Here is my GRE experience, links to preparation materials and some advice on preparation strategy. Hope it helps. Apologies for the length of post. Sri, you can include this post on wiki.
My preparation time for GRE spanned over 3 months very
irregularly, but I actually studied sincerely in the last 2 weeks only. My
first attempt at GRE was back in 2007, I got meager 1110 in that. In this
attempt I scored 1420, hence I strongly believe that GRE is an easy exam and
all it takes is hard work for few months and there is NO substitute for that.
So here is my test experience.
I took GRE on 28th October at 5pm. Few days back
I came to know that they allow us to start test 1 hour before the time. So I
reached prometric center of Mumbai at 3:45pm. After the usual formalities were
complete, I hurriedly rushed inside. I started reading the tutorials and was
instantly bored due to that nonsense. Closed every other tutorial after that.
Then starts the AWA section. The issue was pretty standard.
In the 45 minutes, I used 10 minutes to jot down the points. Then arranged them
in decreasing order of importance and started typing it out. After finishing
all paras, I double checked the introduction para and conclusion para. Then I
started to eliminate spelling mistakes, man… there were many. I was under wrong
impression that I type pretty better than my engineering days. But I made some
blatant spelling mistakes, around 5-6. So I would advise to keep 5-8 minutes
specifically for checking spellings in the end.
Then Argument task, again it was a standard one. You can always
find minimum 3 obvious weak assumptions in the argument. For additional you
really have to think about the situation presented, then you can add 1-2 more
points to make the argument complete. Also don’t forget to suggest points which
will strengthen the argument, after all its free advise and most of us are
expert in that :D. Then proceed to the conclusion. I would say one thing about
argument task, it is easy to score than issue and all you have to do is
dissemble a lawyer in your writing, that’s it. It is measure of your
Then came the much dreaded VERBAL section. I solved first
few questions very carefully and using every strategy I knew (elimination/ +/-
connotation / roots etc.). I double checked every answer before clicking
confirm. DO NOT be overconfident. Two options are always very close. In
antonyms, you really have to be familiar with all words. I don’t mean that you
should know exact definition, rather more imp is overall familiarity with all
words, their secondary meaning and connotation (i.e. what feeling this word
has, +ve or -ve sense). In sentence completion, look for transitional words
like although, hence etc. Practice all exercises and try to guess the word
before looking at options. You need to develop this ability in sentence
completion, this helps a lot. Do practice questions from any material you have
(Big book/barrons) . In analogies, two things are crucial, secondary meanings
and ability to find more than once relations (by forming a sentence). Most of
the times one relations results in two seemingly right options, hence you have
to find another relation which presents only 1 correct option which is the
answer. The relations in GRE questions are always precise, for e.g. antonym,
synonym, definition etc. These are all listed in the books, get familiar with
each and solve examples based on them. In analogies practicing is very much
fruitful. In RC, I followed a strategy to read question first and then only the
part of paragraph. First line, last line is most imp in each paragraph.
Elimination strategy helps a lot in RC. Practice a lot in RC, that’s all I can
say about it. The link to RC practice utility given below should help.
Maths section was pretty tough in the second half than I
expected. Many questions were confusing and really required critical thinking,
in some cases elimination was the only technique that could be used to solve
the problem in 2 minutes. Also this was due to lengthy calculation. Remember
one thing, if you think the calculation is complex, then it means ETS is
testing something other than calculation ability, try to think about another
dimension which will allow you to either guess the answer or eliminate all
others. I would advise that, start revising all major concepts in algebra,
geometry, statistics etc. You can’t afford to miss even a single concept, even
if it is advanced just do it. Start early, don’t keep maths for last few days,
you can do practice in those days but formulae n concepts need to be done well
in advance. Then start solving problems from Nova book. This is very good book
which actually matches the difficulty level of GRE Quants nowadays. GRE maths
is too easy but tricky
Here is a promised list of online resources and list of
books I used.
Required: Barrons, Nova(only for maths), ETS maths
booklet(available on GRE site)
Optional: Kaplan, Princeton
Required: Powerprep, Big Book(27 tests)
Optional: Kaplan, Princeton, Cambridge
Required: Barrons, Some knowledge of word roots which you
will eventually acquire when you complete barrons (there is also separate
section in barrons for roots – at the end of book), otherwise pick Norman Lewis
and start reading casually, don’t read everything – keep goal of only
familiarity with roots n prefix/suffix
Optional: Kaplan, Princeton
and questions: www.number2. com
based flashcards: www.quizlet. com
just create a profile and search for “GRE” or “barrons”. Great site!
- A site
based on quizlet.com API http://www.cardcram .com/
: http://www.onlinema thlearning. com/
good explanation for variety of topics
practice utility: http://www.codecoax .com/grerc/
good source for online flashcards: http://gredic. com/
of good materials available: http://amby. com/GRE/
: http://www.betteren dings.org/ homeschool/ words/root% 20words.htm
While doing roots it is very
essential to relate them to know and unknown words, that way you remember them.
quiz : http://www.freerice .com/index. php
http://www.greword. com/ scroll down
and see the left panel, there is list
barrons list for Java phones(almost all sony phones which have USB
connectivity and most Nokia phones) : http://www.getjar. com/mobile/ 28483/gre- guru/
mobile list with 4800 words: http://www.getjar. com/mobile/ 15426/barron- 4800-flash- cards/
mobile software: http://www.getjar. com/mobile/ 9269/wordy2/
Advise for preparation strategy:
Finish off with barrons words as soon as possible and then
keep on revising. Mark the words which you don’t recall and then do only those.
REPETITIVE REVISION helps a lot! Don’t rely on your brain, it has a lot more stuff
to store than these tough words, so keep revising thy list… You may also use
the above mentioned mobile softwares for reading words, I used it for some
Then give 1 powerprep test, see which question types were
difficult for you, do more practice on them. Specifically check if you lag
behind in vocabulary, if that is the case, give 10 days for focused study on
words again. Check maths SILLY mistakes, remember them and don’t repeat again.
Check if you missed any maths concept. Type full essay - don’t be lazy, you
will know how much practice you need after comparing your essay with the sample
given in powerprep test.
Start with big book, solve each and every test. You can also
solve one type of questions from all tests (e.g. antonym) then pick another
type and solve all questions of that type and so on… This will give you
indication of which question types are difficult for you. Don’t do maths from
big book, there is Nova book for maths.
Now, start with remaining powerprep test, try to get first
10 questions correct. At this stage you should be confident of your score range
in actual GRE. Powerprep scores are very close to your actual GRE marks.
Optionally if you like to solve hard tests, do Kaplan.
Otherwise solve few Princeton tests. Keep one
powereprep test for last week. If you get less marks than your expectation in
this test, you need a more focused study in that week. Do it with full
concentration, sincere study in last week is more fruitful than just revising
occasionally. Do it even if you are getting 1600 in powerprep!
And finally, ALL THE BEST to all who will be taking GRE!
Don’t be nervous by peer comments about how difficult GRE is, just believe in
your efforts and continue consistent study. I am sure you will succeed in
getting that dream score if you work sincerely.