GRE 324 - Maneesh Kumar
Time spent: 2 months
MSc Quantitative Finance – University of Bologna, Italy
If you are panicked and unsure how your preparation for GRE is going just believe in yourself. I was also in the same position when I was preparing to take the test ‘the second time’. In the first attempt, I only managed to get 314 (151 V, 163 Q). This time, however, thanks to the motivation provided by the Facebook group (www.facebook.com/groups/scholarden/) and due to the efforts of Faisal Bhai, I got more than what I desired to be competitive in getting admission for Ph.D. in the USA. I was pleasantly surprised by seeing the score of 160V, 164Q on the computer screen after the exam. In this document, I will tell what exactly I did and hopefully, give you the motivation to do well. If I can get a score like this then anybody can.
First, I read the relevant strategy guide section to get acquainted with the strategies/tips/tricks needed for that particular section. Later on, after completing the reading, I went for solving the questions from Scholar Den. Although I had more than enough knowledge to do the quantitative part of the exam well, the strategies in the guide introduce you with possible traps you could fall in and therefore save you from making silly mistakes. When I was do with the questions I lodged the wrong questions in my excel sheet aka error log. After that resolved the questions I made mistakes in so that I know if that was a silly mistake or knowledge gap. This helped me know my weak areas and helped me not to repeat the same mistakes in the exam.
For verbal, I started with the vocabulary app because this is the main hurdle for us in getting a good GRE score, at least that’s what I believed when I started preparing for the exam. However, to everybody’s surprise, I realized vocabulary is not that important but the comprehension and overall understanding of the structure of sentence.
I made the notes while reading the passage (although not readable: P) which helped to be attentive while reading the passage and stopped me from moving onto the next paragraph until I completely understand the current one. This approach sounds slow and time-consuming but this is the best approach I have found for reading comprehension. As all the reading the question and reading only first/last lines etc didn’t work for me. After, doing practice for reading comprehension my reading speed and accuracy increased. While reading the passage, you will be discouraged because topics are dry and not of your interest but remember these uninteresting passages are between you getting to your dream school ☺ doesn’t sound that bad, Does it?
The best advice I can give you is to do as many mocks as possible. I managed to do 10 mocks from various prep software/websites. If you have more time, then do more exams. This helps you to get adapt to being focused for 4.5 hours.
From the experience of the exam and several mock exams, I can say that Scholar Den is best for preparing for the Quantitative part of the GRE exam as the questions are hard. Although it understates your quantitative score by 2-3 points, the quality of questions is best. On the other hand, ETS Powerprep is best for the Verbal part of the exam. I found that the actual verbal questions were like the ones found in ETS Power Prep 1 and the difficulty level was the same as well. Having said that, other mock tests are good as well, as they prepare you to sit for 4.5 hours which is essential if you want to be attentive during exams.
Test Day Tips:
Sleep Earlier than Usual: I slept at 9 pm the night before and woke up at 7 am to prepare me a good breakfast and arrive at the test center at least an hour before the scheduled exam.
Stay Calm and be ready for some disturbances in the test center: For me, my calculator in the test software didn’t work well so I practically wasted 1-2 minutes during one of my quant sections until the test administrator provided me with a manual calculator. Another problem, particularly at my test center, was some kind of noise from the upper floor. I was a bit unlucky in this case but it doesn’t happen at most test centers.
- Take food with you: First of all, do good breakfast which is rich in protein (such as boiled eggs). I took 1 chocolate, 2 bananas, juice, tea, 1-liter water to munch during the break :P I also went onto doing few squats during the 10 minutes of a break as it gets your blood flowing and keeps you attentive.
- Good luck!