1. So you want to tackle the GRE in 60 days. Two months from now, you want to have the exam in your rearview mirror, and a high score under your belt.

    If the previous sentences are even close to describing you, you’re in a good spot. Two months is our recommended length for a study plan. This period of time is long enough: it gives you more than enough time to comfortably learn, review and practice all of the material. On the other hand, it is not too long: we find that students who study for three months or longer start forgetting what they studied at the beginning after a few months in, not to mention the mental stress of preparing for so long. 

    So, this is the way we recommend to go – with one important exception. If English poses a challenge for you in any way – if you are a non-native speaker, or even if you are a native speaker but struggle with grammar or vocabulary – we recommend starting by devoting a month to working on your English skills. Spend 30 days reading books, newspapers and magazines. Only after this, start the plan outlined below. If you only have 60 days, it may still be worth spending this English-improvement month, and then embarking on the 30-day GRE study plan.

     

     

    First Steps

    So you’re going for a 60-day plan… now what?

    Start by giving yourself a reality check:

    • Retaker? Learn from where you’ve been and what you’ve done. Try to figure out what you did right, what could have gone better – and what you need to focus on going forward. For everything that wasn’t great, ask yourself – why?
    • Lack of familiarity with the material? Back to the drawing board! Go over the basic study material. We MUST have a strong grasp of the GRE’s fundamentals.
    • Not enough time? Sounds like you need to rethink your answer strategies (something that examPAL is all about), and work on your time management.
    • Just make “silly” mistakes? Look for recurring errors, and think how you can avoid them the next time around. Something super simple – writing the answers and crossing them out on your scratchpad, making sure to examine each quantity in Quantitative Comparison questions on its own, or performing doing complex calculations twice – can make a big difference.

     

    Whether it’s your first rodeo or you’re a veteran GRE warrior, the main thing to remember is this: the GRE is not about knowledge, it is about your cognitive flexibility.

    Study Plan!

    Enough with the preliminaries – time to plan! We want to go as detailed as possible: our aim is to have an accurate picture of what you are doing at each point for the next 60 days. How to even start, you ask? Let’s break it down:

    • Make a detailed list of all of the non-GRE things you either need or want to do over the next two months. Be realistic! It’s common to be overly optimistic about how much study time we have, and forget all of our commitments. Remember – we have to eat, sleep, and also stretch our legs and see other people (maybe not quite as we usually do, but still).
    • Give yourself 100-120 total hours of study time, the recommended amount of time. This is very possible to accomplish in 60 days, even if you work or study full time. If you are a non-native English speaker, budget an extra 30 hours of reading and vocabulary memorizing.

    If, looking at your calendar, you won’t be able to fit this all in over the next two months – you may want to go for the 90-day plan.

    • Plan specific times of day for study, hours when you are both free and will be at or near your maximum efficiency. No use planning a three hour study session at night if you’re just going to fall asleep at your computer.

     

    So without further ado, let’s start planning. Here’s what your next 60 days should look like:

     

    First 47 days – Topic Review

    • During this period, you will review all of the GRE topics. Taking the examPAL course, this entails following the course schedule exactly:
      • 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 topic, plan a 2-day mini schedule:
      • Day one: review fundamental material. On examPAL this means watching the Intro and Lesson videos. While doing so, make two lists:
        • A material summary, to help absorb the subject matter.
        • A practical tips list: anything and everything you have noticed while studying helps you get it right.
      • Day two: solve topic problems. On examPAL this entails doing the topic’s Pracite, from Diagnostic through Improvement and up to Optimization. After each practice:
        • Review the mistakes you have made, and make an update a running common mistakes list from problems that are recurring.
        • Keep updating you practical tips list, based on things you have seen do and don’t work for you while solving.
    • What you must do now is construct an exact schedule, dividing your time among the different sections. Aim to cover one topic every two days, except for a few topics you will have to cram into 1 day (if you have exactly 60 days).
    • Parallel to the topic review, plan a daily schedule of 1-1.5 hours of reading (we recommend magazine articles from a high-quality publication, preferably one you also find interesting) and working on your vocabulary (with the list in the Vocabulary and Memorization section). The GRE’s verbal level is extremely high; this part is crucial to your success.
    • Don’t forget to give yourself one day off a week. You’ll earn it, and you’ll need it!

     

    Days 48-50 – Leave Empty

    Leave three days open. You never know what will come up in the previous 47 days that will make these days handy.

     

    Days 51-58

    • Practice tests: every other day, take an ETS POWERPREP test, from start to finish. If you can, do it at the same time of day your actual test is. Afterwards, analyze your performance: what were you you strong in? What weren’t you? In the remaining hours of the day, seek out and tackle similar questions to the ones you struggled with, on examPAL or on the OG.
    • Review: on every other day between practice days, go over two or three topics. This means:
      • Reviewing from start to finish – Intro, Lesson, Practice – subject matter which the practice tests have proved to be trouble spots.
      • Review your material summary. Do it until you can recite it in your sleep. These are the fundamentals – you want to have them down pat.
      • Go over the practical tips and mistake list. Here it is not enough to memorize, what’s important is to make sure you are implementing the conclusions reached.

     

    Day 59 –

    Take it off…

    Go to the beach, take a hike, or just sleep late and relax. Whatever you do, get a full night’s sleep, because tomorrow…

     

    Day 60 – Test-Day

    Ace it! You’ve done all you need to do.

     

    Sample Study Plan

    Everything stated above is still somewhat general. Turning it into a fully detailed study plan requires factoring in your proficiency in each section and your specific constraints over the next 60 days.

    So let’s take a look a sample study plan. This plan is for John Doe, for whom the following is true: this is his first GRE, meaning he must study it all. He is a native English speaker, so no need for extra vocab work, but at the same time he should still read the paper in the morning and a book at night in order to stay sharp. He has a full time job, so his study time is the evenings, during which he can budget an hour and a half, and on the weekends, when has time for 4 hours of study. A week before the exam he is able to take time off word to study. However, three weeks prior he will have a full week he cannot study in due to a business trip, and he is also taking a weekend off for his birthday at another point.

     

    More Tips

      • Shh…. we’re studying! Minimize distractions while you work. Put your phone on silent, close all browser tabs besides exampal.com, and work somewhere quiet and comfortable.

     

    • What if you’re just not getting something? Well, depends what the problem is.

     

      • Something small? Don’t let it bog you down. Keep moving, and return to it in your review days.
      • Have serious gaps in a certain topic? Give yourself more time to study it, stealing from the time devoted to another, easier, topic (but never erase a topic completely).
    • Get 8 hours of sleep. We recommend exercising.

     

    Bottom line

    Two months is a perfect amount of time to study: you should be able to both study good and hard, and still maintain your life outside the GRE. The key word in constructing your plan is detail. The more comprehensive your plan is, the less you’ll have to think about later on. This doesn’t mean you should be rigid though; there’s always room to adapt. Find a certain topic easy? Move on the next early. Having trouble? Update your plan, giving it more time and stealing from something less important. The more organized you are, the less you will worry and the more you can focus on actually studying. Go for 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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