Here’s another student experience write-up from Anagha. It’s very detailed, and I think it will be especially helpful for people who want a thorough breakdown of suggested study materials. You can submit your own or read what others learned from their experiences by heading over to Student New GRE Experiences. Enjoy!
I took my GRE on September 5th at the Prometric Centre in Mumbai. The duration of my preparation was 3 months. I didn’t follow any time table or fixed number of hours for studying. This was my first GRE attempt ever. Not knowing what to expect, in the first month I did some very random studies (like trying to mug up the Barron’s Master Wordlist from a 2005 edition, which I now regret) and solving questions from ETS Official Guide to the New GRE, which was the only book I had available. I later got access to Kaplan New GRE from which I started off with my focused preparation for the New GRE, with about 2 months remaining until my exam date.
1. Kaplan New GRE book words are helpful- only the “high frequency words” and the “word roots” part. I did not find the word “grouping” strategy to be very effective. True, knowing synonyms is required in Sentence Equivalence, but it comes automatically if you know meanings of separate words separately! Learning groups first can cause confusion and wastes time.
2. The GRE wordlist at majortests.com is the best source of GRE vocab, and I strongly recommend it.
3. It is a good idea to be receptive to all the new words you come across– when you’re faced with an obscure word, look up its meaning immediately! In this regard, use the internet to its full potential. The Magoosh GRE Blog’s posts addressing difficult words, confusing words, and especially words having more than one meaning are very helpful.
Being a science student, this was easy for me. The level of questions never goes above the basics as described in all GRE books. The calculator is a BIG help.
Luckily, I got 3 quantitative and 2 verbal sections. I had an easy topic for the AWA.
The verbal section was exhausting and Reading Comprehension forms the lion’s share of problematic sections. Plus, it gets worse if you begin to lose your cool with the clock ticking and you have RC questions left to be dissected in the end. This is what happened with me. I wasn’t able to finish both verbal sections comfortably, because the time started ticking in my head and I couldn’t concentrate fully on the 1-2 long RC passages I had left in the end. Other than that, it was fine. I knew the meanings of the words that appeared in the questions, so, with effort, the other questions went alright.
As for quantitative, it is easy and all you have to do is practice easy, medium and hard questions of each math problem type. Because I had done that from ETS Official Guide, some of the questions seemed almost the same, with just a name change from Ben to John.
Overall, my projected score was
I am aiming for Ph.D programs in Biomedical Sciences at an American university, so I reckon that this score should be fine.
After taking the test, I felt that there were some things I could have done differently for an even better score:
1. It is important to practice rushing through the test. Take as many timed tests as possible (and answer them sincerely, without a mini-dictionary close by). I took 2 paper tests and 2 computer tests. Kaplan gave me a Verbal score of 540-640 and the ETS Practice Test gave me 640-740 in Verbal and 750-800 in Quant. I attribute the deviation in my actual score to not keeping my cool towards the end of verbal section.
2. In my opinion, cramming with old wordlists from Barron’s is not helpful. I left the list at “A”. Once you see the exam you will know that “knowing’ is not what the GRE is assessing- it has more to do with “in context” stuff and your perception of their questions. A better use of your time would be lists at majortests.com
3. A warning: Kaplan’s verbal is at a much much lower difficulty level than the level of what is presented on the GRE by ETS. Kaplan may just end up making you feel good about your preparation and leave you surprised on the day of the test. The sentences are not as straight-forward as depicted in Kaplan. Honestly, even text completion, which seems the simplest among the verbal questions, may demand a lot more effort in the actual test. I received almost all the text completion questions as paragraphs of considerable length.
4.In my anxiety to improve my verbal ability score, I bought McGraw-Hill Verbal Ability Book towards the end of my preparation. It’s of not of much use. Again, the questions are very deceptively simple– nothing like the the actual difficulty level of the GRE. I feel that ETS Official guide and Powerprep tests are better measures of your progress.
Thanks Magoosh GRE for the platform for New GRE experiences. I benefited from reading other students’ experiences with Reading Comprehension and practice tests. Only after that did I pay special attention to Reading Comprehension prep.