5 Ways to Raise Your GRE Scores
by Allyson Evans
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You’ve decided to go to graduate school—a big congrats to you. Now, you just have to get a certain GRE score to get into the schools of your choosing. First, familiarize yourself with the GRE exam by reading about the GRE structure and format. Then, check out the five tips below to help you raise your score.
1. Stick to a study schedule
The most important thing you can do to raise your GRE score is to set a study schedule and stick to it. To help you sketch out your study schedule, you first need to decide when you should take the GRE and select your GRE test date.
Working backwards from that test date, you can draw out your study schedule—aim for at least eight weeks to study. Creating a study schedule allows you to prioritize the GRE and ensure you have enough time over the next two to three months to study a few hours a day.
Without a study schedule, it’s easy to get overwhelmed by all the GRE materials you need to learn or skip a few days of studying to go on that spur of the moment trip to the beach. You’ll need to buckle down for a couple of months (or schedule around that long weekend in the mountains) to see a jump in your GRE score.
2. Do loads of GRE practice problems
As tedious as GRE practice problems can be, doing them is essential to increasing your GRE score. By completing lots of GRE practice problems, you not only learn the GRE material that is tested, you also become familiar with how the GRE problems are structured—you learn the tricks of the exam. And once you’ve done hundreds of GRE problems, you’ll be amazed at how confident you’ll feel on test day.
3. Practice your timing
It doesn’t matter if you can get every GRE math question right if you give yourself ten minutes to answer it. On the GRE, you have less than 2 minutes to solve each problem—so speed is crucial to your doing well.
Luckily, it’s not too hard to increase your speed on GRE problems. Once you’ve got a solid base with your GRE materials, which should happen after a few weeks of studying, you should incorporate timed practice into your studying. This simply means setting up a timer and working through full GRE sections.
For Verbal, set your timer for 30 minutes, and, for Quantitative, set your timer for 35 minutes. At first, the timing may be really difficult and you may not come close to finishing the problem set—that’s totally okay. The goal is to get better over time, so stick with it.
4. Master your weaker GRE topics
While this tip may seem a little obvious, it’s human nature to want to avoid our weak spots. When you’re sitting down to study after a full day of work or classes, it can be tempting to jump into some Verbal questions if you simply hate math and have always avoided it.
Unfortunately, you won’t get better through avoidance. So, jump into those pesky weak areas when you’re fresh and then save your stronger areas for a little GRE reward at the end of your studying. (You may also want to plan a real reward, like ice cream or a movie.)
By working through your weaker areas, you’ll develop the skills and confidence you need to do better on those questions. Another bonus is that you’re likely to see the biggest point gains from your weaker areas, because you have the most points to get. That’s not so bad, is it?
5. Take full length practice GRE tests
In addition to individual practice problems, you’ll need to dedicate a few days to taking full-length GRE practice tests. (Try out these free GRE practice test resources to find all the practice tests you’ll need to increase your GRE score.)
Taking full length exams is crucial because you’ll need to develop your stamina to do well on the actual GRE. If you tire after an hour of practice problems, you’re not going to get your target GRE score. Additionally, you’ll build confidence with each practice test you take, and that confidence can help guide you to a higher GRE score on test day.
By setting aside dedicated time to study for the GRE, you will increase your chances for a higher GRE score. Incorporate practice problems, speed work, and full-length exams into your studying, and you are likely to be pleased with the results.
About the Author: Allyson Evans earned her undergraduate degree from the University of Wisconsin at Madison and her JD from the University of Texas at Austin. She has been teaching and tutoring the LSAT since 2007, and loves helping students achieve their goals. She currently practices law in Austin, Texas. When she’s not helping students conquer the LSAT, she enjoys traveling and camping.