRE Practice Exam as well. 

  • ScoreItNow! Online Writing Practice

    The ScoreItNow! Online Writing Practice is an ETS tool providing immediate essay scoring using ETS e-rater technology. You’ll have initial access to 2 writing topics, and then an additional 6. 

  • Practice Questions

    Kaplan’s Adaptive GRE Qbank saves you time with targeted questions (over 2500) and adjusts to your skill level as you work. With in-depth explanations, you’ll learn from your mistakes and raise your score.

  • Online calendar

    An online calendar can be a great tool for keeping track of and accessing your personal study plan from anywhere. Plus, you can share your calendar with others so they know your schedule and can help you stay on track.

  • Take a Class

    If the idea of studying and making a schedule completely on your own seems daunting, consider signing up for a class. Working with a set schedule and expert instructors can help you stay focused and keep you motivated. Kaplan offers a variety of GRE Courses to fit your schedule and learning style. Both In Person and Live Online class sessions cover the strategies and skills needed to succeed on the GRE, and the courses’ study plans help you decide what you should study, when to take practice tests, and how to pull it all together for Test Day.

Step 1: Take a Free Practice Test

Take a full-length, realistic practice test to find out what your Quantitative and Verbal scores are now. Ideally, the test results will include not just your scores but also information about what types of questions you did well on and which ones gave you trouble. This information will help you design your study plan.

Another benefit of taking a practice test is that you will become familiar with the test’s format and timing. Then as you study, you will know exactly how you’ll use what you’re learning to ace test questions. This is highly motivating!

You will also be able to review the test, and reading the explanations of every question will reinforce what you did right and help you understand your mistakes. Research shows that being tested on material not only measures your performance but actually helps you learn.

Take the practice test under conditions as similar as possible to those you will experience on Test Day, without distractions or interruptions. Schedule 1 hour 58 minutes to take the test if you write the essay and 1 hour 28 minutes you choose to skip the essay. Also plan to invest at least 1.5 hours in reviewing the test later the same day or in the next day or two.

The GRE testmaker, ETS, offers two free practice tests with its POWERPREP® II software at Kaplan Test Prep offers proctored free practice tests online as well. Kaplan’s Smart Reports provide you with detailed breakdowns of your strengths and opportunities for improvement, as well as comprehensive answer explanations.

Step 2: Set Your GRE Study Schedule

Studying most days of the week will improve your score more than studying one or two days a week. Many students find that studying for 5 days a week in three 30-minute segments, for an hour and a half each day, helps them make significant progress. Because your GRE is in a month, try to study for five 30-minute segments, or two and a half hours a day, to maximize your score gain.

In addition, if vocabulary is an area you have targeted for improvement, plan to carry flashcards (physical cards or a phone app) with you and work on GRE vocab throughout the day.

Block out time to take two more full-length practice tests, 2 weeks and 1 week before the GRE. Take practice tests to measure your progress, become more familiar with the test’s timing and format, and build your mental endurance. After each test, invest at least 1.5 hours in reviewing the answer explanations.

Schedule your study time and practice tests on your calendar and then keep those appointments with yourself. The same way you show up for class or work on time, you are going to “show up” for GRE studying on time.

Step 3: Develop Your GRE Study Plan

How should you study? An effective approach is to first use a resource such as a GRE book or class to learn some strategies or content and then follow up by practicing what you just learned with test-like questions. Applying what you learn right away to the types of questions you’ll see on Test Day will help you solidify your knowledge so it sticks with you. Kaplan’s Prep Plus book includes a 500-question Quiz Bank, and the full Quiz Bank contains over 2,500 test-like questions for GRE practice. You can use it to target specific content areas and question types at the right difficulty level for you.

What should you study? That depends on the results of your practice test! For the next three weeks, focus on material that is (a) difficult for you and (b) most often tested. On the Quantitative section, for example, exponents and radicals appear in arithmetic, algebra, and geometry questions, so if you are not sure how to work with these numbers, you will have trouble throughout the section. Probability questions may be tough for you, too, but probability does not appear on the test nearly as often as exponents and radicals, so you should focus on the content with the higher payoff.

During the last week before your test, emphasize your strengths. For example, if you get most Reading Comprehension questions correct, then practice Reading Comp several times this week to boost your confidence and ensure that you can count on this skill.

Sample Study Plans for the GRE

Here are two sample study plans:
GRE StudentJessicaMichael
GoalsWants to earn a master’s degree in nursing from a major public university. Her target scores are 154 Quantitative, 154 Verbal.Wants to earn a PhD in economics from a top national program. His target scores are 166 Quantitative, 158 Verbal.
Diagnostic Scores148 Quantitative, 150 Verbal155 Quantitative, 152 Verbal
Week 1Practice Test + Review (6.5 Hours), Study 4 Days × 1.5 Hours/Day (6 Hours)Practice Test + Review (6.5 Hours), Class 2 days × 2.5 hours (5 Hours), Study 3 days × 2.5 hr/day (7.5 Hours)
Week 2Study 5 Days × 1.5 Hours/Day (7.5 Hours)Class 2 days × 2.5 hours (5 Hours), Study 3 days × 2.5 hr/day (7.5 Hours)
Week 3Practice Test + Review (6.5 Hours), Study 4 days × 1.5 Hour/Day (6 Hours)Practice Test + Review (6.5 Hours), Class 2 Days × 2.5 Hours (5 Hours), Study 3 Days × 2.5 Hours/Day (7.5 Hours)
Week 4Practice Test + Review (6.5 Hours), Study 4 Days × 1.5 Hour/Day (6.0 Hours)Practice Test + Review (6.5 Hours), Class 2 Days × 2.5 Hours (5 Hours), Study 3 Days × 2.5 Hours/Day (7.5 Hours)
Day Before the TestNothing!Nothing!

Step 4: Rock The GRE!

Feel nervous? Just remind yourself that thanks to all the hard work you’ve put in, you are ready for the GRE. Need more last-minute tips before your GRE? We’ve got you covered. And don’t forget to learn more about the GRE Analytical Writing Assessment.