Thursday, August 24, 2006

GRE How To

For last few days I am trying to prepare myself for GRE, but still
the preparation is horrible! (I have one more week to change the
world!!!) However, I found a very good test preparation forum, test
magic for GRE ( http://www.urch.com/forums/gre/ ). This forum is
really great and helpful. I wish I have the time to prepare myself in
a better way! (I think, I will have time! I might need to sit for the
exam again.) However, If you are interested in GRE or any other
standard exams then you can check that forum for help.

I have pasted one very useful guideline for GRE in this email. I was
thinking to suggest people something in this way. I mean, the
strategy of vocabulary building is really excellent here, and now,
before my exam I was thinking this should be the best way to attack
the vocabulary and the author here describe exactly the same way.
Wise people think alike! Difference is one get 610, and another (me)
is trying to get only 400!

Hope it help. If you have further query, DON'T ASK ME! Man, I am not
the right person to ask about GRE. But ask in that forum ( http://
www.urch.com/forums/gre/ ). It is really a great place and there are
many people to help you.
Best wishes and Good luck.
Naushad

Other than the article pasted below, there are few more introductory
articles that might help you.
http://www.urch.com/forums/gre/53991-my-gre-experience-bit-advice-
take-grain-salt.html
http://www.urch.com/forums/gre/11422-how-get-high-gre-quant-score-
average-math-non-math-test-takers.html

And finally
http://www.urch.com/forums/gre/7119-how-gre-flounder.html

Theres this problem with us CS people who love LINUX. We love How-Tos
too  hehe. Heres a much needed HowTo for GRE? Cmon Erin, this one
deserves to be made a sticky ))))

Regards,
Ali

***

I have decided that GRE is the road for me, but how to go about
actually treading it?

I feel so free today. After a lapse of some three months, I finally
feel a tension lift off my shoulders. Gave my GRE (800q and 610v).
Was hoping to cross the 700s in verbal but I am happy nevertheless.

How to start you GRE preparation? Well I started preparation for GRE
around three months back, and this was the very same impasse that I
landed in.

Q How to prepare? Why just follow the posts on TestMagic of course.
Q Where to prepare from? I'd recommend in order of preference
(difficulty from challenging to a bore): Power Prep, Big Book,
Barrons, Kaplan and maybe Princeton Review
Q What to prepare? How much time needed to prepare? Read on )

How much prep time?

Ok first of all, if you have the time available, I would suggest a
3-4 months prep time. Why? Well, since many of us come from
Engineering or Non-literature backgrounds, we do not get the
opportunity to built that large vocabulary set that ETS tests on. I
feel 4 months is a sufficient time to make up for that deficiency. If
you have a year at hand, thats even better. You really can ace the
dreaded verbal section with that much prep. 4 months is enough to do
the quantitative practice side by side too.

Vobabulary Building?

Ok, well and good. How to go about the vocabulary building? Well many
people have suggested many different techniques, and at the end of
the day, the one that will win is the one that suits you. I prefer
the flash cards, and making them myself. They don't have to be cards,
just get plenty of A4 size pages and and a paper cutter and start
cutting cards of the apposite size. Make plenty of them. You can
never have enough. And even after your GRE, you can still look at
them to jolt your vocabulary. Maybe your kid brother and sister might
use the same for their SATs or GREs or GMATs  or if they are in
good shape and you have no intention to humor the words further, you
can sell them for some quick bucks he he he. I am sure many people
would be interested hehe.

Now for the words. I'd suggest that you start with the Barrons 350
sth high frequency words. Go through the list once. Some words you
would know. The ones which you don't know, make flash cards for them.
It helps if you can put a definition and a short sentence, context or
phrase for the word too. Context is important for remembering the
words. It really makes the whole exercise worthwhile too, since you
would remember the words long after you have given the GRE too. Leave
some place on flash cards for future additions, e.g. synonyms you
come across, difficult antonyms for the words, confusions etc. Yeah I
know many of you would be "This seems like a lot of hard work", but
trust me: you will have a really powerful vocabulary at the end of
the day, which you can use to impress people in your otherwise daily
routine too.

Ok, coming back to the word lists, first do the Barrons High
Frequency. Some people go to cram the whole Barrons 3500 list. Ummm,
I have come across people who knew the whole list, but only this
list, and got words they were seeing for the first time. So in my
opinion, if you are short on time, diversify the word lists. I would
suggest you do the Princeton Review list next (around 350 words and
very relevant). Next do the Arco list (another 300-400 words). Ok by
now you have a decent inventory of words. Go for the Kaplan's List
now. It will help you learn whole groups of words. There would be
overlap, but you will encounter many new words too.

Another excellent source of words is the Big Book. It has some 27
actual administered paper GRE tests (2q and 2v sections each). Start
giving the tests asap, and while you are at it, learn the new words
from these tests. Remember these are the real tests, so you should
know these words. By the end of the 27 tests, your vocabulary will be
richer by another 500 or so words, not found in the previous lists.

Side by side, I'd suggest the use of some vocabulary building
software like Guru's GRE (freeware available and can searched for on
google.com). Its a nice easy way to learn new words. By now you would
have learnt many words. So I'd suggest that you take all the 51 tests
in Guru's GRE. You would know around 50-60 percent of the words.
Don't guess on the words you don't know. The good thing is that the
software remembers the words you didn't attempt. You can then
continue to learn those ones.

Number2.0 has a good vocabulary building online engine. I'd recommend
it wholly. Ok, now you can come back to the world of Barrons. I am
assuming you still have some weeks left before the test. Go through
the more common letters first like O, E, I, D, P, R, S, T, A, you
etc. you and D help a lot with a lot of antonyms as in usage like
dis- and un- which reverse the word. So you would be learning two
words with each word.

And yes make flash card for whatever word you don't know, in Big Book
or any other tests you take. The good thing with Flash cards is that
you can dally with them on the run, say waiting for your friends to
show up, or waiting for you meal in the office etc. Plus another good
thing with flash cards is that you can "shuffle" them and "mix" with
other sets of flash cards and "isolate" the ones you need to work on.
Shuffling helps to break mononity and you get to see a new assortment
of the order in which the words come. Mixing helps to do the same.
Isolating the words you don't know allows you to concentrate on those
words more easily and learn them. Plus flash cards allow you to look
at a word in isolation and identify it. I have heard that with this
technique, the minds forms a mental association with a flash card,
and whenever you see the word again, the neurons do some V = IR^2s
(thats the Ohm's law by the way ) and jolt your memory and volla
the meaning comes to you.

Verbal Section:

Ok, apart from the vocabulary building, the other piece of advice I
have for you in the verbal section is practice, practice and more
practice and time yourself while doing it. Do practice at a stretch
while your head hurts  . Take a power prep early on, infact I would
say that a dose of reality doesn't hurt you. So give the power prep
within your first month of prep. You might feel depressed the next
couple of days, but giving a Power Prep early on gives you a correct
and verisimilar picture of where you actually stand and how much you
need to go. So don't despair. Everyone does badly on the first few
tests. Why? Coz ETS really sucks at making tests. The test doesn't
check your intelligence or anything. It only sees if you have a huge
vocabulary, whether you can run against the clock and if you have
practiced or not. Thats it. That ladies and gentlemen, is the whole
truth behind the GRE. Timing and pacing yourself, keeping a cool
head, a good vocabulary and practice. You can signifantly improve
your scores from those first dismal power prep scores, even by as
much as 400 to 500 points. But practice and consistency would be the
key.

Get the big book. It costs a lot, but its every penny worth it. No
other book even comes close to the amount of practice that big book
can offer you. Give the verbal tests. The timing is stringent as
compared to the current GRE and that helps you to develop a good pace
for attempting questions. The reading comprehension is difficult as
hell, which is a good thing coz in the actual GRE the same is the
case. And its a good vocabulary building exercise too.

As far as verbal strategies are concerned, I would recommend in order
of preference : Kaplan, Barrons and Princeton Review. Princeton
Review is in my opinion too easy to get to those high 600 + scores in
verbal, but if its available, do try to go through all three.

Reading comprehension is a difficult section, and I would suggest
that you make it a habit to read the English newspaper daily
especially the editorials and columns. You can even subscribe online
to Washington Post, New York Times or Wall Street Journal. Plus its a
little expensive, but I really like the Economist for its strong
English. You can see all the GRE words here at work. Read, read and
read through those four months. The effects are threefold. First you
are improving your vocabulary. Secondly you are assimilating ideas
for your essays in AWA. Last but not the least, you are improving
your Reading Comprehension. When you read some passage, attack
it ! ... And no that doesn't mean that you start thrashing it around
with a flail  . It means scrutize it. What does it say? Whats the
main topic and theme? Whats the actual scope, and what does the
author hope to accomplish through this writing? Note the author's
tone. It is sarcastic, approving, neutral, disparaging or skeptic
etc. You will see that this exercise will increase your RC skills by
leaps and bounds.

As far as analogies and sentence completions are concerned, I would
again recommend the same three books plus practice from Big Book. And
yes power prep exercises are an absolute must. It would be equivalent
to sacrilege if you do not do them.

Quantitative Section:

Ok, not many of us Engineering students get the chance during
undergraduate to indulge in high school maths while we are bogged by
calculus and differential equations and stochastic processes and
transforms. So its natural your basic math skills could rusty. True
for other disciplines as well. If you are applying to Engineering or
Sciences programs, a good quantitative score is an absolute must. So
do not ignore quantitative. Start working on it from the earliest
possible time. Barrons has a very good Maths review plus tips and so
does Kaplan. The quantitative tests at the end of Barrons are more
challenging than any other book that I have come across. Do those. Do
the quantitative review from Power Prep as well, along with the
exercises. And yes don't forget the big book. TO start with, it is
difficult and a good source of practice. You need to do 30 questions
in just 30 minutes, and you can really learn how to pace yourself. I
would suggest you keep giving the tests from Big Book till you have
successively obtained some 8-10 800 scores. Then if you want, you can
give yourself a pat on the back and look elsewhere for more difficult
problems, say the TestMagic Forum (www.TestMagic.com) 

AWA:
Theres no better place than right here at TestMagic  … During the
run up to the GRE, try to write at least one essay per week to
brushen up those writing skills. During the last, make it a point to
go through the list of the issue prompts at least one. Just take out
a topic, think about it mentally and move on to the next one. You
save precious brainstorming time this way on the actual GRE.

And finally, once again, practice makes perfect. Theres no short cut
for it, no surrogates or substitute. If you have any question, I will
happy to answer it.

Regards,
Ali

2 comments:

Samin said...

onek kisu likhso dosto. good motive.

Du hoc Singapore said...

Thanks for your share! I think this information is helpful for everyone. I'm doing practice GRE in masteryourgre.com . I hope it's useful for GRE test takers.