Saturday, September 02, 2006

How to GRE and My GRE Experience

Gave my GRE on 31st and also received the result instantly. If you are not too much familiar with the GRE format, there are three categories in GRE, i.e. Verbal (English), Quantitative (Maths) and Analytical Writing. You get the instant result of your verbal and quantitative sections. In my case, verbal score was worst possible you can get and quantitative was best possible you can get! Got only 360 (800) in verbal and 800 (800) in quantitative. Still not sure whether I will give my exam again or not but thought to share my experience with you all, who might consider to give the GRE in future. 

Things that I will write actually worked for me or I thought it might work better in this way. It doesn't mean that it will work for everyone. You can try in my way, but if you find that its not working out properly you should try something else. Read GRE experiences in TestMagic forum <http://www.urch.com/forums/gre/>. You might find better ways to workout. 

Lets start with the quantitative (maths) section, where my comments have some value :) Even though I got full score, but you should be aware that this is not very uncommon and fortunately many people are capable of getting this score. So you can get the same score too. But why people miss this score? 
- Most of the people can't cover it in the exam time. 
- There are tricks to solve big problems in shorter time, and many people are not aware of that. 

Honestly speaking, GRE maths are the high-school maths. Its all that everyone know and if there's no time limit then everyone are capable of getting a full score. So your main target for the GRE maths is to win against time. So I am suggesting how you can win against time. 
- Practice, No alternative of practice. Even if these are high-school maths, you cannot use calculators. So you should calculate every single and small calculations, may be even 3+8 = 11! You must calculate these in your practice. Because in the final day you have to calculate everything on your own and most importantly on time. I practiced last two weeks seriously and everyday I gave at least one or two tests from GRE Big Book. You have to give timed practice test. This practice time might vary people to people, but you should atleast practice regularly for last 2 weeks to 2 months before exam, depending on your control over maths. However, I am *officially* studying GRE for last one year, even though before my last two weeks, maximum time I spent on a day wasn't more than 1 hour! But I am making it clear that I was aware of what are the type of GRE maths, and had little practices too. I was also in a coaching, where I had good chatting, nothing more than that. One more point, don't go to a coaching. It's waste of time and money
- Sharpening the skills. I thought that I know all these things and I always thought that I don't need to check the tactics, I can easily solve the problems! This is what I felt when I saw the GRE maths questions and even tried few real tests. However, when I started practicing in full pace, my feeling changed! I cannot even solve all the problems in time. Sometime I cannot even solve some problems within 5-10 minutes, even worse, I can't even solve some problems. So week before my exam I started looking in to the Barrons for tactics. Believe me, it helped me lot in sharpening my skills, and I learned many minor tactics that really helped. Problem of high-school maths is, we feel we know all, and we ignore learning the tactics and this is the mistake we make. So don't ignore learning the tactics, learn and try to incorporate these in solving the actual problem. 
- Silly mistakes. This is what I was seriously scared of. I made many silly mistakes in my practice tests. But after sharpening my skills from Barron's in last week, I found that I can solve all the problem with 15-18 minutes in my hand but in the final result there are also minimum 2/3 silly mistakes. In GRE you cannot use the extra time of one section in another section, and when you answer one question, its over. So you can't even recheck and resubmit your answers! So, I thought to solve each of the problems twice, may be solve the same problem in two different ways! Just to double check! So you need to check the silly mistakes as much as you can and try to overcome. However, good thing is ETS tests you with the same type of traps. Try with extreme values, never assume anything if it's not stated specifically, check tricks from Barrons or others, you will just do fine. 

However in my final test it really didn't work out that way. I started with double checking the answers and solved upto 15 questions, I guess. I spent too much time in 2/3 questions (10-15 minutes+ for 2/3 questions that I was stuck into). Later I was in short of time. So I had to rush for 10+ questions and had to even solve few questions within 10/15 minutes. I was really scared that I might not score 800, however, it was a happy ending for maths. [You can even score a 800 with 2/3 mistakes I guess]. Bottom line is, you should be capable of doing all the maths in very short time too. You never know what to face in the exam day! 

Finally, resources that you need for GRE Maths: 
1. GRE Big book (by ETS) - it contains the real GRE test, even though the current tests are lot harder
2. GRE Barron's book - for sharpening the tactics and it really helps. 
3. Get a copy of GRE Math Review by ETS. Its available at <www.ets.org/Media/Tests/GRE/pdf/GREmathPractice.pdf>
4. <http://www.urch.com/forums/gre-math/> for trying harder problems and if you are ever stuck with any problem then you can ask for help there. So its your free coaching teacher! 

I hope it helps for those who are interested in GRE. Now a short comment on Verbal (English section) from my side. There are no alternatives than learning the words for verbal! I repeat, There are no alternatives than learning the words for verbal! So, for verbal you need to learn the words. People who get a good score will smartly tell you, learn 3000 words from Barrons! But the problem is 3000 words is not a joke, I can't even remember 10 words. Honestly speaking learning 10 new words is not even easy, how can you accommodate 3000 words! However, I think I started in the right way to grab the words, even though it didn't work out properly. Let me share my experience and see if it work for you or not! Kaplan has a very good word list of 200 words only. But with every word there are 5-10 synonyms. So, if you learn the words with synonyms it is also easier for you to learn a new word and also you learn 5 other GRE words with the same meaning. You are saving your time, and you are actually remembering more in the same time. Following is what I suggest and I also tried: 
- Learn the top 350 words from the Barrons (High-frequency word list from Barrons) 
- Learn the top 200 words from the Kaplan with all the synonyms. 
- After that, learn any top frequency word list, you will get many words common and it will be easier to learn new words. 
- Start practicing with the real tests from ETS GRE Big Book. You will still face many new words. Whenever you encounter a new word, learn it. 

In this way, in the end, you will also learn 1500 - 2000 words. But it will be easier to learn the words and also not too boring! Another point is, learn the words randomly. If you learn the words alphabetically there is a chance that you will mix the meaning of one word with another. Finally you should try the tactics of each sections from Barrons or other books. 

Last but not the least, I am not the right person to suggest how to prepare for GRE verbal (A policeman telling how to be honest! :) I will suggest you all to take suggestions from other people who did really well in GRE verbal section. You can try at <http://www.urch.com/forums/gre-verbal/> or at any other places. 

Finally, I will conclude with a story. I read it somewhere and I can't actually recall from where. It says that if you take 20 monkeys to take the GRE test and 20 college students to take the same test, probability is higher for monkeys to get a higher score! Why? GRE traps you with the similar answers, so if you are not too good and confident then its more likely that you will get into the traps. However, if you just randomly clicks then you have better chance to score higher, at the same time its a probability of 1/5 to get an answer correct! You can't even risk your score by random choice!! So start spending time for GRE. 

Good luck with your exam. Nothing is free in this world, not even my long suggestions. I have spent 1 hour+ time to write this email and you should know it because YOU HAVE TO PRAY FOR ME. GRE is part of admission test, and an important part, which went very bad for me! But there are still a chance to getting into good graduate schools (I hope)! Just pray for me so that everything go in the best way, if I need to give the GRE second time, pray for me so that I can get a better verbal score and also the same quantitative score. Pray more so that I don't even need to give the exam second time. :)  
I have also written your script of what to pray! What else do you want me to do. Pray on your behalf!! You have to do it on your own. 

Take care. 
Naushad

8 comments:

shomik said...

Handy. I think it will be guiding me in near future.

Anonymous said...

i will pray for you. i am struggling with the verbal section too.
take care.
hopefully all will be good

Naushad UzZaman said...

Note: My father has started doing consultancy to students who want step by step guidance for applying to universities abroad (US/Canadian mainly). Through out my admission procedure, my father guided me at each steps. I also shared everything I found and consulted to him. Some of the things were new to both of us, but he has a better decision taking ability than I do, so I did what he suggested. Now he knows, almost as much I know about the admission procedure.

If you need any suggestions, feel free to contact him. He will be happy to give you suggestions. Contact information can be found at: www.eduaidbd.com

Thanks!
Naushad
21 March, 2008

Mouni said...

There's a very good resource www.grevocabulary.org where you can get free learning material and great tips to get a good gre score

Judy Jacob said...

I have been following your blog for sometime... though this is my first comment here.

Thought would drop by and send you some flashcards for your opinion before I start using it with my class.

Du hoc Singapore said...

Nice blog! I like your writing way. I'm doing practice GRE here: masteryourgre.com . I hope it's useful for GRE test takers.

pro 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.

nancy john said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.