The key to success in GRE is planning and preparation. You need to chalk out a schedule and more importantly, stick to it!
GRE might seem very easy when compared to other exams in India for Master’s degree, but you would be proverbially digging your own grave if you take it lightly. First things first, collect a lot of materials for prep. There is a plethora of sites dedicated to GRE out there in the cyber world; use them. Set yourself a target score and then start studying for achieving it. Below are 6 steps to crack the GRE-
Step 1: Find where you are
GRE is given by students from different backgrounds and every one requires a different approach. For example: engineering students might not require much effort in quantitative ability questions while it will be the same case for students from literature background in the verbal reasoning questions. So, first things first, judge yourself. Give a mock GRE test out of the innumerable ones available on the net (preferably Kaplan or Princeton tests)
Step 2: Prepare a road-map
Now that you know how deep you are in water, start pacing yourself according to that. Count the number of weeks you are left with and then prepare a study plan. If you cannot come up with a plan yourself then use websites for the same. Once you are ready with a plan, follow it religiously. Cover as many practice questions you can and give as many mock tests as possible.
Step 3: Ace the Vocab section
Though there can’t be a fixed schedule for everyone, but most test-takers take about a month and a half to prepare themselves for GRE.
Start with flashcards that not only have the meanings of the words but also inform about their usage. GRE verbal ability questions test vocabulary to quite an extent. However, the trickier questions of the exam are based on the varying context in the usage of similar meaning words. Several flashcard apps and software are available on the internet. Flashcards will help with the verbal reasoning questions and would improve the standard of your essays. 50% of the questions in this section are from the Reading Comprehension-type. So, it is advisable to read a lot of articles to develop a habit of reading long passages. You could read opinion-pieces from the New York Times or the financial reviews from The Economist.
Check the sample Verbal Reasoning questions from the ETS site.
Step 4: Clock your Quant
Quantitative ability questions might seem easy but given the adaptive nature of GRE, the section should not be taken lightly. The section covers roughly about twelve topics and the questions are basic. The catch of this section is the 35 min time window. No doubt you could solve every question in the section, but doing so in the time given is the challenge. Some questions might be too lengthy and you need to decide whether you want to skip it or not. So, whenever you practice for this section, do it with the clock. Various websites like Kaplan, MAGOOSH, Barron’s, Princeton and many more provide notes, videos and tests too.
Check the sample Quantitative Ability questions from the ETS site-
Step 5: Stop procrastinating the essay section
The essay section is the most neglected section by the students who prepare for GRE. But you have to have a decent score in the Analytical Writing section. Top universities give paramount importance to AWA (Analytical Writing Assessment) score. Your AWA scores determine, to some extent, how seriously your SOP will be taken. If your scores are low then the institutions think that you might have had help in writing it from some consultancy and this could hurt your chances.
ETS gives sample scored responses for essay topics and also the pool of topics for both argument-based and issue-based essays.
Besides this, ETS also provides a software named PowerPrep II which simulates the GRE test format; it has two practice tests.
Step 6: It’s all about nerves
GRE is a 4 hour exam with only a 10 minutes break. You can very well imagine the kind of efforts one would need to keep up his/her concentration at peak levels for that long a time. Solving questions with the comfort of your home is easy, but when a timer starts ticking and your future is in balance, solving the same questions becomes much more difficult. GRE is very much about the test of nerves. Give as many mock tests as possible. There are many sites which provide post-test analysis. With the help of that, identify your mistakes and work on the areas you are weak.
We know, ETS says that GRE is meant to test only your general ability. It means that GRE does not require anything technical and by the word of it, GRE may sound like a walk in the park. But then think of the numerous sites who are dedicated to coach students for GRE. There would not have been any place for them had GRE not required any preparation, right? Start preparing early and get your act right. GRE can make or break your career.
We hope this article was helpful. Watch this space for dissection of other exams required for foreign universities like TOEFL and IELTS.
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