How to Study for the GRE in Two Months

With 2 months to prepare a study plan for the GRE, you can think about dividing your GRE study time into two parts. During the first month of your GRE study plan, focus on mastering the strategic approaches to each type of question on the GRE, as well as the vocabulary and math content knowledge you’ll need to get questions correct. During the second month of your GRE study plan, focus on answering questions more quickly by doing timed practice. Also, challenge yourself with tougher questions.

[ RELATED: 1-Month GRE Study Plan & 3-Month GRE Study Plan ]

GRE Exam Structure

The GRE exam is structured into three sections.

  1. Verbal Reasoning: This section gauges your ability to analyze written material, interpret information, and understand the concepts presented.
  2. Quantitative Reasoning: In this section, your problem-solving skills using mathematical concepts and techniques are put to the test.
  3. Analytical Writing: This section assesses your critical thinking and analytical writing skills.

In addition, you will see one of the following sections:

How To Start Studying for the GRE

Get your own copy of Kaplan’s 2-Month Study Plan for the GRE

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 GRE 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 if 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 on their website. Kaplan Test Prep offers proctored free GRE practice tests online; you can sign up anytime to get your initial score. Kaplan’s Smart Reports provide you with detailed breakdowns of your strengths and opportunities for improvement, as well as comprehensive answer explanations.

Don’t cram your studying into full-day weekend sessions; you’ll burn out if you try. You need to give yourself enough time to learn, practice, assess, and learn again. Also, Set a target score for the GRE. If you’ve got a target score, you’re more likely to monitor your own progress and stay motivated to follow your plan.

Laura Aitcheson, Kaplan GRE Expert

Step 2: Set Your Study Schedule

There’s always the danger of procrastinating when you’re studying for the GRE, and when you only have 2 months to study procrastinating even a little can make a big difference in how well you study. Before you know it, the test will be a week away—and then tomorrow! Don’t let Test Day take you by surprise.

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

Block out time to take four more full-length practice tests. Take your second practice test (after the initial diagnostic test) a month before your GRE and then each week after that, taking the last practice test 1 week before Test Day. 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 Study Plan

How should you study? An effective approach is to first use a resource such as a GRE book or GRE prep 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.

It’s important to allow your study plan to develop over time. You’ll need to make adjustments based on how you do on your GRE practice tests; if you’re consistently scoring well on certain sections, focus your efforts on sections that aren’t as strong. 

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

Focus mostly on material that is (a) difficult for you and (b) most often tested. On the Quantitative section, for example, many questions require you to solve for the value of a variable, so if you are uncomfortable manipulating equations and inequalities to isolate a variable, you will have trouble throughout the section. Combinatorics questions may be tough for you, too, but combinations and permutations do not appear on the test nearly as often as algebraic manipulation, so you should focus on the content with the higher payoff.

Paula, Kaplan GRE Expert

GRE Two Month Study Plan Samples

Here are two sample study plans:

GRE StudentJessicaMichael
Goals:Wants 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.
Baseline scores:148 Quantitative, 150 Verbal148 Quantitative, 150 Verbal
Week 1Practice test + review (6.5 hours), 4 days studying x 1.5 hours per day (6 hours)Practice test + review (6.5 hours), 2 GRE prep classes x 2.5 hours (5 hours), 2 days studying x 1.5 hours per day (3 hours)
Week 25 days studying x 1.5 hours per day (7.5 hours)2 GRE prep classes x 2.5 hours (5 hours), 3 days studying x 1.5 hours per day (4.5 hours)
Week 35 days studying x 1.5 hours per day (7.5 hours)2 GRE prep classes x 2.5 hours (5 hours), 3 days studying x 1.5 hours per day (4.5 hours)
Week 4Very busy at work! 2 days studying x 1.0 hours per day (2 hours)2 GRE prep classes x 2.5 hours (5 hours), 3 days studying x 1.5 hours per day (4.5 hours)
Week 5Practice test + review (6.5 hours), 4 days studying x 1.5 hours per day (6 hours)Practice test + review (6.5 hours), Family Vacation!
Week 6Practice test + review (6.5 hours), 4 days studying x 1.5 hours per day (6 hours)Practice test + review (6.5 hours), 4 days studying x 1.5 hours per day (6 hours)
Week 7Practice test + review (6.5 hours), 4 days studying x 1.5 hours per day (6 hours)Practice test + review (6.5 hours), 4 days studying x 1.5 hours per day (6 hours)
Week 8Practice test + review (6.5 hours), 4 days studying x 1.5 hours per day (6 hours)Practice test + review (6.5 hours), 4 days studying x 1.5 hours per day (6 hours)
Day Before the GRENothing!Nothing!
Total Study Time79.5 Hours, 5 Practice Tests87 Hours, 8 GRE prep classes, 5 Practice Exams

Step 4: Rock That Test!

Feel nervous? Just remind yourself that thanks to all the hard work you’ve put in, you are ready for the GRE. Make sure to read our last-minute tips before taking the GRE and learn more about how to interpret your GRE score.