Disclaimer: 325 is a reasonably good score. My Verbal score is 162/170 which places me at the 89th percentile and my Quantitative score is 163/170 which is at the 87th percentile. My Awa is 3.5/6 which is pretty mediocre. It is at the 35th percentile. When I first gave a test without any preparation I got a 300. So if on a diagnostic test you are getting much lesser than you will have to work harder and use these materials more throughly. In this article I will cover all the course materials I went through, the mistakes I did and how to prepare. I will divide this into two parts, before the test and during the test.
BEFORE THE TEST
Okay I started preparing for the Gre about 5 months back. But of those five months around 2 of them went into my college tests and semester end exams. I began preparing in earnest about a month and a half before test day. Let’s go on to the sections.
There will be two scored verbal sections in the Gre. Each will have 20 questions and there is 30 minutes for each section. There are three types of questions in the GRE. Sentence Completion, which comprises one-blank, two-blank and three- blank questions, Sentence Equivalence and Reading Comprehension.
Now in the revised Gre there are several changes. There is less emphasis on words and more on reading comprehensions. But having a large vocabulary is essential nonetheless. The entire word list is apparently some 4000 words strong! DON’T KID YOURSELF. You can’t learn 4000 words. It’s impractical. So what I did was find a list of 1500 high-frequency words online. This is the site
There are 15 wordlists with a 100 words each. If you have 15 weeks left do one word list per week. If you have 8 weeks do two wordlists per week and so on. But I recommend having at least two months of serious prep before you even hope of getting a good score. Now how to learn these words? First, and I cannot emphasize this enough, find a patient friend. Patient because learning words can be a tedious process. Having a friend who’s also prepping for the GRE to help out is definitely a must. Quiz each other on words and commit yourself to doing a set number of words a week. If you are a voracious reader, (by voracious I mean be familiar with at least the works of Enid Blyton, Agatha Christie, Arthur Conan Doyle, J.K Rowling and other popular authors) then half these words will be familiar to you. Words like ambivalence, incantation or amorphous should be no problem. But then you get the big guns like pulchritudinous, dilettante or mellifluous.
But sometimes studying for the GRE can actually be fun. Watching shows like The Big Bang Theory, Suits or Sherlock can actually help you increase your vocabulary. If however, you are not that well versed in English, then another great avenue I would suggest is the book, ‘Word Power Made easy’ By Norman Lewis. DON’T TORRENT IT. Buy the damn thing of FlipCart for 105 rupees, sit down with it and solve all the section tests. By the end of it not only will you have a greatly enhanced vocabulary, but will also know how to use those words in everyday situations without sounding like a pretentious douchebag. I cannot thank my dad enough for introducing me to that book.
Now I didn’t go to any coaching for my GRE. I don’t believe in coaching, I prefer doing stuff on my own. So I signed up for an awesome site called
The site is brilliant. It offers 663 practice questions and 4 practice tests. It also has lots of nice tutorials and several study plans for various periods of time like a 6 week study plan to a one week study plan. All for the fairly decent price of 10.95 dollars or 684 rupees. Really worth it. There is also a brilliant vocabulary tutor I really enjoyed. I recommend going through all the practice questions. Especially the reading comprehensions. My strategy for reading comprehensions is to ask the following questions when I am reading the passage.
What is the main point of the passage?
What is the author’s attitude towards this topic? Cynical? Disinterested? Amused?
What is the type of passage? Is it an argument supporting something? Is it about some new discovery? Is it disproving some theory?
Don’t try writing stuff down. It wastes time. Do this in your head. With time it get easier. Now when you get an RC question, read it twice. Then eliminate choices. If you narrow it down to two choices then congrats. You have a 50% chance of getting it right. Keep practicing this.
All right. Quant. Practice. Practice. Oh and practice. There are two scored sections in the GRE of 20 questions each for 35 minutes. There really is no resource I can suggest other than the GreTutor site. I didn’t refer any books for quant. Just brush up on your fundamentals. I was weak in data interpretation so I used to do lots of those. But THIS IS IMPORTANT. NEVER GET HUNG UP ON A QUESTION. I absolutely forbid you to spend more than one and a half minutes on any quant question in the GRE. Remember that each question carries the same mark. So the 3 minutes you spent on that data interpretation question calculating the percentage increase in company X’s profits in the year 1965 in the television department could have been used to solve the next three questions involving the interior angles of a triangle, a probability sum involving a dice and the surface area of a cube. Attempt every question.
ONLINE PRACTICE TESTS
- The first resource I would recommend is the 4 practice tests from the Gretutor site. Space these tests equally over the period you intend to study to track your progress. Incidentally I always got in the score range of 309 to 320 in these tests so they are very slightly off.
- The next resource is the Princeton review free online test. I got a 319 on that one with a week left for the GRE.
- The best resource I can recommend for an accurate representation of what you will undergo during the test is the PowerPrep software. Download it for free off the Ets website after signing up. It gives you two free practice tests. Take both the tests within a week of your GRE test date so that you can get a feel of the actual test. Don’t read too much into them though. In my first power prep test I scored a 322. In my second however I got a 318.
- I never took any Kaplan or Manhattan tests because according to my online research these tests deliberately give you a low test score so that they can inveigle you into signing up for their coaching classes.
Sorry, I have no advice here. I think this is the only disadvantage of me not signing up for a coaching institute. Because I never got any evaluation or feedback on my practice test gre essays I assumed I wrote reasonably well enough for a 4 or 4.5. So I recommend going through some essays or talking to people who already took the gre and got a nice awa score.
DURING THE TEST
The day before the test I took the PowerPrep test 2 and scored a 318. My verbal was 161 and my quant was 157. Now I don’t recommend giving a test the day before as it can demoralize you. I took this in a positive light. I had got a low quant score because I had missed out on three questions at the end. So I decided to time manage during quant.
Also, try your hardest to get some good sleep. I am a pretty nocturnal person so even though I went to sleep at 12am I was still tossing and turning at 1. So I went into our hallway, did some pushups, became tired and went back to sleep. I had my test at 8 am. I went with a friend and reached the test center 45 minutes early.
Once you enter the room, you are allowed only your passport. Two pencils and a scratch pad are handed to you. Don’t write anything on your person. Put on your noise cancelling headphones. Take a deep breath. This is not the end of the world. And begin writing. Good luck. The key thing is to relax. Don’t get caught up in what other people are doing.
Well, that concludes this post. I wish you all good luck in your endeavors. If you found this post useful I strongly urge you to share this with your friends or relatives who are writing GRE. If you have any questions feel free to comment. Thank you!