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Student Post: Don’t Get Down on Yourself!

Screen Shot 2015-08-14 at 10.17.58 AMAbout me: My name is Aaakaansh and I was born in the city of Vishakapatnam in the South of India. My father has been an executive for Procter & Gamble since before I was born (25 years next year) so I travelled a lot growing up: my formative years were spent on the beaches of Goa, then the Hi Tech Urban Jungle that is Seoul (South Korea) and finally back to the tropics for High School in Manila, The Philippines. It’s fair to say I’m a citizen of the world. In 2013 I graduated in the top 10% of my class from Babson College in Boston with a specialization in Marketing, Supply Chain Management & Entrepreneurship.

My graduate school plans are still up in the air, there’s a benefit to having scores that are valid for a full 5 years- it gives me time to figure out the direction I want my life to take next. A mix of an MBA coupled with International Public Policy -I dislike the neoliberalism propagated by many of the big MNCs in this day and age, the education poverty in developing countries and the inherent sexism and hypocrisy propagated by many of the cultures I’ve grown up with- and consumer psychology (or some variant related to marketing) is where my interest lies.

I’m a voracious reader and an avid fitness and self defense enthusiast (I’m currently training in Krav Maga. Growing up I was bullied and consequently found solace in highly processed food leading to my becoming 100 kilos. I shed that weight, and learnt a lot about both people and myself in the process) with an affinity for smart and driven women who can inspire me to ever greater heights. I’ve done some modeling and acting in the past year, but writing is what keeps me sane.


My biggest challenge on the GRE: Math has always scared me. On the GRE Combinations and Permutations plus the word problems (namely Distance problems) gave me nightmares. I could never understand how to tell when a problem was a combination or a permutation. The videos and subsequent practice problems helped me to no end. Being able to select which section to get tested on and then to watch videos with detailed explanations that explained not just how to get the right answer but WHY we go about solving a problem a certain way, i.e. the theory, is what gave me the confidence to tackle the math.


If I could change anything about my studies: I would have liked to have had more time to do more Math Practice problems and to watch certain videos detailing concepts over again. A second time around, I would go through all the practice problems, watch the video explanations of the ones I got wrong and then redo those a second time to ensure that I truly did understand the concept.

The first time around, if I got a question wrong, I would watch the explanation videos and then select a series of questions along the same topic to ensure that I gained confidence and mastery over the theory.

The GRE is a test of confidence and mental dexterity as much as it is of basic skills.


Tips for other students: Use Magoosh, It’s the most efficient use of your money and more importantly of your time- and as we’re told growing up, time is money- double savings!

As someone who’s taken the test using other resources and then using Magoosh, I’ve seen the difference in scores (+8 overall, 99th percentile in English).

Ensure that you give yourself enough time to properly prepare for the GRE, no matter how intelligent you are. The Magoosh Study Plans are a great place to start, but you can customize them to speed up or slow down (I sped up).

Don’t be disheartened if (more like when) you get a fair number of Magoosh practice problems wrong initially and find that the score estimator gives you a score below what you’d like to achieve. Keep practicing and striving to understand why it is you got a certain question wrong. When watching explanations, don’t just do a superficial watching of the answer explanation and think to yourself “I’ve got it.” Do a few more practice questions to ensure that you truly understand.

Don’t get down on yourself. There were days when I’d bomb a series of questions and it would appear as if no vocabulary words were going into my head. It happens to the best of us. Take a break. We are not robots. Always take stock of how far you’ve come. Yes, you may have a long way to go, but hey, at least it’s not as far as it was in the initial stages. Think of the GRE as a game, and Magoosh as the playground/practice courts. It becomes a lot more fun then.

Keep a special notebook next to you solely dedicated to vocabulary words. Whenever you come across a word that you don’t know, write it down. When you have time, look up the definition(s), and then write out a sentence or two to give you context. Have a similar notebook for Math, although, you’ll only require 3-4 pages, so I ended up using the back of my vocabulary notebook.

READ, READ, and READ some more. TED Talks, The Atlantic, Time Magazine and The Economist are just some great sources listed by Magoosh in one of the blogs. Practice timed writing, not necessarily daily, but at least once a week or every one and a half weeks.

Before you start preparing, have an idea of where you stand, other wise how will you know how far you have to go? Make use of the Powerprep’s two practice tests. Write one practice test in the beginning of your preparations. The other in the middle or closer to the end to reassess how far you’ve come. There are also other practice tests available online but Powerprep is an ETS product.

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.

One Response to Student Post: Don’t Get Down on Yourself!

  1. Namazbai August 31, 2015 at 1:38 pm #

    Dear Aaakaansh, thanks for this wonderful post! Your advices are very interesting as well as useful. Could you, please, if possible, give some explanations on how to read articles from NY Times, The Economist, etc? How do you understand that a particular article is relevant to GRE’s RC passages?
    Did you use a special “reading” system, I mean, for instance, to read 3-4 articles per day – 1-2 about science and 1-2 about liberal arts? Thanks in advance, Aaakansh, and good luck to you in all your future endeavours!

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