A Complete (77-Item) GRE Prep Checklist


I came up with the idea for this GRE study checklist while talking with Soph, one of our GRE tutors.

The idea was that we need to make sure the student learns everything but also that he or she knows what those things are.

Believe me, I wish I could fit all this information into a cute little infographic, but there was no way. GRE prep involves a lot of little things, hence, the giant checklist.

Important note: only check something off if you're sure you know it. We want full knowledge, not partial knowledge.

This list is divided up into six areas: GRE basics, Foundation, Preparing to Practice, Actual Practice, Timed Tests, and Test Day.

GRE Basics

1. I've contacted the programs I'm interested in to see what their average scores are for each GRE section.

2. I know what the application dates and deadlines are for the programs I'm applying to.

3. I know about when I need to schedule the real GRE, allowing time for a retake if desired.

4. If I'm interested in test accommodations (like extra time), I've read about how to qualify and apply for them.

5. I know the test takes around 3 hours and 45 minutes to complete.

6. I understand how the GRE is scored (130-170 range for verbal and math scores, 1-6 for essay scores).

7. I understand how the GRE's difficulty changes depending on how well I do on a section.

8. I'm aware that the GRE will contain an unscored, experimental section.

9. I know it takes 10-15 days for scores to be sent to programs after I take the GRE.

10. I know I can choose which test date's scores to send using "Score Select" (you don't have to send them all).

11. I know I can take the test once every 21 days, but only five times every 365 days.

12. I know my GRE scores are valid for five years after my test date.

13. I own the ETS Super Power Pack (the three official ETS books).



14. I have taken a free GRE practice test to get a baseline score (link to a Manhattan Prep GRE test).

15. I have a source of GRE vocabulary words.

16. I have a systematic approach to learning and reviewing GRE vocab.

17. I read academic journals that are outside my comfort zone to build my reading comprehension skills.

18. I've read through the ETS Math Review to identify what math concepts the GRE tests.

19. I've read through the ETS Mathematical Conventions to learn the rules by which the GRE writes math questions.

20. I've identified which concepts in the math review I've mastered and which I haven't.

21. I have a plan to master any concepts I'm not really good at (Khan Academy, etc.)

22. I have a systematic way of reviewing old concepts as I learn new ones.

23. I've read everything ETS writes about the essays, both online and in the official ETS GRE books.

24. I have a system to read and brainstorm essay topics from the Issue Pool and Argument Pool.


Preparing To Practice

25. I can identify the five major types of verbal questions (sentence equivalence, text completion, reading comprehension, logic, and function/structure).

26. I have learned a technique / approach for each type of verbal question (ex. Vince's technique videos).

27. I have learned some math techniques (again, Vince's videos) to give me alternate ways of solving questions.

28. I have a plan (which may change over time) in terms of what I want to accomplish each week for each part of the GRE (essays, verbal, and math).

29. I schedule my practice time each week.

30. I've scheduled all my timed practice tests.

Actual Practice (Essays and Verbal)

31. I'm writing essays from the prompts in the Issue and Argument Pools.

32. I've compared my essays to the ones in the ETS GRE books.

33. A friend who is a good writer/editor has given me feedback on my essays.

34. I'm happy with the general quality of my last three untimed essays for each task (Issue / Argument).

35. I'm happy with the general quality of my last three timed essays for each task.

36. I've read all the prompts in each pool and brainstormed at least half of them.

37. I have a slow, steady pace for working on ETS verbal questions so that I can learn from them and improve as I go.

38. For any ETS verbal question I've done, I can explain how to prove the right answer.

39. For any question I missed, I tried the question again from scratch before I knew what the right answer was.

40. For any question I missed, I've read the ETS explanation.

41. If I got any ETS verbal question wrong, I can explain a. why the choice I picked was wrong b. why the choice I picked was attractive, and c. how the test writers may have tried to disguise the right answer (if applicable).

42. I write down why I think I got any given question wrong.

43. I write down takeaways whenever possible - i.e., what the question taught me about how the test is written.

44. If I'm hardcore, I've cross-trained with GMAT Critical Reasoning and Reading Comprehension questions from any official GMAT book.


Actual Practice (Math)

45. As I learn concepts, I practice them using the Manhattan 5-lb. book and the ETS books to get used to GRE style questions for each concept.

46. I've completed all the ETS Math Review questions.

47. I over-practice to make sure I'm really good at a given concept at a GRE level.

48. I have a system for practicing old things as I learn new ones.

49. I try to solve questions in more than one way whenever possible.

50. For any ETS math question I've done, I can identify a. what concept(s) are being tested, b. the best method to solve, and c. what can be learned from the question.

51. For any ETS math question I missed, I tried the question again from scratch before I knew the answer.

52. I've read the ETS explanation for any question I missed.

53. I write down why I think I got a question wrong if I missed it.

54. I make flashcards with a "trigger" on one side and a "what I'll do when I see the trigger" on the other side.

55. I've identified weak areas so I can either strengthen them before the real test or avoid them on the real test.

56. I've completed all the ETS math questions in the books.

57. If I'm hardcore, I've cross-trained with official GMAT math problem solving questions from any official GMAT book, and with official SAT questions from the old (pre-2016) SAT, using the old "Official SAT Study Guide" book.


Timed Tests

58. I've downloaded and installed the Powerprep II software.

59. I've taken the ETS Powerprep Timed Test 1 at about the halfway point before my first real GRE.

60. I've taken all of the Powerprep Test 1 second sections (easy, medium, and hard) for both verbal and math, accessing them with Vince's answer key.

61. I've bought one of the Manhattan Prep GRE books from its 8-book series, so I can access the six Manhattan Prep GRE practice tests.

62. I've taken all six Manhattan Prep GRE practice tests.

63. If I'm hardcore, I've cross-trained with official GMAT computer adaptive tests (for math and reading comprehension / critical reasoning).

64. I've taken the ETS Powerprep Timed Test 2 around 2 weeks before my real GRE test date.

65. I've taken all of the Powerprep Test 2 second sections (easy, medium, and hard) for both verbal and math, accessing them with Vince's answer key.

66. I've reviewed all questions I either guessed on or missed in the ETS Powerprep tests.

67. I'm comfortable with giving up on difficult questions.

68. I know what kinds of questions I'm better at and which kinds I'm worse at.

69. I have a plan to do certain kinds of questions first and/or last.

70. I have concrete actions I can take to make sure I work carefully.


Test Day

71. I have a mantra for each section of the test.

72. I have told myself what my triggers are to guess and move on from a question.

73. I take a few seconds to look over a question before I begin it and a few seconds to check it before I leave it.

74. I've read about GRE test center procedures so I won't get thrown off by something unexpected.

75. I know not everything is going to go exactly how I want it to on test day.

76. I have a plan to optimize my GRE break time.

77. I have a notepad to write down anything I did during the test that I'd like to do differently next time.


Ok! That's it. Good luck with your GRE prep, and please let me know if you have anything you think I should add to this list!

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