The fact that you’re looking for some last minute GRE tips means that the D-day is upon you!
All those months of preparation – days when you burnt the midnight oil every single day by getting worked up with the practice questions, skipped binge watching your favorite TV shows, gave up on all/many past-time hobbies, and frantically try out those mock tests to see if you’ve improved your score – all of that is about to come to an end as you gear up to face the GRE challenge.
And all you need right now is to learn some last minute GRE tips. You may call them strategies, or even hacks, but truth be told, you’re looking for that much needed final push to squeeze out a few extra points on the GRE.
“Stay calm! It’s not that difficult!”
“Just go ahead with what you have learned so far and everything’s gonna be alright…”
“No shortcut can replace months of toil and hard work”
These might be some of the pieces of advice that you might receive when you’re only days away from the test.
But then, there’s always a way (or even 21 ways, in our case) to improve your performance on the test
Last minute GRE Tips – Why bother?
Sure, you’ve worked so hard so far. And you might even be wondering why you would need some last GRE minute tips. “Sure, I’ve done my work. I’ve learned all the concepts, did a ton of practice, and I’m fairly confident of getting a good score on the test. What could go wrong?”
Nothing! (Hopefully). But there could always be that surprise element looking to bite you at the last moment.
And if you’re the kind to panic, overlook or get even a little bit overconfident, then there could be a lot at stake. You would want to do this the right way, and avoid retaking the GRE test.
It’s times like these that a few last minute GRE tips can come in handy, if not rescue you like a knight in a shining armor.
And if you’re already on the search for some pointers, you’ve come to the right place. Because we are here to help you with some last minute tips that will give you an edge so that you have a better shot than many others at acing your GRE.
So, you ready to go through the list?
21 Last Minute GRE Tips to Improve Your Score
Here are some of our best last minute GRE tips to help you slay the test like a master. While some of these tips might seem straightforward to you, especially if you are an experienced campaigner, you should still pay attention of every single tip that we’ve discussed below, because no matter how well versed with test-taking you might be, you’re human after all, and as humans we tend to forget things and make mistakes all too often.
So, now that you’re ready, here come the tips!
1. Know the GRE format like the back of your hand🤚
The first thing you have to do before you head to the test center is to make the entire GRE format your best friend. Understand the GRE and its format inside out. Left and right. Forward and backward. This way, you wouldn’t have any last minute surprises or shock when you look at the test paper.
It also is a great way to save time during the test. Instead of frantically reading the instructions for each question type to understand what you need to do, you can sit comfortably and take a few deep breaths, because you already know the format.
If you don’t already know the structure of the GRE, here’s a quick overview: the GRE comprises of multiple choice questions and a bit of descriptive writing, and the entire test is divided into four sections, with focus on analytical writing skills, quant skills, English grammar and vocabulary skills, and of course, an experimental section.
Once you’re familiar with the structure and know it by heart, make sure you split your time for each section and each question. In case you don’t know an answer for one and the clock is ticking by, just go to the next one so your timing isn’t compromised.
2. Trust your knowledge 🤓
You haven’t worked so hard on all those practice questions for nothing. So, don’t doubt yourself when you’re answering a question. If a question seems familiar, it’s better to look for the answer in your head from the given options. But if you have second thoughts, then it’s always better to go with your instincts, unless you have a perfectly logical or factual reason to go with another option.
But then again, remember not to waste too much of time on any one question. It’s not worth it, until you have some spare time at the end of the section. So if you don’t have your math and your calculations backing up your answer, don’t stress over it and go with your gut.
3. Take a few practice tests 💯
If you have about a week or more left before the actual exam, it doesn’t hurt to take one more practice test, to see where you stand. Rather than worrying in your head about what score you might get on the test day, it helps if you know how well you’re doing.
Taking a last minute free GRE practice test helps you understand your time management, how far along you are with each of the sections, what you’re great at, and what needs to be worked upon.
4. Ace your time-managing skills ⌛
Continuing from the previous tip, perfecting your timing on the GRE is a skill you need to hone. And this is one of those skills you can easily acquire with practice.
Many GRE test takers find it difficult to manage their time properly, especially when it comes to the writing section. Being too focused on the question before you is sometimes not good, because you can easily lose track of time. And the next thing you know, you only have a few minutes left, and a lot of questions to go.
This affects your overall performance, which is why you really want to constantly keep track of time. You can achieve this with the help of – you guessed it right – practice!
We’d highly recommended that you time your practice sessions right, and keep regular track of the time even when you are practicing casually. And if it is possible, try sitting for practice at the same time every day, so your mind gets used to the drill over time, and by the time you take the actual GRE test, time management will not be your foe anymore.
5. Review your notes 📑
If your GRE test date is around the corner, it’s natural for you to want to revise and review all the fundamentals and the advanced strategies so you can brush up your knowledge of the core concepts.
However, it’s almost impossible to go through each and every topic in a matter of days, and it doesn’t make sense to study the entire material all over again.
And that is why it’s always better to keep your notes handy and go through everything that you’ve worked on. Make sure you give special attention to the concepts and topics that might have been difficult or confusing in the past.
If you did not take notes in the past when you were studying or practicing, then you might want to check out our strategy lessons, which contain “to-the-point strategies and last minute hacks” for every concept that is tested on the GRE.
6. Conquer your GRE fears 🏁
You might have noticed by now that you aren’t equally good at all of the topics that you need to know. And that is nothing to worry about, because everybody else is in the same boat as you are.
Some test takers may be strong at math and data interpretation, while some excel at reading comprehension and English vocabulary.
No matter how smart you are and how much time and effort you’ve put in over the past few weeks/months, and dare we say how many of these last minute GRE tips you have taken care of, it’s inevitable that you have what I like to call a “GRE Achilles’ Heel” or two. That is why it is important to know where your strengths and weaknesses lie.
Understanding where you need to work on will help you concentrate the little time and energy that you have left before the GRE, on those topics that can really make a difference in your GRE score.
It will help you prioritise these final few precious hours, so you will be able to go through the topics once again and practice as much as possible.
7. Don’t cram any new topics 🚫
You have already heard of this before, and this
If you couldn’t learn something in several weeks, it is not going to be easy to learn it in one night. Besides, the GRE is not a test of your knowledge of the math and verbal concepts. Rather, it is a test of how well you can apply the knowledge you already have of these concepts.
You may be able to cram some new knowledge the night before the test, but you will certainly not be able to learn how to apply that knowledge on the test. Being able to do that would require several weeks, if not months, of rigorous practice, and if you did not go through such rigorous practice, a few hours of
Another reason to not try learning new things at this point, is that it will only cause more stress and more sleepless nights. When you start cramming new information at the last moment, you’ll only hate yourself for not having done this before, and you risk carrying a negative attitude to the test centre, which is never a good idea if you’re looking to give your best performance on the GRE.
Instead, focus on the things that you’ve already learnt, and work on them by doing a couple of practice sessions the night before the actual test. That way, you’ll reinforce what you already know, and go to the test centre with your head held high.
8. Unwind your mind 💆
Like most competitive tests, the GRE is a stressful test, and GRE prep is all about studying for really long hours and exhausting yourself both physically and mentally. Now, if you’re used to such a heavy workload at college, you might do fine, because focusing on getting good rest and eating healthy before the exam wouldn’t be new to you.
But if you’re not used to studying long hours every day, you might want to take a step back every once in a while, so you’ll feel fresh on the D-day. Many students fail to realize that the brain is also a muscle, and as such needs some unwinding at the end of the day, just as much as any other muscle in your body.
And when we say unwinding, we mean unwinding in the truest sense. Not unwinding by watching Netflix or playing video games, but unwinding by not doing anything that requires using your cognitive abilities.
In order to have a longer attention span and in order to retain more information, you should giver your brain a complete break at the end of the day, every day. You can do this by taking power naps, or meditating, or doing some mundane activities such as gardening, or walking your dog, going out for a hike, etc.
And finally, whatever you do, don’t take mock tests the day before the actual exam, as it negatively affect your productivity. You might want to take a shorter practice session, or casually work out a few problems, but not stress yourself by sitting through the entire test.
9. Eat Healthy 🥗
This point often goes without saying, but it needs to be mentioned here because way too many students these days do not take into account the value of eating a healthy meal before they head out to take a test as stressful as the GRE.
Start eating healthy as you find the exam day approaching as you don’t want to fall sick and throw all that preparation and hard work away. So, go ahead and substitute junk food with salads, veggies, smoothies and juices. And definitely make sure you don’t have any junk food remaining in the fridge.
We’ve written about the importance of eating brain foods in greater detail already, but eating healthy on the test day is also vital to your performance, because there are certainly some foods that will make you feel lethargic and sleepy, and then there are other foods that will keep your blood sugar levels consistent throughout the day, so you’d be taking the test comfortably and actively.
And as for the day before, make sure you eat a little early, and choose the food that’s light on your stomach, as well as healthy.
10. Don’t be overconfident 🤭
Maybe it was the extensive preparation; maybe it was all those great performances in mock tests, but for whatever reason, you might sometimes tend to get a tad bit overconfident. As a result, you might give up completely on the last few days/weeks of prepping, which will eventually affect your performance.
You can avoid this by making sure you take every practice test in the right conditions, focusing on the process and not the results. Stressing too much on the result is never a good idea because at the end of the day, the process is what gets you a great score on the GRE.
11. Sync your biological clock ⏲️
This might probably not come across as quite an important tip, but it works wonders with your performance without you even realizing it.
If you’ve already booked your GRE appointment, you know what time of the time your GRE is going to be at. So, the deal for you is to take your mock tests and online practice tests around the same time as your actual GRE exam. This tunes your biological clock in accordance with the test timing, so that you can be completely attentive during the exam and give it your best shot.
12. Keep working on your AWA essays ✍️
One of the biggest mistakes a lot of GRE test takers make, is to ignore the essay section. You may be really scared of the Analytical Writing Assessment (AWA) section and as a consequence, you might try to put it off as much as possible. Or, you may be one of those people who think it’s rather better than they focus on the math or the verbal section.
Whatever you do, don’t ever give up on the AWAs. A low AWA score is a definite way to be rejected by universities, no matter how high you score on the math and the verbal section.
So don’t be ignoring the essay section while you’re preparing for the test. Look at some examples online, work some strategies that you think will help you out, and practice them. We’ve got a pretty neat AWA guide that will be your one-stop shop for all things related to the essay section on the GRE.
Also, when you take your mock tests, do include AWAs in them so you’ll really get the feel of an actual GRE test.
13. Get a good night’s sleep
We know you love to sleep till late in the morning, because who doesn’t?
And while sleeping a lot during your GRE prep days is not the best idea, it is actually good for you if you do it the night before the real test. Sleep a good way to give your mind a rest from all the exam fatigue – we can’t emphasize enough as to how important having a good sleep is, right before the day of the exam.
A lot of test takers look past sleep, trying to get some more prep time in there, but it’s definitely a bad idea to sacrifice sleep if you’re test is in a few hours. Try to get as much quality sleep as possible so that you’re at your best during the exam.
14. Say hello to your hobbies 🙋
This is a tip for one day before an exam, or maybe even on your exam day (before the exam, especially if you have an afternoon session).
Just relax and cater some time to your favorite hobby that helps you calm down and relax. Be it playing the guitar, doodling, singing, or drawing, just spend about half an hour or an hour on it so that you feel completely at ease. This will definitely have a positive impact on your test performance.
15. Don’t worry about the spellings 🔤
If you are terrified of the verbal section on the GRE, then chances are that you will try to memorize all the spellings of the difficult words, and cram up all the grammar rules in the eleventh hour. Don’t do this, as you might end up forgetting, or mixing up everything.
Besides, the GRE does not test your knowledge of spellings (except in the AWA section, where you don’t need to use these difficult words) and since the words will be among the answer choices, you can just pick them from the choices. So don’t worry a lot about spellings.
Instead, you can do this: Connect these difficult words to particular situations or things, using mnemonics, so that you can easily recall them without stressing out too much. You can use vocabulary flashcards to do this easily.
16. Revise the important formulae 🔢
When the exam is only days away, it’s better to have a glance at all the important math formulae, instead of practicing the problems vigorously. Good knowledge of math formulae and solving techniques will definitely come in handy on the test day, and will also save you a ton of time.
If you feel just the formula isn’t helping much, then you can even look at a sample question or two where that formula has been used effectively, so that you can be clear with the concept once again.
17. Practice answering the questions before looking at the choices 👀
While taking tests like the GRE which have multiple choice questions, it is natural to look at the answer choice immediately after reading the question, and to try guessing the correct answer. Don’t do that!
Instead, work on the solution and then look for the answer in the options given (like we already mentioned above). This keeps you from being swayed by the misleading choices given in the question.
But even more than that, in the grand scheme of things, what’s really important for you is to not get that one particular question right. What’s important is that you are confident of answering any question, no matter how easy or difficult the answer choices may be. And that needs a lot of practice. So, make sure you work on doing this while you take your mock tests or working on your last minute practice papers.
18. Spend time with family or friends👨👩👧👦
You might be wondering why this is among the last minute GRE tips at all, but spending the last few hours before the big day will make a world of difference to how well you will perform on the exam. Before the day of your exam, take some time out of your schedule and spend it with your family or go pay your friends a visit. This will take your mind off of all the tension and helps you relax. A
But even when you’re spending time with your friends, it is important that you stay away from all the exam talk. Your friends or family might be curious to know how well prepared you are, but all this exam talk is going to cause more anxiety, exactly when you need it the least.
Remember to not talk about the test at all, and look to spend some quality time instead.
19. Wake up early and have a healthy breakfast🥣
On the day of the exam, get out of your bed early, stretch yourself out, meditate (or just focus on your breathing) for a while, and have a breakfast that’s light, as well as healthy for your brain. While this might not seem like one of
Keep track of your water intake too. The GRE is a stressful exam that lasts almost 4 hours, so you don’t want to get dehydrated as you’re taking the test, but at the same time, you don’t want to take frequent trips to the restroom and waste precious exam time.
20. Stay positive ➕
However good or bad your prep strategy has been for you, make sure you stay positive throughout. Cribbing about the lack of practice before or during your exam, or getting anxious when you see a certain question or topic doesn’t get you anywhere.
A lot of things that you worry about may not happen on test day, so take a deep breath, think positively and assure yourself again and again that everything’s going to be alright. A positive attitude right before the test certainly goes a long way.
21. Do not panic during the test 🧘
Last but not the least, this is the most important of all the last minute GRE tips you should definitely keep in mind, because no matter how well prepared you are, if you panic during the actual test, it all goes down.
It is quite possible that your actual GRE test won’t go as well as you expected it would. But that shouldn’t be a reason to panic during the test.
Sure, you might realise while you’re in the middle of the test that you’ve made some mistakes so far, or that you had to guess too many questions so far, and that would result in a GRE score that’s lower than what you hoped to get. But even then, it is important that you soldier on forward and finish the rest of the test without panicking.
This is because, firstly, you don’t know what score you’re going to get until the end of the test. So there’s no reason to imagine getting a low score when you don’t know it. And secondly, while it might be a natural reaction, panicking during the test is not going to help, or change the fact that you haven’t done well so far.
But it can certainly change how you’re going to perform on the remainder of the test, so it is important that you don’t allow that to happen. Don’t worry too much or get disheartened, because you can always take the GRE again. It’s certainly not the end of the world.
Maybe you have had a bad day, but you definitely have a chance to not let it get worse, by focusing on the questions yet to come. And even if you end up with a much lower score than you wanted despite following these last minute GRE tips, it’s not like you have this just one shot. You can always crack the exam the next time.
Now Its Your Turn
So those are the 21 of our best last minute GRE tips to help you on your quest for GRE success. If you have tried any of these and have found them useful to your GRE prep, let us know which ones worked. We would love to know! And as always, if you have any other interesting