Effective Strategies for the GRE Test to Follow | GRE Syllabus

Tips To Prepare for the GRE Test


The Graduate Records Examinations (GRE test) is a standardized test. Now that you have prepared as well as you could for GRE test now the next step is to see the amount of time left to give the GRE and prepare accordingly. It’s important to know what to expect from the test. This includes the administrative procedures, types of questions and directions, approximate number of questions and amount of time for each section. Time management is very crucial in these kinds of tests, as they could make or break your GRE results.

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GRE test


Passing the GRE test with flying colours doesn’t only depend on conquering the Math and Verbal part of the GRE exam. You will have to go through the whole GRE syllabus at least once. An overall preparation is needed, which includes knowing about the administrative procedures as well. This includes registration and appointment scheduling, date, time, test centre location, cost, score-reporting procedures and more. We will expand on this in our later sections. If you have knowledge of everything that concerns the GRE test then you will know exactly what to do and when and there won’t be any last minute surprises as well.



The first and foremost thing you need to know is being thorough with the test content. It’s important to familiarise yourself with the content of each and everything. There are three parts to the GRE prep which is the Verbal reasoning, quantitative reasoning and analytical reasoning. Here are some tips to prepare for the GRE test:


1) Verbal Reasoning:

This part of the exam is to analyse and assess your ability to evaluate the written material and understand the information obtained from it. You will need to analyze relationships among component parts of sentences and recognize relationships among words and concepts. In verbal reasoning also there are three types of questions:

  • Reading Comprehension- This is designed to test a wide range of abilities that are required in order to read and understand the kinds of prose commonly encountered in graduate school. These may include more than just a passive understanding of the text given. This requires active engagement with the syllabus, asking questions, formulating and evaluating hypotheses. One must also reflect on the relationship of the particular text to other texts and information.
  • Text Completion- Text Completion questions are meant to test the students ability by removing crucial words from short passages. After which the student is asked to use the remaining information in the passage as a basis for selecting words or short phrases. And then the student is to fill the blanks and create a coherent, meaningful whole. One should rephrase that seem to complete the sentence.
  • Sentence Equivalence- This part of verbal reasoning tests the ability to reach a conclusion about how a passage should be completed on the basis of some information. Question structure consists of a single sentence, one blank and six answer choices.


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2) Quantitative Reasoning:

The quantitative reasoning part of your GRE syllabus tests your basic mathematical skills, understanding of elementary concepts. It also tests your ability to reason quantitatively and to model and solve problems with quantitative methods. Some of the questions are posed in real life settings while others are in mathematical settings. Many of the questions are “word problems,” which must be translated and modelled mathematically. There are majorly four content areas arithmetic, algebra, geometry and data analysis. The content in all these areas includes high school mathematics and statistics at a level that is generally no higher than the second course in algebra. It does not include trigonometry, calculus or other higher-level mathematics.

There are majorly four question types in quantitative reasons in your GRE syllabus. There are quantitative comparison questions, multiple choice questions and numeric entry questions.

3) Analytical writing:

This part of your GRE test tests your analytical skills and critical thinking. This part assesses a students ability to articulate and support complex ideas. It also assesses the students on their ability to construct and evaluate arguments, and sustain a focused and discussion. Even the most confident writers should actually prepare the analytical writing part before arriving at the test centre. These tasks are supposed to measure a broad range of subjects. From the fine arts and humanities to the social and physical sciences. However, they don’t require knowledge of specific content.

Below are some GRE test tips also for analytical writing:

  • It’s important to divide your time and work. You will need to allow sufficient time to consider the specific instructions, plan a response and compose your essay.
  • Save some time at the end of the test to revise. Although an occasional spelling or grammatical error will not affect your score, serious and persistent errors will detract from the overall effectiveness of your writing and lower your score accordingly.
  • Review scoring guideline for each task and work accordingly.  This will give you a deeper understanding of how raters evaluate essays and the elements they’re looking for in an essay.

GRE test

Generic tips to face the GRE exam:

1. Study smarter, not harder: Use a system, set a schedule and follow it to actually get better at GRE. Just doing mindless studying is not a good idea. GRE practice tests are a great way to actually get better at studying and develop a systematic approach to studying. Also, different students learn better when they write things down and others are more auditory learners. So, figure out what method works best for you and follow that. Look back at successful study habits from college can be helpful in determining your learning strengths and creating a solid study plan.


2. Make a list of prospective universities: Before you end your test, you will be asked to choose four universities where you can send your results for free. Don’t wait till that end moment after you are shown the list of universities along with the respective countries and states. Normal students will start thinking about their universities at that time, but act like a pro and figure it ours before reaching the test centre. You must already have some prospective universities that you must be aiming for, search for them online and remember the country/state they are in. This will save your time during the test to give your list to the computer.



3. Be confident: After you have studied with all your might and there’s nothing else you can do then just be confident. Don’t let doubts cloud your mind and judgment. Believe in yourself. Finding the right mental composure before such an important test is crucial. This helps you to ace your paper with good grades.

4. Visit the test centre one day before: In order to avoid any last minute surprises, visit the test centre one day before to prepare yourself. You will know how long it will actually take you to reach there and you will be able to figure out the best route to take as well. If you’re taking a bus or the metro then check schedules before going. It’s better to reach early than to reach late.

5. Know the GRE format at the back of your hand: Give as many GRE practice tests as you want before the actual exam. This is better than mindless cramming as it helps you understand the exam pattern, the time structure needed to complete the paper and some old questions might even actually be there on your GRE exam!

6. Read the rules of the GRE test beforehand: Since you have done as much prep as you could with respect to your studies, then it also makes sense to actually go through the exam rules once or twice before giving the exam. Use the ETS GRE PowerPrep II software, it will help you with the tutorial guidelines. These will be the exact same guidelines you will see on the test the next day. This will help you mentally prepare for what you will go through the next day, so there won’t be anything new just before the test.

7. Eat well: We often avoid our parents nagging about healthy eating and exercise, but you might actually want to follow their advice. The right food helps your brain retain more information and especially on the day of the test, eat light and healthy. You don’t want to feel groggy in the middle of the test after gorging on that heavy cheeseburger. Have some salad and juice instead.

8. Take practice tests regularly: In order to know your weakness and then work at it, it’s imperative to take some practice tests regularly. This will help you to ace your time-management skills and also to actually get better scores with every test.

9. Don’t cram just before the test: Never study new topics just before the test. It’s a bad idea. Not only does it demotivate you, but you actually don’t learn anything anyway. It’s better to keep your usual notes handy and just revise in the morning before leaving home. Maintain your composure and everything will go well.

10. Give yourself a break throughout the day too: Don’t spend the entire day studying or cramming. Give some break to your mind and body by stretching, doing some yoga, going for a walk or just taking a power nap. You will be surprised to see how much that helps.

11. Try to get a good sleep before the GRE exam: Don’t be up all night for the test the next day, this leads to underconfidence and you might even forget what you have already learnt. Get a good night’s sleep before the day of the exam and wake up early if you have to. The mind is a lot more active after it gets a good night’s sleep. So, don’t neglect your sleep either.

12. Learn and remember all the math formulae– keep all the math formulas noted down in one sheet or on cue cards and keep going through them during your studying days. This will help you imbibe all the important formulas and you won’t forget anything at the last moment.

13. Don’t let the AWA affect you: The AWA will be the first section that you will face in your GRE test. Don’t let the AWA section set the tone for the rest of the test. Sometimes AWA goes great, and you’ll feel extremely confident about the remaining sections. So, stay unaffected by the result. Remember; you are the one who sets the tone, not the AWA.

14. Don’t rush: Time management is important, but there are no extra marks for completing the test early. So, pace yourself and read the questions carefully. Try to stay inside the testing centre for the full 3 hours and 45 minutes. Even while preparing for the GRE test, be mentally prepared to finish the exam in the stipulated time only and not before that. There’s a reason that the GRE exam is this long, spend time reading and answering the questions. Leave half an hour, in the end, to also revise your answers.

15. Don’t get stuck: It’s easy to get stuck at a question you don’t know the answer to. The tendency is to keep reading it over and over and think that’s the answer. Divide the available time into three innings (15+10+5 minutes of a total of 30 for Verbal and 15+10+10 minutes of a total of 35 for Math). Start off and solve as many questions as you can during the first innings, without getting stuck at the troubled questions. This helps you understand the urgency of the situation and you won’t find yourself wasting time on difficult questions.

16. Ask for an additional scratch paper: Use that scratch paper to its full potential and don’t shy away from asking from it. Your effectiveness on the GRE depends on how well you use the scratch paper. Remember that one of the most underrated but important test day tips is knowing how to effectively use the scratch paper on the GRE.

That’s all folks. 

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Nikita is one of the main authors at EDUopinions, specialised in Higher Education and focused on business studies analysis. She is a digital nomad who works while travelling.

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