Step 4: Have a study strategy/Plan and follow-through.
The below suggestions are how my looking back from the final shape my study evolved into, how I wished it went. These are how I wished I prepared/or how I prepared in my last month of prep.
If you have the luxury of time, give yourself at least 3 months before the actual test date for a calm and relaxed study. If you don't put in more effort per day, accordingly.
As I already mentioned, For your first week, it is more about trying to bring a pattern/practice a new habit to life. Go easy on yourself. Bring yourself to the study table consistently on time. That is the goal. If you had a break from college or studying in general, you will notice a difficulty posed by mental inertia. This is what we are trying to work on.
The First Week
Use the first week to go through the material on ETS. Go through the introduction videos on GRE - overview as well as various sections of GRE on Magoosh. If you want to get on handsy, try your hand at some easy questions on topics you are comfortable with. The idea is to get into the habit and not feel intimidated or scared.
You can check out Magoosh GRE here.
Step Five: Download the Magoosh GRE app on the phone.
With the Magoosh app, you can learn when you are traveling. You can also see how much percent of material you have completed and how much more.
The subsequent weeks
From the second week onwards, Monday through Friday, one plan of action to use one time of the day for the section. For example, my study time in the mornings was used for Math and my evenings for Verbal. In the initial days, choose a topic from the many subtopics and start watching the videos. Once you complete a topic, incorporate practice time into your study plan, where you can practice the concepts you learned. Use practice mode. Magoosh lets you customize your practice with topics. Watch the explanations after each question, even if you get the answer right. The video/text underneath may give you a faster way of solving the problem. Add the topics to your customized practice as you complete the topics one by one. We could say, allocate 1 hour for the videos, 0.5 hours for practice—math in the morning, verbal in the evening. When you complete the videos or are approaching closer to completing the videos, you can spend more time on practice instead.
If you are done with all the study material, you can maybe move on to the ETS material, though I haven't had the time personally.
Specific Tips for Verbal
Step Six: Download the Barrons 1000 words, the Verbal Flashcards of Magoosh
These are the tough words that usually appear on the GRE. While you don't need to know them by heart, learning this will help you build your vocabulary to match that of the GRE. Eliminate some guesswork. Try to learn a few words each day. Start using these words wherever you can use so that with use, the word would stick on to you. Sure, you may sound a little like our Tharoor sir, but it will help you get faster for your exam too. I have heard that the Manhattans prep is also great for the Reading comprehension, though I personally haven't used them. I didn't want to be lost between materials, so I stuck to one.
Specific Tips for Quant
Step Seven: Download the Mental Math Magoosh Flashcard app.
Though you have a calculator for your exam, they are time killers than savers most of the time. Unless it is a very difficult calculation, refrain from using the calculator.
When do we practice AWA?
Step Seven: Practise writing essays from the ETS pool of Topics
Since AWA holds the least importance in the engineering grad admissions, I used just one day of my week, weekend mostly. Even if you feel confident in your writing skills from the essay writing prizes in school, still go through with us. Try to avoid the mistake I made. I went with full self-confidence and little practice and ended up with a 3.5 on my first attempt at GRE. Though Magoosh has video lessons on strategies and practice questions, they are not graded. So what I did towards the end of my practice, but something I recommend you do from the beginning, is to first study the scored essays on the ETS website. You will notice a specific logical flow for tasks. The goal is not to test if you can talk like Tharoor, sir. The goal is to see how well you can think analytically and how well you are able to think critically about statements before jumping to conclusions. Every weekend, pick a topic from the GRE pool of topics, write an essay in a medium where there is no spell check within the time frame. Then put it on something like Grammarly ( premium features comes to best use here), and see what mistakes are made. Apart from common errors in spelling and grammar, look at your essay critically. Is there a logical flow? Have you really thought deeply into the topic and every possible perspective? Be your own opponent, and try to tear down the essay logically. Also, in the style of writing, don't make sentences too long or difficult to read. You can achieve a sense of luxury/seriousness otherwise, too.
Step Eight: Timed tests and Mock Exams
On Saturdays, take timed practice sprint tests—unlimited questions 20 mins. Initially, on topics you have learned already. Once you are getting closer to finishing the videos or is almost done, replace these short practice tests with mock exams. Put adaptive mode always, even when you are doing your daily practice, so that you automatically get harder questions if you are getting answers right. This is to help you get sharper faster.
Understand that it is okay to fall off the study wagon. We are not perfect beings. But we can get back up and put in full effort to be consistent. Ideally, give yourselves one day off in a week, or whatever works for you, but do give yourself breaks. Keep practicing to stay in the GRE mental mode. You can listen to other students' GRE experiences on youtube and see where they are now to keep yourself motivated. There are tons of Facebook groups where GRE aspirants help each other out. I'll try to link them here when I update the blog.
Now that you are studying consistently, what's next? Yes - The GRE exam. We'll talk about it one the next.