GRE Test Prep – 6 Common Mistakes to Avoid During your GRE Preparation

10 April, 2024
parthiva mewawala
7 steps to building your own GRE study plan

The GRE Exam is the gateway to a solid Master’s education in a top program. Every year, hundreds of thousands of students take the test, hoping to score 320+ and get admission to their preferred universities. The groundwork for a good score on the GRE is laid during the GRE test prep. 


While the GRE itself isn’t focused on high-level concepts and hard questions, the varied syllabus, long exam duration, and deceptive line of questioning can put test-takers in a spot. Dedicated preparation along with strategic practice is the key to developing the right mindset to ace the test. Just make sure that your test prep is free of these common mistakes that can threaten to detail your efforts. 

Read more: GRE Exam Syllabus 2024 – Section-Wise, Exam Pattern & Tips To Prepare

GRE @ Zero Fee
Start your GRE prep for free
Sign up for a 14-day free trial and get access to:

  • 5.5+ hours of GRE Concept Videos
  • 6 hours of GRE Strategy Sessions
  • 4 hours of Recorded GRE Sessions
  • 1 Free Profile Evaluation Session

Sign Up

The 6 most common mistakes you need to avoid during your GRE test prep


1. Not starting your preparation at the right time

Many students underestimate the amount of practice required to do well on the GRE. This mistake compels them to procrastinate their preparation until just a few days are left in the test. Your GRE test prep should begin at least 10-12 weeks before the actual test date. The first half of your prep time should be spent on conceptual understanding and the rest on firming up the applications of those concepts. You also need ample time to give several mock tests and analyse each one of them. Even if your conceptual understanding is at par with the desired level, you risk being unfamiliar with test pattern and test day strategy without adequate practice. 


2. Not booking your GRE test date beforehand

There are two disadvantages to not scheduling your GRE exam well in time. 


First, there’s a very good chance that the date you’re looking for will get fully booked if you’re too late. This can force you to delay your college applications and miss key deadlines. 


Second, not having a fixed exam date in mind can play spoilsport with your prep. The exam date acts as the deadline for your prep – ideally lasting 12 weeks. Without a concrete date, your prep can go haywire, leaving you either underprepared or burned out. 


3. Not giving enough GRE mock tests

Your GRE test prep should include at least 8 full-length proctored mock tests. 


The GRE test pattern is lengthy, confusing, and tiring. If you’re not well-acquainted with it already, it’ll exhaust your faculties on test day. Moreover, the large number of questions require speed and accuracy to solve. Even if you’re able to solve every question, not sticking to the timeframe will force you to skip questions in the end. 

Read more: GRE New Pattern – All You Need To Know About The GRE Pattern Change

Giving mock tests guarantees a couple things. You will have mastered the exam pattern and time management. Additionally, you’ll also have a grip on your weakest topics and the strongest ones. This knowledge alone can streamline your prep and make it more efficient. 


The IMS GRE Classroom program is an intensive 51-hour course that includes 60+ practice drills and 10 full-length mock tests with detailed analyses. Fill out the form on the link to know more about the program. 


4. Not analysing each and every GRE mock test

But is only giving the mock tests enough? Without in-depth analysis, you’ll understand the pattern, but fail to identify your most common mistakes and weaker topics. You won’t have a clear path as to how to improve your score further. 


Make it a habit to analyse each and every mock test. Underpin your problem areas, discuss them with your mentors, and learn how to improve your score further. 

Read more: How Important Are GRE Mock Tests To Scoring 320+?

5. Ignoring the AWA section entirely

The AWA score isn’t part of the overall GRE score which is why most students choose to ignore it entirely during their GRE test prep. What they fail to address is that the AWA section is specifically designed to assess your writing, communication, and critical thinking skills. These skills form a core part of the type of candidate most research-based programs are looking for. Scoring well on the AWA won’t add to your total score but it will clearly display your writing prowess and knack for critical thinking. 


Make it a habit to write on at least one AWA topic each week and start reading non-fiction books to learn how to analyse and build arguments. 


6. Not learning the tips and tricks required to smartly guess answers

Unlike many other exams, the GRE has no negative marking for wrong answers. You can capitalise on this fact by learning various guessing methodologies, in case you’re unable to get the exact answer to a question. 


One of the best ways to improve your guessing skills is to use smart elimination. Out of the four options provided, two of the most unlikely ones can be easily identified with a little practice. That leaves only two probable choices for you to pick the right answer from. With a 50% probability of guessing right, you’ll statistically answer around half of all guessed questions correctly. 


Your guessing skills can be made more accurate with adequate practice. You can also choose to learn many tips and tricks from your mentors to accelerate your timing. 

At IMS, each student gets to book three 1-on-1 strategy sessions with their mentors. These sessions can be used to clear specific doubts, develop personalised learning pathways, analyse mock tests, and build test-taking strategies. With 50+ hours of live teacher-student interaction, 30+ hours of concept videos, 2000+ practice questions, and 10 mock tests, the IMS GRE Classroom program is designed to get you to a 320+ score in 12 weeks.