A Procrastinator's Guide to Studying for the GRE in One Month

Photo by:  Kinga Cichewicz via Unsplash.com

Photo by: Kinga Cichewicz via Unsplash.com


If you’re reading this, it’s too late. 


Just kidding! You’re probably in the process of studying for the GRE and if you’re anything like me, you’re working with a short time frame to prepare for this test. Throughout the course of my life I’ve been plagued by the self-imposed burden of procrastination, and unfortunately this test was no different. I finally bit the bullet and scheduled my test a month before my first quarter deadline.


Here’s what I learned from the studying, test taking, and healing process of prepping for the GRE in 30 days.


What Did I use?

Like any millennial, my first step was googling “how to study for the GRE”. A plethora of resources came up, and most of them were trying to get my coins. However, there were a number of resources that honestly helped me prep for the test. The first was the timed practice test provided by ETS (the GRE test makers). The gag is, you can only access these two very helpful practice test AFTER you’ve scheduled your test date. I can tell you from experience that these sample test were the most realistic prep materials, and they’re a great way to familiarize yourself with the format and difficulty of questions that will be on the actual test; utilize these at all cost!


While prepping for the GRE, there are limitless resources on the internet, and I would lean on sites like this one to point you in the direction of reputable study guides and books. I personally landed on using the Princeton Review, Cracking the GRE Premium, 2016 Edition, because I was able to borrow it for “$FREE.99”. There’s also a multitude of YouTube videos from people that’ve taken the test and shared their own methods that helped as well. 


If you’re going to purchase study materials, I’d recommend the book I previously mentioned, Kaplan’s GRE Prep Plus 2018, or the Manhattan Prep 5lb. Book of Questions. If you’re going into this determined not to spend another dime, I’d stress looking at the GRE Practice Quantitative and Verbal Reasoning Test on ETS, googling GRE practice questions, and searching YouTube for concepts you don’t understand. Each of these methods I utilized had their own unique benefits. 


What Actually Helped?

Since I was studying for the GRE without a tutor, I covered as many concepts as I could, but at the end of the day I adopted the rationale “you either know it, or you don’t”. With that logic, I built on what I knew and tried to understand or memorize the steps to the questions I didn’t. This isn’t saying disregard questions you don’t understand, but it is saying if there are concepts you can master, spend more time on those instead of teaching yourself something you’ve never learned.


The most helpful tip I picked up while studying for the verbal reasoning portion of the test was mastering quick comprehension. What makes the reading portion of the test so challenging is the high level passages you have to understand in a short amount of time. The only way to hone this skill is to get your brain familiar with functioning on that level. When you’re studying, I would suggest reading as many GRE level prep questions as possible, and reading them often!


Another Verbal Reasoning gem that I discovered was that VOCAB HELPS. As basic as it sounds, memorizing words like “obsequious” and “inchoate” really help with getting through tough questions. Memorizing vocabulary words will either:

A. Give you an answer on a vocab question

B. Give you context to an “esoteric” passage 

C. Or, it’ll give you a clue on what answer options are flat out incorrect. 


I made flashcards from words I found in practice questions, and also pulled from this really awesome list of 101 most used vocab words on the GRE. In the age of information, everything you need and more is on the web, so don’t worry.


Is one month enough time?

Knowing how my fellow procrastinators operate, I’m guessing you’ve been in this predicament before, so you’re familiar with the feeling of not having the ideal amount of time to prepare. It’s not an ideal situation to be in, but make the best of it! I would suggest researching your prospective programs GRE average acceptance score, setting your goal, and STUDYING HARD.

Review as many study questions as possible and use as much of the remaining 30 days, 720 hours, 43,200 minutes, or 2,629,746 seconds as you can (whichever makes you feel better).

Take advantage of all your free time and keep your head in a book until the day of the test. The GRE is a big deal, but it’s not the end deal; apply yourself, do your best, and don’t stress the rest.

Time starts now. Ready, set, go!



Elicia is a self-proclaimed “new age philanthropist” with a B.S. in Public Health from the University of South Florida. She’s currently pursuing a graduate certificate in Non-Profit Management and plans to bridge the gap between the non-profit sector and for-profit black businesses.  

Related Posts