Friday, 29 August 2014

GRE test prep

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If you have more than 2 months before your test:
  • Buy this book! - Word Power Made Easy -  It's insanely cheap and a great primer to learning vocabulary. I had a lot of fun doing its exercises. However, not a lot of words from here will show up on the actual GRE. So, you might skip it if you're short on time.

2 months before the test:
  • Register on the site (ETS Home) and book a test date.
  • Get these 2 books:
  1. The Official Guide to the GRE Revised General Test with CD-ROM, 2nd Edition (If you have to choose one, get this since it's by the makers of the GRE - ETS)
  2. Barron's New GRE 2013 19th Edition

Prep:
  • I started preparing with Barron's and gave the diagnostic test first up. Based on your performance here, you can figure out areas that you really need to work on and come up with a target score that you want to hit. eg. GRE Scores for Science Programs
  • I would recommend doing a few questions of one type and then switching to another, instead of doing all the practice questions in a particular chapter at once. Solve even the examples and pay special attention to the explanations for all the answers. 
  • I did not do any math from Barron's as I had found that at least for the SAT, Barron's has a lot of unnecessary and difficult content.
  • Go through everything in the ETS book. The explanations aren't particularly helpful, but the questions are really good. Do all of them.Again, I didn't do the math questions but I did read the math review.I would recommend going through the data analysis, statistics and probability parts properly as some of these questions can be a little tricky.
  • Math is easy but be careful not to make silly mistakes. From what I inferred from the practice tests, you need to practically get all the questions right to get a perfect quant score.

Vocab:
  • I highly recommend the Free GRE Vocabulary Flashcards by Magoosh.I got the Android app and started drilling with them a month before the test. Several times, the GRE uses secondary meanings of words and the app does a good job of illustrating these meanings with nice examples. For a free resource, Magoosh is incredibly good and I would recommend reading their GRE blog once in a while.
  • Attribute difficult words to settings you are familiar with - traits of your friends, characters from books and TV shows, etc.
  • Use them in conversation (the jokes your friends make about your attempt at grandiloquence may actually help you remember a word's meaning better than any app), throw them into your writing and make mnemonics. Basically, whatever works to make them stick!
  • Like the New Yorker on facebook and read articles about topics that interest you. Each time you see an unfamiliar word, try guessing its meaning based on context and then cross-check using "define <word>" on google.
  • A couple of days before the test, reset your Magoosh word app and just go through all the words again to ensure you know most. If you forget a few advanced ones, don't panic. The probability of them showing up on the test is pretty low.

Practice Tests:
  • Both Barron's and the ETS guide give you 2 paper based tests and 2 computer based tests. The GRE is a long exam (~4 hours) that at times feels like an endurance test. So I would definitely recommend giving a few practice tests before the exam, just so you know how to pace yourself.
  • The tests on Barron's don't give you a scaled score and should be thought of more as practice than a serious indicator of how you would perform on the GRE. I gave 1 paper based test 2 weeks in and 1 more a month in. I did not do the computer based tests offered by Barron's.
  • Take the ETS practice tests much more seriously, especially thePOWERPREP II Software tests (that you can access either from the CD that accompanies the book or from the website via download). These are very similar to the actual test in terms of difficulty and offer the exact same interface. Make sure you take the tests timed and simulate test day as much as possible. Go through the answers properly to see what you got wrong.
  • I took all 4 ETS tests and alternated between paper and computer. I gave my last practice test (computer based) 5 days before my actual GRE.

Analytical Writing Assessment: You can download the AWA prompts from theArgument and Issue pools and just go through them in your leisure time. Read the sample responses and their analysis available in the ETS guide to gain an understanding of what they look for.

1 comment:

  1. The single-most effective way to improve your GRE verbal score is to improve your GRE vocabulary skills. Good vocabulary skills will be useful in sentence completion, antonyms, analogies, and reading comprehension. If you know the meaning of all the words in the answer choices, it makes the question a whole lot easier. https://vocabmonk.com is a medium through which one can enhance and improve their vocabulary skills.

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