To HSB: I didn’t know how to post this on your wall. So I’m putting it up on the next most relevant place. You may publish this if you want.**
Last month before starting my preparation I read your post, and as I commented before, I bookmarked it.
- Apurv’s post – Magic Formula to Score in GRE 1410 in 30 days
I was having ambivalent feelings about giving GRE now or in the new format. I felt maybe one month would not be enough, in any case I had already booked my date in this pattern so I thought I would go ahead with it.
Still, by the time I gathered all the material and focused on the task at hand one week had passed. With 3 weeks remaining I started my prep after reviewing all the points you laid out.
I borrowed a great verbal book from my friend, who had enrolled for GRE coaching (He got it from Jamboree) photocopied it and started doing the words from there, because frankly, Barrons is very intimidating.
I used Kaplan for all verbal, math and analytical writing strategies, I would suggest using Kaplan initially to develop a strong base, learning how to tackle each type of question for both, especially quant.
GRE Study Plan
I couldn’t put in 6-7 hours everyday but still kept going at my pace making detailed plans for each day and having an idea where it will lead me by the end of the week.
The vocabulary material was very helpful as similar meaning words were listed together, I would go through 20-25 different meanings in a day but in essence would learn around 150-160 words. This reduced time and effort and I was done with around 2000 words in 14 days.
I made a list of words which I found interesting or couldn’t remember in my first attempt these were around 800 and kept revising them in parts over the next week, this usually takes only a fraction of the time it took in the first attempt. Along with this I solved Kaplan Sectionals, 1 everyday for verbal and quant.
Quant was easy, after reading the Quantitative strategies given in Kaplan, I solved the practice section and found that I was able to answer more than 90% of the questions. After that I only practised quant while giving a paper. Don’t worry if get questions wrong in Kaplan’s Quant Sectional, questions on the actual test are going to be simpler but it’s better to be prepared for the worst.
Identify Weak Areas
The most important thing is to keep track of what type of question you are getting stuck at regularly, I made a table keeping all question types in each column and the Kaplan Sectional number in each row and kept track of the area I needed to concentrate most upon and how I had to overcome that problem (in my case it was Analogies).
I practised analogies from Big Book Verbal tests which can be downloaded for free, they were great but I didn’t have time so I only did analogies, if you have time practice lot of these papers, there are 54 papers in all testing you on questions you might actually see on your actual GRE paper.
Kaplan has a great online companion, it’s sectionals are also very helpful. Everyone should make full use of these services. Use Barrons only 2-3 days before your exam to solve 100 practice questions for each question type for verbal, you can also refer to some typical quantitative questions which unfortunately are not mentioned in Kaplan and are sometimes asked in GRE.
Last 1 Week GRE Prep
With six days remaining and six practice tests in hand. I planned on adopting ‘one paper a day’ methodology. There were 3 Kaplan CAT tests from the CD, 1 Barrons CD CAT and 2 Powerprep CAT.
Kaplan tests are great, a little tougher than one you would encounter on test day. Barrons test is useless don’t worry if you don’t do well on it, it doesn’t reflect your preparation and score, if you have less time don’ t bother giving it.
I lost a day reflecting on what I did wrong or why I got a low score in Barrons’ paper but it was a sheer waste of time. Powerprep is supposedly the most accurate test you can give before your actual test, plan to take Powerprep 2-3 days before your exam only.
If you score well on this, it will give you a well deserved confidence boost.
During your actual test, take the time during tutorials to acclimatise to your test centre (its there for this very purpose we all know how to use a mouse, scroll, enter answers etc.) that will serve you well.Also, do some isometrics while sitting on your seat in between test sections, so that you are rejuvenated for the next section despite of the lack of physical activity.
My GRE Practice Test Scores
KAPLAN CAT 1 
Verbal : 590
KAPLAN CAT 2 
Verbal : 570
KAPLAN CAT 3 
Verbal : 640
BARRONS CAT 1 
Verbal : 530
POWERPREP CAT 1 
Verbal : 680
POWERPREP CAT 2 
Verbal : 680
Actual GRE Exam
Now, for the most important aspect of giving the exam.
Take a day off before your exam date, even if you have few days to prepare for your exam plan your study so that you can keep one whole free day to relax and rewind and to restore enough energy to attack your paper with full force on the next day.
All that you have studied during your prep is deep within your brain and doesn’t need to be revised on the eve of your exam.
Try not to get anxious, GRE may be an important aspect of your profile for graduate admission, it certainly is not the only one. Even if you don’t score exceedingly well on it, your overall profile might not suffer as badly as think.
I didn’t do the things I am preaching now. I revised my words late into the night before the exam and when I eventually went to sleep, I could not, due to the anxiety and stress that had built up just before an important exam.
I lost most part of my night’s sleep and went to give the paper next day feeling tired and dejected, which is not how you want to feel before an exam, especially one that requires you to sit for 4 hours, you need maintain your energy for the whole duration.
To exacerbate the problem, the air conditioner in my test centre was not working properly, which made the ambience tougher to deal with.
Still, somehow I managed to hold my head during the test and ended up doing decently. First I was expecting a score around 1500 one day before my GRE, then 1200-1300 on the day of the GRE attributed to my sullen mood.
- ACTUAL GRE SCORE  – 323 in Revised GRE.
- Verbal : 630
- Quantitative: 800
I know there are very few days left for this pattern, not many would be able to benefit from this post. If even one aspirant benefits (as I did from Apurv’s post – Magic Formula to Score in GRE 1410 in 30 days) from this post, I would feel I have given something back to a community to which I owe a lot. Thanks again Apurv Mathur!!