4-Month GRE Study Plan

4/5/2020

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

 

Hi, I'm Vince! Welcome to my 4-month GRE study plan.

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

  1. Who I am
  2. My top GRE books of 2020
  3. My other GRE prep recommendations
  4. The step-by-step details of my 4-month study plan

 

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 2020

 

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.

 

GMAT Official Guides (#1 for cross training)

Why buy: If you're a high achiever and have the time for it, official GMAT material is good additional practice for quant (just don't do the GMAT's "data sufficiency" questions), reading comp, and critical reasoning.

An alternative to buying these books is downloading the free GMAT Prep software and using the two tests therein. You can take those tests more than once, since they draw from a huge pool of practice questions.

FYI: I've heard from people who switched from the GMAT to the GRE at the last minute, and a few of them crushed the GRE with almost no GRE-specific training. GMAT experience can definitely help.

 

GRE Verbal Precision (#1 for verbal strategy)

GRE Verbal Precision is my video course designed to help you more precisely determine whether answers are right or wrong when working on verbal questions. Also includes advice about the essay portion of the test.

 

Vince's Guide to Learning GRE Math Concepts (#1 for learning math basics)

FREE: My complete guide to building a strong GRE math foundation for free by using Khan Academy. This is my most popular free resource by far.

 

Vince's Complete Guide to Learning GRE Vocabulary (#1 for vocab)

FREE: My e-book explaning how to efficiently and effectively learn new words. Includes a compilation of seven popular GRE vocabulary lists. 

 

Vince's GRE Study Tracker (#1 for tracking accomplishments)

FREE: A simple way to keep track of what you accomplish every day. Includes a vocab review guide, a mistake journal, and a practice test score tracker.

 

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.

 

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.

 

P.S. All my Amazon reviews of GRE prep books can be found on my Amazon profile. Warning: I can be blunt if I think a particular book is a waste of your time and money.

 

 

Vince's 4-month GRE study plan

 

(See also my onetwo, and three month GRE study plans)

 

Estimated time: 90 - 120 minutes per weekday, 3 - 4 hours on weekend days. You will notice that there are many different places you'll have to go to do all the tasks. I wish everything was in one place, but effectiveness > convenience! Be patient with yourself - it will take some effort to get comfortable working on everything.

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.

For math: When I say something like, "Do 60 math questions" I mean solve 60 questions you CAN do by yourself. You can start with the ETS Big Book, but make sure you eventually also do the ones in the books in the Super Power Pack. If you get stuck on a question, skip it if you can't figure it out after a couple of minutes. The number of questions you have successfully solved is what drives your progress.

For verbal: When I say "do sentence equivalence or text completion or reading comprehension", use the Super Power Pack books. For "critical reasoning" questions, start with the Big Book (in the sections called "analytical" by a test's answer key) and eventually do the critical reasoning questions in the Super Power Pack as well. Critical reasoning questions ask things like what would strengthen or weaken an argument or explain a paradox. You can see a full list of critical reasoning question types in the table of contents of my verbal video course.

 

Daily to-dos (45-ish minutes)

 

 

Week 1

Read the essay chapter in the ETS verbal book

Do 4 sentence equivalence questions and 4 text completion questions (ETS books) and corrections

Do 60 math questions (ETS books) and corrections. If you do not get to these this week because you're still working on Khan Academy, just spread them out over the rest of the plan.

Read Vince’s test-day tips

NEW! Need more help? Check out my verbal video course or work me me personally to create a customized study plan.

 

 

Week 2

Write an issue essay (45 minute time limit) from any ETS prompt

Do 4 sentence equivalence questions and 4 text completion questions (ETS books) and corrections

Do 8 reading comprehension questions from ETS books and corrections

Do at least 10 questions in each of these 5-lb chapters 7, 11, 12, 14, 20. Ideally, get about 75% of each chapter done. If you do not get to these this week because you're still working on Khan Academy, just spread them out over the rest of the plan.

Do 30 ETS math questions and corrections. If you do not get to these this week because you're still working on Khan Academy, just spread them out over the rest of the plan.

Take Powerprep Online Test 1 (Saturday)

Correct the test (Sunday)

 

Week 3

Write an argument essay from any ETS prompt (45 minute limit)

Do 4 sentence equivalence questions and 4 text completion questions (ETS books) and corrections

Do 8 Reading Comp questions from ETS books and corrections

Do 6 ETS Critical Reasoning questions (supplement with the ETS Big Book's analytical sections - just use passages in those sections that only have one associated question for the passage)

Do at least 10 questions in each of these 5-lb chapters: 8, 9, 10, 17, 28. Ideally, get about 75% of each chapter done.

Do 30 ETS math questions and corrections

 

Week 4

Do 4 sentence equivalence questions and 4 text completion questions (ETS books) and corrections

Do 8 Reading Comp questions from ETS books and corrections

Do 6 ETS Critical Reasoning questions (supplement with the ETS Big Book's analytical sections - just use passages in those sections that only have one associated question for the passage)

Do at least 10 questions from each of these 5-lb chapters: 21, 22, 23, 24. Ideally, get about 75% of each chapter done.

Do 30 ETS math questions and corrections

 

Week 5

Do 4 sentence equivalence questions and 4 text completion questions (ETS books) and corrections

Do 8 Reading Comp questions from ETS books and corrections

Do 6 ETS Critical Reasoning questions (supplement with the ETS Big Book's analytical sections - just use passages in those sections that only have one associated question for the passage)

Do at least 10 questions from each of these 5-lb chapters: 25, 26, 27, 29. Ideally, get about 75% of each chapter done.

Do 30 ETS math questions and corrections

Read Vince’s test-day tips

 

Week 6

Do 4 sentence equivalence questions and 4 text completion questions (ETS books) and corrections

Do 8 Reading Comp questions from ETS books and corrections

Do 6 ETS Critical Reasoning questions (supplement with the ETS Big Book's analytical sections - just use passages in those sections that only have one associated question for the passage)

Do at least 10 questions from each of these 5-lb chapters: 16, 18. Ideally, get about 75% of each chapter done.

Do 30 ETS math questions and corrections

 

Week 7

Do 4 sentence equivalence questions and 4 text completion questions (ETS books) and corrections

Do 8 Reading Comp questions from ETS books and corrections

Do 6 ETS Critical Reasoning questions (supplement with the ETS Big Book's analytical sections - just use passages in those sections that only have one associated question for the passage)

Do at least 10 questions from each of these 5-lb chapters: 19. Ideally, get about 75% of each chapter done.

Do 30 ETS math questions and corrections

 

Week 8

Do 4 sentence equivalence questions and 4 text completion questions (ETS books) and corrections

Do 8 Reading Comp questions from ETS books and corrections

Do 6 ETS Critical Reasoning questions (supplement with the ETS Big Book's analytical sections - just use passages in those sections that only have one associated question for the passage)

Do 30 ETS math questions and corrections

Read Vince’s test-day tips

Saturday: Do Powerprep Online Test 2

Sunday: corrections

 

Week 9

Do 4 sentence equivalence questions and 4 text completion questions (ETS books) and corrections

Do 8 Reading Comp questions from ETS books and corrections

Do 6 ETS Critical Reasoning questions (supplement with the ETS Big Book's analytical sections - just use passages in those sections that only have one associated question for the passage)

Do 30 ETS math questions and corrections

Read Vince’s test-day tips

Saturday: do remaining sections from Powerprep Online test 1

 

Week 10

Do 4 sentence equivalence questions and 4 text completion questions (ETS books) and corrections

Do 8 Reading Comp questions from ETS books and corrections

Do 6 ETS Critical Reasoning questions (supplement with the ETS Big Book's analytical sections - just use passages in those sections that only have one associated question for the passage)

Do 30 ETS math questions and corrections

Saturday: do remaining sections from Powerprep Online Test 2

 

Week 11

Do 4 sentence equivalence questions and 4 text completion questions (ETS books) and corrections

Do 8 Reading Comp questions from ETS books and corrections

Do 6 ETS Critical Reasoning questions (supplement with the ETS Big Book's analytical sections - just use passages in those sections that only have one associated question for the passage)

Do 30 ETS math questions and corrections

Read Vince’s test-day tips

Saturday: do Powerprep Plus Test 1

Sunday: corrections

 

Week 12

Do 4 sentence equivalence questions and 4 text completion questions (ETS books) and corrections

Do 8 Reading Comp questions from ETS books and corrections

Do 6 ETS Critical Reasoning questions (supplement with the ETS Big Book's analytical sections - just use passages in those sections that only have one associated question for the passage)

Do 30 ETS math questions and corrections

 

Week 13

Do 4 sentence equivalence questions and 4 text completion questions (ETS books) and corrections

Do 8 Reading Comp questions from ETS books and corrections

Do 6 ETS Critical Reasoning questions (supplement with the ETS Big Book's analytical sections - just use passages in those sections that only have one associated question for the passage)

Do 30 ETS math questions and corrections

Read Vince’s test-day tips

Saturday: Do Powerprep Plus Test 2

Sunday: Corrections

 

Week 14

Do 4 sentence equivalence questions and 4 text completion questions (ETS books) and corrections

Do 8 Reading Comp questions from ETS books and corrections

Do 6 ETS Critical Reasoning questions (supplement with the ETS Big Book's analytical sections - just use passages in those sections that only have one associated question for the passage)

Do 30 ETS math questions and corrections

Read Vince’s test-day tips

 

Week 15

Do 4 sentence equivalence questions and 4 text completion questions (ETS books) and corrections

Do 8 Reading Comp questions from ETS books and corrections

Do 6 ETS Critical Reasoning questions (supplement with the ETS Big Book's analytical sections - just use passages in those sections that only have one associated question for the passage)

Do 30 ETS math questions and corrections

Read Vince’s test-day tips

Saturday: take PowerPrep Plus test 3

Sunday: do corrections

 

Week 16

You have the week off - your reward for studying for four straight months. Relax, and do some self-care this week! 

Read Vince’s test-day tips.



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