The graduate record examination is one of the most frequented examination for the graduate schools. I had given it this july(2016). I would like to share my experience of how I scored 320 (q-165,v-155) and awa -3.5 all within a span of 35 days of studies. Introducing to my background of having a bachelor’s in computer science from mumbai university, I had a strong hold on the quantitative section.The verbal section of gre though being tough due to its complexity, it was never my strong point. The blog is written to give an holistic view by dividing it into sections and examining the various facets that helped me get this score.
Section 1: Gre examination format.
The gre is a very long exam, a 5 hr of total of which 3 hours and 45 mins are the exam and the rest are form filling, security checks and intervals. It consists of:
1. Credentials checking(usually the passport)
2. Confidentiality form filling and listening to regulations.
3. Allotment of locker and keeping inside the baggage.
4. After security checks ,which happens each time you leave the examination room,inside of which you are allowed to carry only your passport.
5. Refreshment and washroom visits.
These 5 steps take upto 30-40 minutes.
The exam has the following sections:
1. Analytical writing (issue and argument task) – 30 min each
Try to jot down a crisp, to the point 450+ word essay and argument task.
2. 2 quant section (35 min each)
-7 quant comparison questions
-3 Data interpretation questions
– rest 10 questions either single choice /multiple choice/fill in the blank.
3. 2 verbal section(30 min each)
-6 fill in the blank (single/double/triple blank)
-4 sentence equivalence
-10 reading comprehension questions
4. Experimental section - either a quant section or verbal section (30 /35 min respectively)
5. University form filling.
Amidst each of the 6 section instructions will be provided and a min break will surely be present. A ten minute break is present after the third section.
Section 2: My background and working style.
Being a lazy person unable to follow a systematic way of doing work, my study was pretty erratic and the exam decision was taken pretty impetuously with a thought of giving the exam just for experience with a notion of regiving again seriously. I expected to get somewhere between 305-315.
Most of the time I couldn’t read books or solve books , atleast each and every question. It bored me. I had good hold of vocabulary, not great, due to reading novels since childhood and aptitude was pretty good, I loved maths and writing, so these two were tested in gre, acting as a bonus.
I usually hated doing work without a plan and methodology. So,I consulted many people who had given gre to find out the best material to study. The strategy was quality over quantity and practicing in time constraint.
After researching , 2 days I just brushed up my quants of a local classes book that had some 20 question each per chapter. Then started of with vocabulary for 10 days with the 3 ets official books.I never was pretty confident on my verbal as feared it a lot. As I could not solve books,I straightaway started giving exams and gaining knowledge by giving exams and learning the gre pattern and getting hold of my weaknesses and learning strategy. I was a bit careless in my preparation because of my back thought of regiving the exam.
Next 21 days were spent in giving exams and the rest time of the day revising the required concepts.
Two days were rest( a day before the exam and a day I didn’t feel like doing anything so read some few awa assignments from the ets book. ). Daily schedule would be to give an exam, that took about 8 hrs and some 4 hrs study the rest.
Section 3: Materials Referred and pre examination analysis.
1. Only the local class book that took 2 days and ets quant book .
2. Diagnostic tests of princeton, barron, manhattan,nova math bible.
3. Solved weak areas and new sections of quant like data interpretation, statistics,permutations and combinations and probability from manhattan 5lb.(One day each chapter)
Recommended books after giving the gre and seeing the level.
1. Manhattan 5lb
2. Nova math bible (I did not practice this one)
3. Ets quant book
4. Handbook of mathematics(formulas)
To get a perfect 170.
Verbal- This is the area I practiced the most due to it being the toughest.
Vocabulary- Magoosh 800 words and barrons 333 words are more than enough and practiced it thoroughly to get context from vocabulary.com
Getting the right material for verbal was tough as nothing matched the real gre level.
Manhattan 5lb I did, but it was just verbose and wasted my time. Only thing that was good, in that book was the Reading comprehension and logical reasoning.
I found the ets verbal quite enough and approximate.
Apps:magoosh flashcards, manhattan gre prep and vocabulary for gre. These 3 apps helped me study verbal.
All the above are recommended and I am happy with the fact that I did not waste time on useless books and apps.
I just practiced it while giving exams and made it a point not to skip the section. Else manhattan 5 lb and ets awa book suffices the information required and online posts for awa tips.
Most of my study and learning was done through exams to get hold of what exactly is gre and the question types and simultaneously learning from it and forming strategies.
The magoosh blog is the best material to follow owing to its efficacy and accuracy to gre.
The materials according to the gre preachers are rated as:
The magoosh blogs will definitely give a more granular insight to the exams and materials.
The exams I gave and the analysis are according to the quality of exam nearer to the gre:
1. Ets powerprep-320, 315
The second exam is more accurate as you will definitely get more than the second ones.
2. Ets written practice test-319, 309
Higher than gre, better and accurate score prediction.
Score prediction algorithm not accurate, don’t rely on it. quant level tougher and trickier than real gre but a must practice. verbal is below gre, mostly vocab oriented, but gre is more of context oriented. still a must solve to get various ideas.
Questions at par with gre,but score prediction is inflated. The best part is the awa, it is human rated and the feedback is awesome.
Started off to get an insight to my scoring. A bit inflated on score prediction but a good practice rest.
Didn’t solve major questions as due to many errors in questions. Though the questions looked more of lengthy typical exam solving questions as opposed to the gre, some tricks were pretty useful, really helped in the gre.
8. 6 mcgrawhill practice test-305-315
Started with these test to get an idea of the questions and the pattern and practice, the scores may not be considered seriously.but questions were good to start with.
Coming on my quant and verbal cutoff
Quants: min-161,average -165,max-169
Awa: min -3,average -4,max -5.
Section 4: On the day.
The day went pretty well. I got awa, quant, verbal, quant, verbal and quant .I was usually prepared for verbal as my experimental section, quant though I enjoy solving, less stressful but it is taxing.
I did not have the habit to avoid drinking water amidst the practice test, though I managed to sit for long hours without food. On the exam day, in the last quant section, my blood pressure dropped, I was fainting, in the last section and last 15 min were difficult to fathom. As I was already in the apprehension of my exam going bad and the need to give it again, I somehow calmed myself down and prayed to god that only I shouldn’t faint, I should somehow be concious to give the exam ,even if bad. I asked the coordinators water,though denied and asked to leave if needed, I mustered courage to just encounter the last 15 mins of my quant section. Somehow of the 15 questions in those last fifteen minutes ,I managed to attempt 12 and 3 questions I just ticked it. The scores later that flashed were a suprise and gave me some relief, I could have scored a few more in the quant, but nevertheless, whatever happens, happens for good. I decided not to retake the gre. Everything was unexpected. The coordinator allowed me to get refreshed before filling the form. I felt everything amidst went wrong to give the right solution.
Section 5: what I missed and could improve upon-some important tips.
– Don‘t underestimate the power of quant section.
- irrespective take 2 months time to prepare ,as it is an eventual process not a fast process.
- start with vocab and then verbal simultaneously with quant.
- understand the importance of practicing in timed and examination constraints.
- make a habit of reading long convoluted passages.The reading comprehension are both the easiest and toughest to score.
- gre is not about vocabulary, more about context. A nice score comes with practice.
- do not undermine exams and do thorough analysis of your exam and build strategies.
- ideal time to prepare is 3 months, take the date before only.
- the quants are trickier than thought or underestimated.
- practice awa and practice papers with all sections.
- do concentration building exercises and a habit of reading online and typing.
- do not be verbose rather be clear and to the point in awa.
- calm down a day before exam. In the 10 min break eat some chocolate and drink water.
In a min break , don’t haste forward, take your time and give your eyes and brain rest.
- be careful of the clothing ,wear nice woolen wear especially the feet.
- maintain an error log of the mistakes you make and nice tricks you come across to revise. similar with unfamiliar words.
This is one of the most amazing experience faced and the second time exam surely benefits, as we tend to make less mistakes.
If you want to add more comments to the article or you see any thing incorrect please write a comment below and we will surely get back to you.