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GRE is no joke. You can not expect to score well without working towards it. Students generally start preparing for the test much before time, and serious examinees start somewhere a year before they pass out from school! Now preparation for GRE does not only mean studying for the exam but also gathering information for it, registering for the exam and finalizing the test dates. All this takes time, and preparing for the test goes on side by side. If you plan to start with preparation after registering, then you just end up wasting time. So it is best to start preparing well in advance.
GRE review is very essential, much more than you think. When you take the test for the first time, you are new to everything and might underestimate the difficulty level of the test. Moreover you might think that the education you get in classes is sufficient for scoring well. If you have been a good student through schooling, it is not necessary that you score well in GRE. Guided preparation for the examination gives you an idea of what to expect in the test and so you prepare for it accordingly. You need to make use of some resources which prepare specifically for GRE, rather than relying on your own books and material. Evaluation of the examination is most essential because you do not have an idea of what level of competition you face outside your own school. Students of no two schools can be compared until they take a common exam and so you never know what level of competition is in store for you. Hence even if you feel your preparation is enough, it just might not be! Moreover you get good practice of the type of questions asked in GRE. The review materials deal with the test specifically and are thus relevant to the test; they do not offer general knowledge. They offer valuable strategies, tips and practice that enable you to raise your score to a competitive level.
A good book is the one which gives you complete knowledge and practice of the test. It should not just teach you how to handle one section but all the sections. For example if you get guidebook which emphasizes more on vocabulary but does not give you any advice on how to write the analytical essays, then the review is not complete. You must look for a review which gives you comprehensive and complete preparation strategies for preparation of each type of question separately. Likewise it should contain enough tricks especially for studying mathematics. Also a good review gives you enough practice of the complete test. If you practice section wise and do not take the complete tests then you do not get a clear idea of what the GRE is like in reality. Besides the text book should be student centered; it should not have a language which you don't understand or concepts which you don't understand. Also keep on mind that the study guide you choose should give you tips to speed up your work so that you can finish the real test in the limited time. Speed is a major factor which influences your performance in the test.
There are a number of review options for GRE. There are numerous modes of preparation you can choose from according to what suits you best. You can buy books, take private tuitions, take tuitions in small groups, take an online course or take classroom coaching in coaching centers.
A large number GRE books are available in the market. Since it is the oldest source available there are some companies which have good experience in GRE and print relevant material. These books contain topic wise description and questions. Also they have full preparation tests which you can take by yourself. Some books also have a CD along which contains the necessary instructions and practice tests. By studying from a book you can study at your own pace. You are not restricted by any time schedule and can prepare whenever you think the time is right. You don't have to wait for commencing of a new batch, as in the case of tuition centers. Moreover you can mark topics, questions, tips etc which you need to revise. You are independent in more than one ways. It is best to study from two books so the shortcomings of one can be covered up in the other. If you buy too many books, then you will end up becoming more confused than clear. Take someone's advice and do some research before purchasing a book. Buy books printed by known publishing houses and written by professionals. It is best to see the credentials of the author before taking a final decision. Also buy the latest edition. The only shortcoming the review books suffer from is that they can not be updated soon and thus some new question types might not be mentioned. Also from some books you do not help in practicing complete tests. Moreover it is up to you how well you study the book and no one can monitor your preparation.
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