Neeraj Doshi is all set to start an MS in Environmental Policy Management in the US. Here he tells us how he prepared for the GRE and achieved a score of 1480/1600.
Which area of the exam did you find the most difficult?
I come from a maths background so quantitative wasn’t a concern but yes, verbal was definitely the hardest part.
How did you overcome this difficulty?
I knew from my friends and from my brother, that verbal was going to snatch my sleep. So I geared up to face it. Moreover I was studying again after four years so I thought it was better to enroll in some classroom contact program to polish the rough edges and ready myself for the real thing. I joined CIE’s 3-month GRE prep class. The program brought in the regularity that becomes quite an issue when you have a full time job. In two months time, I brushed up all my fundamentals and also learned a few good techniques to crack verbal. But my performance in the mock tests wasn’t promising. After the batch was over, I took leave from my job and gave all my attention to exam preparation. I used Barron’s GRE as the main reference book.
Time Tested Tips provided help in sentence completion (SC), analogies, reading comprehension (RC). The word list in Barron’s vocabulary was comprehensive, though not exhaustive. I also used a vocabulary software (Guru’s word list) to add new words to my list. For RC, I read a lot. The New York Times supplement which comes with the Saturday edition of The Asian Age really helped me get familiar with the US style of English. I used to browse the www.aldaily.com website for my daily fill of the articles and news. It helped a lot in increasing my reading speed and I became used to looking at the screen for longer durations. Analogies were the toughest. An online GRE preparation forum www.testmagic.com came to my rescue. It’s the definitive site for GRE/ GMAT preparation on the Net. There are a lot of sections like Math, RC, SC, Analogies, and Antonyms, each loaded with hundreds of practice questions. The best part is the explanatory answers. The huge participation from fellow students ensures that all your queries are not only answered but also explained well. One most important aspect of the site is the “just finished my GRE” section.
Here students who have appeared for the exam share their experiences and the type of questions they faced. Once I was through with the prescribed syllabus, I picked up The Big Book, an ETS publication that contains 27 actual GRE tests, about twenty days before D-day. My plan was to do 1 test a day, analyze my performance and work on the weak areas. As I took the tests under strict conditions, it helped me in timing the sections as well.
What was your score? Do you think you could have done better / worse?
I scored 1480 (680 on Verbal and 800 on Quantitative) out of 1600 and 4.0 out of 6.0 in the analytical writing section. I guess the score is decent enough for me to apply in my desired field. I think I could have managed 700+ on the verbal section (that was my dream) had I been able to finish the section. I left 1 question unanswered and the penalty for leaving a section unfinished is high.
Have you attempted the CAT or any other such exam? Any differences / similarities between such tests and GRE?
No I have never taken the CAT, but I have sat for similar management exams like those of S P Jain and Symbiosis. I think management exams like CAT concentrate more on analytical rather than verbal capabilities. The quantitative level is much higher in CAT than in GRE. But the GRE verbal is definitely tougher than that of CAT.
Tips For The GRE Verbal
Do a diagnostic test to get an idea of where you stand. When you’re reviewing the answers, create a word bank from all the words you didn’t know. Do this by taking a note pad and jotting down the words and their meanings after consulting a dictionary/ website like dictionary.com.
Add words to your Personal Word Bank every time you take a test. Remember to go through the list at the end of everyday. You’ll come across lots of words you’ve never heard before and might mix up the definitions, especially when it comes to similar sounding words. It might help to write a sentence using the word as a reference so that you are absolutely clear about its exact meaning. You need not limit yourself to words from practice tests.
Every time you come across a new word in a newspaper/ magazine/ book/ TV show, look up the dictionary and add it to your word bank. You can also subscribe to free email services like A Word A Day (www.wordsmith.org/awad) – its a great way to improve your vocabulary. In the beginning, you’ll find yourself wondering if you studied in a regional medium but don’t worry, you’ll soon discover that a lot of words get repeated in the practice tests – certain typical GRE words that ETS loves to ask. Bucolic is one such favorite. What are you waiting for? Go look it up now!