7 Ways to Boost Your GRE Prep (Effectively!)
Last updated on April 18th, 2018
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 🙂