GRE craxx Algo

Since I was probably the first person in my batch of ~830 students at IIT Kanpur to have taken the GRE, I keep receiving a barrage of questions from my both my batchmates and juniors regarding how to ‘crack’ the GRE. So, here goes the Algo which I employed to improve my score from 324 to 332 within ~10 days of preparation while studying seriously(sorta) for around 3-4 hours a day:

  1. Download the official Practice Test from the GRE website and take the exam using a timer.
  2. Decide your target score. As far as I know, a bad GRE score hurts your chances of selection but a great score doesn’t improve your chances. As a basic guideline, any score below 320 will hurt your chances of getting into a top 100 university and any score above 330 should be fine (here’s the percentile chart).
  3. The verbal section is the one which requires the most preparation (for most Asian students). So, I’ll focus on that first
  4. There’s no set syllabus for the verbal section. You’ll have to improve your vocab in any way possible.
  5. Starting now, make a habit of looking up the meaning of every unknown word you encounter. This will help you immensely because you’ll learn holistically.
  6. I’ll give a list of books which I used to prepare. But as I stated earlier, there’s no set syllabus and there’s a myriad of books out there which will increase your score. Pick a couple of them and make sure you complete them/revise them regularly before moving onto more books:
    a) Manhattan review: The GRE Complete Guide
    b) GRE Vocab Capacity
    c) GRE Vocab Flash cards app from Magoosh(iOS/Android) – Definitely do the basic ones.
  7. For the Quant section, you can choose to prepare from the Manhattan review(if you think it’ll improve your score). I got a perfect score on the first practice test. So, I didn’t bother to prepare for the Quant section.
  8. The AWA section is a little tricky. I didn’t prepare much but I felt that I wrote one good essay and one decent essay and so I expected a 4.5/6(they give you the average of both the sections, 6 points for each essay) but I only got a score of 4. Since this is subjective, it can get really arbit. I would suggest reading the guidelines in the “Official Guide to the GRE Verbal Reasoning Practice Questions Volume 1”  and then picking topics from the GRE website and practicing with a timer.
  9. On the day before your GRE date, complete the second practice test. This should give you a good estimate of your score.

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