The Ultimate Guide for International Students: Mastering the GRE for Study in the UK

This comprehensive guide equips international students with the knowledge and strategies to conquer the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) and secure admission to their dream university in the UK. From understanding the GRE structure to developing effective study plans, this blog offers valuable tips and resources to maximize your chances of success. Gain insights into verbal and quantitative reasoning, analytical writing, and test-day strategies. With this comprehensive resource, you're well on your way to achieving a remarkable GRE score and pursuing your master's degree in the UK.

The Ultimate Guide for International Students: Mastering the GRE for Study in the UK
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Jun 3, 2023 06:38 AM
Welcome to the ultimate guide for international students aspiring to pursue a master's degree in the UK! Your journey towards studying abroad begins with conquering the Graduate Record Examination (GRE). This comprehensive guide will equip you with the knowledge and strategies needed to excel in the GRE and secure admission to your dream university in the UK.

Understanding the GRE

The GRE, or Graduate Record Examination, is a standardized test designed to assess a student's readiness for graduate-level education. It consists of three main sections: Verbal Reasoning, Quantitative Reasoning, and Analytical Writing. Understanding the structure and format of the GRE is crucial for effective preparation.

What is the GRE?

The GRE is a computer-based test that evaluates your verbal and quantitative reasoning skills, critical thinking abilities, and analytical writing proficiency. It is widely accepted by universities in the UK as part of the admissions process for various master's degree programs.

Sections and Format of the GRE

The GRE is divided into three sections, each assessing different skills:
  1. Verbal Reasoning: This section evaluates your ability to analyze and understand written material, comprehend the relationships between words and concepts, and apply critical thinking to draw conclusions. It consists of reading comprehension passages, sentence equivalence questions, and text completion tasks.
  1. Quantitative Reasoning: The Quantitative Reasoning section measures your problem-solving skills and mathematical aptitude. It assesses your ability to interpret data, solve mathematical problems, and apply quantitative reasoning to real-life scenarios. This section includes multiple-choice questions as well as quantitative comparison questions.
  1. Analytical Writing: The Analytical Writing section examines your ability to articulate complex ideas, construct well-structured arguments, and present your thoughts effectively in written form. It requires you to write two essays: one analyzing an issue and another critiquing an argument.

Scoring System and Interpretation

The GRE uses a scoring scale ranging from 130 to 170 for the Verbal and Quantitative Reasoning sections, with increments of 1 point. The Analytical Writing section is scored on a scale of 0 to 6, with half-point increments. It's important to note that different universities have varying score requirements, so research your target institutions to understand their expectations.

Preparing for the GRE

Proper preparation is key to achieving a high score on the GRE. Follow these essential steps to create an effective study plan and maximize your chances of success.

Creating a Study Plan

  1. Assess your current strengths and weaknesses: Take a practice test to identify areas that require improvement and areas where you excel.
  1. Set realistic goals: Establish target scores for each section based on the requirements of your desired universities.
  1. Allocate study time: Create a study schedule that allows you to dedicate regular time to each section of the GRE.
  1. Break it down: Divide your study plan into smaller, manageable tasks, focusing on specific concepts and question types.

Choosing the Right Study Materials

Selecting the appropriate study materials is crucial for effective preparation. Consider the following factors when choosing GRE resources:
  • Official GRE materials: Start with the official GRE guide and practice tests provided by ETS (Educational Testing Service), the organization that administers the GRE.
  • Test prep books: Supplement your studies with reputable test prep books that offer comprehensive content review and practice questions.
  • Online resources: Explore online platforms that provide GRE practice tests, video tutorials, and interactive study tools.

Tips for Effective Time Management

Managing your study time efficiently is essential for covering all sections of the GRE adequately. Consider these time management strategies:
  • Create a study schedule: Set aside dedicated study hours each day or week and stick to your plan.
  • Prioritize weak areas: Devote more time to challenging topics or question types that require additional practice.
  • Practice under timed conditions: Simulate the actual test environment by completing practice questions within the time limits.
  • Utilize idle time: Make use of short pockets of time throughout the day, such as commuting or waiting, for quick review sessions.

Utilizing Online Resources and Practice Tests

The internet is a treasure trove of valuable resources for GRE preparation. Explore the following online tools and platforms:
  • Official ETS resources: Take advantage of the official GRE website, which offers free practice tests, sample questions, and valuable test-taking tips.
  • GRE preparation websites: Utilize dedicated GRE preparation websites that provide comprehensive study plans, practice questions, and interactive learning materials.
  • Mobile apps: Download GRE preparation apps that offer flashcards, practice quizzes, and study reminders for on-the-go learning.
Seeking Guidance from Mentors and Tutors
Don't hesitate to seek guidance from mentors, tutors, or GRE preparation courses. Their expertise and insights can provide valuable guidance in your GRE journey. Consider the following options:
  • GRE preparation courses: Enroll in an online or in-person GRE preparation course that offers expert guidance, structured curriculum, and personalized feedback.
  • Tutoring services: Hire a GRE tutor who can provide individualized instruction, address your specific needs, and offer strategies for improving your weaknesses.
  • Join study groups: Form a study group with fellow GRE aspirants to exchange ideas, share resources, and motivate each other throughout the preparation process.

GRE Verbal Reasoning

The Verbal Reasoning section of the GRE evaluates your ability to understand and analyze written material. To excel in this section, consider the following strategies:

Tips for Improving Vocabulary Skills

  • Expand your word bank: Regularly read newspapers, magazines, and academic articles to expose yourself to a wide range of vocabulary. Make a note of unfamiliar words and learn their meanings.
  • Use flashcards: Create flashcards with words and their definitions to review and reinforce your vocabulary. Review them regularly to enhance retention.
  • Practice contextual analysis: Understand how words are used in different contexts. Pay attention to nuances and connotations to better comprehend complex passages.

Strategies for Tackling Reading Comprehension

  • Preview the passage: Before diving into the questions, quickly skim through the passage to get an overview of the main ideas, topic, and structure. This will help you approach the questions with context.
  • Annotate the passage: Highlight or underline key information as you read. This will help you locate relevant details when answering the questions.
  • Identify question types: Understand the different question types, such as main idea, inference, and tone, to approach each question strategically.
  • Eliminate answer choices: Use the process of elimination to narrow down the options. Cross out choices that are clearly incorrect or not supported by the passage.

Approaches to Mastering Sentence Equivalence and Text Completion

  • Analyze sentence structure: Break down complex sentences into smaller parts to understand the relationships between words and phrases. Identify clues such as transitions, comparisons, or contrasts.
  • Use context clues: Rely on the surrounding words and the overall tone of the passage to determine the meaning of unfamiliar words or fill in the missing words in a sentence.
  • Eliminate distractors: In sentence equivalence questions, identify pairs of words that have similar meanings or provide similar contextual fits. Eliminate answer choices with contradictory meanings or incompatible contexts.

GRE Quantitative Reasoning

The Quantitative Reasoning section of the GRE assesses your mathematical skills and problem-solving abilities. Follow these tips to excel in this section:

Brushing up on Mathematical Concepts and Formulas

  • Review core concepts: Refresh your knowledge of basic arithmetic, algebra, geometry, and data interpretation. Practice solving problems in these areas to build confidence.
  • Master key formulas: Create a formula sheet or flashcards containing important mathematical formulas and properties. Regularly review and practice applying these formulas to different types of problems.

Problem-Solving Strategies for Arithmetic, Algebra, Geometry, and Data Interpretation

  • Read the question carefully: Understand what the question is asking and identify the given information. Pay attention to any constraints or conditions provided.
  • Simplify the problem: Break down complex problems into simpler steps or equations. Look for patterns or relationships between variables to simplify calculations.
  • Use estimation: When possible, approximate the values or round numbers to make calculations easier and save time.
  • Work backward: In some cases, starting from the answer choices and working backward can help you identify the correct solution.

Utilizing Practice Questions and Mock Tests

  • Take practice tests: Regularly simulate the test environment by taking full-length practice tests. Analyze your performance, identify weak areas, and focus on improving them.
  • Review incorrect answers: Understand why you made mistakes in practice questions and learn from them. Identify patterns of errors and address them in your preparation.
  • Time yourself: Practice answering questions within the time constraints of the actual GRE. Develop strategies to manage your time effectively and avoid spending too much time on difficult questions.

GRE Analytical Writing

The Analytical Writing section of the GRE assesses your ability to critically analyze and articulate complex ideas in a clear and coherent manner. Follow these tips to excel in this section:

Understanding the Essay Prompts

  • Analyze the prompt: Take the time to carefully read and understand the essay prompt. Identify the main issue or argument being presented and consider the various perspectives or dimensions involved.
  • Develop a clear thesis: Construct a concise and focused thesis statement that outlines your main argument or position on the given issue. This will serve as the backbone of your essay.

Structuring Your Essays

  • Introduction: Begin your essay with a compelling introduction that introduces the topic, provides context, and clearly states your thesis. Engage the reader's attention and set the tone for the rest of your essay.
  • Body paragraphs: Each body paragraph should present a distinct supporting point or piece of evidence that strengthens your argument. Use clear topic sentences, provide relevant examples, and use logical reasoning to support your claims.
  • Conclusion: Summarize your main points, restate your thesis, and offer a concise conclusion that reinforces the overall argument of your essay. Leave the reader with a strong impression and a sense of closure.

Demonstrating Critical Thinking and Cohesion

  • Logical reasoning: Use logical reasoning and evidence to support your claims. Avoid fallacies and faulty reasoning, and clearly articulate the connections between your ideas.
  • Coherence and cohesion: Ensure a smooth flow of ideas throughout your essay by using transitional words and phrases to connect different paragraphs and sentences. Maintain a logical progression and avoid abrupt shifts in topic or argument.

Time Management

  • Plan your time: Allocate sufficient time to brainstorm ideas, outline your essays, write the drafts, and revise and edit your work. Set milestones and stick to them to avoid rushing through the writing process.
  • Proofread and edit: Reserve time at the end to carefully proofread your essays for grammatical errors, clarity, and coherence. Make necessary revisions and edits to improve the overall quality of your writing.

Test-Day Preparation and Strategies

  • Familiarize yourself with the test format: Review the GRE test format, including the number of sections, time limits, and the order in which sections appear. This will help you feel more comfortable and confident on test day.
  • Take care of yourself: Get a good night's sleep before the exam, eat a nutritious breakfast, and arrive at the test center early. Being well-rested and focused will contribute to your performance.
  • Read the instructions carefully: Pay close attention to the instructions provided for each section and question type. Understanding the instructions will ensure you approach each task correctly.
  • Manage your time: Pace yourself during the exam to ensure you have enough time for each section. If you get stuck on a difficult question, move on and come back to it later if time permits.
With thorough preparation, strategic thinking, and effective time management, you can confidently tackle the GRE Analytical Writing section and showcase your analytical and writing skills to impress admissions committees.


Congratulations! You've now gained a comprehensive understanding of the GRE and the strategies required to excel in each section. Remember to create a study plan, utilize the right resources, and practice regularly. Keep a positive mindset throughout your preparation journey, and don't hesitate to seek guidance from mentors or tutors when needed. With your determination and the knowledge you've acquired from this Ultimate Guide for International Students: Mastering the GRE for Study in the UK, you're well on your way to achieving a remarkable GRE score and pursuing your dream of studying in the UK. Good luck!


Q: What is the GRE, and why is it important for international students planning to study in the UK? A: The GRE (Graduate Record Examination) is a standardized test commonly required for admission to graduate programs in the UK and other countries. Many universities in the UK consider GRE scores alongside other admission criteria to assess the academic readiness of international students. A strong GRE score can enhance your chances of gaining admission to prestigious universities and securing scholarships or funding opportunities.
Q: How long does it take to prepare for the GRE effectively? A: The duration of GRE preparation varies depending on individual factors such as prior knowledge, study habits, and time availability. Generally, it is recommended to allocate at least two to three months for focused preparation. This timeframe allows for comprehensive coverage of the test content, regular practice, and the opportunity to identify and address weak areas.
Q: Are there any free or affordable resources available for GRE preparation? A: Yes, there are several free and affordable resources available for GRE preparation. The official GRE website provides free practice tests, sample questions, and valuable test-taking tips. Additionally, there are online platforms, websites, and mobile apps that offer free or low-cost study materials, practice questions, and study plans. Utilizing these resources can significantly support your preparation efforts.
Q: Is it necessary to take GRE preparation courses or hire a tutor? A: Taking GRE preparation courses or hiring a tutor is not mandatory but can be beneficial for some students. GRE preparation courses offer structured curriculum, expert guidance, and personalized feedback. They can help you navigate through the test content, provide effective study strategies, and offer valuable insights. Similarly, a tutor can provide individualized instruction, address your specific needs, and offer strategies for improving your weaknesses. Consider your learning style and budget before deciding whether to invest in these options.
Q: How can I manage time effectively during the GRE exam? A: Managing time effectively during the GRE exam is crucial for completing all sections within the allotted time. Practice under timed conditions during your preparation to familiarize yourself with the pacing requirements. During the exam, allocate a set amount of time to each section and stick to it. If you encounter a challenging question, it's advisable to make an educated guess and move on rather than spending excessive time on it.
Q: How can I deal with test anxiety or nervousness on the day of the exam? A: Test anxiety is common, but there are strategies to manage it. Prioritize self-care by getting enough sleep the night before the exam, eating a nutritious meal, and practicing relaxation techniques such as deep breathing. Arrive at the test center early to allow time to settle in and familiarize yourself with the surroundings. Remind yourself of your preparation and capabilities, and maintain a positive mindset. Remember, confidence and a calm approach can greatly contribute to your performance.
Q: Can I retake the GRE if I'm not satisfied with my scores? A: Yes, you can retake the GRE if you're not satisfied with your scores. However, it's essential to check the policies of the universities or programs you are applying to regarding score reporting. Some institutions consider the highest score achieved, while others may consider the most recent score or average scores. Plan your retake carefully, focusing on improving your weak areas and implementing effective strategies to achieve your desired scores

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