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How to Study for the GRE Without Realizing It

How to Study for the GRE Without Realizing It
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Magoosh March 25, 2014

Is it possible to prepare for the GRE and actually enjoy it? Well, yes. This is how.

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The GRE: A demanding test of tongue-twisting vocabulary, convoluted math problems, and timed-essays. To go from the natural reaction of hurling the book against the wall, to actually looking forward to the comforting touch of your flashcards isn’t as difficult as you may think. Students have learned to make a GRE routine a surprisingly enjoyable part of their day.

You know the answer to this question: How do you eat an elephant? Well, one bite at a time. The same goes for GRE test prep: How do you study for the GRE? In small increments at a time.

# A Little Bit Goes a Long Way

What’s the minimum time you can spend studying the GRE? Well, if you allow for a liberal definition of “studying,” the answer to this question may surprise you: However long it takes you to whip a flashcard out of your pocket, and look at a word.

See, study sessions don’t have to be a 90-minute grueling ordeal. Add up all those times when you are riding public transportation, waiting for somebody to call you, standing in line, or just walking down the road. With a smartphone (there are numerous GRE apps out there) or a deck of flashcards, you can make each step of the day a studying opportunity. Just watch where you walk!

# Find a Quiet Place

Throughout time, learning just about anything has been a dicey endeavor because of inevitable distractions. This is even truer today, as the familiar buzzing of your phone will quickly remind you. Yet, if you really want to improve at something, you need complete quietness—an asylum from distractions. Maybe it is an unused room in your home or a library down the street. But find this place early, and make it your consistent go-to spot for quiet time with the GRE.

# Give Yourself a Goal

It’s always nice to have a concrete goal (I will do three reading passages) versus some nebulous agenda (I’m going to study a lot today). This is especially true if you plan to study GRE verbal; your mind can easily wander if you just dive into a reading passage or text completion set. As for GRE math study tips, give yourself timed problem sets covering those areas in which you are somewhat weak.

The best part of having a fixed number of questions with a short time constraint for daily GRE test prep is that you can get a lot done in small increments of time. Just an hour of GRE prep can be highly efficient. Prepping won’t feel like a huge chore like it would if you felt you had to study for hours on end.

This post was written by Chris Lele, resident GRE expert at Magoosh, a leader in GRE prep. For more advice on taking the GRE, check out Magoosh’s GRE blog.

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Tom Meltzer spent over 20 years writing and teaching for The Princeton Review, where he was lead author of the company's popular guide to colleges, before joining Noodle.

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