Hello everyone, I am going to share my GRE experience and hope it would help some students deciding to take the test. I initially started preparing for the GRE in the summer of 2016 but never got around to actually taking the test for one reason or another. I knew that a high level knowledge of vocabulary is essential for understanding the English portion of the test so I started preparing it using the 1000 words Magoosh Vocabulary app available on the appstore for free. I learned about 650 words and used the Barron’s book to prepare for the math portion before eventually dropping the idea of taking the GRE in 2016 and shifting my graduate admission priorities elsewhere. As it turned out, I decided to apply for the Fulbright scholarship in 2017 and had to resume my GRE preparation around the last week of March. As the Fulbright deadline was 17th May so I was confident that I had enough time to prepare but later found out that the only test date available before the deadline was 11th April so I had to book it immediately. This left me with only a week and a half to prepare for the test; surely very little time. However, as I had already prepared earlier, I was well aware of the test format and difficulty. Revising the math portion once again with Barron’s was easy as I had done that before and also learning the vocabulary was not as difficult as it was the first time. I managed to learn 850 words for the test. I would like to state here that vocabulary is a very crucial part of the GRE and one should commit a lot of time and effort on it if they want to be able to dissect the English portion. The cramming of words doesn’t help rather one should learn them in the context of their usage. The fact that I had learned these words before helped to reinforce them well in my mind the second time I started preparing. I think this helped a lot on the test day as I became so comfortable with these words that I even used them in the AWA essays. So its important to make yourself comfortable with these words. So far, I had only gone over the verbal portion very casually and hadn’t practiced a single AWA essay 1.5 weeks before the test date. As I was short on time, I simply focused on taking 1 practice test per day to just get used to the length of the test. It is a long test and its important to practice as many tests as you can to build the stamina.
I would advise that you not leave the test preparation to the very last minute like I did. If you want to take the test then you should decide on a date and book it. That’s the only way to ensure that you will truly start preparing for the test. I left it to the very end and was left with very little time to prepare but fortunately was saved by the fact that I had done some preparation in the last year. So learn your words before start practicing the verbal part. Write an AWA essay per day ideally (you can find a list of sample essay topics on many pages). Practice the math portion and allocate sufficient time to it according to your background in the subject. Lastly, do go through as many practice tests as you can in a timed environment to replicate the test day experience so you become comfortable with it. Also, don’t get disheartened if you don’t score that well in some of the tests. I would say that the ETS official tests (official book and the powerprep software) are a good representative of the real test. Still, I was pleasantly surprised to see that I got the highest score in the real test than in any of the practice tests I had taken. So keep your hopes up and prepare well. Best of luck!
Test Date: 11th April, 2017