How Many Hours Should I Study for the GRE? Tips for a Personalized Study Plan

Preparing for the GRE can feel like a daunting task, especially when you’re unsure how many hours you should dedicate to studying. I’ve been there, and I understand the anxiety that comes with balancing your time effectively. The key is to find a study schedule that fits your lifestyle while still allowing you to cover all necessary material.

In this article, I’ll break down the factors you need to consider to determine your ideal study hours. From assessing your current skill level to setting realistic goals, we’ll explore how to create a personalized study plan that maximizes your chances of success. Let’s dive in and take the guesswork out of your GRE preparation.

Key Takeaways

  • Evaluate Your Current Skill Level: Begin your GRE preparation by taking a diagnostic test to identify your strengths and weaknesses in Verbal Reasoning, Quantitative Reasoning, and Analytical Writing sections. This will help you tailor your study plan effectively.
  • Set Realistic Goals: Research the average GRE scores for your desired graduate programs and set a target score. Adjust your study hours based on how far you are from reaching that goal, focusing more time on weaker areas.
  • Create a Personalized Study Schedule: Plan a study schedule that aligns with your lifestyle and allows ample time for each GRE section. Allocate more hours to sections you find challenging and incorporate regular practice tests to monitor your progress.
  • Use Recommended Study Resources: Utilize a variety of study materials, such as the official ETS GRE guide, Manhattan Prep, Kaplan, and online platforms like Magoosh to enhance your preparation. These resources provide comprehensive practice exercises and strategic insights.
  • Balance Study with Daily Life: Efficient time management is crucial. Plan dedicated study blocks, prioritize tasks, take regular breaks, and avoid burnout. Incorporate physical activities and relaxation techniques to manage stress.
  • Avoid Common Mistakes: Ensure balanced preparation by not neglecting weak areas and avoiding overstudy without breaks. Schedule regular intervals to refresh, and consider using techniques like the Pomodoro Technique to maintain productivity.

Understanding the GRE and Its Requirements

What Is the GRE?

The GRE, or Graduate Record Examination, is a standardized test used for admissions into many graduate schools. It assesses verbal reasoning, quantitative reasoning, and analytical writing skills. Created by the Educational Testing Service (ETS), the GRE helps schools evaluate candidates’ readiness for advanced study.

Overview of GRE Sections

The GRE comprises three main sections:

  1. Verbal Reasoning: This section tests the ability to analyze and evaluate written material. It includes tasks such as reading comprehension, text completion, and sentence equivalence.
  2. Quantitative Reasoning: This part evaluates mathematical skills and understanding of arithmetic, algebra, geometry, and data analysis. Problem-solving using quantitative methods is crucial.
  3. Analytical Writing: This section measures critical thinking and analytical writing skills. It consists of two tasks: “Analyze an Issue” and “Analyze an Argument,” each requiring a structured response.

Each section scores differently but coherently contributes to the overall GRE score, providing a comprehensive measure of a candidate’s capabilities.

Determining How Many Hours You Need to Study for the GRE

Assessing Your Current Level

First, evaluate your current GRE proficiency. Take a diagnostic test to identify your strengths and weaknesses in the Verbal Reasoning, Quantitative Reasoning, and Analytical Writing sections. For example, use official practice tests or reputable sources like Kaplan or Princeton Review. Analyze your scores to determine which areas need more focus. If you score lower in Quantitative Reasoning, dedicate more hours to mathematical concepts and problem-solving.

Goals and the Score You Need

Next, set a target score based on the requirements of your desired graduate programs. Research the average GRE scores for your intended schools. Many top programs expect scores above 160 in Verbal and Quantitative sections. Use this information to establish a realistic goal. If your diagnostic scores are significantly lower than your target, plan to study more hours weekly. For instance, aim for at least 20-30 hours per week if your score gap is large. Adjust your study plan as needed, considering deadlines and time constraints.

These steps help determine study hours based on individual needs and goals while ensuring targeted preparation for the GRE.

Study Plan Strategies

Creating a Personalized Study Schedule

Creating a personalized study schedule for the GRE is essential for effective preparation. Start by setting a target GRE exam date, which should be at least three months away. This will provide enough time to cover all sections comprehensively. Break down the months into weeks, assigning specific topics from each section to each week.

To maximize study hours, allocate time based on proficiency levels. If Verbal Reasoning is a weak area, dedicate more hours per week to it. Incorporate practice tests at regular intervals to track progress and adjust the schedule accordingly. Ensure the plan includes short daily review sessions for retention.

Recommended Study Materials and Resources

Utilizing recommended study materials and resources boosts GRE preparation efficiency. Start with the official ETS GRE guide, which offers practice tests and in-depth reviews of each section. Include Manhattan Prep and Kaplan for comprehensive practice exercises and strategies.

To enhance Verbal Reasoning skills, integrate resources like “Word Smart” by Princeton Review, emphasizing vocabulary building. For Quantitative Reasoning, use “5 lb. Book of GRE Practice Problems” by Manhattan Prep, containing extensive math problem sets. Supplement with online platforms like Magoosh, known for personalized study plans and video lessons.

Balancing GRE Preparation with Daily Life

Balancing GRE preparation with daily life is crucial for maintaining overall well-being and achieving optimal study outcomes. The key lies in effective time management, staying motivated, and managing stress.

Time Management Tips

Efficiently managing time helps in balancing GRE preparation with other life commitments. First, set specific, realistic goals for daily and weekly study sessions. Use a planner or digital calendar to allocate dedicated study blocks, ensuring consistent progress. For example, dedicate 2 hours daily in the mornings when you’re most alert. Break study material into smaller chunks to make it manageable.

Next, prioritize tasks by focusing on weaker areas that need more practice. Rotate between different sections like Verbal Reasoning, Quantitative Reasoning, and Analytical Writing to avoid burnout. Schedule periodic breaks to refresh your mind—5-10 minute breaks after every 45 minutes of study can improve focus.

Finally, leverage weekends or days off for longer study sessions. Use this time for taking full-length practice tests, which simulate the actual exam environment and help gauge progress. Evaluate results to adjust your study plan for the following week.

Staying Motivated and Managing Stress

Maintaining motivation throughout GRE preparation can be challenging but is essential for success. Set short-term and long-term goals to stay focused; for instance, aim to improve your score on a practice test by the end of the month. Celebrate small milestones like mastering a difficult math concept, which keeps morale high.

Incorporate various study materials to keep the process engaging. Use flashcards for vocabulary, online videos for math concepts, and writing prompts for essay practice. This variety prevents monotony and enhances learning.

Stress management plays a pivotal role in balancing life and GRE preparation. Engage in regular physical activities like jogging, yoga, or gym workouts to reduce stress levels. Ensure you get adequate sleep, as rest is crucial for cognitive function and memory retention.

Additionally, practice relaxation techniques such as deep breathing or meditation to keep anxiety at bay. If stress becomes overwhelming, consider talking to a counselor or joining a study group to share experiences and strategies. Sharing your journey with peers can provide emotional support and keep you motivated.

Common Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

Overstudying and Burnout

Studying intensely without breaks can lead to burnout, reducing overall productivity. Scheduling regular breaks and varying study activities is essential. Creating a balanced study plan helps you stay refreshed and maintain focus. An example is the Pomodoro Technique, which involves studying for 25 minutes followed by a 5-minute break, repeated four times with a longer break afterward.

Neglecting Weak Areas

Focusing only on strong areas can lead to imbalanced preparation. Identifying and addressing weak points is crucial for a comprehensive GRE prep. Use diagnostic tests to pinpoint weaknesses, then allocate more time to these areas. Online platforms like Magoosh offer personalized study plans, helping you strengthen weaker sections effectively.


Finding the right number of hours to study for the GRE depends on your unique needs and goals. It’s crucial to create a personalized study plan that incorporates practice tests and utilizes effective study materials. Avoid common pitfalls like overstudying and make sure to address your weak areas with targeted strategies. Techniques like the Pomodoro Technique can help maintain a balanced study routine. Remember diagnostic tests and personalized plans from platforms like Magoosh can be invaluable resources. With the right approach you’ll be well-prepared to achieve your desired GRE score.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the GRE exam?

The GRE (Graduate Record Examination) is a standardized test required for admission to many graduate schools in the United States and other countries.

How should I create a personalized study plan for the GRE?

Start by identifying your skill levels and goals. Set a target exam date, use diagnostic tests to find weak areas, and incorporate practice tests to measure your progress. Tailor your plan to focus on both strengths and weaknesses.

What are the sections of the GRE exam?

The GRE consists of three sections: Verbal Reasoning, Quantitative Reasoning, and Analytical Writing. Each section contributes to the overall GRE score used in graduate school admissions.

Why is it important to address weak areas in GRE preparation?

Addressing weak areas ensures a balanced study approach and helps improve overall performance. Ignoring weak sections can lower your overall GRE score.

What common mistakes should I avoid during GRE preparation?

Common mistakes include overstudying, neglecting weak areas, and not taking enough practice tests. Balance study sessions and regularly assess your progress to avoid these pitfalls.

How can the Pomodoro Technique help in GRE preparation?

The Pomodoro Technique involves studying in short, focused intervals (usually 25 minutes) followed by a short break. This method helps maintain concentration and prevents burnout during study sessions.

Are there any recommended platforms for GRE preparation?

Yes, platforms like Magoosh offer diagnostic tests and personalized study plans that can help address weak points and tailor your GRE preparation to your needs.