Preparing for the Graduate Record Examination in one week is challenging, but not impossible. While week is not sufficient to build your vocabulary, pick up essay-writing skills from scratch or learn math concepts in detail, acing the GRE, however, is as much about working smart as it is about working hard. Understanding what the exam expects of you is half the battle and will direct your efforts to study the portions specified for the GRE.
Review the format of the GRE and familiarize yourself with the sections that include the verbal, math and essay portions. The verbal section consists of questions that test reading comprehension, sentence construction, analogies and antonyms. The math section has questions that involve qualitative analysis, using graphs and problem solving. Spend a day on understanding this format by reading about it on the Educational Testing Services GRE website.
Make a list of all the topics you have to study under the math section. This will include simple arithmetic, percentage calculations, basic statistics, algebra, probability and the fundamentals of solid geometry, volumes, lines and angles. You will be familiar with most of these topics that you studied in high school. Separate the ones that you find easy from the ones that take more of your time and effort.
Prepare a time table to revise portions from each of the three sections every day. Allot about an hour each day to brush up on all math portions you find too simple. Give yourself extra time to practice solving problems in the areas you find tough. Set aside an hour every day to practice on the verbal section. Give yourself an additional 30 or 45 minutes to time yourself on writing practice essays. By the end of the first day, you should have understood the format of the GRE and prepared your study time table for the remaining six days.
Practice solving practice tests on websites such as Test Prep Review and Study Guide Zone to equip yourself to handle the verbal section of the GRE. One week is too short a period to learn new vocabulary. Don’t waste time in trying to cram words. Use the time you have to solve practice questions on completing sentences, selecting antonyms, understanding the concept of analogies and honing your comprehension skills. Make a note of new words that you come across during these practice sessions. Spend time to understand your mistakes in the practice tests because this will help you avoid making similar ones during the GRE.
Practice writing for the issue and argument essay section. For the 45-minute issue essay, you will need to choose one of two perspectives on a given topic, and support this using relevant information. In the argument essay, you will have 30 minutes to analyze the argument given to you and present your evaluation of the argument, without agreeing or disagreeing with the content. Listen to panel discussions on television and radio and read newspaper editorials to get ideas on current topics and relevant issues. Pay attention to how arguments are presented and opinions are evaluated.
Take the entire practice exam, including the essay portion, under timed conditions on the third day. Review your performance to identify the areas where you are lacking. Don’t focus on your score; that is less important than finding your weaknesses. Keep track of how you use the time to solve each portion of the test.
Continue your study and practice sessions, concentrating your efforts on those parts that you found challenging during the practice exam. Take small breaks to keep yourself fresh and free from stress.
Take another full-length practice test on the fifth day. Concentrate on maintaining the pace required to do justice to each section. Review your performance and narrow down the areas that need more practice. Use the time left before the day you take the GRE to revise these portions.
Hailing out of Pittsburgh, Pa., David Stewart has been writing articles since 2004, specializing in consumer-oriented pieces. He holds an associate degree in specialized technology from the Pittsburgh Technical Institute.