GRE Scores VS Preparation Time
GRE Scores VS Preparation Time
Note: Securing a perfect or near-perfect score is not impossible in GRE.
We have come across many students who ask us this question how much time does it require clearing GRE at a perfect score or get at least a good score?
A good score is a relative term, for one student 315 is a good score and for another student, a good score is 330, it all depends on your academic profile and which university you are targeting.
If you are applying to U.S.A or Canadian Schools or Europe directly (without any involvement of Fulbright or HEC) then you should keep the following GRE scores in mind:
There is no standard preparation time that applies to everyone TO SCORE 330, every student has different educational background, reading habits, analytics & problem solving skills, so time will vary from student to student.Note: Exceptions are applicable in cases where you have strong academic profile such as +3.8 GPA or a Gold medalist or have extensive experience such as 10 years or vast research experience along with many publications etc. Moreover, it’s more competitive among MBAs and Engineers.
How to Beat GRE:
You have to master the following to beat GRE:
- First: Clarify Core Concepts
- Second: Learn Skills, Strategies & Techniques
- Third: Practice, Practice, Practice
- Forth: Improve Timings
- Fifth: Build Stamina
To give an overview of how GRE score works and compare it with preparation time, let’s analyze the following 4 categories of students:
Students Category 1: Exceptional talented and intelligent students, they hardly need 1 month to score above 330. They just need to get familiar with the format and practice full-length test for stamina and score +330. Sample Quant (mathematics) and verbal score breakup are mentioned below:
Students Category 2: Students have strong verbal and quant background. When they take GRE Diagnostic test, they score +310 score without preparation and when they study for 1-2 months, they end up scoring in the range of 320-330. Those students mostly have Engineering, Computer Sciences, Mathematics, Finance, Statistics, Accountants or students with good academic background.
Students Category 3: Those students have very strong quant section or verbal section but other section is average. When they take diagnostic test, they end up scoring in the range of 295-305 but after focusing on weak sections and study for roughly for 2 months, they can score in the range of 310-320. They are mostly engineers, who score really well in Quant and end up scoring average in Verbal and manage to get a decent GRE score.
Students Category 4: Majority of students fall in this category, thanks to our educational system that forces us to cram (Ratta). Within this category the students can have the following combination of skills
- Good Quant + Worse Verbal Concepts
- Average Quant + Average Verbal
- Worse Quant + Worse Verbal
So when they take a diagnostic test, they score in the range of 260 to 295. When they study for 1-2 months they improve their score by 10-30 points.
From 260 to 290 OR 295 to 310 range.
After looking at the above mentioned four categories, it clearly shows that the standard 1-2 months preparation time result in the huge difference between the scoring patterns i.e. ranging from 290 to 330.
Questions: So what should the majority of students do to improve their scores and get a decent score?
Answer: Instead of looking at 1-2 months of STANDARD preparation time, students should focus on the following steps:
- Step 1: Take computer-based Diagnostic Test: This will give an idea about your current proficiency level and give you a diagnostic score.
- Step 2: Estimate a Target Score that you want to achieve based on your profiles and the schools you want to pursue.
- Step 3: Compare the difference between the two scores and then dedicate time accordingly to cover the gap.
After analyzing these hypothetical categories of students, one can conclude that you need different preparation techniques, strategies and time to prepare for your GRE. It would take both time and effort to move from one category to another there will also come a point in your preparation that your test scores would become stagnant and improvements might seem minor or negligible, this would be the time that you break through your threshold and move upwards.
Transitioning from one category to another under our observation takes different amounts of time. The list below shows results of our research:
- Transition from category 4 to 3 = 4-6 months
- Transition from category 3 to 2 = 2 months
- Transition from category 2 to 1 = 2 months
Students in Category 4 should keep in mind the target score they need to achieve and based on that they should plan a timeline accordingly. It’s a step-wise process and no magic potion will turn your 270 score to 330 in one month time. You will improve step by step, day by day. You just need to make sure you’re on the right path.
To make things simpler for category 4 students (Those students, who are scoring less than 300 in diagnostic tests), we have prepared the following strategy. They should not focus on one month Standard preparation time; instead they should focus on working on concepts first, then strategies and then practice.
Study Plan for Category 4 Students:
FIRST STEP: Focus on Fundamental Concepts
Improving Quantitative Section:
If you need to improve quantitative skills, then follow this strategy:
If someone who has medical studies background or didn’t study basic mathematics since last 10-15 years or never liked numbers, that student should first focus on learning and revising all the basic mathematics concepts required for the GRE exam and then work on strategies and then practice questions.
After learning the core concepts, the student should work on practicing those concepts from the real questions. For example, if a student has covered algebra concepts, then he or she should practice questions related to algebra. If algebra concepts are not clear, the student should not go to next section. Moreover, after each practice session, student should give considerable time to review his/her weaknesses and then focus on improving them. Once a student gets a decent command on concepts, then he or she should focus on mastering those concepts by practicing questions; starting from easy difficulty level to hard questions from Magoosh, Manhattan 5lb and ETS.
For fundamental concepts you can refer to the following material:
Khan Academy (USA) = www.khanacademy.org
Don’t Memorize = www.dontmemorise.com
Green Light Test = www.greenlighttestprep.com
Target Test Prep = https://gre.targettestprep.com
Once you clarify the fundamental concepts, then you should go through GRE Specific Manhattan Guides or Magoosh Videos and practice the following material:
- Manhattan 5lb Questions
- ETS 3 Books all practice Questions
- Magoosh Quant Questions or Target Test Prep Questions
A student should dedicate 2-3 months to focus only on fundamental concepts.
Improving Verbal Section:
Those students who want to improve verbal section:
Students with an engineering background and an over attachment to numbers on expense of reading enough broadly fall into this category. Being an avid reader greatly helps in your verbal score, but even if you’re not hope isn’t lost, hard work and practice would put you at par with rest of candidates. Hard work always beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard.
Start Reading quality material (mentioned below) every night for 45 minutes at least for 6 months to improve reading comprehension.
- Learn 650 words of Magoosh Basic and Common Words (Read Scholar Den Verbal Guide how to memorize words)
- Read Verbal Guide by Scholar Den and follow all videos religiously.
- Practice all ETS Practice Questions
- Practice at least 50 LSAT Passages
- Practice all Magoosh Verbal Questions.
- Practice Manhattan Reading Comprehension
Good Reading Resources:
At least study 3-4 months to improve Verbal Section if your verbal score is below 145, not a hard and fast rule as such but rather a recommendation by Scholar Den.
For students who fall in Category 4, please dedicate at least 4-6 months if you really want to improve your score from 270-290 to a respectable GRE score of 310-320. If your fundamental concepts are very weak and you are a slow learner, you might need upto one year to score +325-330. Please note, no score is impossible!
If you really aspire to go to top schools around the world, then you need to give at least 2-3 hours daily and 5-6 hours on weekends for up to minimum 4-6 months and maximum upto 1 year.