1-Month GRE Study Plan

12/20/2020

(See also my two, three, and four month GRE study plans. Our 4 main options to help you with your GRE prep are HERE.)

 

Hi, I'm Vince! Welcome to my 1-month GRE study plan.

Here's what you'll learn on this page:

 

  1. Who I am
  2. My top GRE books of 2021
  3. My other GRE prep recommendations
  4. The step-by-step details of my 1-month study plan

 

How long should you study for the GRE?

In general, as long as you can. 

The more study time you have, the more you'll improve. Improvement generally comes from the accumulation of experience with math, the accumulation of vocabulary for verbal, and, of course, from the honing of your strategies for various types of questions.

Most people prepare for 1-3 months, but that doesn't mean YOU should prepare for 1-3 months! You're unique; you're not the average of "people". It depends on where you're starting, score-wise, and what your score goals are.

I recommending erring on the side of caution and preparing for more time than you think you need - but I also probably wouldn't prepare for more than 6 months at the absolute maximum, since the opportunity cost most likely outweighs any additional progress you'll make at that point.

 

Who's This Vince Guy?

 

Why listen to me? I've been doing this for 11 years. My successes and failures with students have taught me what works and what doesn't work. There's no fluff here - just the best stuff I've found for studying for the GRE.

Also, my plans are based on official ETS material and won't make you waste time with unrealistic test-prep company questions. You don't need to sign up for an expensive GRE course to use my plans, either.

If you have a question about this study plan, you can get in touch with me here.

 

Testimonial: "My name is Samantha, and I am currently applying to Physician Assistant school. I took my first GRE in April, and I solely used Magoosh to study for about three months. My results were, in my opinion, pretty disappointing for all the time I put into studying - a 304. I felt that ETS was way harder than anything I saw on Magoosh. When looking at the ETS books on Amazon, I saw your comments and checked out your website and study plans. I decided to take the plunge in following your one month plan before re-taking my GRE. And guess what? I raised my score by seven points in that short span of time! I wanted to thank you from the bottom of my heart for all the work and effort you put forth into making your plans accessible to the public; they made a world of difference in my studying, comprehension, score, and hopefully my applications as I finish those up."

 

Best GRE Books For 2021

 

I know it would be great if you just needed to buy one GRE book or course, but if you're serious about improving, you'll want to use a few different resources. 

Note: This page contains Amazon affiliate links and I earn a commission if you purchase things through them. However, any commission I earn comes at no additional cost to you, and you pay nothing extra. My recommendations are based on deep experience with these resources, and I recommend them because they are helpful and useful, not because of the small commissions I receive if you choose to buy something.)

 

ETS Super Power Pack (#1 for practice material)

Why buy: Contains 596 official GRE practice questions, which are worth their weight in gold. Other companies' practice questions and tests, to put it bluntly, suck.

Tip: The primary purpose of owning this book is to use its practice questions, but you'll get much more out of those questions if you learn some verbal and math strategies before working on them. My YouTube channel is a good place to learn strategies for free.

 

ETS Big Book (27 old tests!)

Why buy: Don't buy it! It's out of print and costs a fortune, but it's online as a PDF if you look. It has 27 old tests that are good practice for math, reading comprehension, critical reasoning, and text completion. 

This book is your new best friend if you're bad at math, since most of its math questions are easier than those in the Super Power Pack. They're a great way to build skill and experience so you can tackle harder questions later.

 

ETS Powerprep GRE Tests (#1 for practice tests)

Why buy: This is as real as it gets: practice tests written by the people who create the GRE. I recommend using all five (two are free and the other three cost $39.95 each).

 

Other GRE Study Materials

 

Manhattan Prep's 5-lb. GRE Practice Book (#1 for math concept repetition)

Why buy: When working on GRE math, it's nice to be able to do a bunch of questions in a row for a certain concept, so this is the one exception to my admonition to avoid third-party-written GRE material. Just don't do any verbal questions in this book.

Tip: For any given math chapter in the 5-lb., don't worry about the questions you can't do. Just aim to complete some questions for each topic in each chapter depending on how much you need to work on that topic.

 

Whiteboard (#1 for realistic practice)

Why buy: If you take the At Home GRE, you can't use a pencil and paper - you need to either use a dry erase whiteboard or a piece of paper covered with a clear plastic sheet. 

 

Ultra-fine point markers and eraser

Why buy: Normal dry erase markers are too thick to use for math problems - these work much better.

 

Productivity Planner (#1 for organization)

Why buy: There are things in your life you have to do that aren't related to GRE prep, and if you don't have a system to work on those other tasks, they can eat up your precious GRE study time. I love this planner since it forces you to prioritize tasks on a daily and weekly basis and provides a method to increase your focus and attention.

 

Discipline Equals Freedom (#1 for motivation)

Why buy: Your biggest GRE prep obstacle might be you. In this book, Jocko - a former Navy SEAL - tells you how to move past your excuses and get shit done. If you're the type to be more inspired by "Just Do It" as opposed to something more touchy-feely, this book might be helpful for you.

Not sure you'll like the Jocko approach? Check out his Instagram or podcast.

 

Graduate Admissions Essays (#1 for the whole application process)

Why buy: An excellent guide to the entire admission process, not just the essay. Read the whole damn thing from cover to cover if you're serious about getting into a particular program.

Want some personalized assistance with your graduate school personal statement or statement of purpose? Check out our options here!

 

 

Vince's 1-month GRE study plan

 

(See also my two, three, and four-month GRE study plans.)

 

Estimated time: 3 - 4 hours per day, Monday through Saturday, and 2 hours on Sunday. If you don't have that much time, do what you can, and don't be discouraged if you can't finish everything! Be kind to yourself and take care of your physical and mental health.

If there are tasks you don't finish in week 1, for example, push them to week 2 or spread them out over the rest of your plan.

 

Daily To-Dos (30-60 minutes)

 

  • 30 minutes of vocab practice (try my GRE vocabulary cartoons flashcards).
  • 5 minutes of reading a long passage from one of the verbal sections of the ETS "Big Book" (an old PDF with 27 tests).
  • 5 minutes of mental math games (iPhone version) or (Android version).
  • Review a strategy video or two (links below under Week 1 Tasks)
  • Fill out what you did today on your GRE study tracker and complete the error log for any questions you got wrong or that were time-consuming.

 

Week 1 Tasks

Theme: Learn strategies and math concepts. 

  • Watch my verbal strategy videos on YouTube or in my complete verbal video course.
  • Work on a few questions for each verbal question type - take these from anywhere in the ETS books. Take your time and be as accurate as you can.
  • Read the essay chapter in the ETS verbal book.
  • Read my GRE math concepts blog and practice any weak concepts using Khan Academy.
  • Watch my math strategy videos.
  • Do 4 "math practice sets". Directions: Pick out 9 quantitative comparison questions and 11 normal math questions from the ETS books and work on them for 35 minutes. You can start with questions from the ETS Big Book PDF if you're not great at math (they're easier). Move on from questions you get stuck on. Keep your accuracy above 75% (questions you moved on from or didn't have time to get to don't count).
  • Do half of the questions in each of these Manhattan 5-lb book chapters: 7, 11, 12, 14, 20. Move on from and forget about questions you can't do. If you do not get to these this week because you're still working on Khan Academy, spread them out over the rest of the plan.
  • Read my test-day tips.
  • Saturday: take a ETS Powerprep test under realistic conditions.
  • Sunday: fill out your error log for that Powerprep test.
  • Need more help? Work with me personally to create a customized study plan.

 

Week 2 Tasks

Theme: practice!

  • Do 2 verbal "practice sets". Directions: Pick 6 text completion, 4 sentence equivalence, 8 reading comprehension, and 2 critical reasoning questions from anywhere in the ETS books and work on them for 30 minutes. Move on from questions you get stuck on. Keep your accuracy above 75% (questions you moved on from or didn't have time to get to don't count).
  • Do 4 math practice sets.
  • Do half of the questions in each of these Manhattan 5-lb book chapters: 8, 9, 10, 17, 28. Move on from and forget about questions you can't do.
  • Read Vince’s test-day tips.
  • Saturday: take a ETS Powerprep test under realistic conditions.
  • Sunday: complete your error log for that Powerprep test.

 

Week 3 Tasks

Theme: more practice!

  • Do 2 verbal practice sets.
  • Do 4 math practice sets.
  • Do half of the questions in each of these Manhattan 5-lb book chapters: 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26. Move on from and forget about questions you can't do.
  • Read Vince’s test-day tips
  • Saturday: take a ETS Powerprep Plus test under realistic conditions
  • Sunday: do corrections for that Powerprep test

 

Week 4 Tasks

Theme: even more practice!

  • Do 2 verbal practice sets.
  • Do 4 math practice sets.
  • Do half of the questions in each of these Manhattan 5-lb book chapters: 27, 29, 16, 18, 19. Move on from and forget about questions you can't do.
  • Read Vince’s test-day tips
  • Saturday: take a ETS Powerprep Plus test under realistic conditions.
  • Sunday: do your error log for that Powerprep test.
  • Important: do not study the day before the real test! Good luck!

 

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