It’s always best to prepare for big exams as early as possible but that might not always be an option. Whether the decision to take the GRE was made later in the year or life just simply got in the way, it’s not too late to get ready for the big exam even as little as two weeks prior to the big day. Test takers can use this simple two-week guide to get fully prepared to take the GRE.
Week 1 – Familiarize Yourself With Each Section
When preparing for the exam only two weeks prior to test day, you should give yourself at least two hours at least five days a week. You’ll accumulate at least 10 hours of study time each week. Plan and schedule these study sessions including what you will review each day. Break up your week by going over different subjects, spending about an hour on each one:
Day 1: General Test (including timing, testing and scoring tactics), math (arithmetic and algebra). Finish up day with about 10 minutes of vocabulary study. Just a few minutes a day will help you memorize a few words prior to test day.
Day 2: One hour on the Geometry, Data Analysis and Quantitative Comparison sections, followed by one hour on Reading Comprehension.
Day 3: Practice writing and English tests as well as more vocabulary study.
Day 4: Take a full-length practice exam to see where you stand in each section. Don’t skip any sections and do it all in one sitting to fully prepare for the actual exam day.
Day 5: Review your practice test results. Depending on which resource you use to take this practice test, you should be able to review them not just by section but a breakdown of each question so you can see the correct answers and determine the areas in which you need to focus your studying on. Spend some extra time reviewing study material for the areas you came up short in and finish the day by reviewing more vocabulary words.
Week 2 – Hone In On The Areas You Most Need To Study
While Week 1 was a great opportunity to familiarize yourself with the overall test and section requirements, it’s now time to focus more in detail on the areas you lack as well as building on the strengths you may already have. Again, you’ll want to be studying for at least two hours a day for five days. Break up your second week something like this to fully maximize your study time and get as prepared as you can:
Day 1: Take practice questions, not going through the full practice exam as you did in Week 1 but instead focusing on specific areas, particularly those in which you found you needed extra help. Spend almost two hours going over questions, testing your knowledge and studying more followed by some more vocabulary review.
Day 2 and 3: These should pretty much be the same as Day 1, taking practice tests and studying different subjects as needed. However, it’s important not to focus all your energy on one area, even if you feel it’s the one subject you need the most help in. Practice and study your stronger subjects as well, especially since these are probably the areas you need to perform well at for your graduate program.
Day 4: Just like Week 1-Day 4, sit down and take a full practice exam, all in one sitting, just as if you were taking the real thing. This will get you prepared for the upcoming exam only a few days away now.
Day 5: Review your results from the full practice exam and do some last-minute studying on the topics you might still be having trouble with. At this point, you can skip the vocabulary review since it’s kind of late to try and add new words. Focus on the subject knowledge study and getting enough rest before test day.
If you choose to study more than the recommended two hours and/or five days a week, remember to hone in on the areas where you feel you need help, whether they be subjects you’re struggling with or areas you know your ideal school will expect you to excel at.
Whatever you do, whether you study five or seven days a week, two or several hours a day, make sure you stop the night before the test well enough in advance to clear your head, relax and get a good night’s sleep. Cramming the evening before your big test won’t help in your overall performance as much as a well-rested mind.