Following GRE Study Guide, Test Plan, Test prep tips and GRE Books was shared by Sugandha.
Revised GRE Score Range: 1420 to 1570
- Verbal Score: 670-770 ( 164 to 170)
- Quantitative Score: 750-800 (159 to 166)
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My GRE Study Guide
I would like to share my GRE experience, GRE Study plan, GRE Materials. I decided in June (2011) that I want to appear for GRE this year. Sometime in June end, I booked a date for 12th October afternoon slot.
I only have my first name in my passport (with no surname).
While registering for GRE, the last name field was mandatory, so I gave my father’s name as my second name (which is what I always do in banks, because it is acceptable there).
I was in for a surprise when I read a post in this blog about how many problems a missing surname can create, and decided to confirm from ETS.
It turned out that I would not be allowed to appear for the exam at all!! I would have directly gone to the exam center on the day of exam had it not been for that post!
ETS representatives were very helpful and asked me to register for the GRE exam again, and provide my first name in the ‘Last Name’ field as well.
I woke up very early one morning, so that I could immediately book my original slot after cancellation.
As luck would have it, I still managed to lose it, but fortunately got the 6pm slot on the same day, i.e. 12th October. 9pm isn’t exactly the time I would have preferred to attempt GRE Reading Comprehension questions, but I was happy enough to just be able to write the exam.
At GRE Test Center
I reached the exam center 2 hours early, since a friend who had appeared in the same center before had told me that the address is very difficult to locate.
He had been right, but I had been extra-cautious and left from home 4 hours before the GRE exam was scheduled to begin.
I ate lunch at a restaurant close to the center and came back and sat at a staircase near the entrance.
The lunch was making me feel drowsy, so I started walking outside the entrance, and did that for over 1 hour, in order to keep active for the exam.
Analytical Writing Section
I got fairly easy essays and managed to come up with some decent points to write.
I will discuss my preparation strategies for each section later in this post.
The next section that I got was Quant.
I found it more difficult than whatever I had practiced.
I just did whatever best I could do, and moved on to Verbal.
Verbal again was more difficult than the general practice questions we see in preparation books.
GRE Reading Comprehension Strategy
One Reading Comprehension was particularly lengthy and very dry.
I had read in this blog about somebody’s strategy of attempting all sentence completion and equivalence questions first, and doing RCs in the end.
I had been following it, and it really helped a lot.
For sentence completion, the words used were not very difficult, but it was very difficult to fit them into the context specified.
Very ordinary words were also used in a very complex manner.
During the break, I asked the invigilators if I can access my locker to eat something. It is very important to consume something sweet just before an exam, because it instantly raises the glucose levels in the body and makes us more attentive.
So, I had been carrying some nutrition bars and convinced the invigilators to let me eat them.
One of the invigilators accompanied me to my locker, and I quickly ate and drank water.
I returned to the exam hall just in time, and was greeted with a very easy quantitative section.
I was scared that it had been engendered by my dismal performance in the last quantitative, but I promised myself that I have to get all the questions correct in this section.
Next section was a Verbal, as frustrating as the first one.
GRE Verbal Section
Once again, I did all the sentence completion and equivalence questions first.
For sentence equivalence, I noticed that the options were in sets of two synonyms (so the strategy that some preparation books suggest, that before reading the sentence we should try to find synonyms in answers should NOT be followed, otherwise it will make us biased towards whichever pair of synonyms we spot first).
I always follow the strategy of guessing what the blank can contain, then finding two options closest to it in the answer.
The most important strategy for Reading Comprehension is to use the process of elimination.
I noticed during my preparation, that you can never get the answers right, unless you distrust each and every option and try to find reasons as to why it cannot be correct.
The option in which you can’t find any flaws is generally the correct one. But if you look at the options from a point of view of locating the correct one, then all of them (or at least 2-3) will seem correct. I used to think of it as taking my revenge on the paper setter by finding faults in the options provided!
Finally, I got another quants of medium difficulty. I still don’t know which of the quants was the experimental section for me.
Coming to how I prepared….
GRE Test Plan and Preparation
I bought following GRE Books and Study materials.
Barron’s and Kaplan and solved each and every problem in both, and marked the ones that I could not solve the first time.
Also, I noted down whatever new words I came across in Verbal practice questions in a notebook and used to revise them regularly.
In a month’s time, I had understood that I need a lot of work for Verbal, but can manage quantitative without putting too much effort into it.
I also got a (pirated) soft copy of Princeton Review’s ‘Cracking New GRE‘ from a friend and solved all Verbal questions from that (didn’t go through quant this time).
Princeton Review is very good for the tips and techniques but I did not find the level of questions impressive.
I was able to get almost all of them correct the first time itself. I came to this book in the end, so could not follow the techniques suggested (although they seemed good, especially for RCs).
I kept the practice test CDs that came with these books for the end, but used to regularly take up any one section of practice tests in the books and time myself for it.
GRE Questions and Mistakes
During the last few days before my exam, I realized that the online practice tests were not helping much because I had forgotten most of the vocab, and was making the same kind of mistakes over and over.
This is where marking difficult GRE questions in the first run helped.
I went through all the marked questions and vocabulary notes in the 2 days before the exam.
Because of this, I could not attempt either of the tests on Barrons CD.
GRE Study Tip – So I suggest that you either manage your time well enough to be able to do everything in the end, or keep taking these tests regularly instead of saving all for the end.
I had done very little preparation for this section. I had downloaded many essay samples from the internet, but had read through only 10-15 of each kind, in the last 2 days before my exam.
I would have liked to practice more but was running short of time in the end, because of my mismanaged time and schedule.
I memorized (not verbatim though) the Argument template given in PR so that I was able to attempt that section faster in the exam.
For Issue section, I followed the strategy suggested in Barron’s – of writing the introduction paragraph in the end.
Verbal Section Prep
I did RC’s from all the three books mentioned. I mainly followed the techniques from Kaplan and Cracking the New GRE.
It initially felt like my skills weren’t improving, and I would keep getting all questions wrong, but without realizing, my Verbal aptitude did increase with practice and a better vocabulary.
For vocabulary apart from the list of new words that I came across in the questions in these books (which by the way came out to be many pages long), I did 500 words from flashcards that a friend had got from her MBA classes.
I also downloaded free vocab notes with a thousand words from majortests and tried learning all (but could not because of the limited time that I had, and hectic office through these two months).
Instead of consulting all these different sources, I suggest that you buy Barrons 800 Essential Words. A friend brought that book to my notice very late, so I could not go through it.
The most useful Vocab tool was Kaplan’s word groups given in the end of the book.
I used to keep adding on any extra words that I would discover with similar meaning to these. They are very helpful, because GRE doesn’t test you for the exact meaning, rather only the shade or closeness of meanings.
Doing all quants theory from Barron’s, and quantitative questions from any 2 preparation books is more than sufficient.
The only thing that I felt was extra in the actual exam were a few questions related to standard deviation, that I had not encountered in any of the books (and that I suspect I got wrong in the actual GRE).
In sum, you will mostly need to practice and decide which technique suits you the best.
I went by what I read from this blog, and from my friends’ experiences.
I am not sure if it would have made a difference to my score had I followed some other strategies, I just grew comfortable with the ones that I followed.
Do let me know if this helps with the preparation!
Your GRE Study plan?
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