About me: I am from India, and my undergraduate major is B. Eng. in Information Technology from the University of Mumbai. I want to be admitted to a top program in Information Systems (IS) from The United States of America. UC Berkeley, UMich Ann Arbor, Cornell, Carnegie Mellon, Purdue, UPenn, USC, NYU, and many other great universities, which I intend to apply to, are on my list. I also have 2 years of work experience in database management, as a consultant with a large, highly diversified Fortune 1000. I believe that 3-5 years of relevant work experience is highly recommended, for students joining IS programs, as it gives them a good exposure to the I.T. Industry!
Apart from academics and industry, I am also an avid pianist with an interest in Jazz, and a technology writer. Being associated with Greenpeace, I have an interest in studying the industry’s carbon footprint on the Earth and its polar regions, particularly on the melting Arctic sea ice and its impact on the fauna in the region. I also have an interest in turtles and the endangered Siberian Tiger and Polar Bear.
Biggest challenge: For me, verbal was a challenge because English is not my native language. Magoosh score estimator estimated my score to be in the 144-149 range, but I worked on it tirelessly with the Magoosh video lessons and question bank and the Manhattan Strategy Guides and 5lb book to reach into the 152-157 range. Unfortunately, the GRE threw a surprise at me when it presented three Verbal sections with around 55-65% questions on Reading Comprehension, the area that was my weakest; especially, the Argument Structure Passages (Critical Reasoning), which I had not practiced properly in my hectic job schedule of 60-70 hours a week.
Helpful tips for other students: My advice to other test takers would be to just ensure that they are WELL above average in their weakest areas on the test before taking the test DATE. Beware that the GRE is very fond of throwing surprises and that it takes a tremendous amount of effort and dedication to ace the actual test, since it is a 5 hour episode and one is usually not acclimatised to 5 hours of test taking! 3-5 months of preparation is ideal for the GRE.
Magoosh mock tests are closest in experience to the actual GRE, but they are more difficult, so add 7-10 points to your average Magoosh mock test score to get a close estimate of your actual GRE score. My average Magoosh mock test score was 307/340 and I got 317/340 on the actual GRE. Also, do take the Manhattan and PowerPrepII mock tests, as their respective averages are closest to the actual GRE score. I got an average of 315/340 in both, and a 317/340 on the actual test.
Magoosh and all the Manhattan flash cards are also necessary for improving your vocabulary.
To summarize, be strongest in your weakest area of the test BEFORE you choose the test date. I wish you all the very best !!!