The GRE is a very important aspect of the application process to Post Grad Universities in the US. The exam is gruelingly long and will test your ability to think critically under stressful circumstances. Though there are various other factors that also play an equal role in determining your admission into the universities you apply to, the GRE is one of the few factors that you have control over. Preparing well for GRE and getting a high score, significantly improves your chances of admission into your dream schools.
GRE Scoring and Structure
The GRE has 3 scored sections: The Analytical writing assessment, Verbal and Quant. Verbal and Quant each are scored in a range of 130 - 170, contributing the final score range of 260 - 340. That AWA (analytical writing assessment) is scored between 0 - 6, this does not influence the 260 - 340 score in any way. Verbal and Quant have two parts each with 20 questions. The GRE also includes an un-scored experimental section which could either be a complete verbal or quant section. AWA consists of two tasks: the issue and argument tasks. The average scores of students who get into high ranking schools in the US tend to be 320 and above. This is a good benchmark for most students. Most students can achieve this by targeting a score of 165 plus on Quant and 155 plus on Verbal. These have been found to be achievable consistently with short term, but focused strategic preparation.
Preparing for the GRE
There are several aspects involved in preparing strategically for the GRE. To start with we suggest that a student take a full-length mock test (this can be found on the ets.org website). Taking a full-length mock ensures a couple of things: it helps students understand where they currently stand and also gives them a taste of what the GRE is. The GRE is an intensive test that is 4 hours long and though it tests basic concepts of math and verbal abilities, it is highly complex in the way these concepts are tested. Therefore, the second phase of preparation must be concept, content and strategy building.This includes becoming familiar with the kind of questions tested on the GRE, understanding concepts behind certain maths questions and also learning content such as formulae and vocabulary that is relevant for the GRE. This can be ensured by following a good study program or course book. When selecting a course book, ensure that the book has been published by a reputable international test preparation organisation -since many smaller companies merely recycle questions from other tests such as CAT or GMAT and this will be ineffective if not counter-productive to your preparation. As you start building concept and content strength start practicing a lot of GRE-like questions in a timed fashion. Also plan to take full-length mock tests periodically through your preparation.
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This will ensure that you build necessary test-taking skills such as time management, stress management and test taking stamina. We generally notice high performing students taking about 3 months for preparation for the GRE. This is ample time to master GRE vocabulary as well as become very comfortable with test as a whole. Application process and Role of GRE The GRE is just one aspect of the admission process. There are several other things that the admission committees look at to make a decision on the students they select for their programs. Some of these aspects are: Letters of recommendations, motivation letters (also called statements of purpose), academic records, work experience (not always mandatory) and extra curricular interests or hobbies. The TOEFL is also mandatory if you're not a native speaker of English. These aspects combined together give the admission committees a good picture of who you are as an individual. As far as the GRE goes, higher your score the better your chances since this will help you stand out among the other applying candidates and also help offset any inconsistencies in the other aspects of your profile (such as poor academics or lack of extra curricular). High GRE scores and academic records also help with getting financial aid though scholarships and assistantships.The intake dates for most universities in the US fall on two season: Fall (September) or Spring (January). Deadlines for application to these intakes fall around December and May of the previous years respectively. For instance if you want to apply for the 2018 Spring intake, the deadlines for application for that program will be during May 2017. It is important to have your GRE test scores and Essays ready before these deadlines.