GRE 325 - Ahtisham Khawaja
My journey towards sitting for the GRE exam started in August of 2017. Having a full-time job that usually meant I was sitting at my work desk till 7 pm on daily basis it was a daunting task.
Here I would I like to mention that tackling the GRE is depends heavily on what your strong suits are, no one studying regime followed by one person is guaranteed to work for the other.
I started off with registering for a mock test at the local USEFP office, the idea was to attempt a test without any preparation to see how far my natural abilities take me. The test is way easier than the actual GRE but still it gives a dry run to the candidate at a very nominal cost. I would like to reiterate here that the first ETS mock is easier than the actual test hence a good score in it should not be taken as an indication that you do not need to prepare for the test.
The next step I took was to buy Magoosh subscription through Scholar Den platform. After buying the subscription I had two options, either to go through all the video lectures or to start solving questions straight away and learn as I go along by listening to video explanations of questions I do wrong and going through their relevant lectures, I chose the latter.
There are questions in excess of 500 for both Quant and Verbal in the Magoosh subscription, I did roughly half of them in an untimed manner with the objective of trying to find areas where I lacked. By the time I had gone through half of my questions pool I had learned valuable techniques to tackle questions through explanation videos and also had a fair understanding of areas which needed more focus like in verbal I did better in Reading Comprehension as opposed to Sentence Completion part and in quant, I was struggling with inequalities. Next, I started attempting full-length tests on alternative days, these were time-bound and grueling after a long day of work but helped in building my stamina. The days between tests were used for Vocabulary building through Magoosh application and also to learn shortcuts to deal with seemingly lengthy quant questions.
I also went through the complete chapter exercises from the Manhattan 5lb book for quant sections where I was performing poorly. This gave me ample practice on particular topics where I was lagging.
Around 10 days before the exam Magoosh was predicting my quant score from 162 to 166 and verbal score from 153 to 158. This is when through Scholar Den discussions I came to know of 6 practice mocks of Manhattan and how highly ranked those are by previous test takers. I contacted Scholar Den with the intent of asking if I could get the tests, they were kind enough to arrange an account for me for free.
I took the 6 mocks, one per day, and ended up with scores ranging from 318 to 322. A day before the exam anxiety started as I hadn’t put in any effort for AWA and I even contemplated skipping the section but a quick Google search put my head straight. Where AWA is not usually asked for by schools however a skipping it and getting a 0 could have irrevocable damage no matter how good your remaining score is.
On the day of the test the best advice I can impart is that go in with confidence after a good nights sleep, do not doubt yourself after attempting a question because you do not have the time to do so, keep wading forward without doubts weighing you down and you will do fine. I ended up with an unofficial score of 325 (Q166 V159) surpassing all the tests I had attempted.
In the end, I would like to thank all the people who have helped me through the journey, my family and my wife first followed by the amazing people at Scholar Den who are helping people without any personal gain. Thank you!