Quant 161 Verbal 164 – GRE Experience Pakistan 2014
Here’s a GRE student, Ismail Shah and his advice for GRE preparation and test day, based on his exam experience. If you’d like to submit your own experiences please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Asalam o Aaikum Wrb!
I gave my GRE Exam on the 13th of May, 2014. I would like to share my GRE experience. So here it goes.
The Analytical Section
As expected, the test started with the Analytical Writing section. Though, writing is not my strongest suite, I was still pretty confident, as I had practiced 6-7 of both the ‘issue’ and ‘Argument’ essays. So I started by brainstorming and jotting down the main points of my essays on the scratch paper. Though, it took a good 3-4 minutes away, in the end I was clear about the structure and the main points of my essays, and I all had to do, was type and make a few additions. I was able to finish both my essays on time. I had a good feeling going into the main round of the GRE.
The first section I encountered was ‘Verbal’. I don’t recall doing great on this particular section. Though, I followed Sir Talha’s suggestion of doing the TC and SE first, but I was vacillating between the choices because of the test anxiety. As a result I hardly managed to finish the section in time, particularly I remember totally messing up the 04 questions related to the long passage.
Next, came the Quant section. It was sort of an antithesis, as I was told that the first Quant was going to contain questions from the easy or medium set. But ETS really delivered a surprise blow as all the questions were proving to be quite difficult. I was told that the first 5 out of 7 Quantitative comparison questions were going to be on the easier side, but they too were difficult and time consuming. I was also caught off-guard by the fact that, the questions looked so “UN-ETS-ish”. I had practiced from a variety of books like Official Guide, Nova Math Bible, Manhattan’s 5lb books, and Barron’s etc. But the Questions in the test were quite different because they were testing a 2-3 concepts in a single question. One Quantitative question I remember was related to Co-ordinate Geometry, but it was testing other concepts like angles, triangles, and rectangles too. In the end I was not able to perform up to my expectations in the Quant section. During my 13 mock test I had almost every time finished my Quant section 5 minutes before the end of time, but here I was severely short of time, and had to guess on a couple of questions.
As expected I was given a 10 minute break. I just went out to catch some fresh air. I kept telling myself that the Quant section I just finished must have been experimental, as there is no way the first section could have been so difficult.
After, the break I again encountered a verbal section. And I recall doing a very good job, as not only did I finish the questions in time. I was even able to re-check some of my answers. It is pertinent to mention that during the test there is this ‘voice’ in your mind telling you how good or bad you are doing. After the abysmal performance in my first verbal and quant section, I was for the first feeling positive.
As expected, the next section I encountered was the Quant section. It was no different than the earlier Quant section. I again encountered multiple concepts in single questions. One question I remember was related to squares, cubes and probability all in one. Anyways, I can say for sure that my performance in this Quant section was no different.
Now like I said earlier, that I thought that the first Quant section was experimental. I was already bracing myself for yet another Quant section when I was shocked to see another verbal section. This meant that I was going to be judged on the 2 Quant sections, that I was sure would not fetch me a score of 166 that I had achieved in my last mock test, that I gave at the same prometric centre 5 days earlier. Anyways, I gathered myself, and just tried to finish the last verbal section. I remember that the verbal section was quite easy and I managed to finish it before time.
The 3 Clicks
The 3 clicks before you are able to see your scores was really the scariest part. I clicked twice, and after the 3rd click even close my eyes as I was bracing myself for a subpar total score. To my utter surprise, I saw 161 and 164. It really elated me and took away all the negative feelings, anxiety and fatigue. I Reported my scores and rushed my way out of the test center.
My Test Prep
Though, I have seen a lot people not taking the Analytical section seriously, but during my 1st mock test I found that it can act as a sort of appetizer before the main course i.e. the Verbal & Quant Sections. The Analytical section can be easily conquered. If you do well on this section it really gives you a boost, which can be a blessing in the nerve wriggling thing that’s gonna follow. So I would really advise you people to work on your Analytical section and write at least 10 essays before you appear in the actual GRE. So every time you give a mock test don’t skip the Analytical writing section.
Text Completion (TC) & Sentence Equivalence (SE) – The new GRE verbal section is all about reading, and by reading I don’t just mean the RC section, it applies to TC and SE as well. Though, I made this stupid mistake of mugging up almost all the Barron’s 3500 wordlist, I would really advise against it. I found it the hard way during my 1st mock test. During the 1st mock test I noticed that though I knew almost every word in the answer choices, I could still not put my finger on the words that would fit the blank spaces. The reason was simple: I was not able to get the actual sense of the sentence. So I got an abysmal 154V, and that is when I called Sir Talha Omer. He suggested that I should start reading newspapers and magazine articles on nytimes, The Economist, Scientific American, & Newyorker to name a few, and I did exactly that. The results started manifesting within a month’s time. It really helped as not only did my TC and SE scores improve, I was even able to save precious time. The time I would then go on to spend lavishly in RC section.
Strategy – As suggested by Sir Talha, try to do the 10 odd TC and SE questions as soon as you can, and then focus on RC.
Suggested Material for Verbal SE & TC:
1) The number of words you need to memorize would really depend on your target score and the time you have. I personally think that Manhattan’s 500 Essential and 500 advanced wordlists would suffice.
2) For SE & TC strategies, download Magoosh’s video and watch them at least a couple of times, they really help.
3) Last but not the least READ as much as you can. I would suggest reading American newspapers and magazine articles especially articles from Scientific American, Aldaily, Newyorker (My favorite), Wall Street Journal.
Reading Comprehension (RC) – I personally think that the RC section is the most important section on GRE verbal. And It is evident from the fact that almost 50% of GRE verbal section questions are RCs. When you are preparing for GRE verbal make sure you give at least 50% of your time to Reading Comprehension. Also, try to read the RC strategies from different books and see which one suits you. So practice as much RC passages as you can and experiment with your strategies a bit and your mind will soon learn which strategy works best for you. Just give yourself a good 2-3 months and make sure you read at least 5-10 articles daily. While reading, take a pause after each and every paragraph and summarize the main points in your head. I know it sounds counterintuitive because it seems that it would waste your time, but though you would be wasting a few seconds initially, you won’t have to come back, and read the same paragraph again and again.
Suggested Material for Reading Comprehensions:
1) Magoosh’s RC video, watch them a couple of times at least, and see if their strategies work for you.
2) GMAT official guide’s RC section and its questions: though they are a bit on the easier side, but still there about 140 questions, and its good practice.
3) Again, READ a lot. Period
The quant section can be very tricky, and unpredictable. I gave my last mock test at Islamabad’s Prometric Centre 5 days before my real test, I got 166 in Quant. I actually gave 13 mock tests and scored in the higher 160s in each one of them. My target was to score 165 at least, and I therefore, practiced from Barrons, Nova, Magoosh, and the Manhattan’s 5lb Book. But ETS seems to be constantly changing the question type in the Quant section. I think a part from the changed question types the reason for my “average-ish” score in the Quant section was the pressure of the test. I have talked to number of people who have appeared in GRE and almost every one of them have panicked at some point in the Real GRE test. I caught this phrase on some GRE forum that while preparing for GRE Practice Smart, not hard. I would suggest all the people who want to appear in GRE to practice in real environment. For example, You should practice 20 questions at a time, and try to do them in 30 rather than 35 minutes. Also, the GRE questions can be solved in multiple ways, some are short and some are considerably lengthy. Try to solve each question using 2 at least 2 different methods. For example, there are some questions that can be solved easily using the back solving method, while some can be solved using Algebraic approach. By solving each questions by multiple methods, you can train your mind at guessing the easier approach of doing the questions.
Suggested Material for Quant Section:
1) Manhattan’s 6 Quantitative books are a good place to start. They have covered each and every topic in detail. I would really suggest it to people who have been out of High School for quite some time now.
2) Official Guide is a must have. Period
3) Nova Math Bible have some really difficult questions, complemented by good strategies in Answer explanation section.
4) Manhattan’s 5lb book’s Quant questions. I would suggest doing only those sections which Sir Talha has ranked at least 6/10.
5) You can also go through the Barron’s Math Review section quickly as it has some really good shortcut questions that I didn’t find in any other book. The questions at the end of each chapter in math review are not bad either.
In the end I would thank everyone of you for putting up with my boring GRE test experience and suggestions. Please understand that I just wanted to make sure I can be of maximum help.