Contextual Questions in Revised GRE Verbal Freaked Me Out

Raghuram Sukumar Uncategorized 25 Comments

Revised GRE Experience at Prometric Test Center shared by Susmit.

First my question: For a moment lets assume that the scoring system is continued to be out of 1600 and the range of score as shown in the end of my test is 1260-1460, then does 1260 HAVE to be my minimum score out of 1600?

Or is there is a further probability of some statistical skullduggery that can reduce it further! (Mind you… I am not talking about the adjustments that will be made when adapting scores to 130-170 scale).

My Revised GRE Experience

Prometric India test centres are just too professional. But some of their rules are awkward to say the least.

For example, you can’t even take your handkerchief into the testing room! Not even pens!

They give you two pencils and 6 pages of scratch paper which are replenished upon request.

One more important fact : Ctrl + V and Ctrl + C does NOT work. Since I am used to it (and I guess most people are); be wary of this when writing your Analytical Writing section.

I was really unlucky to get the experimental quantitative section in the beginning itself. I surmised so because the level of questions in it was just far too high to be given to a candidate in the first go.

As a result I was freaked out before I began the verbal section.

No matter how much ETS harp about the “exciting” changes in Verbal part, one thing is clear.

It is tougher than before. At least earlier one could mug up words for antonyms and that guaranteed solid marks, but now the whole ‘contextual’ spin in the questions leaves us wondering about the right answer.

And whoever feels that’s better because emphasis on learning on rote has diminished, think again.

The words continue to be obscure to say the least, words like ‘sepulchur’, ‘exiguous’, enigmatic’, ‘hardwired’ not just require you to know their exact meanings but also analyse them contextually. The options are confusing. Mere analysing them contextually may leave one befuddled and mind you – it takes one a lot of time to read and re-read sentences. Hence, time if of vital essence.

Quant section is fun provided one uses the calculator intelligently. As I had experienced in the practice papers, ‘hard’ sums are not at all hard. They just require more thinking. Questions where an abstract symbol describes relation between two quantities (example of which is given nowhere in ETS’ Official Guide) is there too.

The DI questions appeared simple although atleast one of the three questions in each set of DI questions was tough.

That’s it friends. I hope I get into the univ of my choice. Wish me luck !!!


  • Prometric – It’s good that prometic is being strict. We have seen so many examples and comments for agents taking TOEFL exam. ETS must do better job on controlling that.
  • Score Ranges – I’m still not sure why ETS can give better score range, with so many years of testing experience, ETS can narrow down the scores to 200 point range.
  • Revised GRE Format – When I posted Revised GRE will be tough nut to crack, there were group of folks arguing that Revised GRE is better. If you had chance to take GRE in old format, but missed it just because your reasoning “New GRE is Better” is BS.


    1. I’m posting the experience shared by test takers and only 1 person said GRE is easy (new)

    2. U were lucky then! No freakin way the new GRE is easier!! D RC are killers!!
      n @HSB: yes, prometric is strict about GRE and no-one can mess with that, but TOEFL is more like a sham, a farce! I gave my TOEFL in a net parlor, with a couple discussing between themselves throughout!! Parents did get into the testing area, most of the time there wasnt any invigilator and the place was as dinghy as possible!! Maybe its high time they started to mind TOEFL too!

  1. hai
    i completed my graduation with an aggregate 71 i got low score in gre 770 verbal-240 quant 530
    now i am trying to retake revised gre pls suggest some tips in quant.i am preparing ets powerprep cd .i write exam in ets cd i got 600-700 in quant verbal 310-460
    i am trying to get 1200 pls suggest me preparation plan to get high score

    1. for quant complete nova gre math bible first. for verbal kaplan will help a lot. u can also order the prep book released by ETS (but i have no feedback if its of much use). just doing the ETS powerprep WONT HELP AT ALL. keep the powerprep as the final revision

  2. I have undergone the same experience. Prometric Test Center in Karachi did the same with me when I wrote my GRE on August 01,2011. They didn’t allow me to take anything(Juice, Tissue paper, rupees etc) inside the testing facility.

  3. Definitely new GRE is tougher than the old pattern. The RC passages are clearly devious. The worse part is that even if you somehow conquer RC to an extent, the next thing you face is RC questions with variable number of correct answer choices, so treacherous, so insidious. Even if we believe for a second that RC has still the same level as it used to be, one can clearly observe the importance of RC soar up so high that it officially controls 50% of Verbal and the rest you cannot solve without understanding the context, which means it’s the same insidious RC but now with blanks!!! At least earlier you could mug up 3500 odd words and sit in the exam with some confidence, not a privilege anymore.

    Congrats Susmit for the wonderful score and thanks for the insight. If you could just answer a question of mine, I would really appreciate it-
    If you have taken PowerPrep II, how do the questions compare with the ones you faced in the exam?
    Thanks in advance.

    1. They do not compare much. PPII has certain samples of tricky questions. The real GRE has completely new questions that require disparate approach. PPII approach can’t work for real gre questions. Every q needed a unique approach and thats where ETS’s claim that gre is uncoachable gets credence. Quant skills cant be taught. They need to be developed. Hope it helps.

      1. Ohh….I hope the new questions are not drastically different from the ones I faced in PPII…however, it still intrigues me as to how different are these new questions different. If you could give a small example, you would help a lot of us. Thanks in advance.

  4. “Questions where an abstract symbol describes relation between two quantities (example of which is given nowhere in ETS’ Official Guide) is there too”. But you will find similar questions in Princeton and Nova. I don’t remember exact questions though.

  5. HSB,
    Your posts are really interesting and I very much useful. At the same time, please don’t degrading your blog by using words like “BS” (the last word in this post).. Please remove that word.. And delete this comment.


  6. you are right, the test center officials are just too PROFESSIONAL and their poor service and waiting time on call can freak anybody out… however, i do not agree with your take on verbal section (And whoever feels that’s better because emphasis on learning on rote has diminished, think again.) the learning on rote HAS diminished… the RCs and the SCs are framed in such a way that you just dont need to know the meaning, but the actual use of the words.. it is the best way to test out the genuine talent and tell those from the OVERNIGHT scholars! The new GRE can actually check how you have learnt to grasp things since the inception of your academic career… So all the ONE-NIGHT-STAND admirers, BEWARE!

    1. What I’m saying is that answering a question like this: “Churchill was both inscrutable and …………………… His contribution to modern day Britain was immense” Now fill it up with 1. opaque 2. repugnant 3. orphic !!!
      Know the meaning is a MUST. then of course, is the application and contextual part. Surely, some qUESTIONS do leave behind a contextual hint, but most answers are too vague and ambiguous. aNSWERING involves taking into a/c not just the multiple meanings of words, but also the inherent ambiguity in the contextual situations as well. Its essentially a double whammy.

  7. Hai friends,
    I completed my graduation in 2009, with 64%in chennai,affliated to anna university.currently iam working on sql/plsql database .now i plan to study m.s in u.s . which procedure i have to follow.currently iam having 1(1/2) years experience .am i able to get the student visa becoz iam having around 10 backlogs in my any body suggest and help me ?plz

  8. “If you had chance to take GRE in old format, but missed it just because your reasoning “New GRE is Better” is BS.”

    — The above sentence is taken from the post. What does it mean HSB? What is “BS”…? We couldn’t get u!

  9. One thing is for sure that you have a great number in your AWA section. But what made you think that with the comming days the GRE will be more easier thatn before? University which will provide you scholarships will just sieve out creams from the ocean of of aspirants. So that it will be like crying in wilderness that why the exam is tougher than previous!!
    Secondly, if you have the intelligence to understand the concept then only you can survive & this is true for every walk of life. As you know that just memorising words will not help you to interpret atleast your self in all the practical situations.! So, write your experiances in such a way that obviously should not only be helpfull but also encouraging for the students who going to write their GRE in future. As because examination pattern is not going to be easier for your discouraging post!

  10. This is my first time of commenting on the blog but I have been registered for some time now. I took the TOEFL in Cameroon and thanks to the tips from the blog, i got 104. currently I am planning to take the GRE in a month’s tym.
    kudos to HSB and Thanks be to God Almighty

  11. HSB is being stubborn about his imaginative remarks that new GRE is going to be tougher than the old one. I was one of the person who argued against the view of HSB then. I have just taken the new GRE. I had a score of verbal :560-660 and math: 750-800. Well it was tough. But let me reiterate once again, this time I won’t have to fight with those dumb test takers who would mug up the 5000 bs word list and get a lucky 600+ in the verbal in spite of having little or zero understanding of the language. I had no difficulty in understanding any of the given RCs. The tough part was to cull out the correct answer, from the given set of specious answers. It requires practice and stronger analytical sense. And all this makes it a much better examination than before, with out making it “so tough” that you have to keep harping about it. The bottom line is, those who deserve good marks will definitely get it, and those lucky shooters will have to deal with it.

  12. HSB, could you please publish proper sequence for new GRE books. I found 3-4 links inside HSB and all have different raking for books to choose.

  13. Hello,
    I am from Biotechnology department from NIT Rourkela. I appeared my GRE and my range of scores wre 1130-1280. My CGPA is 8.26 and I am the third ranker of department. I have done projects in Tezpur University and through SURGE program IIT-Kanpur. Can you please suggest any college where I can get as a Phd???

  14. I have one question: In what places did you find the calculator useful? And does it square and root functions?

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