Beginning GRE Prep: The Go-Getter’s Guide To GRE Prep

If you are looking for ways to excel in your career by embarking on a journey to graduate school, you are going to face the challenge of having to take the Graduate Record Examination, more commonly known as the GRE. Luckily, with the right preparation and guidance, every motivated candidate can obtain a score that satisfies their personal desires (and school requirements) and accomplish their academic goals. Throughout this article, we are going to provide you with the ultimate GRE go-getter’s guide.

1. Get acquainted with the GRE exam

The GRE is an essential part of one’s application to most graduate schools in the United States and Canada. It is a part of your application requirements together with your portfolio that includes your essays, letters of recommendation, interview, and resume. In addition, GRE exams are available for candidates in fields such as physics, chemistry, biology, literature, and psychology, depending on the preferences of students. For this reason, a strong performance on the GRE can be used to satisfy graduate school requirements, complement your portfolio, and make you stand out from the crowd.

This is a standardized exam that aims to measure the verbal, quantitative, and analytical skills of undergraduates regardless of their fields of study. Rather than being a question-by-question computer-adaptive exam, the GRE determines the difficulty of each section based on the candidate’s performance in the previous section. In short, it is a section-adaptive exam.

When it comes to scoring, GRE scores are valid for five years. Having this knowledge can help you manage your time properly when applying for graduate schools and may even trigger you to take the exam before you have started fulfilling other requirements of your application. 


The general GRE test is about 3 hours and 45 minutes long. It consists of three main sections – Analytical Writing, Quantitative Reasoning, and Verbal Reasoning. The 60-minute Analytical Writing section is broken into an Argumentative Writing Task and an Issue Writing Task. The duration of each of the two Quantitative Reasoning tasks is 35 minutes, whereas the duration of each of the two Verbal Reasoning sections is 30 minutes. On the computer-adaptive version of the exam, there is also a 30-minute experimental section.

The test includes a 1-minute break after each section and a 10-minute break after the third section.

Unlike the GMAT, the format of the GRE allows the examined person to freely move back and forth between the questions of each section, leave unanswered questions for later, and mark them for review. 

2. Choose a way to prepare

We live in a digital age and have an infinite amount of resources at our disposal. If we want to take up a hobby, acquire a new skill, or prepare for an exam, we can do it all online by ourselves. 

When it comes to the GRE, the situation is similar. Having so many resources at your disposal can seem overwhelming when beginning GRE prep. Here at Apex we know how useful it will be to you to have access to a GRE go-getter’s guide that can break each step of your preparation down to smaller tasks. 

Firstly, you can choose to prepare by self-studying. This decision can be made for a variety of reasons. First and foremost, it is cost-efficient. A candidate will have access to online resources such as practice tests and articles. However, one should be aware that these are very limited. Another reason why you might choose to self-prep is that you will be able to work at your own pace.

There is also the possibility of hiring a specialized GRE tutor. Although costly, GRE Private tutoring is an option that is reasonable because your GRE needs will be met by a person who knows how the exam works and how you can prepare for it without wasting your time. If you’re interested, we have written a more detailed guide on what type of preparation is best for you.

3. Plan your GRE preparation

Every GRE journey begins with determining one’s goals. This includes choosing a program to apply to, doing research on the minimum score the respective school requires of candidates, and finally, beginning GRE preparation.

Here comes the time when it would be best for you to take a free GRE practice test. Make sure to take one without any preparation. By doing this baseline assessment, you will get to know where you currently stand, what your strengths and weaknesses are, and how far you will need to go to achieve your goals. You will also use this result to track your progress. 

Then it is time to begin studying. Take your time to work on each section separately. First, you need to analyze the results from the practice test you took, see where you made mistakes, and make note of inefficient solution pathways. Only then you can focus on the Quant section and on the Verbal section. Don’t forget to review what you’ve learned once again. Then, we suggest working on the Analytical Writing Section towards the end of your prep.  

Final Thoughts

All in all, in this go-getter’s guide, we looked at the main steps one should consider when beginning GRE prep. The latter includes learning more about the nature of the exam, choosing a model of preparation that will suit your needs, and coming up with a GRE study plan. If you are interested in individualized private tutoring, we offer complimentary 30-minute consultation calls with one of our top-scoring instructors!


Contributor: Reneta Georgieva

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