Learn what worked and didn’t work in Varun’s GRE prep. He also has some great tips on how to study smart. Thanks, Varun! 🙂
About Me: Hi, I’m Varun. I am a Mechanical Engineering graduate, and graduated in June 2011. I have worked in the sheet metal cutting industry for more than a year. I’m planning to get my Masters in Mechanical Engineering or Robotics. I like playing video games, eating, reading books that are usually motivational/inspirational, watching TV, and exploring new places.
Biggest Challenge: Being an engineering student, math wasn’t a problem. As a non-native English speaker, I found the verbal section quite intimidating. GRE vocabulary can be quite perplexing. Moreover, the questions are designed in such a way that they leave you absolutely confused. So, I referred to some books (the Official Guide and the one by Magoosh). I found them quite helpful in familiarizing me with the patterns of the actual test. Apart from that, reading books, fictional or non-fictional, helped me grasp vocabulary. I’d also recommend reading daily newspapers and magazines – especially the editorial section, science and technology sections and review section of new books.
My Study Plan: Reading helps a lot with tackling the long reading comprehension passages (sometimes you’ll find these passages quite soporific and if you’re a good reader then you’ll answer them with aplomb). The Magoosh flashcard app and the Painless GRE app helped a lot. I used them whenever I was away from my PC or books. These apps helped in brushing up those words that I’d studied or came across while reading. Magoosh’s Vocab Wednesday is a nice blog to follow. You’ll have fun while you learn. It’s important to remember that simply knowing the meaning of a word is of little use. You need to know, instead, how to use words in context.
Also, I kept watching English movies and TV series (like The Big Bang Theory) as they helped me get the meaning of some high frequency GRE words in context.
For the math section, I’d say practice is the only key to success in mathematics. I made a time table and stuck to it. I practiced problems for at least 2-3 hours every day. Magoosh has some excellent practice problems, which make the actual test easier. I also took some free practice tests on the internet. Those were also quite helpful.
Helpful Tips for Others: You never know what’s going to be on the actual test. Just keep focusing on your studies. To other students, I’d say just keep calm and carry on with your practice. Studying for some topic furiously isn’t going to help. Just make a strict schedule and follow it diligently. Don’t panic if you don’t understand something at first. Study it again and again, because you’ll surely get through it. Try to use GRE vocab words in your day-to-day conversations. Brain picking your family and friends will help for sure. Maintain a healthy diet and sleeping habit. Listen to music (cheerful not gloomy) if you’re feeling tensed.