The Ultimate GRE Study Guide, Tips and Plan to Score 1570

gre study guideLooking for an ultimate, ready to use GRE Study Guide? Here it is from a test taker who scored near perfect GRE Score.

Revised GRE Score Range: 1420 to 1570

  • Verbal Score: 670-770 ( 164 to 170)
  • Quantitative Score: 750-800 (159 to 166)

If you follow exactly the same strategy, you can see see a significant increase in your GRE Score.


Here’s My GRE Study Guide

I would like to share my GRE study guide

  • GRE experience
  • GRE Study Plan per section
  • Test Prep and Study Materials

I decided in June that I want to appear for GRE Test this year. Sometime in June end, I booked a date for October 12, afternoon slot. I only have my first name in my passport (with no surname). While registering for GRE, the last name field was mandatory, so I gave my father’s name as my second name (which is what I always do in banks, because it is acceptable there).

I was in for a surprise when I read a post on this blog about how many problems a missing surname can create, and decided to confirm from ETS. It turned out that I would not be allowed to appear for the exam at all. I would have directly gone to the exam center on the day of the exam had it not been for that post!

ETS representatives were very helpful and asked me to register for the GRE again, and provide my first name in the ‘Last Name’ field as well. I woke up very early one morning so that I could immediately book my original slot after cancelation.

As luck would have it, I still managed cancel the appointment and get a slot for the test on the same day at 6 PM.

At the GRE Test Center

I reached the exam center 2 hours early since a friend who had appeared in the same center before had told me that the address is very difficult to locate.

He had been right, but I had been extra-cautious and left from home 4 hours before the GRE was scheduled to begin. I ate lunch at a restaurant close to the center and came back and sat on a staircase near the entrance.

The lunch was making me feel drowsy, so I started walking outside the gate and did that for over 1 hour, to keep active for the exam.

Analytical Writing Section

  • I got fairly straightforward essays and managed to come up with some decent points to write.
  • I will discuss my preparation strategies for each section later in this post.

Quantitative Section

  • The next section that I got was Quant.
  • I found it harder than whatever I had practiced.
  • I just did whatever best I could do, and moved on to Verbal.

Verbal Section

  • Verbal again was harder than the general practice questions we see in preparation books.

Reading Comprehension

  • One Reading Comprehension was unusually lengthy and arid.
  • I had read in this blog about somebody’s strategy of attempting all sentence completion and equivalence questions first, and doing RCs in the end.
  • I had been following it, and it helped a lot.

Sentence Completion

  • For sentence completion, the words used were not very challenging, but it was very difficult to fit them into the context specified.
  • Very ordinary words were also used in a very complex manner.

Exam Break

During the break, I asked the invigilators if I can access my locker to eat something. It is crucial to consume something sweet just before an exam because it instantly raises the glucose levels in the body and makes us more attentive.

So, I had been carrying some nutrition bars and convinced the invigilators to let me eat them. One of the invigilators accompanied me to my locker, and I quickly ate and drank water.

I returned to the exam hall just in time and was greeted with a very smooth quantitative section.

Quantitative Section

I was scared that it had been engendered by my dismal performance in the last quantitative, but I promised myself that I have to get all the questions correct in this section.

Next section was a Verbal, as frustrating as the first one.

GRE Verbal Section

Once again, I did all the sentence completion and equivalence questions first.

For sentence equivalence, I noticed that the options were in sets of two synonyms (so the  strategy that some preparation books suggest, that before reading the  sentence we should try to find synonyms in answers should NOT be followed,  otherwise it will make us biased towards whichever pair of synonyms we spot  first).

I used the strategy of guessing what the blank can contain, then finding two options closest to it in the answer.

The most important strategy for Reading Comprehension is to use the process of elimination.

I noticed during my preparation that you can never get the answers right unless you distrust each and every option and try to find reasons as to why it cannot be correct.

The option in which you can’t find any flaws is the right one. But if you look at the options from a point of view of locating the correct one, then all of them (or at least 2-3) will seem correct. I used to think of it as taking my revenge on the paper setter by finding faults in the options provided!

Quantitative Section

Finally, I got another quantitative section with medium difficulty. I still don’t know which of the quants was the experimental section for me.

GRE Study Guide and My Test Plan and Preparation

I bought following GRE Books and Study Materials.

Barron’s GRE and Kaplan GRE Book. I then solved each and every problem in both books and marked the ones that I could not answer the first time.

Also, I noted down whatever new words I came across in Verbal practice questions in a notebook and used to revise them regularly.

In a month’s time, I had understood that I need a lot of work for Verbal, but can manage quantitative without putting too much effort into it.

I also got a copy of Princeton Review’s ‘Cracking New GRE’  from a friend and solved all Verbal questions from that (didn’t go through quantitative section this time).

Princeton Review is superb for the tips and the techniques, but I did not find the level of questions impressive.

I was able to get almost all of them correct the first time itself. I came to this book in the end, so could not follow the techniques suggested (although they seemed good, especially for RCs).

I kept the practice test CDs that came with these books for the end but used to take regularly up any one section of practice tests in the books and time myself for it.

Note: I hand wrote my GRE study guide and plan of action. It gave me a focus when I hand write my goals.

GRE Questions and Mistakes

During the last few days before my exam, I realized that the online practice tests were not helping much because I had forgotten most of the vocabulary and was making the same kind of mistakes over and over.

  • This is where marking difficult GRE questions in the first run helped.
  • I went through all the marked questions and vocabulary notes in the two days before the exam.

Because of this, I could not attempt either of the tests on Barrons CD.

GRE Study Tip – So I suggest that you either manage your time well enough to be able to do everything in the end, or keep taking these tests regularly instead of saving all for the end.

Analytical Writing

I had done very little preparation for this section. I had downloaded many essay samples from the internet but had read through only 10-15 of each kind, in the last two days before my exam.

I would have liked to practice more but was running short of time in the end, because of my mismanaged time and schedule.

I memorized (not verbatim though) the Argument template given in PR so that I was able to attempt that section faster in the exam.

For Issue section, I followed the strategy suggested in Barron’s – of writing the introduction paragraph in the end.

Study Plan for Verbal Section

I did RC’s from all the three books mentioned. I mainly followed the techniques from Kaplan and Cracking the New GRE.

It initially felt like my skills weren’t improving, and I would keep getting all questions wrong, but without realizing, my Verbal aptitude did increase with practice and a better vocabulary.

For vocabulary apart from the list of new words that I came across in the questions in these books (which, by the way, came out to be many pages long), I did 500 words from flashcards that a friend had got from her MBA classes.

I also downloaded free vocab notes with a thousand words from and tried learning all (but could not because of the limited time that I had,  and hectic office through these two months).

Instead of consulting all these different sources, I suggest that you buy Barrons 800 Essential Words. A friend brought that book to my notice very late, so I could not go through it.

The most useful Vocabulary tool was Kaplan’s word groups given at the end of the book.

I used to keep adding on any extra words that I would discover with similar meaning to these. They are very helpful because GRE doesn’t test you for the exact meaning, rather only the shade or closeness of meanings.

Study Guide for Quantitative Section

Doing all quantitative problems from Barron’s, and quantitative questions from any two preparation books is more than sufficient.

The only thing that I felt was  extra in the actual exam were a few questions related to standard deviation,  that I had not encountered in any of the books (and that I suspect I got  wrong in the actual GRE).

End the end, you will mostly need to practice and decide which technique suits you the best.

I went by what I read from this blog, and from my friend’s How to Score 1580 in GRE.

I am not sure if it would have made a difference to my score had I followed some other GRE Study guide and strategies, I just grew comfortable with the ones that I followed. Do let me know if this helps with the preparation!

What is Your GRE Study Plan?

Do you have any questions about this GRE Study Guide?

Do you think, you will be able to use this GRE study plan and improve your score?

Post your comments, questions below using the comment form.

Note: Following GRE Study Guide, Test Plan, Test prep tips, and GRE Books was shared by Sugandha.


  1. Shambu on July 30, 2012 at 12:47 PM

    My testdate is n aug 6 hardly a week more to go..right now i m doing kaplan practise test…for verbal my score is nly 4-5/20 but for quants 15+/20 feeling very dissapointed…plz help

  2. PriyaV on June 5, 2012 at 4:52 PM


    What is the argument template that you have mentioned? I’ve been trying crazy to improve my AWA skills but I’m getting nowhere. Can you please help with templates for the Issue and Argument sections?

  3. Sasirekha on April 15, 2012 at 10:40 AM

    I’m Sasirekha, doing 2 year B.Tech(biotech) in Tamilnadu Agricultural University,coimbatore. I Want to pursue my higher studies in abroad.can u please send me the study materials for GRE which u used.
    Thank u for your information which you share.

  4. NAOMI on April 13, 2012 at 12:16 AM

    great stuff and very informative

  5. Melki on April 9, 2012 at 5:22 PM

    Thank you for posting this. I will start my GRE prep on April’s last week. Is 3 weeks intensive study enough?

  6. Melki on April 9, 2012 at 5:19 PM

    Thank you. This post is very helpful. I will start preparing for GRE in the last week of April. Is 3 weeks intensive study enough for preparation?

  7. siva7891 on March 26, 2012 at 12:04 AM

    Thanks Sugandha for sharing your experiences with us.

  8. Rajendar Rao V on March 21, 2012 at 1:34 PM

    Hello , I had booked slot on coming 6th April – I had not much attended classes regularly now am having around 15 days for exam and if how could I score 290+ score . Please tell me where to concentrate.

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