How Long Should I Study for the GRE?


GRE is a standardized test taken by prospective graduate and business school applicants from all around the world who are interested in pursuing a Master’s, MBA, Specialized Masters in business, or Doctoral degree in the US, Canada, and many other countries.

In the current scenario, probable changes in the US immigration policy by the new government will open up a lot of opportunities for Indian students who dream of studying in the US. A high GRE score (320+) will place you among the top 10% of the test takers and help you get admission in the top global universities.


How long should one study for the GRE?

This requires a deeper understanding of multiple factors. 3 macro areas are mentioned below for detailed planning.


1. Litmus Test

Litmus Test

What do I know of the GRE?
What exactly do I get tested on?
Am I familiar with the English language requirement for the GRE?
How good is my vocabulary?
How are my reading skills?
How good am I with numbers?
What is the extent of Math skills needed to conquer the GRE Quant section?

To get answers to these questions, one has to take a GRE mock test
Taking the mock test to evaluate your current subject knowledge is the first step in finding how much time you will require to master GRE…


2. Setting Goals

Setting Goals
Having taken the mock test, one has to be able to set expectations right from the start –
Which section of the GRE was I quite good by performance?
Which one was a fiasco? Were both Quant and Verbal abysmal?
What is the score I want?
Which Schools am I applying to?

Related Blog Post: How can Mock Tests Help You Prepare for the GRE

Goal setting is not possible without the above data. The aforesaid are interdependent. Since the GRE Verbal reasoning section is divided equally into testing on vocab and on reading skills, preparation has to also be almost equally distributed. Similarly in the Quant section too, the split is between Quantitative Comparison questions and Multiple Choice questions.

Apart from all this, was I able to complete the test? How was my pacing? How was my endurance level? To come across all these hurdles, I need strategies and techniques. Can I prep myself or do I need to get coached? How long do such courses take?

The setting of goals depends on the following sub-factors –

Reading Abilities – Checking on the reading abilities is a must. Has one ever read books, articles, or even the paper? Does it really matter? Yes of course! Your fluent reading and quick grasping of vocabulary certainly are plus points for a great score on the verbal. If I am one who is fond of reading, I don’t need to learn how to read at least. I need to concentrate on what to read and what not to read and strategize. But maybe for a non-native speaker, this is going to be a different ball game. He/ she needs to start from scratch. And therefore more time!

Vocabulary – Am I only a beginner with GRE words or do I have a good number of words learned and familiar with? If it is yes for the former, I need time to build upon a respectable number of words whereas the latter just needs that I hone my contextual knowledge on the sentences to help me with solving the blank questions- less time!

Quant Reasoning Skills – Fundamental formulae and concepts of Math done in grades 6, 7 & 8 would be of immense help when it comes to the Quantitative section. You need not exactly become a Math wizard but recapitulating of the basics of arithmetic, algebra, and geometry is a must. Certain other topics such as Probability and Statistics are also tested on the GRE. Some students might have just severed themselves from Math after coming to college however, GRE is a standardized test and mandates that students apply both Verbal and Mathematical skills during the test. Based on what level of understanding of Math you are at present is what will judge the time requirement of studying for the GRE.

Time Availability – The length of time one can devote towards preparation depends upon how much of the time one has per day/week towards prepping. One consciously has to distribute time for activities apart from studying for GRE alone to exactly gauge how much time he can give exclusively for GRE Prep. Once the number of hours is decided is when content to be completed while practicing can be determined.

The Proportional Divider of Time – Your strengths and weaknesses will decide on the proportional time to be invested in Verbal and Quant. You may have less time on weekdays than you do on weekends. Over and above all this, what is the concentration capacity one has is also significant to schedule the hours accordingly. There has to be a balance of time allotted for Verbal and Math.

Are you aiming for the Ivy Leagues or any state colleges?

This is another determinant of the length of time needed to prepare for the GRE. Premium institutions obviously require premium time because admissions get more competitive. On the other hand, some colleges may not be very particular about great Math scores or great Verbal scores. Some may already give a cut-off requirement on each. So time is again proportionate between your choice of universities and the various programs offered. You might sometimes even have to hasten the preparation because of deadlines to meet for admissions to various universities.

Related Blog Post: What to expect from GRE quant – Arithmetic


3. Test Day and Timelines

Test Day Timeline
Now we‘ve come to the end of answering the question-how long? The minimum time that one will be able to do justice to performing well on the test is at least one month. Giving more than 6 months is a bit too much.

Once the Test day is planned, work backwards, and set your timeline. Chalk out all the daily chores, activities, assessments, projects, and other errands that you may need to take care of during the day (if you’re making a daily schedule) or during the week for a weekly planner. You can’t for sure solely work on GRE and completely obviate other tasks. Multi-tasking actually helps to adhere to timelines better. You have to prioritize what’s more important among the tasks you have and work your way to meeting your set goals.

Your schedule will include intense study time if you have planned to take the GRE in a month. This schedule gets slightly more relaxed if it is 3 months that you have. You have a more elaborately planned schedule. Your timeline needs to include study time distributed between Quant and Verbal and also of taking Mock tests intermittently. After all, it is the number of practice tests that you take before your actual exam that paves the way for your success on the GRE!

Finally, “how long should one study to take the GRE” has so many parameters to take into consideration, yet the length of time ultimately can probably be between a month and a maximum of six months. So go ahead – use your GRE Quantitative Reasoning to get to your dream score.

Wishing you the Best!


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Manya – The Princeton Review offers end-to-end study abroad services encompassing admissions consulting services, test preparation, English language training, career assessment, and international internship opportunities to study abroad aspirants. Founded in 2002, Manya holds an impeccable track record of enabling more than two lac fifty thousand students to accomplish their study abroad dreams through its network of 45+ centers across India.

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Here at Manya, you can get your desired score with the help of the best GRE coaching with a personalized study plan, student portal, practice tests, detailed score report, drill smart algorithm, and much more. Here, you can access the top GRE scores of Manya Students.

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