Success Stories > GRE Success Stories > GRE 325 - Hammad Saleem

GRE 325 - Hammad Saleem


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The Situation:


Math has always been a gift for me and having been connected to it throughout my engineering degree, I knew, little practice will get me a good score in Quantitative. However, it was an entirely different situation for Verbal and I had only a month to improve as much as I could (due to some other engagements).   


My Aim:


The aim was to attempt the GRE by the end of October and have a score of 325 (at least cross 320). A perfect quantitative score was achievable if only I managed time and avoided silly mistakes which I was doing regularly during mocks. The higher I get in the quantitative, the lesser the burden will be on the verbal.


It might seem a little backward approach, but with the amount of time I decided to invest in it ( a month), it would have been irrational for me to expect anything higher.


How did I go about it?


Because of having relatively less time than others, my aim was to do as much practice as I can. I started with the Princeton Review and read the techniques from it. Although the techniques in that book were really good, the level of difficulty was not good enough (which I realized later). When I took my first mock, I scored 147 in verbal. Then, once I got hold of the resources available on that life-saving Google Drive, I started practicing exercises from the ETS Official Guide and Manhattan Guide. Also did all the practice exercises from Barrons.


In the last two weeks, I used to take at least one mock daily, used to time myself and identify with areas I need to improve. Then I used to go to the books and practice question of that particular area. After a week, of doing so, I could see a little improvement in my score and I started crossing 150 regularly. Although my major concern was verbal, I used to practice quantitative sections along with it daily. It is very important to manage time and work on how I should focus more to avoid silly mistakes in order to achieve a perfect score in quant.


Also, for learning vocabulary, I used Magoosh Flashcard App on Andriod. I ended up learning around 200 words from there. However, my plan was to do 1000 and it would have helped me much more, had I learnt all 1000 words from that app.


The Facebook Group ‘GRE PREP 2016/17 – Scholars’ Den’ have shared all the resources that were sufficient and it helped a great deal. Moreover, the whatapp group was a unique and a very new learning experience. The discussions and problem sharing that takes place on that group resolved so many of my problem and kept me updated all the time. The group allowed me to interact with people who were facing similar problems as me and find possible solutions with them.


I was able to score a perfect quantitative score and a 154 on verbal. The total was on par with the amount of time I invested in my preparation and my expectations associated with it.  I hope I and able get into a reputable school for my Masters with this score.    


Key Learnings and the Crux:


The key to success is PRACTICE. No matter how many techniques you learn for solving different problems, unless you practice them, they will never be fruitful for you. So many times, I did not know the meaning of a word, but I knew if it is was a positive or negative word. Having the slightest of the sense about the word can save you from losing a point, and it is PRACTICE that gives you sense about so many words that you will come across in the actual exam. Therefore your aim should be practice so much that you might not have any more questions left to attempt.


Secondly, timing is a very important factor in both verbal and quant. So make sure, all your mocks and even practice exercises are timed. If you are struggling, try different time management techniques, for instance, marking the questions you find difficult to do them at the end. For those aiming for 170 in quantitative, should target completing their sections in 30 minutes. I recommend, they should mark the tricky questions even if they have got the answer, and should revisit them in the 5 minutes that they have saved. This comes handy in eliminating any silly mistakes that one might have made.


I strongly recommend the test-takers to ensure that they have completed the following checklist before they sit from the exam. These are MUST.



  1. ETS Official Guide + All exercises

  2. Manhattan Guide + All exercises ( Quant + Verbal)

  3. Manhattan 5lb Practice Book


Attempted at least 12 mocks (One each day for two weeks prior to the test-day – Rest on Sundays)



  1. Mocks of Manhattan 

  2. Mocks of ETS Powerprep

  3. Mocks of Barrons 


Others Mocks from Books/Pdfs ( Barrons, Princeton and McGraw Hill)


If you are done with the list above, you are good to go. You have done enough practice and you should feel confident about yourself. However, if you feel you want to further improve and spend more time practicing, then Barrons is the most reliable brand to go for after Manhattan. I repeat, the key to success is practice. The more you practice, the more confident you are about your answers and the more likely it is, that your answer is correct. Keep practicing and Good Luck ☺