Should you take the GRE or not? If you are pondering over this question, you might be thinking about about how laborious or easy the GRE (Graduate Record Examination) might be and how long it will take you to study for the exam?
We break it down for you into a few key analytical points so that you can understand how many hours to spend preparing, and whether this fits into your schedule.
Over-studying or under-studying for the GRE can muddle with your mind, and make you even more confused than before. We would like to guide you through the entire process by breaking it down into parts which will answer your questions.
Prepared by Jamboree Faculty
Students have different ways of preparing for the GRE, and each one takes different times based on the methodology of preparation:
Self-study: Studying on your own requires following a schedule that is well orchestrated, and only those students who are extremely dedicated in their efforts can follow a plan with enough consistency to overcome the arduousness of the GRE.
Coaching Centers: Mostly students prefer coaching centres to self-study to get the required guidance that will speed up and streamline the process of learning. Experienced faculty, and the facilities at good coaching centers can go a long way in achieving your target score.
What we are trying to address here is the overall structured methodology that a student would need to follow to achieve a target score. To achieve that score, you would need to put in a proportionate amount of effort depending on your abilities.
Always Remember, Once you set a goal, and strive to work towards it, anything is possible!
The amount of time that you would need to spend studying for the GRE varies from a mere 5-6 hours per week to 2-3 hours a day. Again, this obviously depends on your proficiency level across the 3 sections tested on the GRE.
The Target Score: If someone asks you, ‘How much do you want to score on the GRE?’; what would your reply be? Do you aspire to be a 330+ scorer, or a 310 would suffice? Does your target university have a cut-off score?
Before setting your target score, conduct thorough research on the different universities and their cut-offs. University cut off scores should be the primary determinant of your target score. These scores are mostly listed on the admissions requirements page. If you have further doubts, you can clear them by emailing or calling the university. Your GRE score is a part of your application set, and everything is evaluated holistically. Do not focus on an overtly high GRE score, and end up putting unnecessary added pressure on your mind. Let’s keep the formula simple:
Quant Cut off + Verbal Cut off + AWA Cut off = TARGET GRE Score.
If you wish to target a higher score, be ready to dedicate a greater amount of time to your preparation.
The Practice Test: The GRE practice test is your ‘First evaluation’. Only when you take a diagnostic test, will you, as a student, be able to critically analyse all your weak points. This analysis will enable you gauge your proficiency level, and along with the target score forms the first point of your ‘time-required’ analysis. Let’s give you the next formula:
The Target score + The practice test = Time Taken
Amount of prep required: The two factors mentioned above will be a key indicator of your preparation-time. Let me take an example to illustrate this:
Let’s say that the diagnostic test score turns out to be 295, while you require a 315, your target score. This would mean that you need to raise your score by 20 points. To raise your score by that number, you need to chalk out a plan based on the areas in which you scored less. To further illustrate this point, let’s say you scored a 142 in the Verbal section and made a lot of mistakes across the Reading Comprehension and the Sentence Completion portions. To raise your Verbal score to the 152-155 range, you would need to focus on the RC section and improve your vocabulary and grammar.
Let us equate the number of points to the number of hours of prep required:
No. of hours required: Once you are clear with all the points mentioned above, you will know the total number of hours you require to achieve your target. Roughly translated, this equates to 30-50 hours of studying for every 10 points. These number of hours do not include the ‘practice tests’ and ‘mock exams’ that you would have to write.
No. of hours of possible input: Depending on whether you are a working professional, a parent, a student or are free, the number of hours that you can dedicate towards your preparation can vary greatly. While a working professional might be able to spare only an hour a day at times, someone who is free can put in at least 3 hours of work per day. This means that there will be a wide variation in the number of hours of ‘possible input’. This leads us to the formula:
No. of hours required (learning) / No. of hours of possible input = TIME required to learn.
Necessary Adjustments: The quality of your study material goes a long way in determining HOW you understand concepts, and in case you have a tutor, make sure that he or she is guiding you the right way. Do your research before finalizing a particular tutor.
Do not make the mistake of ‘over-studying’. Students tend to get excited about the prospect of writing the GRE initially and end up spending more time per day than they should, studying. This can sometimes be counter-productive. Remember that your mind absorbs information better in parts. Distribute your preparation time equally between the Quants and the Verbal sections.
Grasping ability varies tremendously, and it is only natural. You must understand how quickly you understand new subjects. This also depends on how strong your foundation is.
Retakes and Deadlines: The ETS allows you to take the GRE once every 21 days, and make sure that you are aware of two things that can contribute to a miscalculation. A lot of students make the mistake of not being clear of the submission deadline, and end up taking the test way too close to the deadline. The fallacy is that if the student does not perform well, he or she has no time to retake the test.
At Jamboree, we advise students to take their examination at least 4-5 weeks prior to the submission deadline, so that students have time to give another attempt in case of a poor score.
GRE Study Schedules: GRE study schedules must be prepared in a systematic manner. Make sure that you have all the points mentioned above in your mind while making your study schedule. Adhering to this schedule will be the key to achieving your GOAL!
Keeping all the points that we have mentioned in mind; the GRE preparation will take around 4 weeks to 20 weeks. If you include the mock tests that you would need to take, the preparation time can go from a minimum of 6 weeks to a maximum of 24 weeks.
We, at Jamboree, would love to help you streamline your preparation! ALL THE BEST!