Meet Saurabh from Mumbai, India. Saurabh is another high scoring student, and he has some great tips for the rest of us! Saurabh plans to pursue a graduate degree in Regulatory Affairs, which has to do with FDA laws and regulations. A self-described numismatist, he likes to travel, swim, and watch movies in his free time, and he’s currently learning French. Tres bon, Saurabh! Here are his tips:
1. Succeeding on verbal takes more than simple vocab memorization. I found the verbal section very difficult, in particular reading comprehension and 3 blank text completions. To improve on the text completions, I first tried to learn all of Barron’s 3500 wordlist. Even after I completed this book, I was unable to solve questions correctly, but I could at least understand the words and I thought that was a big improvement. It was only after I practiced the Magoosh lessons that I managed to really get the hang of solving such questions logically and strategically. I never really thought that English would require so much cogitation. Even for reading comprehension, I only managed to really start getting the right answers after I practiced and saw the lessons on the Magoosh website.
2. Allow yourself enough time to prep. I started pretty late. I was busy with my Master’s thesis and had just 10 days to prepare. In these 10 days, I studied for 10 hours everyday to solve the Magoosh questions and somehow managed to get reasonably okay marks on the GRE. Above all, I would say: do not start too late. You need at least 2 months for good preparation.
3. Actually LEARN vocabulary words. I started slowly with vocabulary, by learning one wordlist for the first week and then went on to learning 2-3/day until I finally learnt 10 wordlists per day. My motivation was not to look at it from the exam point of view, but to derive intellectual pleasure while using these words and writing or using them in day-to-day conversation. To give you an example, in the book 1984 by George Orwell, the government starts cutting out words from the dictionary so that people don’t have enough words to express their thoughts. I felt that I could express myself better and more precisely, and moreover, I felt smarter. This was my motivation.
4. Practice tests are essential! Order the ETS Official Guide. There are 2 practice tests in the book and 2 test papers on the CD/website. I recommend starting with one test to see where you stand and then build on your weaknesses using Magoosh. Before your actual exam, the last step should be to take practice tests. I noticed there were Magoosh tests, but I only had half a day for this and I chose to take the PowerPrep tests from the ETS website instead. ETS’s tests more or less mirrored my test results. I remember that on one test, I scored 320 and on the other 324 and I finally got 321. So, for me, a general rule was: ETS practice tests +/- 5 = GRE score (This was also the case with all of my friends).