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GRE Student Post: Relax Before Test Day!

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This Thursday, we’re hearing Muhammad’s story. Thanks for the tips! 🙂 

About me: I live in Dhaka, Bangladesh. I’ve graduated from college in 2005 with BS in Computer Science. Since then I’ve been working as a Software Engineer. Currently, I’m planning to do a Masters in Software Engineering or Data Science in an American or German university. I enjoy outdoor activities like 5K/10K runs. I also like rock concerts a lot!

My GRE experience: Reading comprehension was definitely a challenge! Primarily because of the limited time. Initially, I tried to leverage to my natural readability, i.e., I tried to approach reading comprehension as not any special GRE(!) reading. This was essentially a psychological factor. Once I was able to do that, I took practice tests in Magoosh. I found that I was correct on 80-100% easy or medium questions and 30-50% on hard or very hard questions. To improve on the 30-50%, I tried to retain the important points of the passage in memory; for long sentences with convoluted meaning, I tried to crack sentence structures which essentially meant finding out how comma, semicolon, hyphen etc. worked in those sentences. In the end, I probably was able to improve up to 50-60% but I only had about 4/5 weeks for the complete GRE preparation.

What I would do differently if I took the test again: I would use Magoosh practice questions from the start. I started using Magoosh 2/3 weeks before the exam and for practice exams to find out my limitations. This time, I would divide the practice in i) an initial foray into Magoosh, 2-4 hours everyday for the first week, to figure out the difficulties in GRE problems and to resolve the issues, ii) step-2, take 2/3 full length practice tests in Magoosh in the 2nd week to see improvement and continuously working to improve further, and iii) final practice in Magoosh and issue resolution – in the final 2-3 weeks. Issue resolution in all steps would include Magoosh video tutorials and Manhattan GRE books.

Tips for other students: i) Vocabulary is definitely not an issue. Don’t do any 4000 word list and their synonyms. Magoosh 1000 word flashcards or Manhattan 1000 are enough. If you really want to do more, then do the synonyms for those 1000. BTW, Magoosh and Manhattan vocabularies are quite similar.

ii) Start relaxing a week before the exam, definitely 2/3 days before the exam. Otherwise, you’ll lose out on valuable points for preparations that may not be worth anything. It happened to me. I was preparing feverishly on the day before the exam and on the night before I simply couldn’t sleep because of the anxious day. In the end, this cost me 4-5 points in quantitative. I wasn’t able to comprehend quite a few questions even though I had the ability to do so.

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8 Responses to GRE Student Post: Relax Before Test Day!

  1. usman April 19, 2014 at 2:19 am #

    Hi Rachel You and Chris are doing great job………….Plus in sharing experience you should ask the students to add their scores also………….
    I want some guide from you and Chris
    I am confident about quantitative that i can reach 155-160 easily because of my engineering background and i used powerprep before starting prep to analyze where i stand so to prepare accordingly…i got 157Q and 142 V…… i want to get the Quantitative scores to 165+(as i think i can do it with practice) plz suggest me a practice book to enhance my quantitative scores…………Now verbal i am just like every pakistani who is facing this problem………i started reading 2,3 articles daily from NY Times which are really helpful and also working on vocabulary………….Now plz suggest me a book for verbal practice………..i want to take my test in early august….i can spend 2 hrs for 4 days a week and after may(in june and july) i will be free and can spend my 4-5hrs daily easily….I am completely serious and will put my full effort just i need is guidance……….What you think about Manhattan 8 books for preparation????And whats your views about 5lb Manhattan

    • Rachel Wisuri
      Rachel April 21, 2014 at 11:22 am #

      Hi Usman!

      The Manhattan books are great; we definitely recommend them! You can read our reviews here:

      In addition to the Manhattan books, I’d suggest that you also use The Official Guide to the GRE, by ETS–it’s written by the test-makers themselves, so it’s really useful. You should also sign up for a free trial of Magoosh!:

      Hope that helps!

      • Usman April 21, 2014 at 7:54 pm #

        Thanks for your suggestions…
        Now i have all Manhattan books and official Guide by ETS…………Manhattan is looking great for Quantitative and i have started my Quantitative preparation ……..I also download Magoosh Flashcards app for my phone…and they are very beneficial……..Now what you say should i start verbal practice after memorizing these 1000 worlds or should i start now????

        • Rachel Wisuri
          Rachel April 23, 2014 at 11:59 am #

          Hi Usman,

          We suggest that you start your verbal practice and learn words at the same time. 🙂

          • Usman April 24, 2014 at 3:57 am #

            Thanks Rachel for your reply and all the suggestions………..

            • Rachel Wisuri
              Rachel April 24, 2014 at 10:46 am #

              Happy to help. 🙂

  2. Varun April 17, 2014 at 10:23 pm #

    Truly said. The relaxing part is VERY important. A good nights sleep and lots of food is of utmost importance. Try getting a 8 hr sleep before the exam and your mind would work twice as faster 🙂

    • Rachel Wisuri
      Rachel April 18, 2014 at 10:23 am #

      Agreed! 😀

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