All You Need to Know About the GRE + Free Resources!

GRE faq and tips

It’s that time of year! If you’ll be applying to grad school in the fall/winter that means you’re already thinking of the GRE and (hopefully) you’ve begun studying. When it came to the GRE I was mostly just in denial that it was even happening for a long time until probably about a month before. 0/10 do not recommend. You need TIME to study and do the best you can. I have a few common questions about the GRE listed here along with my answers. Some Q’s were submitted by you guys too so thank you for that!

Also just wanted to let you know that this post is the first one in a series of “Let’s Apply to SLP Grad School” posts! If you’re a future SLP grad student and you’d like to see a specific post please leave a comment down below with your questions!

How do I not fail?

Good question @Gabby ~ hopefully this post will teach you how to not fail

When should we take it? What’s the general timeline for applying to grad school?

For speech, all of my applications had to be in by February 1st. My first deadline was December 15th I believe. I took the GRE in mid-October. If I wanted to retake it I would need to wait 21 days. You can only take the test five times within any continuous rolling 12-month period (365 days). This applies even if you canceled your scores on a test taken previously. Most students I know took the GRE a maximum of two times. It is a very draining process so you’ll probably want to only take it once and be done with it forever (that’s how I was!)

Because I took it in October, I could take it again in early November and still have my scores before the first deadline. A cool thing about the GRE is that you get your scores right away for verbal and quantitative. The writing scores take about a week and they’ll show up on your GRE portal where you registered so this time frame worked for me. If I wanted to take it a third time, however, I’d be in a pickle because there wouldn’t be enough time.

IF I WERE TO DO IT ALL OVER AGAIN (which thank goodness I don’t have to) I would take the test over the summer so it was totally done and out of the way before the fall semester starts. So do that if you can.

How long do you recommend studying for the GRE?

At least 3 months I would say. Studying in small increments at regular intervals seems to be the best way. However, that’s not speaking from experience because tbh I crammed for the GRE. Again, do not recommend.

What was your favorite study material/practice resource?

I loved using the online practice tests. Since the GRE itself is on a computer, doing this was a good way for me to get used to the format and the questions. I took about 3 practice tests and I think they helped prepare me more than anything else. I’m also a person who learns by DOING not reading. I’d rather be doing 50 practice problems not reading about how to complete problems. If you’re not like that you might not like the practice tests as much as I did but I found them extremely helpful for my learning/study style

How important do you think your GRE scores were when combined with your application?

My scores were definitely a huge factor in getting accepted/rejected/waitlisted at schools. Speech pathology is super competitive and everyone is super smart so GRE scores are looked at pretty heavily. Of course, it does depend on the school but there weren’t any schools that I saw that didn’t require the GRE. I think I probably could have retaken the GRE and done better (like I said before, I sorta crammed) but it was so long and emotionally draining that I didn’t want to put myself through it again to MAYBE do better. My scores were pretty average, my writing and verbal scores were much better than my quant.

Did you take a GRE prep course (e.g. Kaplan, or any other one)? Was it worth it in terms of earning a better score?

No, I didn’t so I can’t speak about this. My roommate Jess did take a prep course and based on her scores it seemed like it was helpful for her (but she’s also a genius so…)

When did you take the GRE and how many times?

Sort of answered this already but I took it in October of 2016 and I took it once!

What types of free practice tests are helpful?

Alright, here’s the motherload of free resources and websites to help you prepare! Good luck!

Prep Tips from the people who make the test:

Free GRE Resources:

Free Practice Tests:

GRE Fast Facts:

Structure of the GRE

“33 Free GRE Practice Tests That You Should Definitely Take”:

Princeton Review does a free in-person on-campus practice test that gives you a good idea of the real thing. This is also the only free practice test I’ve found that will grade your essays:!practice


Issue Essay

Go through each of the tabs here to familiarize yourself with what they’re looking for:

ALL the possible Issue Essay prompts. Spend 30-45 seconds on each brainstorming points for each side of the argument and maybe what side you’d argue:

Magoosh nicely breaks up the Issue prompts into categories. This helps a lot with practice:

Kaplan gives a pretty nice structure with a useful video at the bottom:

Argument Essay

Go through each of the tabs here to familiarize yourself with what they’re looking for:

ALL the possible Argument Essay prompts:

Kaplan gives a pretty nice structure (no video):


Verbal: 2 30-minute sections

Kaplan’s 500 “most common GRE” words:

Magoosh’s GRE words. 1000 words broken into 50-word sets. Automatically recirculates words you don’t know:

Also try downloading the Magoosh GRE vocabulary flashcards app! It sends you notifications reminding you to study. Just replace your Candy Crush time with vocabulary flashcards for the months leading up to the test!


Quantitative: 2 35-minutes sections

Some practice problems to try:

I found this GRE prep book useful for both verbal and quantitative and it has good explanations!

What should I bring with me to take the test?

Bring a snack to eat afterwards and a water bottle should you get thirsty. You can only leave the testing room during breaks or you can opt to skip the break and get out of there quicker. I skipped every break so I could get it over with. You do you. I’d also bring/wear a sweatshirt in case it’s chilly in the testing room. Don’t forget your ID and your confirmation email as well. Lastly, bring a positive attitude and don’t forget to take deep breaths. It’s only a test!

  • Miss ALK

    I won’t have to do traditional grad school or the GRE for my field, but it seems like everyone I know is studying for it! Such good tips Kayla!

    xoxo A

    • Thanks Annaliese! You’re lucky you didn’t have to take it!

  • Awesome post! I am SO glad I never had to take the GRE haha. My husband just took it a little over a year ago and was soooo nervous, but thankfully he passed with flying colors and is now almost finished with grad school (just six more classes to go!!!!!)

  • I took the GRE twice. The first time I did fine but the essay portion caught me off guard. All my essays were about science topics and I was an art major!

    • The essay questions were horrible! I totally agree.

  • I didn’t have to take the GRE for my chosen grad school thankfully but I’m the worst at standardized tests so I can only imagine how difficult it would be for me.

  • Ahh so happy I only had to take this once and it’s behind me!! haha! Your tips are great!

    • Same hahaha soooo glad it’s over! Thanks Rachel!

  • Great info for those taking the test! Grateful these days are way behind me.

  • This is great! Sharing with a friend who’s studying for it now.

  • Katie

    Great tips! I took the GRE in early August and I’d highly recommend taking it in the summer! I started studying in May and gradually increased how much I was studying until I was studying a few hours 2-3 times a week in July. I used Kaplan and the book + online tests helped me so much! I wouldn’t recommend focusing on vocabulary words unless you are really bad at reading context clues and remembering root words/prefixes/suffixes. I focused on the math and writing and just studying strategies for the verbal portion.

  • Such a great post for so many people! I didn’t need to take this for my job, but a lot of people I know went through this. It can be stressful & reading up on this can be such a great insight xx

    • Thanks Kait! This post was easy to write I loved sharing tips with you all!

  • Sydney Power

    Very smart! I always love to talk and teach someone what I am studying!

  • These are such great tips! I’m still debating if I’m going to try and get my Masters.

    • Well, if you ever decide you will feel free to reach out with questions!

  • Savannah Ward

    Such a comprehensive post! I’m still unsure about grad school; it depends on what my degree can offer me right out of the gate. Your career path is so interesting to me. I can’t wait to hear more about it!

    • Thanks Savannah! There will be plenty more to come!

  • Yesenia Morales

    OH GOSH THANK YOU!! I have been dying here!! I need a study buddy :(

  • Tori Dunlap

    This is so valuable to anyone taking the GRE! Thanks for sharing!

    Tori || Victori Media