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The Comprehensive Guide to GRE Preparation 2016-17

Posted on June 14, 2017
GRE Preparation Crackverbal

 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


GRE Preparation

 

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?

 

It isn’t!

 

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?

 

Wrong!

 

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:

 

 a) Arithmetic

 b) Geometry

 c) Algebra

 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 (link to mothership 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 (open in a new tab). 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

 

OR

 

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


GRE Preparation

 

 

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.

 

Remember:

 

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)

The CrackVerbal GRE Verbal Guide

The CrackVerbal GRE Quant Guide

 

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


GRE Preparation CrackVerbal

 

 

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?

 

Yes!

 

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?

 

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.

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


GRE preparation CrackVerbal

 

 

“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

 

Things to know before taking a GRE practise test

 

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.

 

Quick Tips on taking the GRE exam

 

 

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:

Do’s and Don’ts on the GRE 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:

 

Retaking the GRE and doing it right

 

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!

 

 

 

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