Scoring well on the GRE can play an outsized role in your graduate university admissions. Armed with a good score, you can target the best programs in the best colleges. While many factors affect your admission, your GRE score helps portray the analytical, numerical, logical, and subject-specific skills that are regarded highly by most admissions committees. A good GRE score for you will depend on your target university, field of graduate study, competitiveness of the program, and average GRE score of the incoming cohort. But most top-tier universities are looking for scores north of 320. Breaching the 90th percentile score of 320 is a challenging task. If you’ve not been able to get to your target score yet, then read on to find eight key tips and strategies on how to increase GRE score.
How to increase GRE score – Target score
Before we delve into how to increase your GRE score, we first need to assess your baseline score. The difference between your baseline and target score will determine the number of hours you’ll have to put in.
While plenty of free GRE tests are available online, it is best to begin with the one offered by ETS, the official exam conducting body of the GRE. ETS provides the POWERPREP Online – Practice Test 1 for free. It is a timed, full-length practice test with scores for the verbal and quant sections available for free. This test will acquaint you with the GRE pattern and give you a fair idea of your strengths and weaknesses. Once you have your baseline score in hand, just subtract it from the target score and use the table below to figure out the time you need to put in.
|Difference between baseline and target score||Total hours of study needed|
Pulling your score to 325 from 305 will take you approximately 160 hours or 3 hours of prep per day for two months.
Now that we know how much effort needs to be put in to reach your target score let’s get to studying!
How to increase GRE score – Tips and strategies
There are no shortcuts to acing the GRE – It is all about strategic prep grounded in concepts and extrapolated to application. But how should you begin? From where do you study? Which topics should you focus on? How to increase GRE score?
Analyse your diagnostic test
The goal of the diagnostic test isn’t just to establish a baseline; it is also to evaluate your performance across a variety of questions and topics. Take time out to complete an in-depth analysis of your mock test. Maybe you’re not that great at inferences and arithmetic. Or maybe your algebra is up to the mark, but reading comprehension is not. Use this data to personalise your study plan in the next step.
Prepare a smart study schedule
Divide the total hours you need to study across the weeks you have left before the GRE. Try incorporating at least a couple of hours of study time daily. Allocate the hours, the topics, and the corresponding material on your calendar. This will create a system of accountability that will help keep you on track.
Build a log of your errors in a notebook
This is a highly underrated strategy. Every time you attempt practice questions or a mock exam, don’t just look at your victories – Also, look at the questions you got wrong and why. Use a notebook to track your errors – The when, what, why, and how of the mistakes. Supplement it with the right solution and methodology. This log will act as a quick-access repository of the questions you find hardest.
Expand your vocabulary
Many online sources provide GRE vocabulary lists for you to browse through. You can also choose to read books, newspapers, editorials, periodicals, magazines, blogs, and newsletters to improve your vocabulary automatically. While it is very rare for GRE to ask direct word-meaning questions, a good vocabulary makes it much easier to attempt questions in Verbal. The reading comprehension questions often contain hard words that can stump you. But with a good vocabulary, you’ll be able to handle the questions better.
Give as many mock tests as possible
‘The more mock you give, the better.’
This is the motto of literally every GRE topper out there. Just studying theory and completing practice questions is not enough; you need to check if you can recall and apply the concepts under pressure. At the beginning of your prep, give one mock every two weeks and then increase the frequency to once a week. Towards the end of the prep, you should be giving at least four mock tests a week. The more comfortable you are with the format and pattern of the paper, the more confident you’ll be during your actual exam.
Track your progress
Like your diagnostic test, don’t forget to analyse your mocks consistently. Break down the scores across each topic and graph your progress across each of them. The goal is to make incremental gains in your weaker subjects while maintaining your grasp on the topics you’re already good at.
Craft bespoke test-taking strategies
The GRE is as much an exam of speed, stamina, and accuracy as it is of logical and conceptual reasoning. Bearing that in mind, you’ll need to be armed with a personalised test-taking strategy that maximises your strengths and allows you to attempt all the questions within the timeframe given adequately. Devising strategies like which questions to devote the most time to, which ones to attempt faster, and which questions to skip require the help of an experienced mentor. When you sign up for the IMS Internation Live Online GRE Test Preparation program, you don’t just get access to content and tests but also get five one-on-one sessions with a mentor. These sessions cover your doubts, mock test analyses, strategy-making, and any other questions you might have.
Understand the adaptive nature of the exam
Much like the GMAT, the GRE is an adaptive test that gets harder or easier based on the number and difficulty of the questions you get right or wrong. But unlike GMAT, the GRE is section-adaptive, i.e., your performance on the first scored quant section will determine the difficulty level of the second scored quant section. The same applies to the verbal sections, too. However, the unscored experimental section is not adaptive. Neither does your performance on quant affect the difficulty of the next verbal section or vice versa.
This information reveals some critical details on how to improve your score on the GRE. You just don’t need to get more questions right, you also need to answer more complex questions right to get a really high score. Your accuracy on the first section will directly impact how high you will be able to score eventually. This means that your performance on the first quant and verbal sections is paramount.
These tips will answer the question – how to increase GRE score – and give you more than enough help to start your prep in the right direction. For more information, follow this blog or fill out the form here to talk to our mentors.