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How to Crack the GRE?

Written by  Rachit Agrawal, MBA

Published on Sun, December 24, 2017 4:37 PM   Updated on Mon, December 16, 2019 6:41 AM   18 mins read

Source: GREedge

Graduate Record Examination (GRE) is a standardized test required for taking admissions to masters and doctoral degree programs for most graduate schools in the United States. It mainly assesses the verbal, quantitative and analytical skills of the student. It is suitable for those who want to pursue master’s degree fellowships, like MS, MIM, and MBA abroad. This post is about how to crack the GRE.

Each year, hundreds of thousands of prospective graduate and business school applicants from around the world take the GRE tests.In fact, the number of Indian students appearing for GRE in India grew by nearly 20% in the year 2015 indicating that Indian students are increasingly looking for study opportunities abroad. Hence, it is extremely crucial as well as important for the applicants to be ready beforehand with their preparation in order to score well and get selected in their dream college.

How to crack GRE Exam?

  • Begin your preparation early:

One should start preparing for the GRE at least 2-3 months before the test. It will be better if an aspirant can give 4-5 months of preparation for this. This is because GRE is quite a structured test with each part a challenge in itself. So it is imperative for an aspirant to ace them through constant and continuous preparation. This will also allow him/her to balance his time with other ongoing activities.

  • Always have a timetable:

A timetable is the best way to manage your time effectively. One needs to properly divide his/her time for all three sections. Apart from this, special emphasis is to be given on the weaker parts. This will not only balance one’s daily routine but also enhance productivity and efficiency with time.

Also, one should start the day with the most difficult part as completing that section will automatically bring confidence to cover the remaining. Take short breaks in between long hours of study. Give proper time for leisure activities also.

  • Build your mental strength:

GRE test preparation requires substantive efforts and continuity in your approach for a solid foundation. This is not a simple task as it requires a lot of determination and willpower. It somewhere depends on why you are doing it. In other words, throughout your preparation period, you need to follow a strict discipline in which your first priority shall always be your GRE test preparation.

Apart from this, GRE test is 3 hours 45 minutes long. You need to maintain your calm and willpower throughout this time which requires the constant practice of test papers from the very initial stage. Thus building your mental strength to come out of your comfort zone and working on your skills on a daily basis is of paramount importance.

  • Choose study material carefully:

One should select his study material carefully as there are thousands of material out there but all of them are not genuine. One should not get too much of study material also as they are of no use. Instead one should select only the most relevant source which they are able to comprehend. Apart from this, one should also refer some online materials as they are quite helpful. Practice Papers must be solved to assess one’s preparation.

  • Learning Vocabulary:

This is one of the most important parts of this test preparation since it helps in both Verbal and analytical writing section. Vocabulary not only helps in understanding a word’s meaning but also word building and using it at appropriate places for expressing the ideas in the most effective manner. It is moreover the weapon of good aspirants to score more through their strong literary skills. One can improve upon this through reading lots and lots of texts like books, novels, newspapers, magazines etc. One should also create a separate word list for all the typical words with their meaning and context.

  • Newspapers, Magazines, and Blogs:

Giving special attention to this section is not only from the vocabulary point of view. It is also because it helps in developing one’s capacity to get ideas and therefore write an essay effectively. In other words, this section improves the knowledge base of aspirants and helps them ace the essay part. One should also write notes/summary of important editorials and articles and revise them frequently. For both Issue Task and Argument task, having a command over language as well as information base is extremely important.

  • Special Focus on Quant section:

Quant section mainly assesses basic high school level mathematical knowledge and reasoning skills. However it is more complicated to score in Quant than in other sections. Although this notion may vary from person to person based on his/her skill, most of the questions are based on a simple logic with a twist in it, making it a brain teaser.

Understanding these subtle nuances is often the solution to most problems.Attempting to solve a problem with only concepts and procedure can be both confusing and time-consuming. A far more efficient approach would be to figure out a pattern in the trick questions and create a strategy which can be used for them.

  • Practice Mock tests:

Mock tests should be taken on a regular basis as it will help you evaluate your actual test performance and make you accustomed to test pressure. It helps one in knowing their weaker and stronger areas. It also helps in understanding the traps in answer choices. Thus your ability to get a question right will not only depend on the right choice but also on the wrong answers.

Apart from this, it also makes one familiar with the actual test conditions. By practicing mock tests, the aspirants directly hone their problem-solving skill and concept building approach.

  • Target your weak areas:

After you have solved some mock tests, you will get a clear picture of your strengths and weaknesses. Now you have to approach both of them with different strategies. For the weaker areas, you must designate more time and give special emphasis in the beginning. However, during the end of your preparation, your main focus should be on your strengths and you should practice it more and more.

  • Understand the structure of Test

 While its naturally known to every GRE Aspirant about the structure of the test, it is important to thoroughly understand it. Even if your preparation is good enough, lack of time management during the test and understanding of the weightage can drastically bring your marks down. GRE includes Analytical Writing, Verbal Reasoning, and Quantitative Reasoning and are given the duration of 1 hour, 30 minutes, and 35 minutes respectively. 


According to ETS, Verbal Reasoning Test “Measures the ability to analyze and draw conclusions from discourse, reason from incomplete data, understand multiple levels of meaning, such as literal, figurative and author’s intent, summarize text, distinguish major from minor points, understand the meanings of words, sentences and entire texts, and understand relationships among words and among concepts”. Each verbal section comprises of 6 text completion, 10  critical reading questions, and 4 sentence equivalence questions.

Tips to crack GRE Verbal

    1. Do not take the Critical reading lightly, although it is very similar to reading comprehensions we do in school. It is important to analyse it instead of reading like a layperson. 
    1. Always read the questions before the comprehension, so that while reading the comprehension, it will be easy to mark the sections that have the answer and it saves tonnes of time. 
    1. While answering, always differentiate your main argument with sub arguments
    1. For the Sentence Equivalence Questions, remember to update your vocabulary.
    1. Read the question carefully and understand its context and then answer it. The solution to this is always in the question itself.
    1. For the Test Completion section, make sure to read the entire essay to understand it’s general meaning.
    1. Get well versed with homonyms, synonyms, and antonyms.
    1. While solving double blank or triple blank test completion, choose the blank that has the maximum context with it and build the other answers accordingly.
    1. Solve as many sample questions as possible. This will increase your solving pace.
  1. Keep record of each new word that you see in GRE test papers and revise them everyday.


Taking a GRE test can already be expensive and there is no stopping to the expenses once you go down the road of studying abroad. The best solutions one can have is save money wherever possible. One of the best ways to do that is to prevent yourself from taking professional help for preparation. While it is not easy, it is not even impossible.

    1. Prepare to do some serious studying. Do not take any section lightly just because you think you are good in it.
    1. Choose proper GRE prep Books. There are many available in the market but a lot of them can only confuse you. So, go for the best options. 
    1. Use the wonder that is the Internet, check important videos on GRE on youtube.
    1. Focus on understanding the questions, specially in the quantitative section, then switch to quick tips to solve them. If you directly jump to the short solutions, you will not be able to handle all the questions.
    1. Time management is the key. Give yourself a minimum of 6 months before taking the test. Start with the section you are worst in.
    1. Solve Sample Questions at the end of every month to record your preparation.
    1. Do not procrastinate. You can keep an off day every week but do not increase its number. Because once it starts, there is no stopping it.
    1. Remember to get prepared one month before the test date. And solve as many GRE sample papers you can in that time.
    1. Keep track of time. Not only the entire test but section wise. Then, work on your weaknesses.
  1. Find yourself a study partner, share your queries and solve them. But be very wise in this decision.


Now that GRE is around the corner, and you still haven’t started studying for it, you don’t understand that its over for you. All you need a very strict plan of preparation and you are good to go.

    1. Remember that you don’t have any time to waste and you have a robust plan ahead.So prepare yourself accordingly.
    1. Choose the best study materials you can find in preparing for GRE.
    1. Take a personal tuition or coaching, if need be.
    1. Stick to your schedule.You must have already  understood that you have no time to waste anymore.
    1. Take an entire day to just go through the GRE test. Check out the sample papers, understand the sections and sub divisions. So that you can get ready to plan ahead.
    1. Create a schedule on the basis of priority. If there is a section that is important and you are good at it. You can label it as the last priority. The sections with high importance and easiness to understand can be of the highest priority. The tough sections with high importance can be second priority, and so on. This is just a suggestion, you can choose your own priority.
    1. If you are bad at a section and have no hope to improve whatsoever, do  not even touch it. You will only get confused and waste time.
    1. Do not divide sections on the basis of days rather, hours in a day. If you do, you will eventually get bored.
    1. Solve GRE sample questions every week to assess your improvement. 
  1. Save a minimum of 4 days before the test just for Sample papers. Record your timing, and improve yourself. But, a day before the test, do not solve too much and rest assured that you will do your best.


A strong vocabulary is highly valuable, even if you take a GRE test or not. But for a GRE aspirant, there is no option but to have a strong vocabulary. These are some steps you can follow to crack GRE vocabulary.

    1. Read as much as you can. Choose classics or Highly acclaimed novels. Try restraining from popular genre, even though appealing, they do not have strong vocabulary as the main focus is on the general audience.
    1. Keep your dictionary with you, always. Keep writing new words and their meanings in a notebook or flashcards.
    1. Try breaking the words to understand their meaning. Understand the etymology of a word For eg:the word ‘Incontrovertible’ comes from ‘Controvert’ that means ‘denying the truth of something’ and ‘In’ stands for ‘not’ making our initial word’s meaning as ‘Not able to deny the truth of something’.
    1. Check out the GRE Vocabulary list of a minimum of 3 years.
    1. Keep revising the words and using them in your day to day conversations.
  1. If it takes time to learn a word’s meaning. Understand its usage in a sentence or create a mental image of its meaning.


Anaytical Writing is one of the most difficult sections to score in GRE because its preparation can never be enough. It consists of 2 essay questions that you need to solve in the first section of the test. But you can surely get good marks in this section  with some hard work and smart work.

    1. If you aim to get 6 pointers in this section, you must focus on your content clarity.
    1. Analyse the most important  feature of the question and make your answer on that basis.
    1. Be true to your argument, do not sound ambiguous.
    1. Support your arguments with strong critiques.
    1. Demonstrate your control on the Language. Use figure of speeches,  synonyms, etc. 
    1. Structure your answer well. It should have a beginning and a conclusion. 
    1. Every idea of yours should be in a different paragraph. 
    1. Do not repeat words continually. It shows the reader that you have a limited vocaublary.
    1. Revise your answer before submitting it.
  1. Use phrases but quote them and if you cite anyone, make sure the words are exact or just use the keywords.


This section focuses mainly on your vocabulary. But to crack this section, you need more than just a good vocabulary, Understanding of sentence formation. 

    1. Learn the synonyms for the words you already know or learning.
    1. Categorize your word on the basis of tone it adds to the sentence. If the sentence goes on a negative sense and the word is positive, it is a wrong choice.
    1. Fill the blank that has a context in the sentence. 
    1. Understand the grammatical structure and then answer.
  1. Check if the sentence is passive or active voice. Check its tense and then answer accordingly.


This section is very similar to the Sentence Equivalence but it has several blanks in the sentence than one. Here the tricky part is that each word has a relation with the other sentence. 

    1. Learn the synonyms for the words you already know or learning.
    1. Categorize your word on the basis of tone it adds to the sentence. If the sentence goes on a negative sense and the word is positive, it is a wrong choice.
    1. Fill the blank that has a context in the sentence. Then use that sentence to form answers for that question.
    1. Understand the grammatical structure and then answer.
  1. Check if the sentence is passive or active voice. Check its tense and then answer accordingly.


GRE Quantitative section can be the best ever section for some but for some it can be the closest thing to hell. But no one can deny that with hard work in this section, it can be the best option for students to score high.

    1. Understand the basics of every section.
    1. Start with solving questions with the most general procedure, once you are working good in it, start using shortcuts.
    1. Categorize the sections from easiest to toughest and prepare accordingly. 
    1. Thoroughly read the question while taking the test.
    1. Divide the question into sections, if you are not able to understand it easily.
    1. Till the date of test, revise your formulas everyday and keep them on the tips of your finger.
    1. Avoid any risky shortcuts, and before planning to apply any, check its value in every question of it kind.
    1. Practice as much as you can. The best way to improve yourself in this section is to keep doing it.
    1. Check for solutions on Internet if you cannot solve any. But, choose only the reliable sources.
  1. Choose a comprehensive book to prepare for this section that not only has questions but also clears your basics.


Many students believe that this is one of the toughest sections of the test but it is important to know that the section is scoring compared to others in the Verbal Section. 

    1. Read the paragraph properly.
    1. Try reading the questions and their options first and then read the paragraph that way you will save time as well as while reading the passage, you will keep finding the answers.
    1. Remember that the answer is always there in the passage. 
    1. Make sure your understanding of the question is clear.
  1. Know synonyms of different words as several times the MCQs have rephrased answers from the passage or use synonyms.


When planning to take the test, the question of ‘How hard is it to rack GRE?’ must have come across your mind. And if you have come this far in the article, you must have understood it isn’t easy to crack GRE test. But, it also isn’t the toughest. All you need is hardwork and smart planning and you are good to go.  


320 is an ideal score for every aspirant of GRE. If you manage to get this, not only are you getting famous among your family and friends, you will be known academically as this score opens doors to some of the most reputed colleges in the World. 

    1. You must focus on the GRE exam solely. Do not diverge your target.
    1. Quantitive section is the most scoring as all it needs is hardcore practice.
    1. Focus highly on your vocabulary for the test.
    1. Read as much as you can. Research on the topics that are usually given in the Analytical Writing section
    1. Keep confidence and do not procrastinate.
    1. Take help from coachings or tuitions if needed.
    1. Solve as many sample papers as you can.
    1. Revise formulas and newly learned words daily till you get the hang of it.
    1. Follow the steps mentioned in each section particularly to improve your performance  in them.
  1. Make a time table and follow it like a Holy Book.


If your GRE Score is low and you still plan to study abroad. The first step of it that scares is the Visa Interview. As the GRE Score is one of the main criteria that you are judged on for a Visa.

    1. Read the frequently asked Visa questions that are asked and prepare for them.
    1. Build up your confidence and dress well for the interview as it will be the first thing that will be noticed by them.
    1. Do not tell stories to them, unless asked for instances. 
    1. Do a thorough research of your University in interest and Country in interest. 
  1. Know about your education and professional plans ahead. If you sound dumbfounded, the Interviewer won’t take you seriously.


  1. Which MBA programs accept GRE scores?

Ans. Numerous schools accept GRE, including Harvard Business School and Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

  1. What is the price of the test?

Ans. GRE test costs $205.

  1. How do I register for the computer-based test?

Ans. You can register for the computer-based test on

  1. How do I register for the paper-delivered test?

Ans. You can register for the paper-delivered test on

  1. How often can I retake the test?

Ans. You can take the GRE test once after every 21 days and for five times within 12 months.

  1. How can I prepare for the test?

You can get access to numerous online prep material to get started.

  1. How long is the test?

Ans. The test lasts for 3 hours and 45 minutes.

  1. Can I use a calculator in the test?

Ans. No calculators are allowed during the test.

  1. How are the scores reported?

Ans. Scores will be sent to your official ETS account after 10 to 15 days from the test date.

  1. How can I send my scores to an institution?

Ans. While registering you can choose the institutions you wish to send your scores to.

Also Visit:

  1. GRE- Complete Guide
  2. GRE Syllabus
  3. GRE Registration
  4. GRE Results and Scores
  5. GRE Dates
  6. GRE Test Centres
  7. GRE practice-papers
  8. GRE Preparation Tips
Tags :
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About the Author & Expert


Rachit Agrawal

Author • MBA • 20 Years

Rachit believes in the power of education and has studied from the top institutes of IIIT Allahabad, IIM Calcutta, and Francois Rabelias in France. He has worked as Software Developer with Microsoft and Adobe. Post his MBA, he worked with the world's # 1 consulting firm, The Boston Consulting Group across multiple geographies US, South-East Asia and Europe.

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