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GRE Student Post: Learning from Your Mistakes

1005373_657502814283301_1232704595_nMeet SriHarsha, a former Magoosh student who has some great advice on studying and correcting your own mistakes. SriHarsha lives in Hyderbad, India, and plans to pursue an advanced degree in computer science.


Experience with Magoosh:
Before subscribing to Magoosh I joined a GRE coaching center near my home. My instructor was excellent for the old GRE pattern, but he didn’t mend his teaching style for the new GRE; he was more inclined towards teaching vocabulary than any other aspect. At that time, I was under the impression that the number of words I knew was directly proportional to my score in verbal. I studied vocabulary excessively by employing all kinds of methods like making flash cards, audio tapes , mnemonics and by using the words I learned to write silly stories.  Additionally, I didn’t take quant prep seriously–I underestimated it. Consequently, with this level of preparation I took my first practice test in which I scored terribly low–290. I observed that every word that popped up in the practice test was familiar to me but I still got questions wrong. It became clear to me that I was lost in preparation. And then came Magoosh. I was skeptical to spend $99 on online coaching, so I initially signed up for the free trial and I was quite impressed by the tactics in the video lessons and the difficulty level of the questions. I immediately bought a premium package and it turned out to be one of the best decisions I made. The features that enthralled me the most in Magoosh were the study plans–the Magoosh 90 day study plan helped me greatly, not to mention the Magoosh software like the score predictor, mark and notes feature, timer and of course the amazing email assistance. I got prompt and fully satisfactory replies for each and every question I asked. My questions included not only the doubts in the subjects but also advice regarding strategies and tips. Its like having a personal tutor answering questions from my email.


Other prep material:
Kaplan 500 gre flash cards – I used this before subscribing for Magoosh. And, as my 90 day study plan suggested, the  Manhattan RC book, Official Guide, Nova Math GRE Bible.


Biggest challenge on the GRE: 
RC passages were the most difficult concept for me. They were like dementors (Harry Potter Stuff) sucking all my enthusiasm and energy away from me, but by using Magoosh and Manhattan strategies I was finally able to produce a ‘patronus’ which helped me to repel them without a major score bummer. It took a lot of time and effort for me to improve on RCs as I am not an avid reader and English is my second language.


Advice to test-takers: 
I couldn’t help but notice that the majority of test takers were in the same confusion that I was at the beginning and, from what my experience taught me, the only difference between top scorers and others is a proper plan and awareness on the test. So, I started a Facebook page called GRE Vocabulary and a blog called Learn with Harsha to share the tips and tricks that I had to learn the hard way.  You can read more of my advice on my blog, like this article that discusses how to avoid a major score bummer. 

If you’re making silly mistakes in quant (like me) then I can tell you a simple tip that helped me a lot. Make a note of each and every type of silly mistake you made and advise yourself on how to avoid it in a journal (I don’t mean the exact question). Now, peruse these notes daily; after some time, when you come across the same type of question you previously didn’t get right, you’ll recognize it easily and hence avoid it. It sounds so simple but it had an amazing result for me.

By following all the above mentioned things my score improved from 290 to 317.

I hope you all find this article helpful. 🙂


By the way, students who use Magoosh GRE improve their scores by an average of 8 points on the new scale (150 points on the old scale.) Click here to learn more.

9 Responses to GRE Student Post: Learning from Your Mistakes

  1. Hussain February 21, 2013 at 11:04 am #

    Hey team Magoosh,

    First of all, thanks a ton to all of you, sharing helpful suggestion.

    Recently, I have started preparation for GRE but little bit bewildered about “from where and how” should I start my preparation.

    Should I first try to cover all GRE words then I do practice, because most of time during practice unknown words drive me crazy. Or Should I take both parallel, then how?

    As I am working, due to lack of time, looking for a most efficient and optimal solution.

    Kindly guide me.


    • Chris Lele
      Chris February 22, 2013 at 12:17 pm #

      Hi Hussain,

      That’s a great question – and one I’m surprised not more people ask :).

      You are right, “flailing” about in the vocabulary quagmire of a Text Completion is both frustrating and, mostly, unproductive. At the same time, learning nothing but vocabulary will make your analytical muscles slack.

      So what’s the perfect balance?

      I don’t know if there is a perfect balance. But as you learn vocabulary you should definitely do SE and TC easy questions, as you work your way up. Words you encounter in practice should become part of your “vocab list.” As you noted, this can seem slow going at first. But after the initial slog you will gradually start to recognize more words.

      An alternative would be to learn vocabulary through books that offer quizzes and vocabulary exercises. Using books such as Word Smart (Princeton Review), Word Power (Norman Lewis), or Barron’s 1100 actually give you little practice quizzes, so that way you are doing more than just memorizing words.

      Let me know how that works out, and if you need any more guidance along the way, just let me know :)!

  2. sakethram February 19, 2013 at 4:59 pm #

    Dear Mangoosh Team,

    I have gone through all the comments that where posted and got great confidence that this site is gonna help me to achieve good score in GRE.

    Vocabulary is my area of concern, neither i got good reading skills nor have the habit of memorizing, i believe the last time i took GRE when was in the last sem in my Grad, and i scored relatively cheaper score in Vocab(270) but got a decent score in Quant(730), recently i took a practice test in the new pattern and still found my vocab not improving at all… i started reading news papers to improve my reading skills, the thing is i understand english pretty much well but really suck when it comes to Vocabulary specially.

    I have my new GRE test on may 20 which is like almost three months…..can you please please help me so that i can attempt to increase my score…i will sincerely follow your suggestions.

    Please Please guide me….now that i am working…it will be difficult for me to proceed later on…so this will be now or never for me…..Please take your time and mail me your suggestions….thanking you in advance!!

    • Chris Lele
      Chris February 20, 2013 at 1:48 pm #

      Hi Sakethram,

      I’m glad you’ve found our blog helpful thus far :).

      To help you get started on learning vocab read our free Vocabulary ebook. It will tell you the most effective approach to learning. Given that you have 3 months this should be plenty of time to implement the strategies.

      Let me know if you have any questions as soon as you are done reading the book :).

      Good luck!

      • sakethram February 24, 2013 at 3:25 am #

        Firstly, i am a great fan of your patience for replying everyone without a miss,thanks a ton…will complete this and follow up for your suggestions!!

        And i would also want to know if i can share my AWA essays on weekly basis and please let me know if you can help me reviewing it!! because i don’t use punctuation properly, thanks a lot for your suggestions, have a nice day!!

        • Chris Lele
          Chris February 25, 2013 at 12:14 pm #

          Hi Sakethram,

          Thanks for the kudos :)!

          Actually, we don’t do essay grading. The Magoosh GRE product can help you develop essay structure and learn to choose relevant, compelling examples. You’ll learn the most important aspects of the essay, i.e., that which the GRE essay graders are looking for.

          Alternatively, you can use the essay grading service offered by ETS:

          Hope that helps!

          • sakethram February 27, 2013 at 11:30 am #

            Hi Chris,

            Thanks a lot!!

  3. Syed February 19, 2013 at 1:32 am #

    HELLO, i am very weak at vocabulary, i have 2 months for prepare for GRE now,what would u suggest to prepare vocab from? will barrons 4500 word will help me? as im am very good at memorizing words,also how much time should i give to the preparation of every portion of verbal?
    thank you

    • Chris Lele
      Chris February 19, 2013 at 3:22 pm #

      Hi Syed,

      The short answer is you should definitely not try to ONLY memorize vocabulary for the GRE (let alone 4,500 words, which is significant overkill). The GRE tests your ability to recognize words in context. Studying fewer words, and words that are far more likely to show up in the average/easy sections, is a far better plan (esp. learning how those words work in sentences is more helpful than simply cramming a lot of words.

      Below is a post, I think that elaborates on this.

      You should also check out the vocabulary in our ebook, which is full of useful words presented in GRE-style sentences.

      Let me know if that helps :)!

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