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Sathish: Learn From My Mistakes on the GRE

Here’s Sathish’s advice for preparation and test day, based on his exam experience. He includes a lot of great, very specific tips and advice! If you’d like to read others like these, or submit your own write-up after you take your exam, head over to our Student New GRE Experiences page. Enjoy!

“Out of the obligation to all I learnt from others’ GRE experiences and out of my own curiosity and interest, I will share my experience with the revised GRE. My scores are modest compared to some of our friends here who passed with flying colours; in fact, that is why you can hope to learn more hints (from my mistakes J) from my experience.

Background: I am from India. I graduated 2.5 years ago and have been employed in a private MNC since then. This is my first experience with the GRE. I took the test on November 23rd.


I prepared for about 2 months. My preparation during the first month was superficial because of my employment nature and the additional hours it demanded during this time. During the second month I found some time in the evenings.

Preparation Material:  

Improve your GRE score with Magoosh.

Official GRE Guide – Very useful
Gruber’s complete GRE guide – Almost completely useless – Very useful
Manhattan’s GRE (SE, SC, RC, and Essays)  – Very useful
GMAT high frequency wordlist – Useful (few Android apps also come quite handy with world lists, but you certainly have to research every word as you learn)

Preparation strategy:

Here is my suggestion: Study the high frequency words with usage information. Do this first. As you continue with other parts of your preparation start using these words contextually. Magoosh and Manhattan offer very good strategies for the verbal section. Taking the Chris’s suggestions seriously will pay off. The key is to follow the strategies – break over the inertia that prevents you from doing so. If you are not from an English-speaking country, you have to put in a tremendous amount of time in practise: not only in practise problems (Magoosh offers a good set of practise questions. It is hard to find this in books from popular publishers) but also in The Economist, NYTimes, etc.

I followed the above-mentioned suggestions but with a lot of confusion, vagueness and uncertainties thrown in.     (-)

As I come from engineering background, I did not spend much time on Math, so I have no suggestions for Math prep. My quant performance was lower than what I had hoped for, because on the exam day I had poor mental composure. Make sure you don’t compromise that. I practised 75% of the problems from Magoosh. Of course, nothing can help if one does not focus on the exam day.        (-)

Having a study partner helps a lot.

For practise tests I used Powerprep, The Official Guide Paper-Based test and the 6 practise tests from Manhattan. They are very helpful. If you have time, don’t skip mock tests. I scored better on them than the real one though.

Test Day:

I took the test in Frankfurt: a very comfortable test centre, in terms of infrastructure and the way how they receive the students and set up the GRE experience. The test went as below.

AW1 – Vague topic (L)
AW2 – Not so hard topic (Enough points, but poor language)
Q1 – On par with ‘Magoosh – Hard’
V1 – On par with ‘Magoosh – Hard’
Q2 – On par with ‘Magoosh – Medium’
V2 – On par with ‘Magoosh – Medium’
Q3 – On par with ‘Magoosh – Easy/Medium’


Verbal: 160 – 86% – (600 – 610)    :/
Quant: 164 – 91% – (790)               :/


I am looking forward to getting an MS in Electrical Engineering (specifically high speed electronics/communication electronics). I am uncertain if I should apply with these scores or if I should retake, as I don’t know if the scores bolsters my application strongly enough. Experienced friends out there: can you advise me on which university will be my best bet?”

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18 Responses to Sathish: Learn From My Mistakes on the GRE

  1. Sarwesh Suman March 23, 2012 at 4:32 am #

    Hi Satish,

    You had a good score. Wondering where have you applied and got accepted.

    I am planning to take my GRE in June. I am also puzzled regarding the preparation. I have been practicing for some time now but still I cant see any improvement in Verbal.. 1st pratice test that I gave I got V 139 and Q 149…second one V 142 and Q 154, I am also from an engineering background and planning for MS in CS.

    My target score is around V 160 and quants 160.
    Please help me with verbal. I have been doing readings a lot, around 5 articles per day. How can I buy Magoosh preparation material and Manhatten material?

    Would really appreciate a quick response.

    I got 84 days to go.


    • Chris Lele
      Chris March 23, 2012 at 11:29 am #

      Hi Sarwesh,

      To purchase Magoosh, simply click on the following link:

      For the Manhattan material, Amazon is the way to go.

      Please let me know if you have any questions regarding either source, I’d be happy to help :).

      • Sarwesh Suman March 28, 2012 at 3:11 am #

        Hi Chris,

        Thanks for the response.

        I have bought Manhattan and I hope to finish it in 1 month and then buy Magoosh in May, I hope both will be helpful. I always tend to use my intuition in solving problem which I know is not good therefore I need to practice more and more with appropriate techniques.

      • Sarwesh Suman March 28, 2012 at 3:23 am #


        How much would the cost go up after the sale period is over?

        Will there be any offer in May?

        • Margarette Jung
          Margarette March 28, 2012 at 11:53 am #

          Hi, Sarwesh

          I think I can help you out here– I just sent you an e-mail, so check your inbox 🙂


          • Sarwesh Suman March 29, 2012 at 1:33 am #

            Thanks Margarette… 🙂

  2. Minu January 13, 2012 at 1:28 am #

    hi satish,
    i have written the six practice tests from Manhattan. My average on the six of them has been around 320. What range were you scoring in your Manhattan series ?

    • Sathish January 30, 2012 at 6:50 am #

      Sorry for the delay friends. I did not check the post recently.

      @Harsha: I guess its too late now. I hope your exam went well.

      @Minu: I guess Manhattan gives a more or less a realistic estimate of our final score. My Quant marks were almost the same and the Verbal mark was a little lower in the real test.


  3. harsha January 10, 2012 at 9:50 am #

    HI Satish, ur score is awesome, congrats

    Could u help me to prepare for my exam by telling me which material should i prepare or practise ……my gre exam is on 25 jan 2012.

  4. Sathish December 15, 2011 at 10:08 pm #

    Hi All,

    My AWA score is 4. 🙁


    I did not put adequate efforts in writing section. Manhattan and Magoosh have some good advice. The Official guide provides sample essays for each score.

    I think it is very important to adapt the tone of the response to the specific question that is asked. I had sufficient points, but I did not put enough efforts to align them to the direction of the question. So i’d suggesting to pay more heed to this. Good luck!


  5. akshay December 13, 2011 at 8:10 am #

    Hey Satish , congrats on your GRE score . What prep material did you use for the writing section? I know that it is a kind of a dark horse for the test but can one get his hands on some actual essay material to assess the typical level of language that they expect for a reasonably good score ?

  6. Hamza December 2, 2011 at 8:58 am #

    No problem. If I may ask, what did you get on the AWA?

    • Sathish December 2, 2011 at 10:15 am #

      I have not received it yet. Will keep this post updated.

  7. Hamza December 1, 2011 at 4:25 am #

    Congratulations! And thanks for sharing the information.

    Seriously, I’d be happy with that score if I were you. Just do your homework on university requirements; wherever it is you are planning to apply.

    Your GRE score is just a piece of the puzzle, but an essential one.

    Whatever happens, just make sure you clearly express your purpose!


    • Sathish December 2, 2011 at 4:25 am #

      Thank you for your suggestion Hamza.

      • jyothesh February 12, 2012 at 1:17 am #

        hi sathish,

        i am jyothesh preparing for gre, i need some advices regarding verbal section. i also need material that will be helpful to me. if you have any material please snd it to me. my mail id is

        thank you.

  8. shri November 30, 2011 at 9:51 pm #

    Hi Satish,

    Congratulations on your score!

    Since you have taken the test recently, how did you find the RC?
    I have tried Manhattan, Barron’s and Magoosh but still I am not able to overcome my weaknesses. I can’t find the magic recipe to my issues. 🙂

    This is the only section holding me back from taking the test.

    • Sathish December 2, 2011 at 4:24 am #

      Hi Shri,

      I have not tried Barron’s. RC was quite similar for Magoosh and Manhattan. Their strategies are perfect to crack the GRE passages. It takes quite some practice to get familiar with the ‘Big Picture Reading’ that both of them insist. But once when one gets the picture, the rest of the reasoning gets much easier.

      The key is that we need to learn to use the strategies as we practice. I wasted a part of my practice time by reading passages without aligning my practice with the strategies. Be wary of that.

      Good luck with your efforts Shri.


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