GRE: How to Start Preparing?

One of the most common questions asked by MS aspirants is that how should they start studying for the GRE. Like any other examination, GRE requires thorough preparations and familiarity with the question types you are going to be asked always helps. GRE generally requires two to three months of preparation time but it varies with individual cases. You can prepare even faster if you wish.

First thing before starting preparation is to get be familiar with the GRE pattern. [All About GRE provides details about everything you wanna know about the exam]. Go through the various sections and the question types tested during the examination. Take a mock test and analyze your score. You may have scored less but don't worry, you still have to start your preparations. If you get a good score in initial mocks, you still have to work hard for the final GRE.

Now, get into the exam mode. You have to start serious preparations. Start by taking a Barron's book. Go through the word lists. Take up 1-3 word-lists a day depending on the time you have. Revise each word-list of previous days, before proceeding with new ones. Mark the words you find difficult and pay special attention to them daily. Also, make flash cards of these words and keep them with you always. You can take out these flash cards multiple times a day. If you have about 3 months or more for the GRE, I would also suggest you to go through 'Word Power Made Easy' by Norman Lewis. Complete the sessions in the book as advised by the author.

The quantitative section of GRE is quite simple (especially, for engineers). For this section, Nova is a good book to start with. It gives a basic overview of all question types and topics to be covered. Do all the exercises of this book to get a basic brush up of the concepts. Then take any good aptitude book or practice questions online.

Do practice the analytical writing section for your GRE. Try using the new vocabulary you learned. Also, device strategies to complete the writing in specified time. Most of the GRE books provide some basic tips to go about this section. Follow any good strategy customized as per your preference.

In the end, practice is the most important step for your preparation. The more you practice, the more you score. Try to do as many mock tests as you can. You can find mock tests online or on the CDs provided with various books.

Best of Luck!

(The author of this post scored 1510 [Q:800, V:710, A:5.0] in the GRE. He has agreed to contribute more posts for individual sections of GRE and would be answering all your individual queries. Post your queries in the comments section.)


  anshul chaudhary

June 21, 2008 at 11:51 AM

Dude..thanks for the help and you had had an awesome score.I have a little confusion.I have done all the ground work like reading word power and i know almost 85-90 % words of barrons throughly.I wanna appear for GRE in july last week.I haven't prepared much section wise.Do you mind suggesting me some plan ? You can email me at " " i would be really obliged

  || Post Author ||

June 25, 2008 at 1:27 AM

If you are done through your vocab, you can easily take the exam in july last week.
Some tips for you:
- Practice 2 RCs everyday
- Do 20 questions of analogy and antonyms on alternate days
- Practice 30-50 quantitative questions everyday and make sure you cover all topics
- Practice the AWA essays regularly, say 3 essays each week.
- Take as many mock tests as you can by imitating the test environment.


June 25, 2008 at 8:22 AM


Actually i am a newbie. it will be simply great if you could explain the word u used such as RCs, AWA etc.. I am sure many of the new people don't the terms yet. It would be great if Abbreviations are avoided or atleast explained.

Please expand RC and AWA

  || Post Author ||

June 25, 2008 at 1:13 PM

RCs -> Reading Comprehensions

AWAs -> Analytical Writing Assessments


June 27, 2008 at 1:19 AM

Where can I get the latest word list??..
Also i have heard that words do repeat at times..
My exam date is on 27th Aug..
Could u pls suggest which ones have a chance of getting repeated??..


June 27, 2008 at 6:00 AM

i've got a doubt! the GRE BARRONS word list sufficient?...or do we need to go through any other book?...if so,plz do suggest.
thanks in advance!


June 27, 2008 at 6:01 AM

and my big day is september 9th!

  Who Am I

June 28, 2008 at 1:22 PM

Please let me first admit I got 1080 in GRE.. I think people can learn as much from a successful person as from a looser..
I will list out some of the things I did not do well which lead me to this bad score..

1. I did not Solve lot of Test Papers which was my biggest mistake.

2. I did not practiced lot of Verbal questions

3. My vocab was decent but should have gone through Barrons I feel.

4. My AWA was not great.. Wish could have done better by lot of practice...

Hope this helps...

Do it now or else its Never

All the best.


July 3, 2008 at 10:07 AM

I am a novice in GRE prepartion.As you have metioned , it takes aapx 3 months 2 prepare for GRE but how much time is needed on per day basis....since the no.of Hours I will have will be Highly appx 2hrs

Should I take the test or just leave it since i wish to join the Phd program in fall 2009


  || Post Author ||

July 4, 2008 at 9:20 AM

@praneet and harsha:
You can study word lists from Barrons. But, words can come from anywhere, so its better to read editorials and learn new words. Words do get repeated and for that I would recommend to follow the orkut GRE community for the words that are being tested.

2hrs/day would be enuf initially but you would need more time as the test approaches, say 2 weeks before the test. And you can definitely make it.


July 5, 2008 at 12:12 PM

is it too late to take up the exams this september for the spring long will it take for the admission procedures??


July 5, 2008 at 12:32 PM

Thanks a lot sir!!

You have actually made me think that I can give it a fair attempt!

Thanks 4 the help


  || Post Author ||

July 10, 2008 at 4:33 AM

Taking GRE in Sept would be late for spring. But, check out the university application deadlines and see if you can apply by then.

Best of Luck for your GRE!!!


July 11, 2008 at 3:37 AM

sir i have to appear in 2010 for gre,........
for admissions in MS i have to appear in gre ,thats right.
sir what is FALL 2009,or FALL 2008............
can i have the the link for best colleges for ms

  US Calling

July 17, 2008 at 10:55 AM

Fall is the name of the session that starts in august. To know more about various sessions, visit: All About US Admissions

For best colleges, refer to us news latest rankings


July 18, 2008 at 11:19 AM

i got my exam in Oct..
started with barons word list..
can u suggest me what next to do..??
u said three months are sufficient to prepare for the exam..
how much time should be devoted per day..??
what should i begin with n what all books test cds etc. should be referred..??

any info is welcomed..


my id:


July 20, 2008 at 4:31 AM

i have taken up gre on 24th sept and toefl on 21st sept. iam not that good in verbal.i took up a mock test before i started preparing i scored 290 in verbal and 610 in quants.So please suggest me the strategy to improve my verbal skills. iam confident in quants but not in verbal. please suggest me strategies for even toefl and how to apply for universities,how to know which is right for me.thank you


July 25, 2008 at 6:48 PM

first of all, congrats for the big score.....

i hav a query...if u can help..???

actually, i hav been preparing for gre since nov'07. but due to some circumstances, i left all the stuff for about 2 months. then started again in may. i had a great enthu then. but now when i hav taken the date, 4th sept'08, i don't like to study words...m just bored of it. i feel like, this all shud just end. i kno that with this attitude, m gonna screw up the whole gre. i gave 2 powerprep tests, n scored 1130(400v+730Q) n 1170(380v+790Q). i kno this is a really bad score. shud i reschedule?n give it in nov or so?
i don't think i wud lov to read those wordlists again in nov. so i think i shudn't change the date...but then m skeptical abt the score...
i majorly get back in those ques where m doubting in two options....can u suggest a strategy for this...??

thanks in advance...


July 27, 2008 at 9:28 PM

Hi, I'm a new comer in GRE, So I don't have any sound idea about it. Will you please inform me that how much score is required to get 80-90% scholarship at any A or B grade college??? As i am willing to shift from Electrical field to computer science.
My e-mail id is


July 28, 2008 at 5:27 AM


I actually gave my gre 2times and got very low scores of 700(460q+240v) n 720(420q+300v).now iwant to write again,but iam too bad at quant.iam thinking to write again in oct.plz tell me how i can prepare and get a good score

Thank You,

  || Post Author ||

August 2, 2008 at 6:07 AM

Start practicing specific questions from any book/internet. Also, go through this post and other ones in this series. They would answer most of your questions.

Search for the post about verbal skills. I have mentioned specific strategies in it.

I suggest you to practice as many questions as you can. Take atleast 1 complete GRE test daily. I guess you would be able to score well if you practice.

I suggest you to go through various posts on this blog and other related blogs for more info. Your complete profile matters for scholarship and admissions; and not just your GRE score.

Practice would be the key. Practice as much as you can.


August 25, 2008 at 1:31 AM


I have planned my GRE on Dec..
I have i could attend it on dec when am i suppose to join the course....



September 2, 2008 at 8:30 PM

hi sir,i m balaji
i kept slot for gre on october 6th .still i didnt prepared anythng but i had confidence in quant but in verbal only small doubt .can i finish in one month verbal section i m trying to get 1400 i m parmacy student.give me some suggestion to get tat score my mail s thanking you balaji

  || Post Author ||

September 5, 2008 at 8:01 PM

Preparation time depends on your learning abilities and your commitment towards the exam. I have seen cases when people have aced in 1 month and there are others who could not do that well even in 3 months. The time required for an average person is mentioned in the post above.


September 11, 2008 at 7:27 AM

I am writing my GRE on 29th Sept. I am really tensed as I hv just completed 25 word lists frm barrons. I keep practicing RCs regularly yet I score very bad in it. I am very tensed as I hvnt given a look at AWAs. Suggest me some measures to take as I am left with very less time. will be highly obliged.


September 14, 2008 at 11:44 AM

Hello sir, i m going to take GRE on 26 of this month., i m getting 1o5o in mock tests., how can i improve fast to get a good score,
pls allot a schedule to improve my performance


September 30, 2008 at 12:42 AM

Hey i hav my gre on 31st of oct.
can u plzz tell me abt how to schedule d time...i havent strtd anythg!


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