Breaking Down the GRE for Indian Study Abroad Students
Standardized tests are amongst the most significant application requirements for MS programs in the US, not only in the weight that they bear on your final decision, but also in the amount of time and effort that they require devoted to preparing for them to do well. Ultimately, whether you need to take them once or several times, from my own experience with standardized tests of a similar nature, I can unequivocally attest to the fact that the only way to do perform excellently on them is to wholeheartedly prepare for them and to never lose sight of their significance to the ultimate goal!
What is the GRE?
engineering in the US, the GRE will likely be a requirement to write. The GRE is made up of 3 sections, the Verbal, Quantitative, and Analytical Writing sections, and how well you fare in the first section will determine how challenging your subsequent section is. What this means is that based on your scores in the first section, the program will select one of several alternative second sections which vary in difficulty. The challenge that this poses, of course, is that if you do very well in your first section, then your second section’s questions will likely all be challenging.
You will often hear people speaking about “GRE Subject Tests.” This is because there exist two kinds of the GRE, the first is the GRE general tests, which was detailed above and is accepted by the vast majority of master’s programs. The second kind is the GRE Subject Tests, which focuses on a specific subject to highlight to universities the depth of your knowledge within those areas of study. Keep in mind, though, most engineers do not attempt to take any GRE Subject Test for it is not of essence to a MS in Engineering application in the US.
Structure of the GRE
- This is made up of two parts, each of 35 minutes in length and of varying difficulty
- Kinds of problems
- Problem solving
- Statistics and data interpretation
- Data sufficiency
- Calculators are allowed
- This is also made up of two parts, but each is only 30 minutes in length with varying difficulty
- Kinds of problems
- Sentence correction (in which you will make use of vocabulary as well)
- Reading comprehension
Analytical Writing Section
- Made up of two kinds of essays, each of 30 minutes in length
- Issue Essay, in which you must choose from the two essay prompts provided. In this, you need not take a strong stance, you can agree and disagree with the author, but you must simply express the argument, stating the strengths and the weaknesses.
In all of this, keep in mind that the Analytical Writing section will always be the first part of the tests, followed by two Verbal and two Quantitative sections, which may appear in any order.
Doing very well on the GRE is not an easy task and requires a great deal of grit and determination. Having an organized preparation plan is a great way to ensure this! Start by looking at the GRE test dates and make a study timeline according to when you will take it. Some students will opt to take to GRE classes at preparation centers which can also be helpful.
Although studying for the GRE, like any other test, will differ for each person, a good general rule to follow is to start studying at least 2 months prior to your exam date. This is primarily to give you enough time to learn a lot of vocabulary, and while reading books and the news will certainly be helpful, it won’t be enough. Make sure to scour the internet for resources from various avenues – good GRE study materials can come from anywhere – and make vocabulary flash cards; the Barron’s and Manhattan Prep GRE textbooks will also have some flashcards. Make sure to learn new words every day and constantly revise your flashcards!
As you’re studying the GRE vocabulary, start going through the textbooks as well. While a lot of the things, especially for the GRE quantitative section might be familiar, it’s good to go over everything just in case there are some parts you haven’t learned previously. In addition to this, make sure to do some section-specific GRE sample questions as you finish different parts of the textbooks, so take GRE verbal practice tests and GRE quantitative practice tests to improve your speed.
By the time you have a month before the GRE exam, you should put away the GRE preparation material and start doing GRE practice tests. This is the only way to simulate a real test-taking experience and it will help to not only improve your speed but give you a good understanding of your preparation level. With this, the only way to really do well is to do as many GRE mock tests as possible. Numerous websites have free GRE practice tests, and most GRE books come with a couple of sample tests anyway!
Finally, about a week or two before your test, start looking at the Analytical Writing preparation sections of your textbooks. The GRE Barron’s books has some sample essays which are worth reading for method and style, and then write a couple practice essays as well.
Final words of advice…
Like most things in life, your performance on the GRE will largely be determined by how much time and effort you are willing to put into it. The GRE, with its various sections and length, is ultimately a test of your grit and determination. If you prepare for the exam well and begin a couple months in advance, rest assured, you will do well!
Understanding the structure of the GRE and making a study plan to ensure you do well on it can be tough, but Nomad Credit is happy to help you navigate this difficult process and ensure that you have a smooth ride ahead.
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