HSB fan shared GRE Test Experience after scoring 1420 in GRE. It should have taken atleast 1 hour to write this GRE experience – including test prep tips for each section, self-assessment, study materials and what to do on the day of the GRE exam.
I gave my GRE on August 23rd. Scored 1420.
Now that my exam is done, I think it’s time I repaid the favor by sharing my experience and suggest a few things. I shall not discuss all the routine instructions and tips. You can get them by perusing though the blog. Tips from personal GRE experience that I think will be of use and might benefit others have been discussed. Hope you’ll find then useful….
Preparation for GRE Quantitative Section
However good you are at math, never underestimate this section. Most score below their capabilities. It was my mistake too, never practiced math that rigorously. Ended up with a 750 only.
The best way to prepare for gre math I think is not just keep practicing like a machine. Yes, practice is necessary (and you should practice) but keep a short notebook to write down all the tricks that the paper setter can play on you.
Like considering the 0, ½, 1, -ve values, integer, number etc etc. Be strong with your concepts on Numbers ( many fumble to clearly explain what basic things like factor, divisors, prime factors etc mean) Line intercept etc. If necessary, read the basis thoroughly. The web can be of great help..
Preparation for GRE Verbal
Here comes the most difficult section. Although, you will find the various tactics in books and on this blog helpful, I would like to just add some important ones that I am sure will be useful.
1. GRE Vocabulary can be remembered without forgetting..
As far as I am concerned (am not sure how many will agree) the best way to learn gre words is “in context”. I’m well aware that everyone reads words in groups. Although it helps, there are many words that can’t be put into groups. “Group therapy” is, and can only be, a partial help to better vocabulary. Not a ‘Panacea’. Reading by context helps a great deal.
Barrons GRE book [ 6 Ways to Memorize GRE Words]has a sentence for ever word. Try memorizing the sentences. Make a picture of it in your mind’s eye- imagine or enact the sentence. Also, I suggest that you read excessively. It’s not necessary that you start off with novels of Salman Rushdie right away (time happens to be a constraint for many).
Begin by religiously following “The Hindu”. Read the “open page” and write down the sentences. A better way to handle it would be, to create a word file with all the sentences (with the difficult word highlighted) and occasionally reviewing them. It might seem time consuming, but believe me from my gre experience; you will never ever forget the words that you have read. For example, clairvoyant is a difficult word.
But after I read the news item “Clairvoyant octopus Paul”- with a picture of the octopus- I simply wouldn’t forget it. Also, “Beleaguered British Petroleum” after the oil spill. It not only increases vocabulary but also makes sentence completion lot easier. The best places to find new words are, travelogues, film reviews, book reviews etc. Movies too have loads of words if you hear properly!
2. Reading comprehension can be made easier:
Another intimidating task is the reading comprehension. Apart from all the tactics that you already might be well aware of, I would like to suggest another one. Have a basic idea of American history, women empowerment, black revolution, how art and literary works are critiqued (try reading reviews on books, authors, artists, paintings etc). These are areas most of us are unfamiliar with.
So, when a passage on these subjects is given, it’ll be a kind of “building from scraps” should you not have any idea at all. You can feel the difference yourself. Take a passage on science and a passage on art. Most find the science easer as its familiar. (get me ?) Apart from this, make reading quickly a habit.
For analogies, I suggest you download the list of analogies (there are many a good Samaritan out there who have taken the pain of typing down all the analogies from Big book) from the net, print them out and try making the bridge. “The Bridge” is all that’s important here. Get it right, you get the answer.
Preparation for Analytical Section
Only had I prepared it for one more day! Everyone postpones this section. I too did the same mistake. Scored only 3.5. Practiced only one argument and issue just before the day of exam. Only suggestion, start right away.
GRE Study Materials
- GRE Maths: Nova is good, do it once and review the tricky questions. Complete all the practice tests in the Kaplan Software. Maintain your notes, don’t ever forget it.
- Verbal: For word list: refer Barrons
- For word groups:refer Kaplan work book
- For strategies on various sections: Refer Nova’s
- Top GRE Test Prep Books
Do a lot of tests. The better you understand its nuances, the higher are your chances of scoring well.
Get to know your speed of solving questions. This is “very very important”.
Don’t waste your time searching for gre materials, free gre software etc on the net. If you have all the material that I mentioned above, you have more than sufficient material. Complete that and I’m a 100 percent sure you will not need anything else. (I wasted a lot of time searching for free material on the net. Might have wasted 1/4th of my study time in doing so)
How to Assess Your GRE Score
Personally, I think Kaplan is the most difficult of all test software. Never go to the exam without completing all the tests in it. Expect a 100 to 200 more than what you score in Kaplan. I used to score about 1200.. scored 1420 in the actual test. Many of my friends got the same. Their scores were:
- Two guys, they used to score about 1000 to 1100 in kaplan.., scored 1240 and 1260 in the actual GRE
- Another, about 980 in kaplan.., scored 1170 in the actual GRE.
The advantage with Kaplan is that you’ll find the actual GRE easier. So I suggest you just stick to Kaplan in the last 3 to 4 weeks of preparation.
On the Day of GRE Test Experience
Apart from other regular advises
- Revise the Math notes. (You should revise all the ticks like substituting 0, -ve values etc just before going to the exam. Not that you do not know, but you must refresh your mind with the tricks.)
- Don’t try to cram words the day before. It only makes you nervous.
- If you get tensed and nervous, I suggest you cool yourself by fiddling with the tutorial. Yes, I did the same. Sat there as it taught me “how to click the mouse” for almost 20 min (until I stopped quivering). That’s one advice you won’t find anywhere.
- Get good sleep. Don’t do a night out the day before. It’s simply useless.
- Don’t talk to people coming out from the center and set up an “Enquiry Commission”. Was the paper tough? Are the words from Barrons? Can you please tell me some words? Even if you have a friend there don’t ever do that. That’ll make you really nervous (self experience).
- “Is Bangalore center easy?” “Hyderabad center has the toughest database!” —- Bull shit…, crystal clear bull shit. Don’t give in to such stupid talk.
- If you have a difficulty with AWA. Use this for the argument section. Search for a nice opening paragraph and conclusion and read it just before the exam day. After you enter the hall, write it down immediately on the paper that’s provided (every argument can be set to the same opening and ending paragraphs). It’ll save some time. I mean, u need not think of good sentence construction etc. When the task starts, just copy it.
For GRE, time management and ‘staying cool’ are “THE MOST IMPORTANT” things. Of course practice is important too. Lastly, I am grateful to this wonderful blog. No exaggeration, but anyone not following it “will surely get a 100 less than the actual GRE score they are entitled to!”
Hope the experience was useful..!!
Note from HSB – After reading entire GRE prep to testing experience, just take 2 important points, if not others.
- Is Bangalore GRE center easy? Hyderabad GRE center has tough database is BS.
- Don’t waste 1/4th of the time in searching for GRE materials.
Thanks to the reader who took lot of time and energy to write this GRE experience. Hope, other readers will come forward to share their experience.