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GRE Literature

GRE Literature Continued ...

The literary-historical extent of Literature in English Subject Test follows the following distribution.


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  • Continental, Classical, and Comparative Literature through 1925 (5-10%)
  • British Literature to 1660 (including Milton) 25-30%
  • British Literature 1660-1925 (30-35%)
  • American Literature through 1925 (15-25%)
  • American, British, and World Literatures after 1925 (20-25%)

Like all the other GRE subject tests the English test is administered in the paper format. This makes it easy for you to go back and forth according to your preferences to attempt the test. Some students prefer to attempt the easier questions before moving on to the difficult ones. This method is particularly helpful while attempting the test because all the questions carry equal marks. But in the bargain it is likely that you miss out on some questions or fill in the answers wrongly in the answer sheet. Moreover, you will waste time in deciding which question is easy and which is difficult. In addition it is worth noticing that each question set based on one description will have questions with varying difficulty levels. It is most likely that such questions clubbed together are of mixed difficulty levels. Hence you must be conscious of these facts while deciding whether you want to approach the questions sequentially or in a random order.

Your scores in the English subject test are calculated in two stages. The scaled scores are based on the raw scores. One fourth of the total number of questions answered incorrectly is subtracted from the total number of questions answered correctly. This gives the raw score which is then converted into scaled score. The scaled scores are within limits of 200 and 990. On an average, a student scores between 380 and 700. In addition to these scores the percentiles are also reported. A percentile score indicates the percentage of students who score less than the corresponding scaled score. Say your percentile in this test is 89. It means that 89% of the total examinees scored lesser than you. The percentile scores are very important for admission authorities to determine how capable a student is in comparison with others who appear for the same test. Thus it becomes a better indicator of your performance.

As far as the preparation for the Literature in English Subject Test is concerned, it is vital that some 3-4 months are devoted to it. Though the test aims at judging the knowledge and capabilities of students which they are supposed to have developed over years of schooling, practicing for the test can considerably improve your score. For preparation you must decide on which method suits you best according to your style of studying and requirements.


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For those who are fond of reading literature and are well aware of the history of literature in English, it should not be a big deal to prepare for the Literature in English test. They need to basically revise the syllabus mentioned and retain the facts. Based on their knowledge or literary works they will retain the facts better. On the other hand a person who is not aware of literary works, preparing for the test can be a task. For such students it is best prepare through the standard means.

There are basically four means of preparation that one can choose from: books, online courses, classroom coaching and softwares. Each of these means has its inherent merits and demerits and you must thoroughly analyze each option before taking a decision. You can not afford to change from one source of preparation to another. Apart from the monetary losses involved in doing so, a lot of time is also wasted. Moreover do not switch to another source within two to three days of starting your preparation; take time to see if the source is really worthless before deciding to switch to another source.

After all is said and done it is only you on whom your performance in the Literature in English Subject test depends. You have to work hard in order to achieve your goals, these is no other way you can achieve success. Remember "achievement" comes before "effort" only in the dictionary!

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