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Self Preparation for GRE

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ETS GRE

ABOUT GRE – The graduate Record Examination the standardized test conducted by ETS.

It’s scored out of 340, where 260 is the minimum marks. There are two sections – Quantitative Reasoning and Verbal Reasoning, each of which is assigned 140 marks. There are two essays- Argumentative and Analytical, at the beginning of the test, which are each scored individually and then on an average out of 6. There is no negative marking. The exam is conducted through the year and you may retake it if you’re unhappy with your scores.

I found this article about GRE scores preferred by various universities for various courses.

Know that there are universities accepting any score that you get, somewhere out there, based on your profile.

So now that you’ve decided to go abroad for your further studies. And it’s time to take the GRE exam. Lots of students prefer going for coaching classes and some of them claim to have breezed through the exam with no preparation whatsoever and scored a 320+. Now you’re stuck between deciding to do it on your own and taking those really expensive classes.

If you do decide to do it on your own, I hope this article helps you.

  • Before you decide on booking your examination or joining classes or buying the books, you need to know where you stand. So the first  step to prepping for the exam, is to go on the internet and take a full length GRE test in one go.
  • You’ll learn how you need to manage your time and be less intimidated by the test and to understand your weaknesses and strengths.
  • Take a piece of paper and make three columns- 1. Topics that I know  2.Topics that I think I know but need to recall 3. What the hell is this topic. Don’t worry too much about the outcome, this is just to know how much work you need to put in to get those really good scores.
  • Everyone taking the GRE should go through the Official GRE Guide by ETS. Understand what the exam comprises off, the rules and the topics to expect. .I think the 5lb Manhattan Prep book  is really great, as are some of the materials available online.  You could get an e-copy of these books or buy them.
  • There are loads of people that try to sell their online portals from coaching centers or are willing to share their passwords, try to get in touch with them. The tests and material offered by these portals could be useful, but there could be similar material for free ofcourse. (Check the end of the article for links.)

Quantitative Reasoning:

  • Start working on the quant topics that were in the last column.
  • It’s comparatively easy to fix your quant scores and to aim for the higher scores in this section, because all it takes is practice and a set number of rules which ETS adheres to as opposed to Vocab which is all encompassing.
  • Each quant topic is what was covered upto the tenth grade, and minus the complicated hocus-pocus towards the end. For example, triangles only deals with equilateral and isosceles triangles, there is no scalene triangles. They just want you to apply your mind and use a little logic. You say you have no logic and can’t apply your mind?                                                                                         That’s okay just keep practicing different types of questions in whichever material you choose to purchase and after enough practice, there’s an impossibly small chance that you would see any new questions in the main exam.

Verbal Reasoning:

  • Assuming you have a smart phone, my first piece of advice to you would be to download the Magoosh Flashcard apps they ARE THE BEST. And you could also download a Barron’s 800 words flashcard app. Then use whatever app works for you completely. Improving your vocabulary is the primary way to increase your quant score.
  • You’ve got to use these apps like you would play candy crush, all day – everyday. Trick your mind into thinking it’s a fun activity that you could move into every time you’re lazing around or waiting for someone.
  • Read as many RCs as you can. Some of them are rather interesting. You need to understand how the testers want to trick you, particularly when there are multiple answers.
  • Sentence Equivalence and the questions with the blanks are all basically reliant on your vocabulary. So build that up overtime.
  • Essays. The word freaks alot of us out. I think students spend more time dreading it than actually working on it. The 5lb book has a bunch of essays at the end of it. They are extremely helpful and give you a really good idea about building your essays. You should go through all of them, and then try writing your own. Get your friends or professors to read them for you and offer feedback. It is really hard to write a bad essay on the GRE exam. If you could just write an essay with no grammatical blunders or spelling mistakes, you should be alright. The argumentative essay is really easy and fun to do, the 5lb book offers really great examples.
  • PRACTICE. PRACTICE. PRACTICE. AND MANAGE YOUR TIME.
  • And I think you’ll be good to go.
  • You could do all of that from anywhere between 3 months, 2 months or even a week. You know yourself best. For students aiming for high scores and those who feel like they would feel most comfortable with ample preparation time a month – two months would be good.
  • Try to take atleast 5 full length practice tests during different points in your preparation.
  • But the best way to get the ball rolling and getting yourself to seriously prepare, is BOOK YOUR EXAMINATION DATE. I cannot emphasize this enough. Give yourself some time and book it well in advance to get a good center. Fear motivates the hell out of us procrastinators, doesn’t it?
  • Register for the exam on the ETS portal https://www.ets.org/gre.

Here are some links to material:

  1. A Complete Guide to the Revised GRE
  2. GRE, TOEFL, IELTS
  3. GRE Vocabulary List

This website helped me immensely when I took the GRE recently. Try these tests out after you’ve given yourself enough practice: Major Tests

After the test, you’re allowed to send your scores, for free, to 4 universities. Please check the list of universities and make use of this opportunity, because sending your scores is a pricey affair ( Try not holding out this stressful decision to the day before your exam ).

And after you’re done with all of that, and you have a day for your examination, you’ve just got to chill. Don’t forget to take your passport. Go get yourself a snack to eat during the break of the exam maybe. And just do your best on the exam day.

It’s a simple exam, don’t let nerves and things that  people say get to you. It’s a tiny part of your entire application. And you’re going to do really well if you just work for it a little bit.

I hope this helps you do as well as you want to.

All the best! 🙂

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