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Simple Ways to Prep for Your GRE While You’re In School

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With fall semester college classes back in swing many students are tempted to postpone their GRE prep. Whether it’s GRE quantitative, GRE verbal, or GRE analytical writing, there’s a better solution than postponing it; a very simple solution that will keep you from losing hard-won ground as you prepare for the GRE test. Continue reading Simple Ways to Prep for Your GRE While You’re In School

© Cody Blair, All Rights Reserved.

What is the GRE?

The GRE; What is it?Many grad schools around the world require you to take the GRE—but what is the GRE? And what do you absolutely have to know about it?
The GRE, officially known as The Graduate Record Examination General Test, is supposed to test your verbal, mathematical and analytical thinking skills. (Whether it actually does this very well is a matter of debate.)
Thousands of graduate programs around the world want to see your GRE scores before they will consider your application.
I first took it back in 1991(!) when it was still paper-based. It’s changed a lot since then. Now, it’s a fully computer-based test (at least in the US).
I’ve been teaching GRE prep since 2000. I’ve taught thousands of students one-on-one, in my private classes, and through Texas A&M University.

Key GRE Facts

  • The GRE is given as a Computer Adaptive Test (CAT). In some countries, the GRE may be paper-based if the country lacks sufficient computer infrastructure.
  • You can register for the GRE at ets.org/gre
  • Take the test at one of many testing centers located throughout the US and around the world.
  • You can sign up for a day and time that is convenient for you.
  • As I write this, the cost for the GRE is $205, but you can see the latest fee structure here.
  • Most graduate schools use the GRE score in their admissions process, much like undergrad programs use the SAT or ACT.
  • The scores are available from ETS (the company that makes the GRE and SAT) for 5 years.
  • It usually takes ETS fifteen days to get your official scores ready after you take the test, BUT you’ll know your scores on the Verbal and Quantitative sections before you walk out the door on test day. Some schools will accept your unofficial scores you report to them.
  • The GRE has seven different sections divided between Written Analytical essays, Quantitative (math) questions, and Verbal questions.
  • The sections get harder or easier based on how well you do. For example, if you get most of the first math section right, then the next math section will be harder.


The GRE is scored on a scale of 130 to 170 for the verbal and quantitative sections. 150 is an average score.
The writing section is scored on a 0 to 6 point scale in half-point increments.
Some grad schools will lump your verbal and quantitative scores together. For example, “Our students should get at least a 306 on the GRE.” Other schools may just look at percentile scores.

GRE Structure

You’ll have the three sections I mentioned above. The whole thing will take you about 3.5 hours. You can find more details and examples of all the question types here, but here’s the quick overview. . .

General Structure

  • The essays always come first, followed by either a math or a verbal section.
  • Next is a ten-minute break
  • Verbal and Quantitative sections come in random order, with a one-minute break between sections
  • You will have either three verbal OR three quantitative sections. The extra section is an experimental section used to test out new questions.  You will not know which section is experimental (don’t waste time trying to identify it), and it won’t count towards your score.

2 GRE Verbal Sections

  • Each GRE Verbal section has around 20 questions and is 30 minutes long.
  • There are six text completion questions in each section. These will have a sentence or two with one, two, or three blanks. You will have from three to five words or phrases to choose from for each blank. Gotta get’em all right to get any credit.
  • There are four sentence equivalence questions in each GRE verbal section. These have a sentence with a blank and six possible words that might go in the blank. You pick the two words that would give the sentence a basically equivalent meaning.
  • Finally, you’ll have around ten reading comprehension passages with questions. The reading passages are from three to 15 sentences long with one to six questions over each passage.
  • 150 is an average score for the GRE Verbal

Two Quantitative (Math) Sections

  • Each section has around 20 questions and is 35 minutes long
  • Quantitative Comparison questions will give you two different quantities and ask you to compare them to determine if one is larger than the other, the two quantities are equal, or it cannot be determined.
  • Multiple-choice questions are the same as the ones you are familiar with. In this case, the questions will have five possible answer choices to choose from.
  • Multiple-answer questions. These look like multiple-choice questions but will have from 3 to ten different possible answers to choose from. Any or all of the answers may be correct, so you can choose more than one.
  • Numeric entry questions. On these, you will fill in a box with your answer.
  • 152 is an approximate 50th percentile score
  • ETS gives you an on-screen calculator, but it isn’t very good. It’s the sort of calculator you might buy for $3 in the check-out line at Walmart. There are no higher-level keys, such as an exponent key, for example.

Two Written Analytical Essays

  • These always come first on the GRE
  • In the Analyze an Argument essay, they will give you an argument—someone’s letter to the editor, a paragraph out of a newspaper article, that sort of thing—and you will have 30 minutes to discuss where the author should have given more evidence or where they made unwarranted assumptions. You can see all the Argument essay prompts here.
  • The Analysis of an Issue essay is also 30 minutes long. They will give you a topic such as, “Censorship is rarely if ever justified,” and you will have to build a logical, well thought out argument about why you agree or disagree. See all the Issue essay prompts here.
  • 4.0 is an average score for this section

Key Contacts

  • For the latest information and news and to sign up for the actual GRE test go to the ETS website.
  • To sign up for a weekend GRE prep class near Texas A&M University in College Station OR to sign up for a live class, taught online anywhere in the world, go here.


Cody BlairCody Blair has spent over 18 years researching how students learn and remember most effectively. He helps students apply that knowledge in and out of the classroom. He is the author, instructor, and owner of StudyProf GRE Prep based in College Station, Texas, and has been teaching GRE prep since 2000.


Are you really GRE ready?


How to be Certain you're prepared for the GREWhen building a house, smart people get with an architect long before the first thumb is hammered. Fail to get expert advice and you’re asking for train-track-through-your-balcony headaches!

Taking a GRE prep course is like talking to an architect.  They may cost you some bucks, but Continue reading Are you really GRE ready? © Cody Blair, All Rights Reserved.

GRE Prep Course (video version)


Watch the GRE course video lectures on the GRE topics you need, such as how to quickly and effectively memorize large amounts of vocabulary or the proven methods for increasing your effectiveness on those evil reading comprehension questions. I explain each concept while you follow along doing practice problems and taking notes as needed.

Hi Cody, I found your StudyProf site because I was looking for GRE prep in College Station. I purchased the videos and watched them twice. I loved them and they were great! They helped me get a 320. … Thanks very much, Joseph

The videos are similar to what you would see if you were to attend my live GRE course weekend classes. It’s the same GRE course I teach at Texas A&M University every summer to hundreds of students. The video GRE course, however, has several advantages.

  • Purchase only the sections you need. Don’t need help in the written analytical section of the GRE? Great. Skip it! 
  • Watch the videos over and over. Pause and replay them as needed.
  • Watch whenever and wherever you like. If your best time is at 2 A.M. on the transatlantic flight to Mombasa, knock yourself out. As long as you have internet access, you’re good to go.
  • Schedule one-on-one tutoring time with me via Skype, should you need extra help. My videos are pretty thorough, and I’ve been doing this for thirteen years now, so I know the questions before you ask them. That means you probably won’t ever need to work one-on-one with me via Skype, but I’m there if you need me. Even if you need several hours of help, it’s still way cheaper.

Sign Up for the StudyProf GRE Prep Course Online

Before starting

You’ll need to download the StudyProf GRE Prep Student Workbook. You can print this pdf document out, so you can write on it. Or you can just keep it open on your computer as you watch the videos.

I’ll refer to the Kaplan GRE book through out, but you can really use any resource with decent practice problems. Other sources might be a friend’s old revised GRE book, a GRE book from your local library, or websites with practice problems. In the very first lesson I explain the pluses and minuses of each.

Purchase the videos individually for $9.95, or get the full course for $89. You can use your PayPal account or major credit card and get access to the videos.

Click Here Now! StudyProf GRE Prep Course Online

The Videos

Remember, you can watch as many or as few of these as you need, but do be sure to read the descriptions, so you’ll know what’s included. Click on the video names when you’re ready to get started.

Insider’s Guide to the GRE

This is the foundation for all the other videos. It is the single most important video in the series, and it covers…

  • How grad schools use (and don’t use) your GRE scores
  • Best practices for the testing center
  • How the test actually works and what you can expect on test day
  • How you can get half the questions wrong and still potentially get an above average score
  • How to handle test anxiety–the single-biggest score killer for about twenty percent of my students
  • Where to get free, high-quality practice materials
  • A simple way to make sure you don’t run out of time
  • Score-saving tips for top performance on the test

Learning GRE Vocabulary

Most test prep companies give you a long list of GRE vocabulary words and then say, “go learn it.” That’s the hard–and often ineffective–way to do things. In this video, I’ll show you…

  • How much new vocabulary you should learn for the GRE test
  • How you can memorize anything (not just GRE vocabulary) as efficiently as possible
  • The easy way to get GRE vocabulary stuck in your head
  • The best way to learn these words at the level you’ll need in order to get a better score on your GRE test
  • Why memorizing the GRE vocabulary definitions in the test prep books is a waste of time; and what you should be doing instead
  • Two simple ways to keep track of which GRE vocabulary words to study on any given day so that you don’t forget them ever

 Text Completions and Sentence Equivalences

Learn easy ways to approach the text completion and sentence equivalence questions on the verbal sections of the GRE test. We’ll discuss each question type from start to finish, including…

  • Easy ways to knock out half the answer choices (or more) 
  • How to make the sentences much easier to understand
  • Marking answer choices on your scratch paper to maximize your chances of getting it right
  • What to do when you don’t know some of the words
  • What the best test-takers do to get questions right when they are stumped

Reading Comprehension

Reading comprehension questions are the most common question types on the GRE verbal sections–and the hardest for most people. In this GRE prep video, discover…

  • One simple thing you can start doing right now that will make these questions much easier
  • How to actually read more slowly and save time
  • The best techniques for approaching each question
  • When to skip these questions (and when not to)
  • A step-by-step recipe for getting your best possible score on GRE reading comprehension questions
  • The big mistake most people make and the simple way to avoid it
  • How to handle timing

Quantitative Introduction

This is the most important video for the GRE quantitative section. Watch it first. In it I’ll show you…

  • The structure of the quantitative section and how to use it to your advantage
  • Why the GRE calculator sucks away your time, and what to do instead
  • The score saving way to use (and not use) your scratch paper
  • What to do when you run out of time on a problem
  • Simple ways to red-flag wrong answers
  • How to have a very good idea of which answer is correct (even when you don’t understand the question)
  • Ways to maximize your score if you’re already good at the math (and pitfalls that trip up my best math students)
  • What to do if you aren’t so good at the GRE quantitative; when to guess and how to get points when you do it

Basic Math

The GRE quantitative section includes many basic mathematical concepts that you may have learned in sixth grade, or before! The problem is, most of us haven’t seen those concepts since we were in grade school. In these lessons I’ll show you…

  • Every basic math concept I’ve ever seen tested on a GRE test
  • Why that calculator often won’t be much help, and what you should do instead
  • The different types of quantitative questions; multiple choice, multiple answer, quantitative comparisons, etc.
  • How these concepts are often the vital key to some of the toughest problems on the GRE
  • Key information you need to know that will make these problems easy for you, even when they’re super hard for most test takers
  • This video includes concepts such as fractions, exponents, factorization, percents, decimals, permutations, ratios, and more

Geometry, Probability, and Statistics

This video covers three areas with which many students really struggle. The GRE quantitative sections include many problems that use concepts from geometry, from probabilities, and from statistics. Some questions require knowledge of all three. This video will show you…

  • Every geometry, probability, and statistic concept I’ve ever seen tested on the GRE
  • Rules of thumb that make many tough problems ridiculously simple
  • Key information to learn that will put you way ahead of the competition
  • How to quickly get correct answers on triangle problems without ever using the Pythagorean Theorem
  • Simple information that will make problems easy for you that are impossible for many people.


The GRE quantitative sections have vast amounts of algebra, and you need to be efficient and accurate to max out your score. However, there is a ton of algebra you don’t need to know! In this video…

  • Every algebra concept I’ve ever seen tested on the GRE
  • Time saving information that will let you complete many problems three or four times faster than your competition
  • What information and concepts you shouldn’t waste time studying
  • Includes concepts such as factorization, funny-looking symbols, quadratic equations, word problems, simultaneous equations, and more

Written Analytical

The written analytical section of the GRE test is what every GRE starts out with. That’s right, you’ll spend the first hour of your GRE writing essays. For some schools this is the most important section of the GRE, but many schools don’t even look at this score! Make sure you know whether or not the grad schools you are trying to get into actually care about this section before you spend time practicing for it. In this video…

  • Discover the best techniques for the issue essay and the argument essay
  • Find out where you can see every single issue or argument they use on the GRE
  • How to have your essay one-third done before you even walk in the door
  • The easy ways to not run out of time
  • Exactly what the graders are looking for, and what they don’t care about
  • A key component your essays should have that will put you ahead of four out of five people who take the GRE
  • The simple way to come up with excellent quotes and statistics to use in your essay
  • How to put just enough big GRE words in your essay and use them well


Have questions that I haven’t answered here? Shoot me an email at blair@studyprof.com. I’m happy to help!

GRE ® is a registered trademark of the Educational Testing Service, which neither sponsors nor endorses this product, nor is it affiliated with StudyProf or this website. Test names and other trademarks are the property of the respective trademark holders. None of the trademark holders are affiliated with StudyProf or this website.

Easy Way to Up Your SAT (GRE?) Essay Score


Fourteen-year-old Milo Beckman did some great research to determine that longer SAT essays get higher scores. His finding are backed up by an MIT researcher who has found that length accurately predicts score 90% of the time. BONUS: Milo considered causality. He determined that length is actually what’s causing the higher score. It’s not just that better writers write more! Go Milo!

P.S. Since the GRE is a close cousin to the SAT and the essays are graded in a similar manner, it wouldn’t hurt to write more on the GRE essays as well!

GRE Prep? Must know info for students


Taking a GRE prep course is really an ideal first step for most students.

You normally start building a house by getting with an architect to plan the building.

Taking a prep course is like talking to an experienced architect first. They can help you make sure that none of your time and effort is wasted.

A GRE prep course can raise a student’s combined score an average of Continue reading GRE Prep? Must know info for students © Cody Blair, All Rights Reserved.