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:
- Download the official Practice Test from the GRE website and take the exam using a timer.
- 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).
- The verbal section is the one which requires the most preparation (for most Asian students). So, I’ll focus on that first
- There’s no set syllabus for the verbal section. You’ll have to improve your vocab in any way possible.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- On the day before your GRE date, complete the second practice test. This should give you a good estimate of your score.