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How to ace the GRE

Updated on December 17, 2010

If you are planning to take GRE or just want to know how one should prepare for it this is the right place to start. This article will walk you through the strategy of getting high scores at GRE. It will give you a broad picture about what to expect from the test and what one should do to ensure success.

What constitutes GRE?

GRE has three sections: verbal, quantitative and analytical writing.

In verbal section you have 30 minutes to answer 30 questions while in quantitative section you have 45 minutes to answer 28 questions. Analytical writing consists of two essay writing questions with 30 and 45 minutes for each essay.

Why do you need to take GRE?

Taking GRE is a pre-requisite for getting admission in engineering grad schools in USA and few universities in other parts of the world. GRE scores remain valid for 5 years.

Timing is of prime importance for Quantitative Section

While taking GRE, you will always find yourself short on time unless you prepared for it beforehand. There are plenty of books available for you to practice full-length tests. You can tweak your timing using computerized model tests of Kaplan, Powerprep and Cambridge. These tests allow you to experience how it would feel like when you would take the actual test. You should practice these tests so many times that when you take the actual test, it feels as if you are taking just another practice test and this would enable you to breeze through it.

I used Kaplan’s GRE workbooks and Barron’s GRE for preparation. These books teach you tactics to solve the problems. Without these tactics you cannot answer the problems within time. The best thing about GRE is that you don’t need to solve the problems completely. Tactics discussed in aforementioned books allow you to answer the problems accurately without even solving them completely.

Why having a good vocabulary is important for GRE

You need to have advanced level vocabulary before you can answer Verbal Section questions. Your Verbal score is directly proportional to the number of words in your vocabulary.

If English is not your native language, I suggest that you memorize Master word list of Barron’s GRE which has 3500 words. It seems like a daunting task. Well, it is. But at the same time it is very possible.

For polishing your vocabulary use GRE Guru. Install this software on your mobile phone. GRE Guru helps you to learn vocabulary while you have nothing else to do. I used to revise word lists while on my way to office. This really helped me to score 650 out of 800. You can also use mnemonics to memorize the words. Roughly speaking, mnemonics are memory aids or the pictures you associate with the words. Brain tends to retain the words more efficiently if you associate pictures with them. You can also find GRE vocabulary in magazines like Newsweek, Time and newspapers like USA Today and New York Times.

When should you register for the test?

Two months is sufficient time to prepare for GRE but you should register three months in advance. Registering ahead of time for GRE gives you motivation for studying. Once you have spent about $180 for registration and fixed a date for the test you get self-motivation which causes you to start hitting books almost automatically.

What if you are too smart for GRE?

Even if you are Albert Einstein, I suggest that you should never try to take this test without proper preparation. GRE checks both IQ and the effort a student has put in for preparation of the test. I have seen myself very genius students getting very low scores because they didn’t prepare for the test.

Getting a 1500+ score is possible, but only if you have practiced properly.

More things you should remember about GRE

Don’t forget to send scores to the universities you are applying to while you are at the testing center. Because once you leave the test center and you send scores at a later date ETS fleeces out $17 from your pocket each time for each university to which you are sending these scores.

If you are not living in North America, it will take more than 1 month for score-sheet to reach you because according to ETS’ policies, the score-sheets can only be sent through normal mail.

The best time to take GRE is when you are still in your undergrad school. That way you will have more time for preparation and you will have more options for your career when you get out of engineering school. If you land a job after graduation but three months later if you start loathing it, you can always apply for Masters since you have already taken the GRE.  


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      Steve 2 years ago

      Useful information regarding GRE

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      paxwill 4 years ago

      This hub is more or less copied from an eHow article -- one I wrote as an eHow freelancer years ago! Too bad your info is out of date; the test has changed quite a bit since the day you decided to copy/paste from another site. Also, if you're going to slightly change my wording, you should at least proofread your grammar and spelling. You'd have been better off copying me word for word.