1-Testing | GRE

Trying to Master Verbal Section Does More Harm Than Good

“Experience is like a comb life gives you when you turn bald ” – siddhuism.

Note : Although the author of this piece of writing has given his GRE in the seemingly demonstrative ‘1600’ format ,there are quite a few valuable thoughts he’d like to pass on to the folks reading this wonderful blog. And why exactly is he posting this now? read on to find out

First things first

I am no master at vocab but what I learnt from my experience in the summer of 2011 was the simple and plain axiomatic truth that sometimes a student preparing for the GRE becomes so conscious of his inadequacies in the English language that he loses sight of his first immediate task at hand : being good at QUANT and AWA .(and trust me AWA can be a real party pooper)

I’m not going to harp on and on about how you should approach the verbal section as it will only be an exercise in boredom and hackneyedness.

But what I do want to share is an insight into that aspect of the test that we willfully choose to put on the back burner. Back in the day when it was almost foppish to cram in the BARRON’S word list, little thought was give to the analytical aspect of verbal ability.

And now thanks to the new GRE people HAVE to prepare for the verbal section in the way it supposed to. But still somewhere in that tiny little recess in our brain lurks that verbal demon,waiting in ambush to foil our prep strategies, constantly nagging away at you,forcing you to think, ” may be if I knew all the words in the list I would do better at RC or sentence equivalence “.

And its not unnatural to think so.

Most of us Indians have this obsession with what are called “difficult words” in school.

And oblivious to the critical AWA section and development of comprehension skills we keep pegging away at words for days.

I wasn’t a gyaani until I took my GRE. I had taken AWA, hell, even Quantitative for granted with that age old laid back “its as good as done” attitude and set foot in the quagmire of VERBAL ability.

I got so co caught up that I wrote only my 4th essay right in the exam hall for the ETS to evaluate. And boy did I screw up.

V:690 ,Q:750,AWA :3.5 .(thats right ,neither here nor there!) and trust me people may tell you to nonchalantly approach AWA but it may prove to be the dividing line between the AMBI and MODERATE UNIVERSITIES on your list.

And what about Quantitative section?

Well I to like many other jumped up Indian students(not generalizing or being judgmental here) had thought,” some exercises in powerprep will just do fine…” may be I was too arrogant or not as good as I thought , but the bottom line is, QUANT score always sets the tone for your application,esp. in the field of Engineering.

QUANT is essential curriculum; AWA is like an elective (you still have to pass it!). The math in GRE is getting smarter by the day.

Standards of the GRE have changed and so have the various coaching institutes.

The new GRE is test cricket now unlike an ODI until last july where temperament and endurance count.

But this article is for those seeking to master GRE without shelling out thousands on prep material and coaching.

Ideally you’d want to make sure that you are absolutely thorough with your QUANT before you decide to go the extra mile for VERBAL.

And never overestimate your writing skills , Ive seen people write articles for the Indian Express and still score less than 4 in AWA.

A balanced preparation strategy is quintessential of a score that is not lopsided. And its not entirely bad to underestimate your AWA skills 😉

To answer my question on “why now and not earlier? ” well, I was just a follower of HSB until my got my “Ambi admit “.

And I would like to believe I just scraped through despite an awkward score. But I guess that qualifies me to spread some gyaan now.

It’s not profound but is still important.


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  1. Dear Writer,

    First of all, Thanks for the anecdote information. I would have sincerely appreciated your efforts, had it been expressed in conventional vocabs rather than being a rhetorical, grandiose, flamboyant english skills. As the 85% of the readers of this blog are in the process of preparation or inchoate level, the easy and prudent statements would surely help them a lot. I hope you take my suggestion in positive stride, I have no intentions to be judgmental here.

    HSB, If possible pls kindly write a blog emphasizing the need for simple english in blog articles.

    Thanks again.

  2. Annoying high-falutin writing… Guess you replaced all those words with their ‘advanced-sounding alternatives’ huh?

    “Writing shouldn’t be ponderous and verbiose, it should be perspicuous and pellucid”

    1. His experience is what matters. And the writing is not that ponderous or verbose. Come on, every GRE aspirant knows at the least these words.

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