Did you end up with a lower GRE score than you were hoping for?
Do you think you can actually do much better than you did on your last GRE attempt?
Well, you should know you’re not alone. Practically everyone who takes a competitive exam has that feeling at least a couple of times after getting their results. Unless they’ve scored a 325+ in their first attempt, that is; but those are the odd ones out. You’re safely within the majority zone, don’t worry.
Now, just because you have a ‘feeling’ that your score isn’t good enough doesn’t mean it actually is that way. It could easily be that you can still get what you’re after even with the score you have at present. But you might also be right – your present score may not be enough to help you get what you want.
So how do you decide what to do?
We’ve compiled this entire piece just to help you answer that question. Here’s what you’ll find in this article:
We will start off by talking about the reasons that might have caused you to get a low score, followed by analyzing your latest score, and then we’ll advise you on whether you should retake the test. If you think about it, retaking the GRE will only help if you adequately address both, your flaws and your expectations.
Possible Reasons for a Low Score
It’s important to understand what went wrong so that you can address the issue at the root. Without this step, retaking the GRE would be an exercise in futility.
So, let’s take a look at five possible reasons that may be responsible for your low score.
- Faulty Basics
- Trouble Applying Concepts
- Sectional Competence
- You Weren’t in the Right Frame of Mind
Unlike the GMAT, the GRE is typically taken soon after your undergraduate degree. Thanks to this, you may be tempted to skip studying basic concepts and jump directly to the tricky parts of your GRE prep.
You may have had some overconfidence in your grasp over a given subject, be it math or grammar. It probably gave you a feeling that you’re better prepared for the test than you really were. So when you actually took the test, your lack of proper understanding of the basics could have completely tripped you up and ruined your score.
The GRE is an adaptive test, so if you have a bad start, doing much better later doesn’t have much of an effect on your score. Luckily for you, though, the GRE is only section-adaptive and doesn’t change difficulty levels with every passing question like the GMAT does. So you do have some latitude for mistakes in the beginning but it is limited.
If you believe that your low GRE score can be blamed on an inadequate understanding of some of the basics, then it might make sense for you to retake the GRE.
Once you’ve identified the issue, you know what you need to work on, so your GRE retaking strategy is half-done anyway. Beyond this, it’s only a matter of grit and practice.
There are times when you feel like you’ve completely understood a given concept, but the moment you face a question that makes you apply that concept, you freak out.
If this has happened to you, don’t beat yourself up over it.
We often have students who go through this. It could take as little as a single session for them to really understand what a concept means. They can even explain the concept to someone else pretty well. But they struggle to apply it while solving questions.
Now, this could happen because you don’t realize which concept the question needs you to apply, or because you’re just not sure how to apply it in the given situation.
Clearly, this problem only arises out of a lack of practice. Once you solve enough questions that need you to apply this concept, you will know every way in which that can be done. In fact, if you solve enough GRE practice questions, you’ll likely have half the solution in your head as soon as you read the question itself.
That’s actually what you need to aim for.
If you believe that your low GRE score can be attributed to this problem, you should get a whole lot of practice done before you decide to retake the GRE. The important thing to remember is that this is a solvable issue, so it makes sense to retake the test after resolving it.
The simplest explanation for a low GRE score could be that you just freaked out during your attempt.
Especially with computer-adaptive exams like the GRE, the stress of performing well from the word ‘go’ is quite high. You could be so worried about doing well that you become far too nervous at the time of the exam.
It doesn’t help that you have to face multiple choice questions while you’re in that frame of mind. If anything, they only confuse you further! You could click the wrong option because of silly reasons: you may be jumpy about how long it is taking you to solve a question, you could click by mistake – whatever it is, you should know it happens to a lot of people.
Cut yourself some slack. Do not get worked up over what happened.
Instead, calmly think about it and try to gauge why that happened to you. Addressing your nervousness will help you understand whether or not you have it in you to overcome it.
It’s okay to accept if you cannot beat the intense nervousness exams bring up in you, but if you think you can get over that, then retaking the GRE could serve you quite well.
Some of our students end up focusing too much on Quant and end up ignoring Verbal or vice versa. That’s how they end up with a lower score on something they could have done much better on.
If you’re very good at math, you might decide to focus your GRE prep strategy on improving your Verbal skills. This makes sense, but not if you end up ignoring GRE Quant entirely.
This brings us what we were saying on the first point in this section. You may have gotten overconfident about your skills in one section or under confident about your knowledge of the other. In either case, your prep must have become imbalanced, giving you a great score on one section but a very poor one on the other.
You should seriously consider retaking the GRE if this is what you’re going through.
Take a look at the GRE Syllabus, understand where you stand with which section. Work on your weaknesses and shore up your skills in both sections before you retake the test, and you should end up with a significantly better score.
Picture this: you set out for your test center fully prepared for the GRE but met with a small accident on the way. The accident threw you off your game and you ended up being completely unfocused while taking the test.
The result? A GRE score far lower than your expectations and abilities.
If this sounds familiar, you need to retake the GRE.
Whether it was an accident or something else, it’s not uncommon for people to suddenly lose focus and become quite distracted on the day of the exam. This leads to lower scores than you’re capable of getting. So if this is what happened with you, for whatever reason, it makes perfect sense to reorient yourself and take another shot at it.
But this is only one of two perspectives you need to think about before deciding whether to retake the GRE or not. The second thing you need to consider before you make up your mind is the statistical chances of you improving your score through a retest. In the next section, that’s what we will discuss.
Should You Actually Retake the GRE?
The most important factor in whether or not you should retake the GRE is your score from your first attempt.
If you have an adequate score, you should be able to get into a fairly good university without much of a hassle. But sometimes, the universities you want to go to have higher expectations, so we understand if you want to retake the test for your own personal reasons.
However, there are a few score-related considerations that we think you should consider before making up your mind. We’ll divide our suggestion based on four score ranges:
- 325+ (Q165, V160 or higher)
- 315 to 325 (Q160-165, V155-160)
- 305 to 315 (Q155-160Q, V150-155)
- Less than 305
- Other Score Combinations
The GRE is a test in which your score split makes a difference, which is quite unlike other competitive tests such as the GMAT. Whether you should retake the GRE or not depends on what your split score looks like. That’s why our advice is based on your existing scores.
Let’s dig in, shall we?
- 325+ (Q165+, V160+)
- 315 to 325 (Q160-165, V155-160)
- 305 to 315 (Q155-160, V150-155)
- Less than 305
- Other Score Combinations
Honestly, with a 325 or anything higher than that, retaking the GRE doesn’t make much sense.
Let’s start by taking a look at the percentile charts for GRE Quant and Verbal scores, respectively.
Verbal Reasoning Percentile Rank
Quantitative Reasoning Percentile Rank
When it comes to Verbal, scoring higher than 160 won’t make much of a difference to your percentile rank. The same applies to Quant scores above 165. If you’re familiar with the concept of marginal utility, let us just say that the marginal utility of every additional point after Q165 and V160 is diminished.
For those of you who don’t get what that means, let’s just say that the effort you’ll need to put in to raise your score beyond the mentioned limits is not worth the reward you stand to gain from doing so.
Our advice? Just start applying. Work on your SOP and build a strong application, your score is good enough.
If you’re in this score range, we think you should definitely give it another go.
For every additional point on both Quant as well as Verbal, the percentile ranks rise quite significantly in this range. Further, if you’re already within this range of scores on either of the sections, getting your score to rise is not a particularly tough proposition.
However, there are multiple factors involved here.
To understand what went wrong, you will need a detailed diagnosis of your score. Sign up for the free GRE Diagnostic Service as soon as you can. In about 10 to 14 days, it will give you an analysis of your score – where you went wrong, how much time you took for each question, etc. Based on this, you can identify your weaknesses and create a 3- to 4-week plan to specifically target them.
Getting a score improvement of 3-5 points on a Quant 160 and a Verbal 155 is not very tough. All you need is a Diagnostic Service Report and an expert study plan to target your weak areas.
CrackVerbal’s GRE Personal Tutoring service is actually designed for exactly this kind of a scenario. Our mentors sit with you one-on-one to help you understand the nuances of your mistakes using your Diagnostic Service report, which we will refer to as the DSR in this article. They then guide you through the process of improving your hold over whatever areas you need to focus on, which will drastically improve your chances of scoring better on your next GRE attempt.
Let’s now talk about the next lowest score bracket.
If your score is in this range on either of the sections of the GRE, you need a Diagnostic Service report (DSR), stat.
Let’s be frank, these scores don’t look good. Yet, all hope is not lost!
What these scores indicate is a deep-seated problem with the way you approached your prep in the first place. To get such scores, you must have answered some low-value questions wrong, which means that some of your basic concepts are not in place. However, other problems like nervousness may have been responsible for this, as mentioned earlier in this article.
So, the best way to deal with this situation is to analyze where things went wrong. Nothing can help you more than the free GRE Diagnostic Service to do this.
We recommend that you take a call on whether or not you should retake the GRE based on what you find in your DSR. Chances are that the DSR will show problems that you were already aware of, or it will show problems that you didn’t know existed but you can work on them anyway. In this case, our suggestion is simple: assess how long it will take for you to resolve these issues and then retake the GRE.
You will need to be realistic in this assessment, though. It’s too easy to underestimate how long it will take for you to achieve this feat. Give yourself sufficient time to revisit some basic concepts before studying the advanced ones because this score indicates that your basics are most likely to be faulty.
In short, don’t rush into retaking the GRE.
Consider taking a shot again next year if you’re already too close to the application season. If you do decide to give it another shot, make sure you pour everything you’ve got into your prep.
Alternatively, you may find the issues in the DSR to be more extensive than what you’re willing to take on. In that case, you could probably start by doing your research on alternatives to the GRE.
When you get a composite score below 305, things become highly ambiguous.
It goes without saying that you shouldn’t even think about anything related to your score without getting your DSR first.
We can’t really give you a blanket suggestion as to what you should do because any advice in such a case will have to be highly subjective. If you’ve given the test your very best shot and still ended up with this score, seriously consider getting a professional opinion on whether you should retake the GRE.
Chances are that you didn’t target the right concepts during your prep. A complete professional analysis of your DSR will help you figure out the nuances of the issues that may have caused this.
However, if you are already aware that you didn’t really put your best foot forward, then retaking the test might make sense irrespective of what the DSR says. That doesn’t go to say that you can do without the DSR, of course.
Your DSR will play the role of a boat’s rudder; it will give you the direction necessary for a retake to make any difference. Without it, you could retake the test and still end up with a mere 7-8 point increase, while using the report could help you boost your score by a lot more.
We do realize that you could have a greater difference in your Quant and Verbal scores than the combinations we’ve written about so far. So, in the next section, we’re going to talk about any score combinations that don’t fit into the above brackets.
As a general rule of thumb, if your scores are consistent with what you got on your practice tests, it may not make much sense to retake the GRE. But if your score on either or both of the sections deviates by more than 2 points up or down, retaking could serve you well.
For Quant, irrespective of your verbal score, if you score between 155 and 165, a significant amount of focused study should be enough to significantly improve your composite score.
However, improving on a verbal score in the 150-160 range won’t be as easy as doing the same for a Quant score in the 155-165 range. The reason is that Verbal is more nuanced and less formulaic, making it tougher to identify exactly how you can improve your score.
In the very specific case where you have a Quant score nearing 170 and a Verbal score in the 155-160 range, we would recommend that you consider your options carefully. Retaking the GRE might not even be necessary with these scores, depending on the type of program you want to apply to.
When your GRE Quant score is outstanding, some universities might be willing to ignore a Verbal score in the late 150s and offer you an admit anyway. This is especially true for STEM programs such as those involving Data Science and Data Analytics, which are fields that require you to have a very strong hold over numbers and how they interact.
As long as your Verbal score is passable (not below V155) and you can communicate your ideas effectively, you should be good to start applying to data-heavy, STEM-type programs around the world.
We hope that this article has helped you figure out whether you should retake the GRE or not.
Did you know that you get to use an on-screen GRE calculator while solving the test?
Countless GRE test-takers routinely rejoice over the fact that you can use a calculator during the test. Little do they know what a massive trap that really is!
If you’re one of the people celebrating the existence of this calculator, we’re sorry to burst your bubble, but for the most part, the GRE calculator is bad news. There are, of course, situations in which it comes in handy. But unless you’re careful, it will do you more harm than good!
In this blog, we will discuss:
- What is the GRE Calculator like?
- When Should You Use the GRE Calculator?
- Tips to Avoid Depending on the GRE Calculator
Let us answer each of these questions one at a time.
1. What is the GRE Calculator like?
It would be an understatement to call this calculator ‘basic’. Here, look for yourself:
As you can see, this calculator can only perform five functions: addition, subtraction, multiplication, division, and finding square roots. Not what you hoped for?
Well, join the club of disappointed GRE test-takers.
You probably already understand that this limited-function calculator is not going to be of much help on the day of your test. Still, it is important to understand a couple of things about this tool before you make up your mind about whether or not you should use it.
The GRE calculator does not take inputs from your keyboard, you have to use the mouse to click the keys.
Further, depending on the sensitivity setting of the mouse you’ll be given at the test center, you will have to adjust the way you click on these buttons. You may end up getting multiple entries or no entries at all.
And no, you won’t have time before the test begins to familiarize yourself with this calculator and figure out how lightly or hard you need to click to get the result you want.
Now you’re probably wondering why the ETS would even bother providing a calculator if it is so badly designed, or why they can’t provide a better one. Worry not, there are perfectly reasonable explanations for all these things.
The ETS caters to students from all over the world, and in most countries, students are accustomed to using calculators during their math exams. Believe it or not, the Indian system of doing all the heavy lifting in your mind is not common. So, the ETS is obliged to allow you to use a calculator.
The calculator is provided instead of allowing you to bring your own to maintain uniformity among test-takers worldwide. It is deliberately rudimentary for various reasons, one of which is that the GRE wants to see if you will fall for it and end up wasting your time.
We will discuss the logic behind why this tool is so basic in the subsequent sections since it is a rather nuanced question.
2. When Should I Use the GRE Calculator?
Based on the previous section, you’re probably thinking you need to steer clear of this thing altogether. However, that’s not what we recommend.
There are specific benefits to using this calculator in spite of all its shortcomings.
- Numeric Entry
- Specific Calculations
This particular calculator comes with an option to ‘Transfer Display’. The Transfer Display option allows you to enter the displayed number as your answer in a Numeric Entry question.
Since these are not multiple choice questions, you have to calculate and enter your answer manually. Often, misreading or mistyping could lead to you entering the wrong answer. This option helps avoid that.
Some questions on GRE Quant might be tricky because they involve non-whole numbers. For example, if you need to multiply 34.69 by 3.82, you may end up doing it faster using the calculator.
However, if you have faith in your mental math abilities, you could probably do these calculations yourself as well.
The trick is to use the calculator once or twice as a test run before you decide to use or ignore it for the rest of the test. You could try using it to solve a question or to do some random calculations off the top of your head.
What you need to do is to get a feel of how it works, how fast or slow it is, and how comfortable you are with using it. After that, it’s up to you to decide whether it will be faster to use that calculator or to do the math on your own.
In any case, we recommend avoiding this calculator altogether. Here’s why:
This calculator comes as a part of a few traps that are put in place for you by the ETS. So, the reason we tell you to avoid using it is tied to why a badly designed calculator is provided on the GRE in the first place.
Trap #1: If you don’t do your research, you will assume that the GRE calculator is like any other virtual calculator you can find on the internet. Under this assumption, you will not practice doing basic calculations on your own as a part of your prep. You will depend on the calculator for that and end up getting massively slowed down because of it.
Trap #2: The GRE calculator makes you pick between speed and accuracy. Doing the math on your own boosts speed at the cost of accuracy. Using the calculator boosts accuracy at the cost of speed. Which option you choose to go with shows what you prioritize.
3. Tips to Avoid Depending on the GRE Calculator
The first thing we suggest is to start with your GRE prep strategy. You need to get accustomed to solving GRE-level questions without even thinking about using a calculator well before your test day.
Here are five things you can do to avoid using the calculator altogether:
- Practice Solving GRE Questions Without a Calculator
- Convert Percentages to Fractions
- Learn the Art of Guesstimation
- Limit the Number of Variables
- Practice Solving GRE Quant Questions
Don’t use a calculator right from the moment you begin your GRE prep.
You should be able to get through your entire prep period without using any calculator, virtual or physical. The more often you solve something without resorting to calculators, the faster your mind will get with numbers.
Think of calculators the way you might think of drugs – it may get your job done for the moment, but in the long run, this is going to do you more harm than good. And honestly speaking, depending on calculators is quite addictive, too. It is convenient and quick when you can use your own calculator, but trust us, if you do this, you’ll be in trouble – because the GRE calculator is neither convenient nor quick.
Solve simple arithmetic sums, irrespective of whether they’re related to the GRE or not. The idea is simply to get your brain into the rhythm of dealing with numbers without external help.
The best thing to do is to ensure that you don’t wait till the last moment to practice solving without a calculator.
The two types of questions for which you’re likely to use the calculator are those involving percentages and those based on data interpretation. These questions will typically come with non-whole numbers.
It’s tougher to calculate decimal points than it is to calculate whole numbers without calculators. So, when you see a percentage question, especially one with a decimal point, feel free to convert that into a fraction. That way, you have whole numbers to deal with.
Doing this should make it much easier to handle than numbers with decimal points.
However, you most probably won’t master this overnight. So take the time to practice converting percentages to fractions while solving, lest you make silly mistakes on your GRE.
Luckily for us all, the GRE mostly has multiple choice questions. Apart from Numeric Entry questions, all others come with options you have to pick from.
Now, there may be some questions with answer options that are quite close to each other. It will be tougher to take guesses on these questions. However, most questions come with answer options that are spread wide apart. This is the type of question that you can handle without even having to do any real math.
The art of guesstimation involves taking an educated guess.
That basically means you don’t need to break your head over the arithmetic; you can simply gauge the answer options and eliminate the unlikely ones to single out the least unlikely one of them all.
Say for example you have a question that needs you to find an answer which is 23% of a given number. You can divide the given number by 5 to find out what’s 20% of that number. Then you only need to find an answer option slightly higher than that, and you’re done!
Once again, this is an art you will have to practice to perfection well before your test date!
When it comes to algebraic questions, you can often be your own worst enemy.
Let us demonstrate how with an example.
Suppose you have a question that says, “Rajan is half as old as Aparna, who in turn is five times Chitra’s age. Rajan is two and a half times as old as Chitra. How old is Aparna?”
Clearly, there are three people’s ages involved here. Now, you could either take a separate variable for each of them and end up confusing yourself, or you could simply take Chitra’s age to be ‘x’. With this, Aparna is 5x years old and Rajan is 2.5x years old.
The idea is to find a common thread and replace that with a variable. That way you don’t have to deal with too many moving parts. Makes solving a breeze!
Try solving many different word problems this way and alternatively with multiple variables, you will see the difference yourself!
Earlier, we said you should practice arithmetic irrespective of whether it is at GRE level or not.
That is only to be used like you’d use training wheels on a bicycle.
Once you get the hang of things, you need to graduate to basic GRE arithmetic, followed by solving test-level questions, all without using a calculator. It will not be sufficient to just be good at dealing with numbers without resorting to the GRE calculator.
Remember that the GRE is a test of your wit and intelligence more than your knowledge and understanding of math. You will need to be efficient, to know when you can skip doing the math and when you have no way but to solve a question mathematically.
Nothing can help you achieve that level but tons of practice.
In conclusion, we hope that you have understood the exact nature of the GRE calculator, from the ETS’s reasons for providing it to how you can make optimum use of it.
So, what are you waiting for? Find yourself a bunch of GRE-level questions and get to work!
Preparing a GRE study plan can be a daunting task, especially if you’re doing it all by yourself.
Many Indian students find the GRE quite intimidating because it requires a high level of verbal proficiency in English. So, they focus entirely on improving their GRE vocabulary and forget to prepare for the rest.
Here are fifty highly effective strategies you can use to boost your GRE prep!
To make reading easy, we’re dividing it into six categories:
I. Tips to Make a Great GRE Study Plan
Here’s a look at the things you should keep in mind before making your GRE study plan. To be honest, it’s okay even if you’ve already started preparing. Just try to incorporate these strategies into your daily practice.
- Guesswork on the GRE
- Know What to Expect
- Think Laterally
- Practice Guesstimation
- Understand the System
- Plan Your Time And Create A Practice Schedule
- New Best Friend: Scratch Paper
- Solve Mock Tests
So, you’re going to need to guess stuff on the GRE.
Well, yeah. We’re serious.
The thing is, you’re not going to know the right answers to all the questions. And you’re not always going to have ample time to solve the question and come to the right answer.
Go in assuming that you will need to take guesses during your GRE attempt.
If you only just found out that you’ll need to guess on the GRE, you can rest assured that there’s other stuff about this exam that you don’t know yet.
Knowing everything there is to know about an exam can make you get significantly better at taking it. Make it a point to study the GRE exam pattern and syllabus.
Understand what the test is looking for and focus on learning those things specifically. Make your GRE study plan based on your personal strengths and weaknesses on topics relevant to the test.
Unlike most other public exams, the GRE looks for creativity and your ability to think laterally.
No matter where you come from, you’ve been through an education system that has taught you to think in a certain manner. On the GRE, you’ll do better if you stop thinking in those ways.
In certain ways, the GRE allows you some freedom. For example, it allows you to answer questions in any order you like. It lets you mark answers to review later. What you need to look out for are ways in which you can really make use of the freedoms the test gives you.
This is where lateral thinking comes into play.
Conventional thought will tell you to just chip away at the test one question at a time. But lateral thinking will help you figure out things like how the ‘mark answers for review’ option can help boost your accuracy.
Speaking of boosting accuracy, did you know that guesstimation can help you be more accurate, too?
If you know how to make educated guesses, you’ll be able to manage your time on the GRE much more easily.
Guesstimation does not come intuitively to most people. That’s why we recommend that you learn techniques to take educated guesses well in advance. Eliminating answers sounds fairly straightforward but there are many pitfalls to it.
If you rely on your gut, you’re likely to make silly mistakes.
It’s important to practice this technique so you know where your weaknesses are.
Were you one of those kids in school who would figure out how much of which chapters to study for the exam?
If yes, you’re going to do REALLY well whether you have a great GRE study plan or not.
If not, it’s time to become that kid.
When preparing for the GRE, you should ideally spend a fair amount of time understanding what the exam is looking for. Study the GRE exam pattern, look for exactly what the exam will test you on.
Spend your prep period studying smart instead of hard. That’s what the GRE expects.
The greatest mistake you can make while preparing for the GRE is to underestimate the amount of time you will need. Scores of articles on the internet offer advice on how to prepare for the GRE in one month.
But here’s the thing:
Good GRE preparation takes more than double that amount of time. Two to two-and-a-half months of consistent, hard work could be just about enough, but it is still an impractical timeline to set for yourself.
Be realistic and give yourself at least three months to prepare properly. Most importantly, remember to maintain a natural schedule for your studies.
Your body should get into a rhythm that is suitable for your exam day.
You may or may not know this but you’re allowed to use a scratch paper while taking your GRE.
Whether you’re taking mock tests or just solving GRE questions for practice, learn to use a scratch paper. In essence, this means you have to start doing your thinking on paper. If you make mistakes while solving questions, you can see where you went wrong by referring to your scratch paper later.
Thinking while you note down your thoughts is challenging for most people but we recommend that you do it.
It helps massively.
This is a little on the obvious, needless-to-say side, but it is the most important step for your GRE study plan.
Don’t underestimate the pressure of having to finish a particular number of questions with the clock ticking right in front of you. You may be surprised at how much that clock affects your ability to think straight and focus on the question.
It’s definitely important to keep an eye on the clock to avoid running out of time.
But the trick is to maintain that perfect balance between focusing on the questions and being aware of how much time you’re spending on each one. That’s not something you can learn overnight, though.
It takes a lot of practice, which is all the more reason why we say you need to give yourself more than a month’s time to prepare for the GRE.
In the next section, we will give you the best strategies to build your English vocabulary for the GRE.
II. How to Build GRE Vocabulary
- Explore Your Interests
- Don’t Memorize Words
- Context is Key
- DO NOT Use Word Lists
- Pick Up Connotations
- Keep Your Interests Open
- Use GRE Flashcards
- Study Word Roots
- Use the Grouping Technique
- Maintain Consistency
One of the best ways to learn a language and get better at it is to consume more content in that language. It would be impractical to expect that you can read a large amount of academic work and learn what you are expected to learn from it.
Try this instead:
Pick up topics that you are naturally interested in.
It could be anything – a sport, music, films, whatever you like. The idea is to read as much about it as you can. Get into specialized, nuanced literature about any topic of your choice.
This will not only make it easier and more enjoyable for you, but it will also get your mind accustomed to reading and making sense of academic content, which is an important skill for GRE Reading Comprehension.
Vocabulary building for the GRE is so widely talked about on the internet that it warrants a discussion on what NOT to do.
One of the most popularly followed methods is to learn words and their definitions by heart. This is probably the worst way in which you can go about it.
A fun fact about the GRE verbal section is that it does not test you on how well you know the definitions of words. That is why we tell our students not to waste their time learning stuff they’re not going to be using on the test.
What the GRE does test you for is your understanding of words.
You need to know the usage of words, not their definitions. So, don’t waste your time learning them!
As mentioned, the GRE is interested in how well you can use the words you know – that is nothing but an understanding of the appropriate context.
Words have very little meaning independently. Their true implications are brought out by the sentences and setting in which they’re used.
For example, the word ‘troublemaker’ can have a cute, innocent meaning when applied to a 5-year-old, but the same word can imply infamy and disrepute when applied to a criminal.
Our point here is that you have to understand words in context to be aware of the things they imply.
Learning words without context is pointless.
Word lists should not be a part of your entire GRE study plan in any manner.
They’re so pointless, we can’t even begin to tell you how much.
What you’re basically doing with word lists is giving yourself a bunch of words to learn in order to remember one word. Think about it – you try to learn entire definitions by heart just to try and remember the single word they define.
How does that even make sense?!
What’s worse is that knowing definitions by heart is not even going to help, since definitions are not tested on the GRE.
Just do yourself a favor and skip those word lists.
We’ve recommended that you explore your interests, so here’s a follow-up GRE strategy to build on that.
As you read more and more material, you’ll come across new words within context. This will give you an idea of what the word means, but more importantly, it will show the implications the word carries. Note those down.
When you come across new words, take notes to help you remember them.
Reading new words once won’t help expand your English vocabulary, but writing them down is likelier to. So, write down the word, its context, the meaning you understood from that, synonyms you know, and the connotation of the word.
Connotations could be positive, neutral, or negative.
Everything we know is nothing but words.
It may be in different languages but all of knowledge is just a bunch of words. So basically, this means that you could learn new words from literally anywhere.
Think of it like this: What would you do if you wanted to meet new people?
You need to do the same kind of stuff to “meet” new words.
Unfortunately, networking is unlikely to help with expanding your vocabulary unless you deliberately look to connect with people who habitually use a higher level of vocabulary than yours. Of course, though, that’s something you could always do.
What we’re trying to say is that picking up new interests is a pretty great GRE strategy as far as building vocabulary is concerned.
In sharp contrast, one of the most effective GRE strategies for vocabulary building is using mnemonics.
Mnemonics are tools designed to aid human memory. They can be images, patterns, letters, acronyms, or a variety of things arranged in a way that helps us remember something better. There are special mnemonics designed to help build GRE vocabulary, called GRE Flashcards.
At CrackVerbal, we understand how mnemonics can help you in building your vocabulary.
We also know that humor is a great tool to make things memorable.
That’s why we’ve made some extra-special GRE flashcards that incorporate both these facts! CrackVerbal’s GRE Flashcards are designed especially for Indian students. They incorporate hilarious cross-lingual puns and cultural references to the likes of Salman Khan.
We’re fairly certain you’ll learn a lot of the 500 high-frequency GRE words through our flashcards!
Another super-useful technique to build your GRE vocabulary is using root words.
Root words are words from other languages that have been incorporated into English. While some foreign-origin words are adopted as they are, some others end up becoming the basis for a bunch of words.
For example, the Greek word ‘hemi’ and the Latin word ‘semi’, both meaning ‘half’, have become a part of the root for a large variety of English words.
Similarly, there are many words from many languages that have become roots for a host of English words. Studying root words introduces you to a large variety of new words. It also makes it easier for you to recall them since they’re automatically bound to some words you already know.
Word roots are just one of many ways to help you build GRE vocabulary.
Another highly effective way to learn and remember new words is to sort them into context-based groups.
Earlier, we advised you to note down the new words you learn while reading about topics that interest you. The grouping technique further builds on the material you collect through your reading.
When you read about a certain topic, you’re likely to come across a lot of new words related to the same topic. Put them all into groups based on what they’re related to.
For example, ‘words related to hospitals’ could be one group. ‘Words related to education’ could be another.
Pretty sure you get what we mean.
This may be the last strategy in this list but it definitely is not the least valuable one.
Make sure that there’s some consistency in the frequency of your learning new words. Don’t wake up one fine day and note down fifty new words but then learn nothing new for the entire following week.
This is critical because the longer the gap you leave between periods of learning, the more closed you’re likely to become by the time you get back to learning. That’s basically why getting another degree becomes tougher the longer you wait.
Try to “meet” at least a couple of new words every day.
That will help keep your mind in a constant state of learning, drastically increasing your ability to learn and remember as you go.
III. Strategies for GRE Verbal
- Prethink Your Own Answer
- Finding the Point of Elimination
- Practice Passage Mapping
- Understand the Author’s Perspective
- Answers Lie Within Questions
- Complete Understanding is Unnecessary
- Text Completion Answer Order
- Synonymy vs. Sentence Equivalence
- Leave Out Personal Knowledge
- Filter Out Opinions
Ideally, come up with an answer in your head before you look at the available answer options. This is to help avoid confusion as well as bias.
If you’re entirely clueless about a given question and you look at the answer options immediately, you could get irrationally attached to one of the options. On the other hand, if you have a vague idea of what the answer should be and you read the options, you could get quite confused.
So the best idea is to take a few seconds to come up with your own answer before you read the options.
For every GRE question, there will be at least one answer option that’s too outlandish.
In both sections of the GRE, Quant as well as Verbal, every question carries an answer option that obviously can’t be right. That’s your lifeline when you’re totally lost.
Every time you come across a question that you literally cannot make head or tail of, start looking for that outlandish answer option. Finding it helps boost your confidence by making you realize that you know something at least.
Moreover, it is a good start. You can find the answer by eliminating more options the same way.
One of the most time-consuming parts of GRE Verbal is the Reading Comprehension section.
It mainly takes time because people end up spending too much time reading and re-reading the paragraph. Indians tend to do this more often because it was what was expected in most Indian schools when it came to reading comprehension.
However, that’s far from what the GRE expects. Here’s how you can save time on GRE RC:
Create a mental map of the passage the first time you’re reading it. Focus on the logical flow of it.
That should give you all the info you need to answer the questions that follow.
Unlike school-level reading comprehension passages, the passages on the GRE tend to focus on figuring out whether you’ve truly understood what you’ve read.
Thanks to this, the questions will not be based on the content of the passage. Instead, they’ll be based on the thought process behind it. So, when you create your mental map of the passage, take note of how the thought flows.
Focus on the reasoning behind the passage and take note of the changes or logical sequencing of the thought it represents. Pay attention to the author’s reasoning instead of her words.
In short, look out for why the author is saying what she’s saying instead of focusing on what she’s saying.
Okay, we know that sounds like something Master Oogway would say.
It’s really not philosophical, though.
We literally mean that GRE RC passages always provide all the data you need to figure out the answer.
If you map the paragraph well enough, you won’t need to go back and read it. But in any case, if you come across a question that confuses you, rest assured that the passage contains everything you need to know.
Suppose you really get stuck and can’t find an answer, just read the relevant part of the passage.
Having said that the question carries the answers, we must state that you don’t have to completely understand what the passage says in order to answer the questions based on it.
You need to remember what the passage said. That’s not the same as understanding and agreeing with it.
Trying to figure out what the passage says is a huge pitfall.
Just make sure you’re aware of what’s being said. Usually, the thought process behind the writing is fairly obvious. So, try to grasp that too.
But don’t waste your time trying to do more than that.
Often, the blanks in text completion questions are interdependent.
On straightforward questions, the word in the second blank will depend on the word in the first and so on. In these cases, solving the first blank first makes sense.
But at times, the correct answer for the first blank will depend on the answer in the second or third blank. In case you come across such TC questions, you’ll end up wasting time if you keep trying to solve the first blank first.
So, keep in mind that you can solve the blanks in any order you like.
If it feels like the answer to the first blank can change based on any other answer, just solve the other one first.
The assumption in sentence equivalence questions often is that the two applicable answers have to be synonyms.
That is decidedly inaccurate.
There’s a huge difference between synonymous words and synonymous sentences. Remember what we said earlier about the connotations of words? Thanks to that, synonymous words can have very different meanings in the same context.
Don’t pick a pair of words simply because they’re synonyms.
Check whether the meanings of the sentences they create are similar. That is what GRE Sentence Equivalence is about.
We mentioned that the questions contain all the information you need.
That’s also another way to tell you not to answer based on anything that you may know beyond what the questions present.
Sometimes you may be familiar with the topic that a question is based on. In these cases, it is important for you to make sure your answer is based only on the information in the question and nothing beyond.
Doing this is important because the question may be providing an older context than what you know. Your external knowledge may be contradictory to the premise of the question, which will invalidate your answer.
At times, things like this are deliberately done to trick you and see if you fall for it.
So, make sure external context doesn’t colour your answer choice.
Just like external context, you must keep opinions out of the equation as well.
Understand that the GRE is created by the ETS, which is an American organization. The contexts they come from may not apply to those of us from the rest of the world. That’s why our opinions may also be vastly different as compared to theirs.
If an author’s opinion is expressed in the question, make sure your answer reflects the same opinion.
Answers that don’t do this will be considered wrong.
Remember that the GRE is not looking for your opinion. It is trying to see how well you can function within the boundaries that it sets for you.
IV. Strategies for GRE Quant
- The Calculator is a TRAP
- Practice Arithmetic
- Solving Techniques
- Cross-Checking Answers
- Handling Quantitative Comparison
- Memorize the algebraic identities
- Inequalities ≠ Equations
- Know Your Math Conventions
- Do Not Trust the Figure!
Fun fact about GRE math: it is dead easy.
And no, we’re not all engineers.
GRE quant is not very advanced; it involves rather basic arithmetic. And some of you may know that the exam offers you the option to use an on-screen calculator. That’s awesome, right?!
That calculator is a trap! It is so cumbersome to use that it will end up wasting a lot of your time. Besides, it has limited functionality.
You’ll need to specifically look up how to use the GRE calculator before doing it.
What the questions want to check is not your ability to compute. The arithmetic is not the important part, how you apply it is. That’s why you get a calculator to do the arithmetic for you if needed.
You have to try your best not to use it!
Now, you already know that the calculator is just there to tempt you to waste your time.
In order to not fall for it, you will need to be able to do your calculations on your own. And trust us, there’s no need to freak out over this.
All you need to do is practice solving basic arithmetic functions like addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division of large numbers. Keep doing it over and over, you will begin to develop intuitive methods of your own that help you solve faster.
By the time of your GRE date, you will hopefully be able to compute answers in your head faster than you can do the same on that calculator.
Make basic arithmetic practice a part of your GRE study plan and learn techniques to improve your mental calculation time. It will serve you very well while attempting the GRE.
The GRE doesn’t care how you arrive at an answer.
How you solve a question is immaterial. You need to come up with an answer, and the only thing that matters is whether the answer you’ve chosen is right or wrong.
Sometimes, you might be able to work faster and more efficiently if you use non-mathematical techniques like elimination to find an answer. In these cases, actually solving the question is not the ideal way to get your answer.
As we said, it doesn’t matter how you get to an answer as long as you get to it.
For many people, solving is the instinctive reaction, which is sub-optimal. We recommend that you practice solving mathematical questions in non-mathematical ways as a part of your GRE study plan just to get into the practice.
Pay close attention, this is a pretty neat trick.
After you’ve worked out an answer using any method whatsoever, just plug your chosen answer option into the question and check whether it makes sense. Let’s take a sample question to help you understand this better.
Suppose you have chosen option C as the answer, here’s how you can cross-check:
|x/y = 2/3||(x-y)/x = 1/3|
|Taking x=2 and y=3, this becomes 2/3 = 2/3||(2-3)/2 = 1/3|
Clearly, this is not making sense. If you don’t understand why we’re saying so, try solving this further to see whether the second equation is actually correct. Our point is that this is how you plug in answers to see if they’re right or not.
This is a good time to mention another tip:
Sometimes, especially when you can’t make head or tail of a given question, you can just start plugging in the options one by one till you arrive at an answer. This technique saves a lot of time and can help you when you begin losing confidence in the middle of your test.
For some of you, this might sound like an obvious thing to do. But not all of us are born math prodigies, okay?! It had to be said!
One of the best ways to deal with quantitative comparison or QC questions is to try and equate the given quantities.
Typically, a QC question will present you with two quantities and you have to figure out whether one will always be greater than the other or whether the two will always be equal. Now, the answer options will not mention the word ‘always’, but it is implied. That’s what makes it a bit tricky to handle this question type.
Here’s how trying to equate the two will help you:
If you can equate the two quantities in the first attempt, it means there is at least one instance in which the quantities are equal. This will eliminate answer options A & B, which say one is greater or lesser than the other.
However, if they’re not equated, you find at least one instance where either option A or option B will apply. This will effectively eliminate option C.
Equating a second time, you’ll either get evidence to back up what you found in your first attempt, or you’ll end up with a contradictory result. Either way, you get your answer.
In your GRE study plan, make sure you reserve some time for practicing QC questions.
Under GRE Verbal strategies, we mentioned the importance of guesstimation. Now, we’re saying you should do it with Quant, too.
We are not!
Guesstimating on GRE math is different from guesstimating on the Verbal section. When we tell you to make intelligent guesses on verbal, your knowledge and understanding of the meanings of the available options is a prerequisite. That’s not the case on Quant.
Making an educated guess on quant involves rounding up large numbers and eliminating options based on possible answer ranges.
For example, if the number in the question is 448,318, you can either round it up to 450,000 or down to 440,000. This way, while picking an answer, you can hike up the number to account for the missing 8,318 or reduce the number to account for the extra 1,682.
Similarly, if you know that the answer is in the range of 30% to 40%, you can easily eliminate answer options that fall beyond this range.
Using such techniques instead of solving every question in detail will help you get through the entire quant section much faster.
For the uninitiated, there are at least 8 algebraic identities that you should know.
Remember these little nuggets that you first learned in school?
Guess what?! They’re still super useful!
Some of you may know these by heart already, while others might struggle with them. It’s important to know these identities by heart so that you can spot them even if they’re placed out of order in front of you.
If you already know these, great. But if not, put it in your GRE study plan right now!
The idea behind knowing these identities inside-out is that they can help you solve even complex-looking questions quite quickly.
Knowing your algebraic identities will help you storm through the quant section.
See what we did there? *snigger snigger*
But honestly, don’t make the mistake of treating inequalities like you’d treat equations.
We’ve noticed that many people often use techniques like cross-multiplying and canceling out while dealing with inequalities. That is not how it works.
Cross-multiplying and canceling out are techniques exclusive to equations. You cannot use these unless the left-hand side and right-hand side are equal to each other.
In essence, don’t approach inequalities the same way in which you would approach equations because mathematically, the two work very differently.
This is a no-brainer, really, but we’re mentioning it nonetheless.
There are some mathematical conventions used by the GRE. For example, the word ‘line’ will always mean a straight, infinite line, unless otherwise specified.
A list of the mathematical conventions that are used on the GRE can be found in the Official Guide published by the ETS. make sure you know all these conventions before taking your attempt.
Even if you feel like you know all the conventions, make it a part of your GRE study plan to go through this list at least once.
That will ensure there are no surprises.
Before you start thinking weird things, let us clarify: we’re talking about geometry.
With every GRE Geometry question, you’ll find a diagram drawn out. It is important to ignore this diagram entirely!
The figures that come with the question on GRE Geometry are not to scale. But more importantly, they’re not even vaguely accurate sometimes.
For example, you may be looking at a right-angled triangle while the question is describing an isosceles triangle. If you try to solve the question assuming that the figure is accurate, your answers will turn out to be wrong.
Use your scratchpad to draw your own rough sketch if you need one. But don’t trust the given figures!
V. Strategies for GRE AWA
- MIND CONTROL!
- Use the Scoring Rubric
- Use Templates
- Analyzing Arguments
- Provide Examples While Discussing Issues
We’re not hatching conspiracy theories – we’re merely saying that you should learn to control your mind.
Your GRE attempt will begin with the AWA. And there will most probably be rousing and stimulating topics up for discussion in this section. You will be expected to dig your heels in and explain your views, as well.
If you can keep your mind from getting distracted by all that is mentioned in the AWA, half the battle is won.
The GRE AWA is the easiest section to score well on. That’s because the ETS, which is the body that conducts the GRE, literally tells you exactly what it wants you to do.
The trick to scoring well on most exams is to understand what causes low scores.
The ETS provides a detailed analysis of what constitutes a great essay as well as what makes for a really bad one. This makes is very easy for you to understand what you should do and what you should avoid.
Take a look at the GRE AWA score level descriptions on the ETS website to understand what we mean.
Whether you are good at creative writing or not, having a template for every AWA essay is a great idea.
If you are a good writer and are used to creating impactful long-form writing, you may be tempted to wing it. Our strong recommendation to you is, don’t. There’s a high chance that you might get carried away and end up running out of time. That can have a huge adverse impact on the conclusion of your essay, which is a critical part of the essay.
And for those of you who aren’t great at writing in the first place, a template can be a life-saver. It gives you direction and ensures that your work will be impactfully structured, at the very least.
Using a GRE AWA essay template is the surest way to avoid silly errors. So, put it down in your GRE study plan to check out AWA templates for GRE.
One of the types of AWA essays you have to write is the Analyze an Argument essay.
In this essay, the most common mistake people make is to express their personal opinion as an analysis. The question asks you to analyze the argument and says nothing further, but you must remember that you get marks for critically evaluating the argument irrespective of your personal beliefs.
Suppose a given argument is in favor of communism. You cannot call it a bad argument simply because you are not pro-communism. If the argument follows a sound logical sequence, it is a well-made argument.
Whether you agree with it or its outcomes or not is inconsequential to the quality of that argument. Similarly, you may agree with an argument and/or its outcomes, but that alone doesn’t make the argument good.
Focus on the logical structure of the argument rather than its contents and your personal opinions.
It’s not a bad idea to drop in a line or two about your personal opinion. But don’t make the entire essay about that.
In the Discuss an Issue essay, you’re expected to provide your personal opinion and make a compelling argument in favor of your point.
This is the right place to bring out your personal convictions because that’s what is expected of you. We recommend giving examples where possible.
Most of the time, your opinion will be based on something you know or have experienced. Giving the context of that knowledge or experience at some point can add much more substance to your entire essay.
Provide both personal as well as real-world examples in the Discuss an Issue essay.
VI. GRE Test Day Tips
- KYC – Know Your Center!
- Carry Snacks
- Manage Time by Question Type
- Try Your Luck!
- Be Extra Alert on Opening Quant & Verbal Sections
- Mark and Review Your Answers
- Use Your Scratch Paper
It’s important for you to know everything about your GRE center beforehand.
Seriously – don’t underestimate this one.
Many people have to travel to a different city to take their GREs. Especially if that’s true for you, too, make it a point to prepare well in advance. Be sure you know the routes to get to your center, how long it will take at the time of the day when you need to be there, etc.
Murphy’s Law states that everything that can go wrong is most likely to do so when you’re least prepared for it. So, don’t rely too much on things working as they should!
We recommend to all our students that they should carry light snacks into the exam center.
You know how you feel like getting some popcorn during the interval of a movie? That feeling is likely to surface in the middle of your exam, too.
Popcorn works during movies because you’re not using up any energy in watching, but the GRE is likely to use up quite a bit of your energy. And honestly, whether you feel like it or not, giving your body a light sugar boost in the middle of the exam is a great idea.
Carry light sugars with you. Naturally, this wouldn’t be in your GRE study plan, but you have to remember to do it.
Keep it dry and easy to eat so you don’t have to wash your hands after.
Also, make sure your snack isn’t something that could go bad before you can eat it.
On a test like the GRE, you will typically hear people say things like, “You have a minute and a half per question.” Meaning that every question should be answered in a given amount of time.
That’s just wrong.
You can’t simply divide the total amount of time by the total number of questions. Doing that will give you a generic number per question, but not all questions require the same amount of effort.
Obviously, there’s no way you can solve a Reading Comprehension question in the same amount of time as a Text Completion question.
What we recommend for the verbal section is this:
Give yourself 2 minutes per question for Reading Comprehension and Critical Reasoning, and 1 minute per question for Sentence Equivalence and Text Completion.
For Quant, try solving questions without time limits and see how long you take for each type. Figure out the timings according to your own comfort levels.
We said earlier that there’s an art to guesswork. But you know what? We know there can be times when you’re absolutely confused about the correct answer.
At a time when you’re in absolute la-la-land about what the answer might be, feel totally free to “eenie-meenie” it.
Mind you, we are not advising you to rely on guesswork to get you through the exam. Please make sure that you’ve tried everything to arrive at the correct answer logically before you even consider taking a wild guess.
But the point we’re trying to make is that even “eenie-meenie”ing your way to an answer is better than not answering a question at all.
Since there’s no negative marking on the GRE, you have nothing to lose!
So, try your luck if you must, but don’t leave anything unanswered.
Since the GRE is a computer-adaptive test, some parts will be more critical than others.
You should know which sections of the test you can afford to take wild guesses on and which ones you cannot afford that on.
There are five sections after the AWA, one of which will be experimental. This basically leaves you with two Verbal and two Quant sections.
Now, because the GRE is a computer-adaptive test, the difficulty level of your second section. If you don’t do too well in your first sections, the next ones will be of a lower difficulty level. That automatically translates to lower marks per question.
You don’t want that.
To avoid this, just be super careful while answering the first sections of each category and avoid guesstimation as far as possible.
You get to choose the order in which you will answer the questions on your GRE attempt.
A smart tactic is to use this to your advantage. Answer the easiest questions and skip those that feel like they’ll take some time to solve. Come back to the tougher or lengthier questions after the easier ones are out of the way.
On your GRE test day, you’re likely to start running out of time on some questions at least. You could end up panicking and choosing an answer option in a hurry. Luckily for you, that’s totally okay.
When you find yourself in such a position, just pick an answer option and mark it.
After you solve everything else, you can go back to this marked answer and retrace your steps to make sure you got it right. If not, you can change your selection and submit!
There’s one important thing about retracing your steps, though. That’s the next point in this list.
Do you remember that we said scratch paper will be your new best friend? Here’s why:
If you follow our advice and learn to put your thought process on the scratch paper, it will save you massive amounts of time.
There are so many questions on the test that you’re likely to forget or mix up what you had thought about a marked answer by the time you get around to reviewing it. But if you’ve put your thoughts on the paper, you can simply pick up where you left off.
Unless you’ve got your thoughts down in writing, you could end up starting from scratch or mixing up one question with another in your head.
So, we reiterate – that scratch paper can be VERY useful!
Having said this, the most critical part of GRE prep is consistency in practice. Not only do you need to practice regularly, but you also need to gradually increase the level of difficulty over time. At CrackVerbal, we can help you stay on track and do your GRE prep the right way. Check out how!
The Graduate Record Examination (GRE) is a standardized test conducted by the Educational Testing Service (ETS). GRE is used by universities in most English speaking countries for admission into the Graduate program. It assesses the verbal, quantitative and writing skills of the student.
GRE is taken by candidates who wish to get into graduate or business schools. Aspirants interested in pursuing a Master’s degree – MS, MBA, MEM, or a doctoral degree can sit for the GRE. The total duration of the test is 3 hours 40 minutes, with a 10 minute break in between.
To successfully crack the GRE, knowing the pattern and preparing well is the only solution.
So how do you go about preparing for the GRE?
We have mentioned below seven effective and practical tips on how to prepare for the GRE:
1. Choose the right study material
Many students when preparing choose one book and stick to it. While there are many great books in the market, you have not mastered GRE if you finish one of them. Even if you start with one book, use other material as well to supplement it.
The other problem is that with the introduction of the web and smartphone, the preparation material available to you is abundant. It is easy to lose yourself trying to do everything. So instead choose your material and prepare.
Start simple, it will help you understand the concepts and once you have got a hang of it, work your way up to more advanced material. Do not try to do everything at the same time. In the end you will not have covered much. We would recommend you to start with the official ETS GRE guide.
Also remember, when it comes to practice test material, make sure you take the right practice tests – preferably the official ones! If you take random tests, chances are that your results are not accurate thus messing with analysing where you stand.
Also, Don’t be a serial test taker!
The key is to understand when and how often these GRE practice tests should be taken. Exhausting them all at once as soon as you have started your GRE perpetration, for instance, is counterproductive.
If you are just starting your GRE preparation then go through our Comprehensive Guide to GRE Exam Preparation.
Here are a list of other Free resources to get you started:
2. Create a study plan
Depending on you exam date, create a plan accordingly.
Your study plan needs to take into account the number of weeks you have left for the GRE test, your current GRE preparation level, and your target GRE score. Once you have the plan, you take a printout of it and stick it next to your study desk so you can look at it while studying (and get motivated too!).
Once you have a concrete study plan you will feel charged up to complete it. It is the most simple and pain free way for you to start taking action!
Not sure how to make a detailed GRE study plan?
Then you can mail us at CrackVerbal and we will help you with a custom GRE study plan.
You can also check out our comprehensive blog on prepping for the GRE to get a detailed explanation on creating a study plan that suit your needs.
3. Do not underestimate the difficulty of Quant
The GRE is designed specifically to differ from what you learnt in college. Even if the syllabus for Quant takes you back to high school with memories of the amazing grades you scored, it is going to be a little more complicated than that to score in GRE.
A lot of students misunderstand the term and think that “Quant” is synonymous with “Math”.
Mathematics is different from Quantitative analysis. Educational Testing Service (ETS), which administers the GRE exam, could have easily called it “mathematical assessment” but didn’t, and there is a reason for that.
GRE quant focuses on testing the reasoning ability of the student. So most of the questions are based on a simple logic with a twist in it, making it a brain teaser. Understanding these subtle nuances is often the solution to most problems.
Attempting to solve a problem with only concepts and procedure can be both confusing and time consuming. A far more efficient approach would be to figure out a pattern in the trick questions and create a strategy which can be used for them.
For more details about the GRE Quant section check out our blog on All You Wanted to Know About GRE Quant
GRE Quant is made up of four major buckets:
• Data Interpretation
The GRE Quantitative Reasoning section tests your ability to interpret given data correctly rather than just your knowledge of formulae and concepts. Out of the four topics, Arithmetic is what is going to be tested pre-dominantly, accounting for approximately 40 to 50 percent of your questions. Arithmetic tests your skills in numbers, ratios, percentages and exponents, etc.
Hence, you should be very good at your basics, which you would have typically studied up to the Eighth or Ninth grade.
• For information about Arithmetic questions in GRE Quant, see All You Wanted to Know About GRE Quant Arithmetic
• For information about Algebra questions in GRE Quant, see All You Wanted to Know About GRE Quant Algebra
• For information about Geometry questions in GRE Quant, see All You Wanted to Know About GRE Quant Geometry
• For information about Data Interpretation questions in GRE Quant, see All You Wanted to Know About GRE Quant Data Interpretation
4. Prepare well for AWA
Analytical Writing Assessment allows schools to evaluate the writing skills of the applicant. Even if in comparison with the other sections AWA is relatively less significant, it can take up a considerable amount of your time and energy if you go unprepared.
Before the exam, prepare a format outlining the structure of the 2 essays. Practice writing a few essays using this format. This way you know the kind of points you will need for the essay. It will allow you to focus your thoughts in terms of the content you plan to put in the essay.
The essay is then scored by e-rater®, a computerized program developed by ETS that is capable of identifying essay features related to writing proficiency.
If the human and the e-rater scores closely agree, the average of the two scores is used as the final score. If they disagree, a second human score is obtained, and the final score is the average of the two human scores.
The final scores on the two essays are then averaged and rounded to the nearest half-point interval on the 0–6 score scale.
Here is an example of a sample AWA essay prompt from the ETS pool of Issue Essays:
“As people rely more and more on technology to solve problems, the ability of humans to think for themselves will surely deteriorate”
There are two ways to approach this – either you develop an argument that speaks in favor of technology or one that speaks against it. You could use real-world examples, things that you’ve read in books or even personal experiences to substantiate your point.Remember to clearly illustrate how this scenario helps prove your perspective though!
We recommend you spend the first 5-7 minutes in brainstorming and listing your thoughts. Then spend the next 15 minutes expanding your ideas into words and the last 5-7 minutes fine-tuning and writing a conclusion.
More more detailed tips on how to go about writing an AWA essay, check out our blog on how to go about your AWA
5. Build your mental stamina
The GRE is 3 hours and 45 minutes long. You have 1 minute between sections and a 10 minute break after three sections.
In long tests like these, it is very likely that by the middle of the test your concentration will begin to flag and the one minute between sections gives you barely enough time to catch your breath.
So it is important to develop your endurance with sufficient preparation beforehand. Usually you begin practice with blocks of questions in the same category. It is easy to get caught up in it, but mastering concepts is only half the battle.
Once you reach a level of comfort with the different sections individually, the next step will be to take full length practice tests.
Schedule them in regular intervals over the last 2 weeks before the exam and identify the areas which take up most of your time. These are the areas which will probably tire you out the most.
Monitor the time closely and work on improving your speed.
Here are some practical tips on how to stay focussed during your GRE test:
-> To be able to focus for a longer time, it’s important to keep up your energy levels. Try to avoid junk food or anything that contains a lot of sugar or artificial sweeteners before the exam.
-> Your posture plays a vital role on your energy levels. So sit up straight and avoid shallow breathing.
-> You should practice the test under the same conditions you will take the test. So if you have booked a morning slot then practice taking your GRE mocks tests around the same time as you would on the actual test day.
6. Know the contextual meaning of the GRE words
A common mistake made by students is spending time trying to learn by heart a list of words within a limited time frame. While the words are important to answering sentence completion questions but the whole point of the questions is to test the vocabulary of the student. So knowing the meaning of the words will be useless without knowing the context in which they are used.
Using examples to learn the words can be advantageous. When learning with examples picturing the word in your mind becomes easy. This relates the word to a situation which in turn makes it easier to remember. This will also teach you the context in which the word is usually used.
For example, a commonly misused word is literally.
Literally means without exaggeration or in strict sense of the word.
So when you say “It is literally raining cats and dogs.” unless you really saw cats and dogs drop from the sky, you are using the word ‘literally’ in the wrong sense.
If you are looking for quick ways learn the contextual meanings of GRE Words then try learning the words using the Mnemonics technique.
To make learning GRE words fun, we have designed a set of 500 GRE flashcards cards that consist of visual mnemonics, to help you learn unfamiliar words by understanding its contextual meaning.
If you found the above video useful, then go ahead and Get our GRE WordToonz Flash Cards – featuring the 500 most frequently tested words.
7. Make a list of your target universities
So you’re obviously inventing a huge chunk of time and money to get into a university of your choice, right? Good – that is motivation enough for you to start researching on colleges that best enhance your abilities, personality and help set you on the right career path.
Make a list of universities – both India and Abroad – and list out the pros and cons. You can include factors such as – finance, duration of course, GRE score cutoffs, the course offerings, to name a few. This exercise will help you narrow down on a few good universities.
Also, don’t forget – alongside preparing for the examination, build your profile too. Find out things you can do to enhance what you already have – say, you’re decent in German – get fluent instead! And you could also start drafting your applications for the shortlisted universities, collect sample essays – basically do your bit of ground work.
If you need an expert to review your profile before applying, then CrackVerbal can do that for you, for free 🙂
Is GRE Preparation on your mind all the time? Then you already know that there are tons of free resources out there. The sad part? Everything looks so confusing and overwhelming.
If you were wishing for a page that will keep it simple for you, and give you a clear path to crack it the with an optimized GRE preparation plan, you have come to the right place.
This page will provide you with all the help you need for your GRE Preparation. So get your coffee mug and keep reading!
Here is a simple four-step process to study for the GRE:
Step 1: Get Started with Understanding the GRE
Anyone who has fought a war (studying for the GRE can seem like one) will tell you that the first rule is to know your enemy. A reconnaissance mission, if you will.
It’s the same for the GRE preparation. So, as the first step, take the time to understand what the GRE will test. Here is a PDF file from the test makers; that would be the “evil” Educational Testing Service (ETS).
As you saw earlier on our post, the GRE Syllabus, the GRE has the following format:
Anyone who has fought a war will tell you that the first rule is to know your enemy. A reconnaissance mission, if you will.
1) A section called “Analytical Writing Ability” or AWA, which is basically just essay writing
Truth be told, as an Indian test-taker, you really don’t need to worry much about the AWA essays.
This section contains two essays:
a) “Analysis of an issue” in which you will be asked to write either for, or against a given topic.
For example, the topic could be about how the greatest ideas come from simple observation. You could either shout “Eureka!” and talk about how it is true. Or you could disagree, quoting how scientific discovery comes after many years of diligent research.
b) “Analysis of an argument” in which you will be given a situation that you need to argue against.
For example, the topic could be about how radio advertising has worked great for a new pizza delivery shop so it should also work well for a newly opened fine-dine restaurant in the same town. Clearly, people who listen to radio ads could be from anywhere in town so works well for pizza delivery but not for a restaurant which usually services customers in the same locality.
Doesn’t sound too hard?
As we discuss in the blog, How to prepare for GRE AWA, you need to have a solid, templatized approach to cracking the GRE AWA section.
However, the GRE AWA scores really don’t matter much in your Masters, or MBA application. What matters more is your TOEFL score so ensure you prepare well to crack that one. Here is a blog on TOEFL preparation.
2) Two sections of 35 minutes each for Quantitative Reasoning (fancy-speak for Maths)
Okay, so you are an Indian Engineer? You should be great at quant, shouldn’t you?
Remember that this is the GRE and not really your friendly neighborhood math paper where everything can be derived if you just remember the formula. GRE Quant can be tricky. Most Indian engineers think they can score 170 but it is not as easy as you think.
The four areas in which you will be tested are:
d) Data Analysis
Yes, the usual suspects!
The most important part of preparing for the GRE Quant section is to ensure that you follow these three steps:
a) Revise the basic formulae needed for GRE Quant
b) Practice, practice, and practice difficult GRE Quant questions
c) Understand common hacks for solving GRE Quant questions
GRE Quant can be tricky. Most Indian engineers think they can score 170 but it is not as easy as you think.
But hey, don’t worry! We got you covered with our detailed page on GRE Quant. Right click and open the link so you can head there right after you’ve read this blog
3) Two sections of 30 minutes each for Verbal Reasoning (nothing but plain old English)
The GRE tests you on your ability to effectively use words to convey your thoughts as well as your ability to understand the semantics of the written word. In other words, the GRE wants to make sure you don’t mess up while writing a journal in grad school, or while reading a difficult book on Quantum Physics to pass a test!
But the GRE is not going to ask you for the meaning of words, but is going to put it in “context” by asking you questions in the following two ways:
a) Text Completion in which you will be given a sentence (or two) with one, two, or three blanks. From among the options, you need to pick the word(s) that correctly convey the intended meaning.
b) Sentence Equivalence in which you will be given a sentence with one blank and you need to pick two (yes two!) options from among the six given. As you can imagine, the two words you pick should be synonymous, and fit in the blank.
Apart from this, the GRE also expects you to understand the written word well so you have another question type:
c) Reading Comprehension, in which you will be given a passage followed by a set of questions that you need to answer. The answer could either be explicitly stated in the passage (easy!) or implied through context (tough!).
Don’t worry! If you have not yet figured it out, – we got your back!
Head over here for a comprehensive blog on GRE Verbal. So yes, now you have three tabs open, but we promise that it is all we have for you.
4) One section of either Maths or English that is not scored
GRE also gives you one extra section of either Maths or English. Thus, in total, you will have five sections in either of the two configurations:
Two Verbal sections of 30 minutes each
Three Quant sections of 35 minutes each
Three Verbal sections of 30 minutes each
Two Quant sections of 35 minutes each
The deal is that you will never get to know which section is the “dummy” section. It could be the first, or the last.
That’s it about “knowing your enemy”; now let us see how to tame the devil!
The deal is that you will never get to know which section is the “dummy” section. It could be the first, or the last.
Step 2: Get the right GRE Study Material
No war can be won if you don’t have the right tools with you so it is important that you understand the main arsenal you have to combat the GRE.
There is plenty of FREE advice out there on preparing for the GRE; what is important to know is the CORRECT advice on preparing for the GRE! The biggest culprit that we have found in our interaction with students is that they tend to hoard a lot of material (most of it either useless, or repetitive), and they somehow feel that they have to do ALL of it to get a great GRE score.
No, you don’t!
In fact, many of our students who have done well on the GRE – scored above 160 out of a possible 170 in both Maths and Verbal, have vouched for this fact.
The biggest culprit that we have found in our interaction with students is that they tend to hoard a lot of material, and they somehow feel that they have to do ALL of it to get a great GRE score.
Following are the GRE study materials available to you:
a) GRE Preparation on the internet
With the advent of online content and fast internet speeds, why would you want to stick to the “traditional” methods of pen and paper? Online GRE preparation gives you the flexibility to study on the go. Test preparation companies such as CrackVerbal offer you great options to study from the convenience of your home. See our GRE Online course.
Further, you have a lot of material available to study on your own. For example, the ETS offers its Official Guide book on an app Too bad that it is available only on iOS and not on Android, but don’t worry, there are plenty of ways to prepare for the GRE using the mobile phone you have in your hand. Here is a round-up of Top Mobile Apps that help you prepare for the GRE
You also have a bunch of resources from ETS that help you prepare online. Just remember you need to log in here to buy the resources (which isn’t a bad idea because you have to log in to register for the GRE – so you might as well do so now). This link will give you the online versions of the Official Guide to the GRE® General Test, the Official GRE®Quantitative Reasoning Practice Questions, and the Official GRE® Verbal Reasoning Practice Questions. With all these resources put together, you will have over 300 questions.
In the Indian examination parlance, think of these resources as the “past year’s question papers”!
Online GRE preparation gives you the flexibility to study on the go.
b) GRE preparation books
If you think the internet is a distraction and want to stick to a book, there are several options to choose from. You could either choose resources from a test preparation company like CrackVerbal, or stick to the official books published by ETS, as already discussed. CrackVerbal resources are:
The Official Guide to the GRE (reviewed by us here)
Shameless marketing plug: Our books have all the magic sauce you need to score well on the GRE! *wink*
c) Free downloadable GRE preparation material
Okay! You are now getting greedy. You want GRE preparation material that is free to download.
Do you know that Khan Academy has explanatory videos for many topics in the GRE Quantitative Reasoning section? (Trivia: Khan Academy was founded by Salman Khan, who has degrees from MIT and Harvard). You can find the videos here.
You can also have a look at learning words through Learning Words the Fun Way – Flashcards. If you find them interesting, you can head over to Amazon to buy the entire set of 500 flashcards with quirky cartoons to help you quickly remember words and their meaning: CrackVerbal’s GRE Flashcards – pack of 500
Step 3: Prepare for the GRE
Duh! Sounds simple? But yes, now that you know what the GRE can throw at you, and you have all the right material at your disposal, let us get started with the actual preparation!
Of course, you can sign up for a classroom program such as CrackVerbal GRE Classroom Coaching.
Here are a few things that you are probably thinking:
How do I prepare for the GRE in one month?
Is it possible to study for the GRE in a month?
You just need to be diligent in ensuring that you study for at least three to four hours every day. And tank up on a lot of caffeine!
On second thoughts: Ignore the caffeine part! Plenty to prove that coffee isn’t that great after all 🙂
Where can I get a good GRE study plan?
So you have made sure you have just the material you need to score great on the GRE and have booked the test date. But not sure what to do next?
You just need a clear GRE study plan that is customized to meet your needs.
Psst…do you know that if you mail us at CrackVerbal we will help you with a custom study plan?
For many GRE aspirants, the study plan needs to be designed based on urgency to appear for the exam. For example, if you are planning to apply in August-September (fall intake) and it is already May, you would need an intensive three-month plan to be able to apply with a score.
It always works this way – when you start a plan, you will be charged up to complete it. It is the most simple and pain-free way to start taking action!
Depending on how much time you have, you may prefer a one month plan, or more elaborate study plans.
For many GRE aspirants, the study plan needs to be designed based on urgency to appear for the exam. For example, if you are planning to apply in August-September (fall intake) and it is already May, you would need an intensive three-month plan to be able to apply with a score.
What are some great GRE preparation tips?
Here are the top three GRE preparation tips:
a) Ensure that you are diligent: Nothing beats consistency. This is not your engineering test where you can play a 20-20 game by doing a “night out” just a day before your final exam. GRE requires you to consistently study for several weeks; so make sure you are prepared for it.
b) Understand the techniques: This is not a test of just Math and English. This is the GRE. You need to deep dive into each question type and ensure you have a clear strategy to approach each question on the test.
c) Take a sufficient number of tests: Remember you need to build your mental stamina for four hours. Solving a question in the comfort of your home is very different from sweating it out in the test center on your GRE test day. Condition yourself by taking at least a few tests in the practice condition.
How do I study for the GRE on my own?
Though taking a GRE preparation course would improve your probability of doing well on the test, we understand if you want to go down the GRE preparation road by yourself.
If you are preparing by yourself, you need to remember the following points:
a) Ensure that you get your queries clarified: The biggest problem with self-preparation is that you don’t know why a particular answer is wrong. Or as a corollary, why a particular answer is correct. It is important for you to do enough research to get your answers clarified.
b) Get your hands on the right material: Most times, during preparation, students end up using incorrect study material – either too dated or non GRE standard, or both. Make sure you use the right preparation material.
c) Form a study group or a meetup in your area: It is important that you have a peer group that you can reach out to for help, or just moral support. You can join a GRE forum such as GRE Prep Club. At CrackVerbal, our students usually hang out at CrackVerbal Student’s Forum
The biggest problem with self-preparation is that you don’t know why a particular answer is wrong. Or as a corollary, why a particular answer is correct.
Let us now get the GRE out of the way!
Step 4: Take the GRE
“Winter is coming” and as a GRE taker, you need to get ready for the inevitable.
GRE practice tests
Before you go into the battlefield, you need to ensure that you have enough “match practice”.
There is good news and bad news.
The good news is that the GRE practice tests offered by ETS. are a fairly accurate indicator of where you will stand on the real test.
The bad news is that you have only two full-length practice tests. Hence, after you take the tests, there is really no way to know if you are improving.
You can always drop into your nearest CrackVerbal center if you want to take a free test, and have it evaluated by our inhouse GRE experts.
Here is our post on how to take the GRE practice tests
Here is a blog that shows you how to improve your scores without necessarily reading anything new. This will help you in getting a better score on your first practise test.
The good news is that the GRE practice tests offered by ETS are a fairly accurate indicator of where you will stand on the real test. The bad news is that you have only two full-length practice tests. So once you exhaust taking the tests, there is really no way to know if you are improving.
GRE Test Day Tips
It is important that you get a good night’s sleep before the test. Scientific research says eight hours is optimal for peak performance.It is also important that you don’t stress yourself before the actual GRE test. Watching a movie or going out to the mall with friends could be counter-intuitive but is strongly recommended to unwind.
And yes, alcohol impairs your cognitive abilities so it’s better to steer clear of any beverages that may give you a hangover on the test day.
Here is what our experts have written about what you need to do on the test day:
Option of retaking the GRE
In the unfortunate event that your GRE does not go as planned, don’t lose heart.
Firstly, if something goes drastically wrong and you suspect that you did terribly on the test, for example, if, you ran out of time with plenty of questions left. You always have the option to cancel your GRE test scores.
The only flip side is that you have to cancel your scores BEFORE you get to see them!
Secondly, if you suffer from remorse at a later date, and want to see your scores at a later date, ETS will allow you to reinstate the score. Of course, at a cost. Generosity isn’t one of ETS’s virtues!
If something goes drastically wrong and you suspect that you did terribly on the test, say you ran out of time with plenty of questions left. You always have the option to cancel your GRE test scores. The only flip side is that you have to cancel your scores BEFORE you get to see them!
You can get more information here.
Lastly, you have the option to send the best GRE score among your attempts to the school. The school will not get to see your other scores.
The ETS calls this feature “ScoreSelect” and you can read more about it here.
If you are planning to retake the GRE, we have compiled a nifty list of things you need to take care of for your second (or third) attempt:
We spared no effort while compiling this blog to make sure you get everything about GRE preparation in one place.If you liked what you saw – you can bookmark this page to return later.
You can also spread the love by sharing it on your favorite social channel.
If you have any queries about your GRE preparation, please leave a comment in the section below. We would love to hear what you have to say! We respond to all comments and questions within a few days, so expect an answer soon.
That’s all folks!
Although not the most difficult exam in the world, the GRE is definitely one of the most tricky. When you start your preparation, you’ll realise that scaling your score from a 300 to a 310 isn’t that difficult, but pushing past the 320 barrier, which counts as a good GRE score, can be quite challenging.
To get a great GRE score, you need to approach your preparation strategically. You will also need to have a very solid plan of action with a clear timeline in mind. Below are the five steps you need to follow to ensure a killer GRE score!
Step 1: Know where you stand
There is no point in attending a preparation program or practicing volumes of questions if you haven’t taken a full-length mock test. Doing this will ensure that you know exactly where you stand and the kind of weaknesses you have. Furthermore, taking a full length test will help you get a taste of what the GRE really is: long, stressful and challenging.
You can take a full length mock test by downloading the Power Prep Tests that the test makers provide. Take the entire test: this includes the two AWAs and all the Verbal and Quant sections. This mock GRE score will help you gauge your current level. This should be your starting point.
Based on your GRE score, have a plan that sets targets within specific time frame. But please keep your targets realistic. For example, if you get a mock GRE score of 140 in Verbal, it is possible to scale up to a 145 or to even a 150 in a month and then to a 155 the next month. But expecting to scale to a 160 within two weeks is unrealistic!
Step 2: Become Passionate about words
50% of your Verbal ability tests vocabulary. This includes the Text Completion and Sentence Equivalence questions. There are primarily three things you need to know about these question types:
1. They test words in context.
2. The words tested are rarely the kind you come across in every day life.
3. The answer options tend to be very close to each other: this makes choosing between options very challenging.
These factors make vocabulary a very important aspect of Verbal Reasoning, and building vocabulary meaningfully becomes essential. You’ll realise that just memorising the definitions of a word alone is not going to help you.
Rather, you must know every aspect of a word such as its contextual meaning and usage, the connotation it carries and the degree of negativity or positivity that it has in comparison to other similar words.
Start building your vocabulary early. The most ineffective thing you can do on your GRE prep is to start cramming up words a few weeks before the test! We’ve written many blogs about building vocabulary meaningfully – keeping these aspects in mind: here’s a good place to start.
Step 3: Know what’s tested
If you are planning to focus only on vocabulary and possibly practice a bit of reading comprehension from some online source, then be warned – you may be shocked by the score you get on the day of the test!
Although Vocabulary and Reading Comprehension are important, you need to understand that the way GRE tests these abilities is quite different. It is, therefore, important that you practice these concepts in a setting that is as GRE-like as possible.
The best resource to get to know the different types of questions is the Official Guide published by the test makers themselves. Also checkout our GRE Guide and Workbook; this addresses each question type in-depth and provides sumptuous amounts of practice to fine-tune your approach.
Step 4: Practice, Review, Analyse
Practicing volumes of questions may not be effective if you do not follow up your practice with review and analysis. Remember to prioritise quality of practice over obsessing about quantity of practice.
What does review and analysis mean?
First, ensure that your practice-sessions are realistic. Either pick up 20 questions of a particular question type and solve under a time constraint or pick up 3 passages (8 questions), 6 Text Completion, 4 Sentence Equivalence and 2 Critical reasoning questions and set a time limit of 30 minutes to solve all the questions.
Second, once you’re done and you’ve checked the answers – analyse the following questions:
1. Those you didn’t know how to answer
2. Those you got wrong, because you were caught between two or more likely options
3. Those you guessed and got correct
4. Those you took too much time for (irrespective of whether you got them correct)
While analysing these questions, merely understanding what made the correct answers right will not help you scale up your score, instead, you must pay heed to WHY the wrong options were wrong – understand what made them wrong and therefore what kind of traps was set in that specific question. Having this perspective WILL ensure that you learn how to overcome tricky questions and as a result increase your GRE Score.
Step 5: Manage Stress
The biggest variable that can affect your GRE score on the day of the actual test is stress! This can be induced by time pressure, performance anxiety or the sheer intensity of the test itself (the GRE is almost 4 hours long!). Some of these stress factors are valid, yet some aren’t.
For instance, on the day of the test – a student might get stressed because she is unable to make-up her mind about one of the questions. This could play out in two ways:
1. The student understands that it’s OK to get a few questions wrong.
2. The student pressures herself into trying to get each and every question right.
The first approach ensures that she has time to get as many of the other questions right – increasing her total score. The second approach results in the student wasting too much time on just one question and that results in a drastic decrease in overall score!
Remember: It is not possible to avoid stress. What you need to do is to ‘get used’ to the kind of stress you are likely to face on the day of the exam. This you can achieve by taking full length practice tests and understanding the kind of challenges you face.
For instance, perhaps you end up blanking out when you see a passage in the last verbal section of the test, or that you aren’t able to manage time within the quant section. These observations when worked on will substantially help improve your GRE score.
Now that you know what you should and shouldn’t do, are you ready to start prepping? If you have any questions, leave a comment in the comment section below!
Before you begin, read our quick guide on preparing for the GRE!Explore 15-minute GRE guide!
Improve your GRE score without learning anything new? Well, you probably think there’s a catch somewhere.
Obviously, proficiency in the concepts tested coupled with some strategies is essential to improve GRE scores. But, following these test-taking perspectives will ensure that you get the maximum possible score for the amount of preparation you’ve had.
1.Don’t worry too much about the AWAs
The AWAs are the first tasks you will have to respond to. These are about an hour long and if you aren’t careful, you might end up getting very absorbed by these tasks.
Why is this a problem?
Because, you ability to stay focused is a quickly exhaustible resource. If you spend all your mental-ability to focus into the AWAs you may not be able to do as well on the Quant and Verbal sections. Remember: it’s enough to get a 4 on the AWAs but you need as high a score as possible on the Quant and Verbal sections.
How do you keep from stressing out?
Create Templates! AWA responses need to be predictable and to draft a good AWA response is quite easy (if you know what to do). Checkout our blog on the AWAs to know more/
2. Fight the easy battles first: use Skip, Mark and Review
A. The GRE lets you do a particular section in any order that you want : you can start by answering the last question first or in any which order you please.
B. Within a section each question carries the same amount of score (irrespective of how their difficulty levels may vary).
C. Your score depends on the number of questions you get right.
Therefore what you should do is Skip the difficult questions and get all the easier ones correct as soon as possible. Then attempt the difficult ones Mark any question that you’re stuck in – come back to it later by using the Review button. This ensure that you get the maximum possible score within a section!
3. Guess : Leave no question unanswered
An extension of the previous point; there is no negative marking on the GRE.
Therefore, when you’ve completed a section – go back to the questions you still haven’t managed to answer and make an intelligent guess or pick an answer in random (if you haven’t the slightest clue). If you got it wrong – you don’t lose anything; if you were lucky: BRILLIANT!
4. Don’t spend too much time Reading the Passages
While solving Reading Comprehension questions don’t spend too much time with the passages. Remember the passages are there to help you answer the questions. No brownie points are given for reading a passage intensely.
Read only what you need to: this is essentially the stuff the questions test you on.
Read this blog to know more.
5. Use the scratch paper intelligently
The Scratch paper will be provided by the test administrators at the test centre.
Many students only use this for the Quantitative Reasoning section of the test. What you need to be doing though – is utilising the Scratch paper for everything!Use it to put down your reasoning for all questions.
Write down the Gist of a passage, the word that could fill a blank for Sentence Equivalence and the probable inferences you could make for a Critical Reasoning question.
Also, let your scratch paper reflect your reasoning for the answer choices as well. Once you see the first option put down on the scratch paper what you decided about it: is it a keeper, is it definitely wrong or are you unsure? Keeping a track of this helps reduce silly errors substantially. It also helps avoid traps!
Follow these simple steps and you’ll see your score improve drastically (without even learning one new word or formula!).
So, what do you think of these techniques? Leave us a comment and let us know!
Looking for expert guidance on your GRE prep? Explore our GRE Courses!Explore GRE Courses!
Now that you have made plans to start your GRE preparation, you will also realize that there are tons of distractions coming your way – right from IPL to your friend’s party this week.
Don’t worry – we know how students think which is why we got a way for you to sift through all the content out there and distill it in 3 simple, easy and QUICK ways to kick start your GRE preparation.
Step 1: Don’t get overwhelmed by the amount of GRE preparation material you have
This is perhaps the biggest culprit that we have found in our interaction with students – they tend to hoard a lot of material (most of it either useless or repetitive) and somehow feel they have to do ALL of it to get a great GRE score. No you don’t! Infact many of our students who have done well on the GRE – scored above 160 out of a possible 170 in both Maths and Verbal have vouched for this fact.
So start with a single word-list of around 500 words or so. CrackVerbal has a great word list that in our research we found to be tested MOST often on the GRE. Apart from that consider buying the ETS Official Preparation book for the GRE and supplement it either with other GRE preparation books or join a course such as this.
That’s it! Now get your nose to the grindstone and start studying!
Step 2: Have a clear GRE date in mind – don’t study and plan for the exam later
If you ask most students studying for the GRE, they will probably conjure imaginary dates such as “Once I am done with the word list”, or “Once Bittu Bhaiyya’s wedding gets over” etc. That imaginary date, well, remains just that – imaginary!
If you want to action on your plan then you need to have an end-date in mind. This is the first rule of goal setting – having a target to hit. How long should you take? A conservative estimate based on our experience is 3 months. So add another 2 weeks to it and book a date roughly 16 weeks from now. That will give you all the time to prepare for the GRE Exam! Read our article here on how to register for the test. It is pretty simple and you need to remember just a few guidelines for what you need to do on your GRE test date.
So go ahead and book the date now. As the Nike ad says “Just do it!”
Step 3: Have a clear GRE Plan that tracks your preparation on a day to day basis
Okay! So you have made sure you have just the material you need to score great on the GRE AND have booked the test date. But not sure what to do next? Worry not! You just need a clear GRE study plan that is customized to meet your needs. Do you know that if you mail us at CrackVerbal we will help you with a custom study plan?
Yes the plan needs to take into account the number of weeks you have left for the GRE test, your current GRE preparation level, and your target GRE score. Once you have the plan, you take a printout of it and stick it next to your study desk so you can look at it while studying (and get motivated too!).
It always works this way – once you start a plan you will feel charged up to complete it. It is the most simple and painfree way for you to start taking action!
Okay so now that you know the three tips – do you want to get started right away? If you think there is anything that you need, please leave a comment below and we are happy to help you.
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AWA expands to Analytical Writing Assessment. There are two tasks tested in the AWA section: The Issue and the Argument Tasks, each with a time frame of 30 minutes. These tasks are distinct: you need to approach each of these tasks with a different set of perspectives. More on that in a bit; let’s first look at a few facts about the AWA sections.
What’s a Good Score?
Your AWA score will be reported with the official score report within a week of your taking the test. The AWA is scored between 0-6. Getting a 6 is difficult, although, getting a 4 or a 5 isn’t (as long as you know how your essay needs to be written). It isn’t necessary that you get a 6 on the AWA, remember that the AWA score is more or less a hygiene factor, very few schools insist on a 5+ score!
A score that is 4 and above is considered good on the GRE. Although, getting a 3.5 or anything below that could hamper your chances of getting into the school you have in mind. Let us put this in perspective: according to the scoring guide that ETS released this year a 3.5 on the AWA represents a percentile score of 29 (that’s a pretty sucky place to be in on the percentile front!), a 4 on the other hand puts you at the 48th percentile.
That said, understand that on the day of the test – you’ll have to spend an hour of the initial testing taking time on the AWA sections. This could potentially stress you into underperforming on the Verbal and Quant sections. Our goal is to avoid this!
Keep Calm and Create Templates
The best way to avoid letting the AWA stress you out is by creating templates. Like discussed previously, each of the tasks require you to do different things. Let’s find out what these are!
The AWA Issue Essay:
These are essentially a “general essay”. You will be given a prompt to which you respond by discussing your opinion. You will be required to substantiate this opinion with some evidence. That’s all there is to it.
Here is a sample prompt from the ETS pool of Issue Essays:
“Scandals are useful because they focus our attention on problems in ways that no speaker or reformer ever could.”
There are two ways you could approach this – either develop an argument that speaks in favor of scandals or one that speaks against them.You could use examples from real world instances, things you’ve read in books or even personal experiences to substantiate your point.Remember to clearly illustrate how this scenario helps prove your perspective though!
A template for the Issue Essay will look something like this:
1. Your opinion:
2. Example 1: Significance:
3. Example 2: Significance:
4. Example 3: (if any) Significance:
Analyze the Issue prompt and fill in this template on your scratch paper before you start writing. Doing this ensures that you spending less time thinking and therefore get less stressed! This also ensures that you adhere to a good structure while writing the essay.
The AWA Argument Essay:
This is quite different from the Issue essays. There is no scope for “your opinion” here. You’ll be given an Argument, an opinion or a suggestion backed by some evidence, which you are expected to critique.
To give you an analogy- while writing the issue essay think like a journalist. While writing the argument essay, think like a lawyer.
Here is a sample argument from the ETS pool of Argument Essays
”Arctic deer live on islands in Canada’s arctic regions. They search for food by moving over ice from island to island during the course of the year. Their habitat is limited to areas warm enough to sustain the plants on which they feed and cold enough, at least some of the year, for the ice to cover the sea separating the islands, allowing the deer to travel over it. Unfortunately, according to reports from local hunters, the deer populations are declining. Since these reports coincide with recent global warming trends that have caused the sea ice to melt, we can conclude that the purported decline in deer populations is the result of the deer’s being unable to follow their age-old migration patterns across the frozen sea.”
That argument suggests that the decline in deer population is caused by global warming. Realize that the flaw in logic is that no other potential causative factors are discussed or dismissed; in other words the author assumes that there is no other cause. But maybe there are outher causes; perhaps overhunting caused the decline?
In the argument essay you are supposed to analyze the argument, expose the flaw in reasoning and also suggest why these flaws weaken the argument.
A template for the Argument Essay will look something like this:
What the author says and why:
Flaw #1: Biggest flaw in the argument
(in case of the previous example, it was the causation)
Flaw #2: Second Biggest Flaw
Flaw #3: (If any)
The information you fill out for this, is all you will need to write the argument essay!
1.It’s relatively easy to get a 4 on the AWA sections.
2.It’s important not to lose your cool during the test.
3.Follow templates to avoid the stress of having to “Think” your way into writing the essays!
This will ensure that you have the mental bandwidth to approach the Verbal and Quant sections without “diminishing” your capacity! 🙂
Hope you found this informative; do let us know what your other AWA peeves might be by leaving a comment below!
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