> Following post was shared by Alexander.

I am going to be brutally honest with you.The GRE is perhaps the trickiest exam you will ever write. The scoring system can be quite complex to understand, you hardly have enough time to answer all the questions correctly and the verbal section in my opinion IS the most difficult English exam you will ever write (unless you are going for a career with the language).

Now I don’t mean to scare or discourage you, not at all. Infact, I personally know of a few people who did incredibly well in the exam. Myself?, I managed to score a total of 1360 out of 1600 (scores of 1400 and above are almost guaranteed to get you a scholarship) so I did quite okay.

Now if you have already started preparing for the exam and you have familiarized yourself with the scoring system,you probably might be a little puzzled at the scores that I just revealed to you.

The truth is I took the GRE twice which was back in early 2011 and a new format of the exam was introduced in August 2011. In other words, I belong to the old school of GRE test takers.

Regardless of the change in format, the exam remains a tricky customer and the following are some top tips to pass the GRE:

For the verbal section, visit learnwordlist.com, I can guarantee that you will find the resources available on the website extremely useful.

Use the powerprep software that is available for a free download on the official GRE website for practice.

Employ the flashcard technique

The major reason why the verbal section can be such a pain is because you will encounter words that you have never heard off.

I dealt with this problem by using ‘flashcards’ which is perhaps a glorified name for pieces of cardboard with text written on them.

The idea behind the flashcard technique is to cut out pieces of cardboard and write on one side, a strange word that you would like to memorize and then on the other side, write down the meaning of the word.

Do this for as many new words that you want to master. Once you have your GRE flashcard collection complete, start familiarizing yourself with the words by taking 5 or 10 at a time and going over them.

You can even take this GRE flash cards when you go out and anything time you have got 5 minutes, bring them out and go over them.This technique worked wonders for me and it could do the same for you, just be careful not to deal with too many new words at once.

GRE Prep Time

Regardless of your educational background, I would recommend that you spend at least 60% of your total preparation time on the verbal section. I mentioned earlier that I wrote the GRE twice.

This was because I made the mistake of focusing more time on the quantitative section and ended up scoring very poorly in the verbal section in my first attempt (a woeful 420 out of 800).

I changed my strategy for my second attempt by spending more time on the verbals and I did a lot better (610).

The truth is we all have different strategies that work for us and what worked for me may not necessarily work for you but do not take the verbal section for granted simply because you speak good English.

Spend more time on the verbals and you will be rewarded.

If you have average math skills, then you shouldn’t find the quantitative section too difficult.

By practicing a lot, you can definitely improve your skills and your chances of doing well will be greatly increased.

The fact that you will be provided an on-screen calculator also helps to make things easier.

If you are going for a degree in a science or Engineering related discipline and you plan on winning a scholarship, then getting really high scores in the quantitative section should be a top priority and vice-versa.

With regards to what GRE book you should buy, I personally used Barron’s to prepare for my exam but I can also recommend Kaplan and the Princeton Review as well.

Practice, practice, practice and then practice some more. There is no substitute for hard work.

Hope you find these tips useful and I wish you all the best in the exam.

  • Renuka

    Hi,

    I am planning for MS in any of the California University. My IELTS score is 6.5, but I have not prepared for GRE. Since I am working, and have kids, not getting time to study. Can you please suggest good universities in CA that give admission without GRE?- Thank you so much- Renuka.

    • http://www.happyschoolsblog.com HSB Counselor

      Hi Renuka,
      You can consider applying to Universities which do not require a GRE score. However there would be hardly any such Universities. For further assistance kindly let us know which programme you plan to apply for. You can discuss your profile in detail in the forums section. we would be happy to provide you with necessary guidance.

  • Anuradha Singh

    Hi,
    I have done my MSc in Natural Resource Management from India (2008) from TERI University with 7.3 CGPA. Since then I am working in an Environmental Consultancy in India. Recently after marriage I shifted to California. Now I plan to do PhD here, after a year or so. I have started preparing for GRE. But I read in your post that for Phd they prefer research experience, which I don’t have. In the meantime, I am also working on publishing a paper (though not in any big journal). Could you guide me for my prospects.
    Thanks,

    • http://www.happyschoolsblog.com HSB Counselor

      Hi Anuradha, Yes typically you need some sort of research experience to present in your applications for PhD admissions. Since you have been working as an Environmental consultant, your experience may help if you plan to take up projects similar to professional experience so far. Prepare well for GRE. Publishing a paper would certainly help. Check for the student profiles at Universities you wish to forward your application to for better understanding of the University’s expectations. You can share your complete profile details in the forums section for further suggestions in this regard.
      All the best!

  • Nikki

    Hi,
    GRE isnt that tough once you have a game plan for Verbal section.You forgot to mention analytic writing too. Most universities have a cutoff of 3/10.
    My gre scores are 165/170 verbal and 159/170 q.I spent most of my effort on verbal section and neglected the writing part. I just got 2.5, shattering my dreams to get into a good university in USA inspite of the good scores. I have changed my plans and have applied for Australia now.
    So dont forget its importance too.

    • http://www.happyschoolsblog.com HSB Counselor

      Hi Nikki, Yes AWA scores are importnat. But looking at your overall scores you can plan for admissions in USA too. Universities are at times liberal in terms of AWA requirements. If you are keen to join a University in USA, you should give it a try. Admissions are possible.
      All the best!

  • Sujan kartheek

    Hi i am impressed by seeing this,
    I’m kartheek, completed my Bsc in Electronics and Computers in the year, 2008 frm Ap, India, with 63%. After tht I worked for a company for 1 year due to my financial position is not good. After i joined Mca and completed recently with 70%. I am intrested to do MS or Phd in abroad especially in US, in a good college with the minimum financial support. And while doing my Mca i joined Google and working still and have 1.8 years of experience, my question is can i go for MS on
    graduation basis by showing my exp, or i can move for Phd by showing
    Mca. pls help me out regarding this, if yes, whn can i apply for it. And suggest me some good universities etc….

    Hi Raghu Pls give me suggestions regarding the query

    • http://www.happyschoolsblog.com HSB Counselor

      Hello Kartheek, For a PhD admission in USA research experience counts more than your corporate/professional experience. But you do qualify to apply for a PhD. My advice would be to apply at a mix of schools for MS and PhD. Don’t risk applying to a PhD programme solely.

  • nikhat

    hi….
    i have completed B.Tech (cse) with 68% in 2011…now i want to apply for ms in USA….i have given ielts exam in april 2012 and got 7 band….
    can anybody help me in how to prepare for gre? and can i buy the barron book and prepare myself at home or do i need to take coaching?

  • Naresh Babu

    Hi,
    I m prepareing for GRE and planning for next fall. Could anybody suggest, which is the better place for pursuing MS ( electronics and communication background). Also please suggest whats the minimum score for TOEFEL ?

    Regards
    Naresh

    • http://www.happyschoolsblog.com HSB Counselor

      Hi Naresh, For STEM i.e. Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics programme, USA is the most popular destination. You can choose Universities based on your academic credentials and scores ion GRE and TOEFL.
      For TOEFL iBT you need a minimum of 79/80 on a scale of 120.

  • kartheek

    Hi i am impressed by seeing this,
    I’m kartheek, completed my Bsc in Electronics and Computers in the year, 2008 frm Ap, India, with 63%. After tht I worked for a company for 1 year due to my financial position is not good. After i joined Mca and completed recently with 70%. I am intrested to do MS or Phd in abroad especially in US, in a good college with the minimum financial support. And while doing my Mca i joined Google and working still and have 1.8 years of experience, my question is can i go for MS on
    graduation basis by showing my exp, or i can move for Phd by showing
    Mca. pls help me out regarding this, if yes, whn can i apply for it. And suggest me some good universities etc….

  • rajarshi ray

    gre is the easiest exam in the universe. the trickiest is iit-jee and iim-cat.

    • http://americanstudentblog.com/ Alexander

      Ray,
      I kinda doubt that the GRE is the easiest exam in the universe. Do you mind posting your scores so we could see how much you got?

  • Susma Sharma

    Hi
    I am impressed on seeing this blog. Going straight to my question. I want to pursue MS in a good college with the maximum financial support. I am 2011 pass out with 72% and currently working in INFOSYS. I have not yet started my preparation. Its day 1 today. So now my question is when should i give my exam and when can i start applying for colleges?? I have a bond with infy till sept 13 and after that i dont want to delay much. Please guide..

    • http://americanstudentblog.com/ Alexander

      Hi Susma,
      Now i would recommend the following steps;
      1. Start searching for schools to apply to right now. You will most likely be targeting admission for this fall term.
      2. Start preparing for the GRE and TOEFL. This of course depends on whether or not your school will demand both of these for admission.
      3. If you need these exams for admission, try to write them as soon as possible. Without them, you can’t get any admission.
      4. You should get admission by May at the very most.
      5. Schedule for your F1 visa interview immediately after getting your I20.

  • Dinesh

    Nice!! and it looks like someone next to me says it.. :)

  • prabhakaran

    Thank you for posting. You said you used Barron’s GRE book. Is it the only book that you used? I am curious.

    What other books have you used, if any?

    • http://americanstudentblog.com/ Alexander

      I only used Barron’s although a couple of my friends used Kaplan and Princeton and they gave some very good reviews about the books.

  • rony

    HI,
    I Have done engineering in electronics and communications from india (kurukshetra university), MBA from Wales University UK and currently pursuing my MSc in Business Information Systems from Royal Holloway University London.
    What should i do to settle in Canada or any other better country.
    Should i apply for PHD in Canada which i would like to do( but have heard that its very hard to get admission) or should i do some other course from Canada to get a better job and settlement in Canada. I think Canada would be the best option for me since its easy to get a permanent residency there or if any one can suggest me a right way in a right country i would really appreciate that.Thanks…
    Regards,
    Rony

    • yik

      ya go for caNADA

    • http://www.happyschoolsblog.com HSB Counselor

      Hi, You are already doing a second post graduation. If you are interested to settle down in Canada, you should be looking at the skilled worker immigration policies of the country.
      In case you are firm with the idea of pursuing a PhD, you need to look for an appropriate program which maintains a sync between your academic background so far.
      You can check details on Canadian permanent residency here: http://www.happyschoolsblog.com/permenant-residency-canada-usa/
      Eligibility for skilled worker and professional in Canada here: http://www.happyschoolsblog.com/permenant-residency-canada-usa/

  • rony

    HI,
    I Have done engineering in electronics and communications from india (kurukshetra university), MBA from Wales University UK and currently pursuing my MSc in Business Information Systems from Royal Holloway University London.
    What should i do to settle in Canada or any other better country.
    Should i apply for PHD in Canada which i would like to do( but have heard that its very hard to get admission) or should i do some other course from Canada to get a better job and settlement in Canada. I think Canada would be the best option for me since its easy to get a permanent residency there or if any one can suggest me a right way in a right country i would really appreciate that.Thanks…
    Regards,
    Rony

    • Vignesh

      Hi rony, glad to meet u. u can find a job in canada but that ll be difficult choice since many nations(us, uk,canada,….) r very stringent towards work visas. Try ur best i hope u ll get into canada with high qualification. However if u r a freshman without work exp it ll be slightly difficult. So how is UK studies n job prospectus in UK?

      • http://americanstudentblog.com/ Alexander

        I d say Canada and Australia are the best places to look for work right now. They are in high demand of skilled professionals.