An approach to an exam like GRE, isn’t a process that can be described. Every individual, say by the age of 20, will have his own methods of preparation and his own approach that he is comfortable with.
Incorporating something entirely new, is a huge risk, and GRE being expensive, isn’t an exam to experiment with.
GRE is one of those exams, you work hard for, get a decent above average score, and stop worrying about it for a lifetime ( If you get a good score, it holds for 5 years, by which time, if you haven’t applied, you simply don’t intend to apply anymore).
However, get a mediocre score, and you will either have to re-take the GRE all over again, or be happy with a mediocre university.
I can tell you this, because, I took my GRE twice.
The first time, was immediately when the pattern changed in the September of 2011 (ETS offered a 50% fee waiver to the brave souls who took the test then), and again a year later.
Scores were 315 then, and 329 now.
Quite some improvement! GRE scores no longer restrict Universities I can apply to.
This post, will be relatively long, but, I can assure you that, there will definitely be things that you can either relate to (hence feel better), or things that will help you in your quest for attaining an above average GRE score.
GRE Math Section
Let us first discuss about the GRE Math Section.
This one should be easy, for anyone from an engineering background.
But then, I am not talking about scoring 165-ish on the Math section.
You must be aiming for a 170 on 170. Even 169 should be a disappointment.
Why? Simply because, you have no reason to lose marks here!
40 questions of GRE standard (easy or hard) can, with good practice, be answered without a single mistake.
Also, overall, it is a great boost to your score.
315 (with a 165 in Math), is an average score.
However, 320 (with 170 in Math) is easily an above average score.
I have made the mistake of overlooking the Math section, and believing that the last week or the last couple of days will be sufficient to practice GRE Math.
This is a common mistake and avoid it.
Math is Math, and more you practice, the more consistent you get.
You alone can decide how good you are, and how good you need to be to achieve the perfect score of 170 in Math. Should be easy, though!
Lets Talk about GRE Essay
Coming to the essays, the most neglected part of GRE. Everyone talks only about preparing for the Math and/or the Verbal sections.
In my view, the reason for this neglect is pretty simple.
Everyone starts preparing for the GRE from about 3 months before on average, and at most, 6 months.
This time period, isn’t enough for one to improve drastically in his writing abilities.
Essays aren’t about just writing good English and using huge words, with grammatically correct sentences.
They are aimed at analyzing your analytical ability, your ways of thinking, and mainly the consistency in your logic. One cannot simply change his ways of thinking in a time span of three months.
There can however be minor improvements to your writing ability.
It may add a 0.5 more to the essay score (hardly significant). Understanding the GRE scoring systems, reading sample scored essays, and getting an idea on what is expected from you in the essay section is alone important.
Being a citizen who has the right to vote, if you can’t write two decent essays, you should simply not take the GRE.
Haa..Lets Talk About GRE Verbal
Finally, coming to the verbal section.
The verbal section isn’t about memorizing the words.
It isn’t about adding more words to your vocabulary that you hardly ever find the need to use.
It isn’t about making you learn synonyms and antonyms.
It is a test that measures your understanding of standard sentences in English.
In this regard, Reading Comprehensions must be pretty straight forward.
If you believe that GRE is all about unnecessary memorization, then, you must be always getting all the Reading Comprehensions correct. This wouldn’t be the case, right?
RCs will be hard too! (Or at least, I personally, did find them to be intriguing) The reason why we, in non-English speaking countries end up doing a memorizing job for the GRE, is because, most of those words are easily understood by native-English speaking people.
So, for a native-English speaking person, the main challenge in GRE Verbal section would be to understand the context of the sentences and fill in the suitable words.
We, end up having to do the extra task of learning the new words as well. Just learning the meaning of new words alone, will not guarantee a good GRE score, but, if you yourself feel that your vocabulary (the use of words in everyday life), and your understanding of standard English articles has improved during your GRE Verbal preparations, then, you would most likely get a good score.
Yes, GRE is Simple
To conclude, GRE is a well-designed exam.
Top universities use GRE scores for evaluation for a reason.
Maximize your score in the Math section. Write two logically consistent essays in simple English.
Stop complaining about having to memorize words. Get good scores and be done with GRE.