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Graduate Record Examination GRE conducted by the Educational testing service, has increasingly become one of the most sought after test to gain entry to higher educational programs abroad. Not only is the number of test takers increasing each year but also more and more graduate and business schools are recognizing the benefit of using this test to find potential students.
ETS claims that GRE cannot be cleared through cramming and memorization. It is about applying your higher cognitive skills which you acquire right from your school days. While we don’t refute that we feel a little help from us can definitely do wonders. All it takes is 10 pointers to achieve a good score. Well, interesting right? Read on.
Awareness: By now you must be aware of the change in the old format. Not only has there been a change in the question types but the marking pattern too has changed. The revised test's score will be between 130-170 on a scoring scale with 1 point increment for both verbal reasoning measure and quantitative reasoning measure; while in the Analytical writing task the scoring pattern remains the same i.e. within 0 and 6 with 0.5 increments. These changes have been made for more reliable results hence small differences won’t be exaggerated. Say for example in the previous format if you got 400 while your friend got 410, the difference is too glaring; while in the revised format if you get 130 while your friend gets 131, on comparison there is not much of a difference between you and your friend’s performance.
Planning: This is one of the most important aspects to achieve success. Chalk out a specific study plan. You should have a blueprint on what, when and how you are going to study; and yes, do stick to it. Your goal is to go for higher studies but your aim is to achieve a good result. You alone are responsible for your result and you alone shall benefit from it; and hence it is worthwhile to focus and write down your study plan. One way to go about it is to talk to students who have taken the test previously, find out about the problems they faced while studying, what kind of a study plan they followed etc. Once you talk to different students with similar objectives, you get a better idea and shall be able to focus better.
Preparation for Verbal Reasoning Measure: Just because you have a decent command over the language does not mean that the verbal reasoning section is going to be a piece of cake. Though antonyms and analogies are no longer present to test your wide repertoire of words, vocabulary is still the focus. The other aspects include checking out your higher cognitive skills such as understanding and reasoning ability. Read a lot of magazines, books, classics etc.; this will help you not only with your vocabulary but also with improving your reading speed for comprehension. There are many software such as GRE Bible which offer a fun way to learn vocabulary through games such as flash cards, drop 'n’ drag option etc. Using mnemonics or remembering their roots is another great way to understand meanings and retain the words.
There will be two sections in the Verbal Reasoning Measure. Your performance in the first section will indicate the difficulty level of the second section. To get a good score in the test, what matters is not only the number of questions answered correctly but also the difficulty level of the questions. On a scoring scale of 130-170 anything above150 is a good score.
Preparation for Quantitative Reasoning Measure: This part tests your basic mathematical skills with emphasis on data interpretation and real life scenarios to gauge your skills. To get good marks you will have to score above an average of 150 on a scoring scale of 130-170. There are again two sections as in the verbal reasoning measure and the difficulty level of the second section will depend on your performance in the first section. While for those test takers who have left math long time back, the very thought of math can be a nail biting affair. Rest assured most of the test takers do much better in the quantitative section than in the verbal section. Besides, all it takes is practice, practice and practice. Having a look at your elementary level mathematics should give you a good start; besides, books from Kaplan series and Princeton Review’s will build up your confidence level. You should have a minimum of two good books for last minute review.
Focus on Analytical Writing Tasks: There will be 2 essays, one on issue task and the other one on argument task. Unlike the PBT, where there will be two human readers grading you on a 0-6 scoring scale, with the average being recorded, the CBT has one human reader and the other is an electronic system called E-rater. While they are not looking for the Shakespeare in you, your writing should give a fair idea on how well you can articulate on the paper in a focused and coherent manner. Besides, your written responses will be sent to the universities to compare your writing skills with your personal information. When you practice to write essays, always make an outline plan, then the words will flow naturally. Remain focused on what is expected of you. For example “Laws should not be fixed or rigid. Instead, they should be flexible enough to take account of various circumstances, times and places.” Read very carefully and respond to the prompt as it appears on the actual test.
Practice: Need we say more practice, practice and practice is the key to achieve a good score? Start your preparation at least 5-6 months in advance so that you can get enough practice. It’s a great idea to form a group with students who plan to take the same test. This can not only give you better perspective to your studies but also prevent you from losing your focus.
Diagnostic: Conduct a diagnostic test at the end of each section. This will give you a better idea of your strengths and weaknesses. Software such as GRE Bible is a great way to take the diagnostic test. They have these tests conducted by way of different games which help to break the monotony of studying the same thing.
Time Management: This is a crucial aspect. Don’t ponder over a question for too long; at the same time do not rush through the questions either. It would do well if you time your answers in the preparation stage itself. There are many tutorials which conduct mock tests. Take as many as you can, as it not only improves your speed but also instills in you the much needed confidence to take on the test.
Read carefully: Most of the time we are so overwhelmed with the need to perform that we goof up with simple things. The subject range in GRE is wide and it is unlikely that you will know the answer to most of the questions. Besides, most of the questions might appear to have more than one answer, so when you read slowly and carefully you will be able to eliminate the wrong choices with intelligent guessing.
Relax: Easier said than done. The pressure to achieve a good score is so high that we forget how to relax. It may sound cliché but stress is one of the main reasons for poor performance. Without trying to sound like a spiritual guru, meditation and breathing exercises can definitely do wonders for you.
All these pointers should definitely help you achieve your aim.
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