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GRE 329 - Muhammad Zaid

I scored 168 and 161 in quant and verbal respectively in August 2017.

I am not good at following long term plans so it might be that my way of preparation doesn’t help you but some of the tips will assist you in your preparations.

I took my first GRE mock at the end of April and scored 309. It was arranged by my university at USEFP to select students to whom free GRE would be offered. For this mock I went through some of the videos. I had learned around 200 words and went through the question types for quant. 

Thereafter, I got busy with my semester exams, then Ramazan and my fyp. During this time, I learned around 200 more words. After Ramadhan I confirmed USEFP about my date that was 24th august. This was just to let you know my extreme laziness.

I started my prep from 4th august. Gre requires you to know certain tricks and usually the twist in quant comparison is predictable. During this time, I continued to learn and revise my vocab and reached around 550 words. I skipped all other sections and just attempted math sections several times. It helped me time accurately. In my final GRE and the 2 PowerPrep tests, I was able to complete the first quant section around 7 minutes before time and that's what you need so that you can go back to check for obvious errors that you have made due to stress. In the hard section, I just completed within the time with a question related to Venn diagram beyond by understanding. My scores in PowerPrep mocks that I took with a difference of 5 days were 317 and 317 while in Manhattan mock it was 316.

For verbal, I decided to go for RC first and daily practiced reading long comprehension passages quickly while keeping the overall story in my mind. You must be good at retaining the comprehension story else you will lose your precious time. Just 2-3 passages for a day helped me to naturally detect the question type (though it is not very important). Then I practiced from ETS material to get a good grip in answering the questions accurately. The ETS guide has only a few comprehension passages, but if you are able to do well in those questions, hopefully, you will not be troubled in your GRE.

In my first section of GRE, the passages were easy but in the second one, they were too much convoluted. At times I was not able to know what was the passage actually talking about but still, they were the shorter ones so I read the passage twice to assist me. So, focusing on elimination was my strategy. I kept max 5.5 minutes for the first 6 TC as I preferred focusing on RC.

All this practice took around 17 days during which at times I spent 10 hours or more in a day too. In the last 3 days, I practiced a few issue and argument tasks. The last 2 days were almost rested apart from going through some questions of quant. I preferred focusing on the error log I had prepared throughout, which helped me a lot. This log contained common recurring mistakes I made and the new concepts I came across while solving difficult problems in quant.

Some Points

  • Maintain an error log

  • Should NOT have every mistake you have made throughout your preparation else you will not get any help from it towards the end

  • It should only have errors which you repeat often grouped under some headings with samples of those mistakes

  • Time your practice once you have got the basics right as silly mistakes are mostly seen during timed sessions

  • Try building stamina by attempting a full ~4hr exam several times

  • Try building speed by attempting the medium level sections some minutes before the time so you don’t have trouble in the harder section (if you can)

  • Reading comprehension takes time and you can score cent percent in it, so assign sufficient time for it. I kept 20 minutes for RC

  • During GRE do NOT make the mistake of sitting in the room during the 10-minute break. Go out, eat something sweet (if you are not diabetic), drink water, wash your face, stretch a little and then come back. You have 7 minutes for all this, so before taking the break (means before pressing the yes button in your test) call the person there and as soon as he arrives press yes. This will save you some time. About 2 minutes are required for the second security check once you return

  • Stop studying 2 days before the test. You may revise a few things from your log or do some easier questions but make sure you do the things you can do right. Do not do anything which shatters your confidence. Making a mistake will not have a good impact on your mood. Be busy in these last days so that you can avoid thinking about the test. I would recommend not to watch movies or TV for long hours the day before as it tires your brain more than you may realize

  • Do not panic during or before the test

  • You can take a paper with you containing the names/codes of 4 universities to which you want to send your GRE scores. Decide them wisely

  • (For Muslims) Offer 2 rakaats every day and ask ALLAH for guidance and help

Best Of luck!