GRE preparation tips by Princeton Review
Updated on Jul 29, 2016 - 11:16 a.m. IST by Tenzin pema
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An excellent GRE score is essential when it comes to getting into top colleges abroad. The GRE score plays a vital role in the admission process of universities apart from other elements like academic transcripts and interviews. Acceptance records of some of the top colleges in the world are proof that their selection process is competitive. A poor GRE score can, hence, affect your chances of getting into a university of your choice. For instance, Harvard Business School requires you to score at least within 163-168 out of 170 in each section. Therefore, if you are planning to get into your target college your first step should be to develop an effective GRE preparation strategy.

Princeton Review, known for its range of preparation materials for standardised tests like GRE test, shares some GRE preparation tips that its experts swear by.  In this article, we bring you some of the most effective GRE preparation tips by Princeton Review.  

Read below GRE preparation tips by Princeton Review:

Careers360: When is the ideal time to appear for GRE? When should a student start preparing for GRE?

Princeton Review: Admissions timelines and requirements can vary from department to department within the same university. So, the best advice is always to contact the programs and schools in which you are most interested to ask about their specific timelines. Of course, the most popular window for admissions deadlines is roughly mid-October to end of January. So, late summer to early fall is often the ideal time to take the GRE.


The amount of time a student spends preparing for the GRE depends, in large part, on the difference between the student's current score and the score needed to be eligible for their dream college. A student who only needs to add 3 to 5 points to a math or verbal score needs less preparation than a student who needs to add 15 points to both math and verbal scores. The student who needs to only add 3 to 5 points to a single score may only need to prepare for 2 or 3 weeks while the student who needs to add 15 points to both scores may need to start studying 6 months before taking the GRE. The best advice is to take a practice test, such as the free practice test offered on, to see where your current score is in relation to your goal. To set your goal, be sure to contact the programs at the schools you are most interested in.


Of course, preparation for the GRE, in most cases, should start the year before finishing college.


Careers360: Which section is usually considered the toughest in the GRE test?

Princeton Review: Each section of the test has its own challenges! The toughest section of the test is very much a function of the educational background of the test-taker. Science and engineering students, for example, are likely to find the verbal and writing sections of the GRE more challenging than the math sections. On the other hand, students in humanities, commerce, and life sciences may find the math section more difficult.


Of course, the best way to determine your specific strengths and weaknesses is to take a practice test. Even math and engineering students sometimes find that the math section provides some unanticipated challenges because of the way that the questions are asked.


Careers360Can you share some section wise GRE preparation strategies?

Princeton Review: The most basic advice here is to determine what the test writer expects you to do and then to do something else! The GRE test writers are very good at creating questions that have trap answers. Those traps, however, are designed with the standard approaches to questions in mind. So, for example, many test-takers try to answer Text Completion questions by reading the sentence with each of the words from the answer choices substituted into the blank. A better approach is to ignore the answers and come up with your own word for the blank before looking at the answer choices.


Another key strategy involves realizing that every question counts equally toward your score. Some test-takers get stubborn while trying to answer a challenging math question, for example, they may spend 4 or 5 minutes working on the question as a result, they then tend to rush through the following questions and may make careless mistakes. A better approach is to do what Princeton Review refers to as "Take the Easy Test First". To employ this strategy, simply skip over any question that you aren't sure how to solve or that you are worried will be time consuming to answer. Answer all of the straightforward questions first. Make sure you get those points! Then, go back to the questions that are more challenging or time consuming. You are likely to fetch more points out of the section!


Careers360What kind of books/preparation materials should students prepare from?

Princeton Review: There are several books of practice questions available from the test writers. The GRE also makes available free software called PowerPrep which includes two full length tests. These materials will help with questions but they won't help with strategies for answering the questions. For that, you need a book such as The Princeton Review's Cracking the GRE.

Prep courses often include materials that aren't available for sale to non-students. For example, The Princeton Review's GRE course includes a course manual, which our instructors use to teach our proven methods. In addition, our students get access to 8 full length practice tests and over 2,000 additional online practice questions.


Careers360: How important are mock tests in this case?

Princeton Review: There's really no substitute for mock tests. Our data consistently shows that our students who do the greatest number of practice tests get the best overall score improvements.


Careers360: Can students prepare from online practice sets?

Princeton Review: You need to do more than just simply answer practice test questions. If you do not change the way you answer the questions that you find difficult, working on more questions from that topic will not solve your problem as you are more likely to repeat your mistakes rather than improving your score. One of the functions of a prep course is that teachers help you analyse your mistakes and learn approach troublesome topics in efficient ways. Then, you can practice those new approaches. That's where great score improvements come from.


Careers360How should students prepare for subject tests?

Princeton Review: Most students prepare for subject tests on their own. GRE makes available a practice test for each subject test and students should certainly do that. The requirements for each subject test are also posted on the website. The Princeton Review offers a series of books that are targeted toward specific subject tests. Those can help with strategies for answering the questions and provides a directed review of the content covered on each test.


Careers360While many universities do not list subject tests as mandatory, it is seen that they are preferred. Do you think students should take GRE subject tests?

Princeton Review: While most universities list the subject tests as preferred rather than mandatory, it can be a good idea to take the subject tests. A great score on a subject test can help you to stand out among other well-qualified applicants.


It is important to keep in mind that subject tests are offered in paper and pencil format and only thrice a year. The tests are offered in April, September and test centres are limited. So, it's important to plan the best time to take subject tests and get registered early!


Careers360Which subjects should engineering aspirants take? Does it matter on the specialization the student wants to take?

Princeton Review: There are only 7 subject tests available. Some of those, such as Literature in English, are pretty obviously not applicable to engineering disciplines! The best course of action is to consult the requirements of the specific school or program.


Also read:

GRE Guide - Know all about GRE

GRE preparation - Books and study materials

GRE for MBA: More students are taking the GRE route to business schools

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Questions related to GRE

Showing 433 out of 433 Questions

how to prepare for GRE? Which foreign countries (colleges) provide a scholarship on the basis of its marks if I want to pursue msc abroad?

lubhan cherwoo 23rd Feb, 2020

Getting a scholarship is more difficult than admission into a university and so you have to stand out of the crowd, details about universities and how to proceed further are mentioned below,

1. Check US News, (Edulix)

2. Go through the eligibility and prerequisites of those universities

3. Find out those Universities which match your profile and interests.

4. Try to apply in the early bird application of universities. (Sometimes applying earlier can enhance your chances to get a scholarship) .

5.Go to the "Financial Aid" section of universities website to know about scholarships.

But a high GRE score may not guarantee you a scholarship but a low GRE will reduce your chances to get one.


hi I always want to crack GRE is that possible

Fareeha 17th Feb, 2020

Hi aspirant!
Yes, you may be able to crack the GRE exam easily with hard work and determination.

Please check the link below which has the much needed information about the exam, pattern and syllabus. Hope it helps. Good luck!


I am a student of galgotias university and my gre score is 310 and having 8+ cgpa in mechanical engineering. I done two intenships one from DRDO and other one from Indian railway. Also i had done two research paper. What are my chances of getting technical university of Munich or Berlin.?

dheeraj reddy 14th Feb, 2020

Hi sajal

As far as CGPA is considered, you meet the minimum requirement stated by both the TUs. Also as you know, for selection, your overall profiles matters. I see you have mentioned 2 research papers. They would add a great value to your application if they are relevant to the Masters you are applying.

GRE is not mandatory for TU Berlin and most of the programs in TUM too.

You would need an IELTS score of minimum 6.5 or a TOEFL score of 88 for clearing language requirements.

You would need German language proficiency of atleast C1 level ( only if you are applying for a course with German taught modules). Also even for english taught programs, having a basic German proficiency of A2 level would greatly help in your application.

For TUM, they might conduct a further aptitude assessment depending on the strength of your application.

Your internships would add value only if they are relevant to your field of study (the Masters you are applying).

Apart from the above mentioned, Your Statement of Purpose (SOP) / Letter of Motivation and Letters of Recommendation would also have a key impact on your application. Make sure you describe well how your past experiences ( internships, research exp, any work exp) and the masters program you are going to undertake would help in your future goals.

I hope I was helpful to you. Remember again , your overall profile matters. Don't be discouraged if you fall short in any one of the aspects.

With research papers, internships, you are already ahead of several applicants. You have a good chance for any Masters degree relevant to Mechanical Engineering. Goodluck!


Sir, I would like to do my masters in biotechnology for that what type of GRE test should I apply I mean like GRE general test or GRE subject test (biology)

Swatika Sharma 24th Jan, 2020

Hello Greeshma,

As you didn't mention anything so I'm expecting you to be an undergraduate or you are pursuing it. First of all, I recommend you choose what you want to accomplish in future: Do you want to do your postgraduate, Abroad or in India itself?

GRE (Graduation Record Examination) is a universally comprehended exam which is supervised by ETS ( Education Testing Services). GRE examination is taken by future aspirants for postgraduate programs in foreign universities and its score are approved in over 160 countries colleges and universities across the world. GRE exam is conducted in two types such as- GRE general test and GRE subject test.

GRE general test is the primary requirements for most of the postgraduate programs in Abroad or in India which consists of verbal perception, analytical writing and quantitative reasoning while GRE subject test is specifically for subjects which you are looking for like biology.

In India, there are very few technical colleges which are accepting GRE scores but for not the same course you are opting for, while there are so many colleges or universities in Abroad which approved or accepted GRE scores.

In my opinion, the GRE general test should be given for admission in Postgraduate programs.  Along with the GRE general test, it's best for you to give the subject test (in biology ) which give extra weightage to your academic record either it's your choice.

Hope its help!!


Graduation in dental surgery(5yr)+3 yr work ex. Masters in hopsital admin(2 yr) + 3 yr of work ex. Wish to pursue PhD in health allied course in USA. Am i eligible to apply also how much GRE score would be required to apply for a good university?

Fareeha 17th Feb, 2020

Hi aspirant!
Yes, you are definitely eligible to pursue PhD from USA.

Kindly look up for edibility criteria for the colleges where you wish to apply. Some colleges do not require GRE scores for admissions in PhD. The criteria differs in each college.

However, you may have to appear for TOEFL/IELTS. Usually scores between 98-120 is accepted in most of the colleges.

Good Luck!

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