GRE Test Experience – 800 + 700 + 4.5

Raghuram Sukumar Uncategorized 8 Comments

GRE Test Experience shared by Umesh.

Hello All,  Took my test in the month of July 2010. I completed my applications, so I thought I would give back something to Happy schools blog from which I have benefited so much.  Got 1500 ( 800 in Quant and 700 in Verbal)

The experience was inexplicable. No mock test can simulate the actual test conditions,  where there is so much pressure. and I was required to guess on no less  than 15 questions out of the total 58. (never ran out of time in the mock tests by TPR, Kaplan, Barron’s).  Let me start from the beginning.

GRE AWA section

This section was on expected lines. No surprises. Got 2 topics for Issue task.

  1. Something about research and how money should be allocated to such projects(I am not supposed to give the actual question out in a public forum like this)
  2. (don’t remember the prompt )

For argument task, got an argument which had analogy flaws and sampling flaws.

GRE Quantitative Section

The second section was quant for me. The first ten questions went without smoothly.  Questions 20-30 were challenging and I had to spend a lot of time there. Finally had only 8 minutes for the last 10. Decided to guess on alternate questions, but made sure that the questions which I attempted were correct beyond doubt.

GRE Verbal Section

The last and dreaded section was here. Could not stop thinking of failure. Was already exhausted. Now had to read those horrible RCs.

  1. The first antonym question had a word, which I did not find in Barron’s Wordlist, Kaplan Comprehensive as well as TPR. Had to guess.
  2. The second question too, was some new word. Fortunately, I was able to eliminate 3 options and randomly guessed on the remaining 2.

After that, I got a short RC within the first 10 questions, which was pretty easy, but time consuming. Now, I was in a fix. 20 questions to go with only 14 minutes remaining. Managed to get all analogies and antonyms correct, but guessed on a few difficult SC questions. By the time I came to Q20, I was cursing ETS and its torturing psychoanalysts. Wanted to just abandon the test and retake it later. One small but tough RC between 10 and 20. Sapped all my energy and I just wanted to close my eyes. For 20 to 30, had only 7 minutes, and there came one big passage almost 2 screens long in some convoluted Engish.
I indiscriminately clicked on some answers for all the 4/5 RC questions( No time for even Process Of Elimination). After this, luckily, at the end, I got easy antonyms and analogies. Ended up feeling more dejected than ever, because the computer fed me easy questions. Finally, the ordeal was over and prayed that another verbal section should not appear.

My prayers were answered and I got a declared research section having an argument essay prompt. Skipped that one and prayed very hard, expecting a score in the range of 1200 (worse than my performances in any of the mock tests). Was surprised and elated  to see a 1500.

It was a grueling and unprecedented experience. Finally, I think it all boils down to when, where and how to guess. The ETS guys are masters at putting excessive pressure on you and testing your performance under those conditions.

You have to match the challenge. Don’t pin your hopes on RC’s. Your best bet will be to learn all the 50 Barron’s wordlists. That way, even if you skip one full long RC, you can get a pretty high score. [ How to Memorize Barrons GRE Words] We cannot avoid those bloody ETS traps fully, but we can fall into them and still get out of them.

GRE Experience Questions

Answers to some questions my friends asked me :

What were the challenging questions on quant…and what abt the probability questions and the permutation and combination ones…???

Umesh: I really don’t remember much about quant. Only remember that I got 1 Permutation and Combination question and 1 question on Probability. Fairly time consuming. That is why I had to rush towards the end. But if quant is a problem area for you, then remember to improve your accuracy in the first 10 questions. After that, you have to speed up, but maintain fairly decent accuracy, making sure not to get successive answers wrong.

How did u go about practicing the essays during ur prep?

Umesh: Powerprep is the best place to practice your essays, since the tools it provides are very rudimentary and identical to the interface which you will see during the test. Coming to the content portion of the essay, make sure to look at an issue from multiple angles.

You could derive examples from engineering, literature, art, religion, politics, business, biological sciences, philosophy, linguistics, sports, entertainment etc(the best way to remember this sequence is the way you see them in the newspaper(For example, The Times of India will have mostly politics in the beginning pages, then there will be a page dedicated to Bangalore, followed by Crimes , followed by National news, followed by Science and tech, business, sports and so on). It would also help if you cook up examples which are entirely fictitious, but throw in some numbers, dates and organization names to lend credibility to your evidence.

For example : Instead of saying ”A recent study showed that ….”, you can say,

”A recent study conducted by the International Data Commission/UNESCO/Gartner Inc/UNICEF/WHO(feel free to put in the big names) in January 2008 in Africa proves beyond doubt that ….”. Remember recent events like the BP oil spill, and the Craig Venter Institute revelation that a bacterial can be reprogrammed using synthetic DNA.

In my essay, I managed to somehow create scenarios where I could insert these examples. Of course. there are so many other examples which you may add and this will depend on your knowledge of current affairs. I feel that giving such examples will have more impact than talking about Gandhi or some other leader.

You could also add an extra dimension to your perspective if you talk about the issue with respect to different age groups, rich/poor, whites/blacks, language differences, nationalities,
government/common people, male/female and so on.

How much did ur final score actually deviate from the mock tests u had taken…???

Umesh: This is a very good question. I found that, of all the tests, Powerprep is the most accurate predictor for most of the test takers, though Kaplan and TPR also are pretty close (to be fair to these two, I never took them too seriously).

  1. PowerPrep 1 – 1530
  2. PowePrep 2 –  1430

So, the average 1480 was very close to my actual score of 1500. [ GRE Score Range Calculator]

How ETS manages to do this is beyond my comprehension. Those guys manage to get their predictions right almost always. Perhaps they charge 190$ to fund some funky statistical research.


  1. Hi Umesh,

    Same question to you as kiran asked: how many months did you take to prepare and what was your study method especially for verbal section?

  2. Hi,

    I want to know from where can I get the full length practice tests? Could not find anything on kaplan website as well!

    Thanks in Advance.

  3. Hi Umesh,

    Congrats on such a greta score. Could you tell me which colleegs did you apply to and which branch(CS or any other) are you in?

  4. Hi Umesh,

    Congrats for your high score and thanks for your feedback. Its very informative. Plz share with me the names of the books, materials , etc which you reffered and about your study strategy…

  5. Hi. The GRE is a seemingly unreliable examination. Frankly, it tells little about the test taker's aptitude or readiness for graduate school. I took the GRE twice and scored 1290 and 1360. Ironically, my performances were almost the same and yet my score improved by 70. In my first test, I scored 510 with 21 correct answers and then scored in my second, 570 with 16 correct questions in the verbal section. What I noticed as predominant factor in the scoring is the weight of the questions. I answered more of the very difficult questions correctly in my second test than the first. My quantitative section was similar to the verbal section. My quantitative scores were 770 and 790 in my first and second tests respectively. First test – I got 3 questions wrong and in the second – 2 wrong questions. You may want to say that that's the reason for the score difference but I noticed that it was more about the weight of the questions. First test – my wrong answers were on the 17th, 25th and 27th question but in my second test, they were the 8th and 9th questions. What do you notice? In my first test, I didn't get any question wrong in the first 15 questions but missed the 8th and 9th in the second test. Considering what we know about answering the first 15 questions correctly, I wasn't supposed to score up to a 790 in the second test and yet i did. The real reason is that the 8th and 9th questions weren't very weighty. I've heard people say that the last questions aren't so important but that's not true because if someone is on the 800 mark and he gets the last question wrong which happens to be the most difficult (very weighty), then he's very unlikely to get an 800 or even a 790. So folks, the difficulty of a question is more important than it's position in the GRE.

  6. Hi Umesh,

    Can you tell me how many months did it take you to prepare for the GRE?

    1. I also think that GRE RC's are crap & only mastering wordlists can fetch a high score.

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