Simple GRE Study Plan

A Simple GRE Test Prep Plan: Stop Complaining About Low Scores will help you boost your GRE Score.

An approach to an exam like GRE isn’t a process that can be described. Every individual, say by the age of 20, will have his methods of preparation and his approach that he is comfortable.

Incorporating something entirely new, is an enormous risk, and GRE being expensive, isn’t an exam to experiment.

GRE test is one of those exams where

  • you work hard for
  • get a decent above average score
  • stop worrying about it for a lifetime

If you get a good score, it holds for five years, by which time, if you haven’t applied, you just don’t intend to use the test score anymore.

However, get a mediocre score, and you will either have to re-take the GRE all over again, or be happy with an average university.

I can tell you this, because, I took my GRE twice.

The first time, was immediately when the pattern changed in the September of 2011 (ETS offered a 50% fee waiver for the brave souls who took the test then), and again a year later.

Scores were 315 then, and 329 now.

Quite some improvement! GRE scores no longer restricted Universities I can apply.

This article will be relatively long. I can assure you that, there will be things that you can either relate to (hence feel better) or things that will help you in your quest for attaining an above average GRE score.

GRE Math Section

Let us first discuss the GRE Math Section.

This one should be easy, for anyone from an engineering background. But then, I am not talking about scoring 165-ish on the Math section.

You must be aiming for a 170 on 170. Even 169 should be a disappointment. Why? Simply because, you have no reason to lose marks here!

40 questions of GRE standard (easy or hard) can, with good practice, be answered without a single mistake.

Also, overall, it is a significant boost to your score. 315 (with a 165 in Math), is an average score.

However, 320 (with 170 in Math) is easily an above average score.

I have made the mistake of overlooking the Math section and believing that the last week or the last couple of days will be sufficient to practice GRE Math. I would avoid this mistake again.

Math is Math, and the more you practice, the more consistent you get.

You alone can decide how good you are, and how good you need to be to achieve the perfect score of 170 in Math. Should be easy, though!

Let’s Talk about GRE Essay

Coming to the essays, the most neglected part of GRE. Everyone talks only about preparing for the Math or the Verbal sections.

In my view, the reason for this neglect is pretty straightforward. Everyone starts preparing for the GRE for about three months before on average, and at most, six months.

This period, isn’t enough for one to improve drastically in his writing abilities.

Essays aren’t about just writing good English and using huge words, with grammatically correct sentences.

They are aimed at analyzing your analytical ability, your ways of thinking, and mainly the consistency in your logic. One cannot simply change his ways of thinking in a time span of three months.

There can, however, be minor improvements to your writing ability.

It may add a 0.5 more to the essay score (hardly significant). Understanding the GRE scoring systems, reading sample scored essays, and getting an idea of what is expected from you in the essay section is alone important.

Being a citizen who has the right to vote, if you can’t write two excellent essays, you should simply not take the GRE.

Let’s Talk About GRE Verbal

Finally, coming to the verbal section. The verbal section isn’t about memorizing the words.

  • It isn’t about adding more words to your vocabulary that you hardly ever find the need to use.
  • It isn’t about making you learn synonyms and antonyms.

It is a test that measures your understanding of standard sentences in English.

In this regard, Reading Comprehensions must be pretty straight forward. If you believe that GRE is all about unnecessary memorization, then, you must always be getting all the Reading Comprehensions correct. This wouldn’t be the case, right?

RCs will be hard too! (Or at least, I, did find them to be intriguing) The reason, in non-English speaking countries end up doing a memorizing job for the GRE, is because, most of those words are easily understood by native-English speaking people.

So, for a native-English speaking person, the main challenge in GRE Verbal section would be to understand the context of the sentences and fill in the suitable words.

We, end up having to do the extra task of learning the new words as well. Just learning the meaning of new words alone, will not guarantee a good GRE score, but, if you yourself feel that your vocabulary (the use of words in everyday life), and your understanding of standard English articles has improved during your GRE Verbal preparations, then, you would most likely get a good score.

Yes, GRE is Simple

To conclude, GRE is a well-designed exam. Make a simple GRE Study Plan. Don’t complicate it.

Top universities use GRE scores for evaluation for a reason. Maximize your score in the Math section. Write two logically consistent essays in simple English.

Stop complaining about having to memorize words. Get good scores and be done with GRE.


  1. Gaurav on November 5, 2012 at 10:49 PM

    Sir ,

    I want to pursue MS in Computer Science with Specialization in Computer Security/ Computer Networks…Here is my profile

    GRE- 298 (q-157, v-141)
    B.Tech- 9.228/10 (upto 6th semester), SRM University, Chennai
    12th – 83.2%, 10th – 87.8%

    1 national level paper
    1 project +1 final year project
    4-5 co & extra curricular activities…

    Do evaluate my profile and suggest US universities…

    Thanks in advance….

    • Anusha on November 29, 2012 at 9:07 AM

      Hey! Currently studying for gre. When did u take ur exams? and was it ur first time?

  2. Rajashekar on October 12, 2012 at 1:42 PM

    Hi Guys i have given gre and tofel exams and i scored 299 in gre and 84 tofel. i have 70% in btech,2 years of work expierence as software engineer.i applied for University of south alabama and Lousiana tech university please share ur comments on these universities and suggest which one is good for my profile.

  3. DEV on October 9, 2012 at 2:50 AM

    Simple,crisp and elegant!! Good job!!

  4. Gungeet on October 8, 2012 at 4:50 AM

    Thank you ,its motivating 🙂

  5. Kriks on October 8, 2012 at 4:07 AM

    What blasphemy is this? I’m not saying that the Math section is easy or difficult, but the way you have summed it up as:
    “Maximize your score in the Math section. Write two logically consistent essays in simple English. Stop complaining about having to memorize words. Get good scores and be done with GRE.”
    That’s NOT the right way. GRE scores are not the only criteria that would be considered. Granted that a great score in the quant section looks impressive and whatnot, but a 169 “is very poor ” vs a 170? I don’t agree with that.

    • Raghu on October 8, 2012 at 4:43 AM

      GRE is not the only factor, but in reality GRE scores tend to reflect ones overall academic profile. In this case – 329 opens up doors for schools that someone can’t apply with 315 or 300.

      Also you don’t find folks with international papers and research experience in UG with BELOW average GRE.

      • Kriks on October 9, 2012 at 12:05 PM

        You’re right about that. An exceptionally high score on the GRE does open up new opportunities with respect to the colleges that you can apply to. My sole point was that Ashish himself scored 315 on his first attempt at the GRE and increased it to 329 ONLY on the second attempt. Thus there’s always a chance that it might not have been YOUR day when you gave your test and maybe you fell short of your desired score, but that’s no reason to give up on the whole idea of MS based on just a test score. You need to know how to sell yourself and showcase a complete package.

    • Ashish Kuthagodu on October 8, 2012 at 7:30 AM

      Well received! Of course, GRE scores alone aren’t worth anything. As Raghu clearly mentions, it is good to have decent GRE scores. Also, this post aims at just one thing, maximizing one’s GRE scores and nothing else.

      And yep, 169 isn’t bad at all! I was merely pointing out that, one shouldn’t be aiming for anything less than 170 in the quant. It was, definitely an exaggeration to highlight a point.

      • Kriks on October 9, 2012 at 12:08 PM

        We are Indians, a nation obsessed with perfect scores. Don’t you suppose that every single person who gives the GRE aims for a perfect 170 in the Quants?! 🙂
        It was a well written blog post, but too polar in my opinion.
        PS- You did say that even a 169 is a disappointment!

        By the way, congratulations on an above average score.

  6. Tapan Acharya on October 7, 2012 at 10:41 PM

    superb post

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