A brief summary of what materials to study from and a list of free practice tests to prepare for the GRE.


This may seem as a deviation from my usual tech content, but I recently wrote the GRE and I thought I’d share my study strategy here.

The GRE is a standardised test conducted by ETS (Educational Testing Services). GRE scores are accepted by most of the top graduate level schools for masters degree programs worldwide. Below you’ll find a guide on how to tackle each section and a list of practice tests you can take to measure your progress and identify weaknesses.

To find out more about the GRE visit the ETS website

Section wise plan

1. Quantitative Reasoning

For Quantitative Reasoning the The 5 lb. Book of GRE Practice Problems by Manhattan Prep has a chapter on every topic that you’ll find on the GRE. Each chapter has multiple problems covering all kinds of questions on that topic, along with different question formats you might encounter in your actual test. The book can be found as a PDF online, but try to buy it if you can.

Apart from this there are timed practice questions by McGraw-Hill. These are available in sets of 20 questions each, just like the actual GRE. This can be a good way to practice time management for the final test.

2. Verbal Reasoning

For vocabulary building, Magoosh GRE Vocabulary Flashcards have around a 1000 words that are separated into categories based on their difficulty and frequency of occourance in the GRE. There are also companion apps for both iOS and Android so you can create an account and sync your progress across devices.

Another collection of common GRE words is Barrons 333 High Freq Words With Meanings

For the reading comprehension questions, there are YouTube videos on the strategy for tackling them, but other than that they only way to get a hang of RCs is through practice, either from the The 5 lb. Book or the McGraw-Hill timed practice.

3. Analytical Writing Assessment (AWA)

The AWA has one “Analyze an Issue” task and one “Analyze an Argument” task, you can find a sample answer for each writing task, read these to get an idea of what kind of points the evaluators are looking for when grading your essay.

Sample responses

After that to practice, you can look at the entire pool of possible topics for both the tasks, pick a topic, time yourself for 30 minutes, and start writing.

Topic pool

Generally the AWA section is given less importance during admissions so more time should be spent on Verbal and Quantitative Reasoning practice.

Free practice tests

Before you start preparing for the GRE you should take a diagnostic practice test to see what areas you need to pay more attention to. Then depending on the amount of time you have to prepare before your GRE, space out the remaining practice tests so that you can regularly keep track of your progress and see if your study is effective.

Also use these practice tests to become familiar with the rules and user interface as the actual test will have similar rules and UI to the ones you encounter in these mock tests.

ETS PowerPrep Practice tests

ETS provides 2 free full-length practice tests and these are probably the most accurate evaluation of your GRE preparation. In fact it’s so accurate that generally your actual GRE score won’t differ much from your score on these tests.

I’d recommend taking these tests towards the end of your preparation, so that they’re as representative of your real GRE performance as possible. You can find out more about them here ETS PowerPrep Practice Tests

Some other practice tests

Here are a few other full-length tests you can take for free, in no particular order

Princeton Review

Manhattan Prep




The study plan I’ve mentioned might not be the best way to prepare for everyone, but I found this plan useful while preparing for the GRE myself and thought I would share it.

If you feel like I’ve missed, or overlooked something, or if you have other materials that you found helpful feel free to leave a comment!