1. 30 days to study, one GRE test to ace. This is not a lot of time to study – but it is possible! So buckle up and kiss your social life goodbye for the next 4 weeks – let’s build a one month plan!

    Having only 30 days to study has some obvious disadvantages, but a few bright spots as well. It is a pressure-filled situation, and will require your full devotion  – there simply won’t much time be to do other things. On the other hand, the short amount of time means the material will stay fresh in your mind right up to test day. In addition, examPAL continuously presents you with information that builds on and integrates material you’ve already learned: Descriptive Statistics repeats the fundamentals of Fractions and Percent, for example. What this means is you’re constantly both studying and improving even material you learned last week.

     

     

    Reality Check

    • Second time around? Analyse to improve! Take a day to examine your performance from your previous test. What was good? What do you need to better this time. Learning from our mistakes is key to improvement. For each weakness you identify, ask yourself the following – was the problem…
      • Not commanding the subject matter well enough? Back to basics! Go back and relearn the material. On examPAL, this means rewatching the Intro and Lesson videos for this specific topic. Full control of the fundamentals is key.
      • No time to properly answer the questions?  You need to construct a detailed time-management game plan for the test. And you may need to rethink your PAL strategy – perhaps you need to use more time efficient answer strategies?
      • Making ‘dumb’ mistakes? Ask yourself – what would have prevented this? There are often simple habits and techniques we can adopt that can make a big difference in eliminating these, from simply writing and underlining key words and data, rechecking our calculations before choosing an answer, and so on.

    In general, you will need to do what you did last time again – but better. Don’t simply assume you remember or know any of it, and don’t skip any topics without checking your mastery of them.

    First-timer or re-taker, the main thing to remember is this: acing the GRE is not about knowledge – it’s a skill, one you need to develop and hone. This skill is mostly about your cognitive flexibility.

     

    Principles for Planning

     

    Time is short – you need to use it wisely. Your goal is to literally know ahead of time what you are going to do at every point of the next 30 days. This includes:

    • An overall study time of 100-120 hours, our recommended amount. This is a lot in one month, but it is definitely possible – even if you are combing your studies with a full time job.
    • Studying every day. 30 days don’t make for too much day off. However, we do recommend taking one day off a week. You’ll need it.
    • It’s crucial not to be overly optimistic, though: make a list of all of the non-GRE commitments you have over the next month, and make sure to take them into account in your planning.

     

    The Plan

    This is what your plan should look like:

    First 20 days

    • Do the examPAL course, following the trail schedule:
      • PAL 101
      • Integers
      • Geometry Basics
      • Vocabulary and Memorization
      • Algebra Basics
      • Text Completion
      • Fractions and Percent
      • Analytical Writing
      • Interest
      • Reading Comprehension
      • Triangles
      • Powers and Roots
      • Ratio and Proportions
      • Sentence Equivalence
      • Quadrilaterals
      • Expressions and Equations
      • Rate and Work
      • Circles
      • Sets
      • Positive and Negative numbers
      • Polygons
      • Counting Methods and Probability
      • Coordinate Geometry
      • Descriptive Statistics
      • Data Interpretation Set
      • Solids
    • For each section, do the following:
      • Review the material: watching the Intro and Lesson videos. While you do so, compile a list:
        • A material summary and a tips list: all the bottom lines you reach while studying: things which will help you remember and absorb the material, and will inform your question solving.
      • Solve problems from the relevant topic: do the Practice phase for the section on examPAL, starting with Diagnostic, Improvement and then Optimization.
        • Continuously review your mistakes, and keep a running list of mistake types: why did I make this mistake? How will I avoid it?
        • Update your tips list continuously.
    • What’s left is building an exact schedule, with time allotted for each topic. What you should aim for is focusing on one topic per day. If you have exactly 30 days, there will be a few days where you do two topics.
    • Put into you schedule a daily regimen of working on your English skills. This means reading magazine or newspaper articles, and going over the vocabulary list from the Vocabulary and Memorization section. If English is not you native tongue, spend at least an hour – an hour and a half on this daily. It’s crucial to your success on the verbal section.
    • One day off a week – do something fun!

    Days 21-28

    • Practice tests: Every other day, take an ETS POWERPREP test. Make it as similar to the real thing as possible: take it at the same time of day as your real test, from start to finish, with no interruptions. Then, analyze your performance: what did you do well? Where do you need to improve? Spend whatever time you have left over to practicing questions from the topics you did most poorly on (from examPAL’s practice or from the GRE Official Guide).
    • Review: Every other day not devoted to mock tests, go over two or three topics: browse through your summary, go over your notes, and try solving questions that stumped you the first time around. Spend more time on the topics that the test revealed to be problematic.
    • .

    Day 29

    • Vacation: you’ve earned it and you need it. Go to the beach (but don’t get sunburnt), meet some friends (but go to sleep early), most of – relax. Tomorrow’s your big day.

     

    Day 30

    Showtime.

     

    Implement

     

    1. Having trouble understanding something?
    • Something small and technical? Don’t get bogged down – postpone it till the Review days.
    • Something fundamental? Give yourself more time for the topic to rewatch the Intro and Lesson. It’s OK to borrow time from other subjects, but never skip an entire topic.
    1. Mistakes = Opportunities. For every mistake, ask yourself: why did it happen? How can I avoid a similar one next time? Devote time to this: better to fully comprehend 1000 questions than mindlessly solve 10,000.

    2. Focus: Find a quiet, secluded space. Your phone should be nowhere near you when study –  On silent, in another room, under a brick, and your computer’s Wifi should be turned off when possible.
    3. 8 hours of sleep a night, every night. Exercise is recommended.

     

    One last thing

     

    A month of prep should be intense, not stressful. There’s a difference: stress is when you feel “there’s too much to do, I’m not gonna make it”. In other words, stress is what you feel when you don’t have a plan. This is not your situation! You have the tools to know what you’re going to do during each day, which should give you the piece of mind to know you’re on track. Tick off the tasks you’re supposed to do every day once they’re completed, and be flexible: if you’ve completed something ahead of time, move forward to a future task. If you haven’t completed what you wanted, update your schedule to give it more time, or simply set it aside (this is ok, too). You’ve only got one month – make the most of it!

     

    mm
    Dave Green
    Senior tutor and professional test-prep writer. Interdisciplinary wizard, with Master’s degrees in economics, philosophy, and political science at HUJI.

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