How to Study the Day Before the GRE

We often hear students talking about their plans for the day before GRE Test Day—studying, cramming, doing practice problems all night. With weeks of studying under your belt, you’ll feel the pressure to make the most of that final 24 hours before heading to the testing center.
So, what’s the best way to spend your time the day before the exam so as to ensure optimal performance? We bet you don’t know.

Last-minute prep for GRE Test Day

Let’s try a brief quiz. Select any of the answers below that you think might apply.
The day/night before my GRE exam, I should…

  • A. Study all the topics I haven’t mastered yet
  • B. Take a GRE practice test
  • C. Go through my vocab flash cards until my eyes bleed
  • D. Rest and relax—see a movie, go for a walk, do something calming
  • E. Gather all of my materials (ID, snacks, etc.) for test day
  • F. Get a haircut, start a diet, or make another exciting life change
  • G. Have an early bedtime
  • H. Re-read all my GRE study materials, take notes, and study for as many hours as possible

The correct answers are D, E, and G. Resting, making sure you have everything ready to go for the next day, and getting to bed early will all set you up for success on GRE Test Day.
You won’t benefit from cramming the day before and are far better served by getting into a relaxed, positive, and mellow frame of mind so that your mental energy is at its peak. Just like runners who take the day off before a big race, you’ll be raring to go and full of endurance.

Cramming for the GRE does not work

What’s wrong with answers A, B, C, and H? Cramming, stressing, or trying to learn topics that you haven’t mastered yet will only exhaust you mentally and won’t make a measurable difference in your score.
The best way to make significant gains in your GRE score is to commit to studying for the amount of time it takes to familiarize yourself with the material, identify your weak areas, and build your test-taking skills. If you’ve done the groundwork of strategic GRE prep in the weeks prior, last-minute studying shouldn’t be necessary.

Stick to your routine

What about option F? Why not get a haircut, start a diet, or make a major life change? You don’t want to undertake any new projects, changes, or stressors right before your test. Likewise, if you’re not a coffee drinker, don’t start the week or day of your exam—it will just give you jitters.
Keep things steady and consistent so that you can produce similar results to those you have been achieving on your practice tests.