GRE 2020 PREPARATION TIPS
Preparing for the GRE is a crucial aspect for candidates applying for admission to graduate schools abroad. The GRE is one of the most widely accepted tests for graduate admissions in the US, United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, and several other countries. With more than 1200 business schools accepting the GRE around the globe, the number of GRE applicants is on a steady rise. Before discussing how to prepare for the exam in an effective manner, let us take a look at some of the key features of GRE.
The GRE General test comprises three sections: Verbal Reasoning, Quantitative Reasoning, and Analytical Writing. This pattern of the GRE exam tests a candidate’s ability to rigorously solve problems, think critically and basically be smart enough to get through competitive graduate schools.
As the saying goes, “starting is the hardest part,” many aspirants of the GRE struggle with initiating the preparation. With so much to practice and read, students often wonder where to begin.
The first step is to decide which season to take admission in. Fall is the most popular entry season for international students. Once the season is decided, students need to appear for the test accordingly. If you wish to start graduate school in Fall next year, you should ideally sit for the exam in October or November this year itself. Taking the test well in advance will allow you enough time to check whether your scores are good enough to get into the desired program. Candidates can reappear for the test if their scores do not match the expectations.
The next step is to be well acquainted with the GRE test syllabus, its exam pattern and its structure. The GRE general test is held both on computer and on paper. However, the computer-based GRE is more common. The paper is divided into three primary segments which include analytical writing, verbal reasoning, and quantitative reasoning. Verbal Reasoning and Quantitative Reasoning portions of the computer-based GRE are adaptive tests with two sections each. Adaptive testing basically means that the second section of whichever portion you are attempting will have a difficulty level based on your performance in the first section.
For instance, if a candidate answers most questions correctly in the first section of verbal reasoning, the second section will contain questions with a higher level of difficulty, answering which correctly will give the candidate a higher score. However, if the same candidate does not perform well in the first section of quantitative reasoning, the second section will contain questions with lower difficulty, answering which correctly will award comparatively lower marks.
To put it simply, how you perform in the first section decides what you face in the second section. Correctly answering questions with higher difficulty awards higher marks, whereas, correctly answering questions with lower difficulty awards marks accordingly.
With ample time and sufficient knowledge of the test in hand, students can start their GRE preparation.
With nearly 800,000 people taking the GRE every year, it is necessary to prepare for the test. Unless you’re taking the test just to get a feel of the exam and do not target any graduate schools for admission, studying and practicing for the exam is your best hope. Given below are some of the most popular ways to study for the GRE.
Self preparation is one of the most common techniques to study for the GRE. You do your own research, gather material by yourself, create a study routine and keep at it until the target has been achieved.
The good thing about this method is that it’s as inexpensive as GRE preps get. On the flip side, however, in order to make self-preparation work, you need to be consistent and smart. You need to focus on your weaker areas and ace the stronger ones.
With the lack of other GRE candidates and a mentor, it can be hard to keep yourself motivated at all times. To stay focused and get through your study routine even when you don’t feel like it is key to making self-preparation successful.
Self-preparation is best suited for candidates that are self-motivated and do not lose hope easily. It requires perseverance and the ability to plan things in an effective manner.
Preparing for the GRE online has gained a lot of popularity in recent days. With so many private companies offering study material and preparation programs to students at reasonable prices, more and more students are turning towards online preparation.
The advantage of a decent GRE preparation program online is that it can help identify your strengths and weaknesses and assign tasks based on the same, making your preparation more effective. On the flip side, there aren’t many decent online programs to go by. As a matter of fact, most of these online GRE prep programs are repetitive material with little or no quality.
Although opting for a GRE online preparation program is cheaper than hiring a personal tutor or joining a coaching institute, it is not always enough on its own. Hence, students should be cautious before registering for online preparation and always do their research in advance.
ETS provides free material to prepare for the GRE, candidates can also purchase authentic test material.
One of the most traditional ways to prepare for the GRE includes taking coaching classes or hiring a private tutor. The most obvious benefit of this method of GRE preparation is that it maintains a schedule that candidates have to follow. Whether you like it or not, you appear for classes on Mondays and Wednesdays (hypothetically speaking).
Although it is not mandatory to attend classes or appear for mock tests, students are inclined to do that as they are paying a decent amount for the same. Getting a private tutor is expensive but also quite helpful if you need personal assistance.
Preparing for the GRE is no cakewalk, and the more time you dedicate to the preparation, the better your chances of scoring higher get. An ideal preparation starts 2-4 months before the test date.
In order to decide when is the best time to start preparing for the GRE, you need to target a score first and take a free practice test. With the free GRE test score and your target score in hand, you will have a better understanding of the amount of time and effort you need to put in.
Another factor that plays a role in deciding when to start preparing for the GRE is how much time you have on your hands. If you have a job and work 6-8 hours a day, it’s better to start preparing earlier. If you’re a student on a summer break, you could start preparing four weeks before the test and still get a decent score.
Staying consistent is what makes the real difference. Whether you study for 2 hours a day or 30 minutes per day, it’s important to study regularly.
The best time to prepare for the GRE depends on what you target and how you study. Targeting an exceptionally high score can be discouraging. GRE scores are just one of the many components of your graduate or fellowship application. An excellent GRE score alone cannot guarantee your admission into the desired program. Therefore, spending time judiciously and effectively is important.
If you know what to practice and have chalked out a study schedule that works for you, GRE preparation shouldn’t take more than 2-4 months. For non-native speakers of English who generally struggle with the language, preparation time would go higher, but not more than 6 months.
An effective GRE preparation requires you to do a range of activities like coming up with a study plan, gathering study material, assessing your strengths and weaknesses, etc. Given below are some tips that would contribute to an effective GRE preparation.
Basic as it may sound, practicing the GRE is crucial for effective preparation. It is true that the GRE evaluates your overall readiness for graduate school by assessing verbal, writing, and mathematical skills. But without practicing the test, you wouldn’t be able to master it and give your best. Every standardized test has its own pattern and structure. The better you understand it, the more chances you have of scoring higher.
An extension of the previous tip, knowing what's on the test is one of the primary steps of an effective GRE prep. Once you are aware of the syllabus and sections of the GRE, practice questions from that section and syllabus. Picking up old text books and cramming every maths formula you studied in high school may help you brush up old topics, but it won’t be very helpful with your GRE preparation.
Before immersing yourself into a pool of studies and preparation, decide what you need to study and where you are going to get the material for it.
Irrespective of which method of GRE preparation you opt for, making a study plan is crucial to effectively prepare for the GRE. Decide how many hours you will dedicate to GRE preparation every week and for how long. Follow through the study plan no matter what. Stay consistent and keep yourself motivated.
Discipline and dedication are qualities that will help you in every walk of life, and GRE preparation definitely requires both.
Being familiarized with your strengths and weaknesses will give you an edge over other test-takers. If you struggle with maths but have good verbal and writing skills, do you focus entirely on maths or do you focus on enhancing your good skills in verbal reasoning and analytical writing?
Well, it depends on the program you are seeking admission to. Science programs tend to focus more on quantitative ability whereas humanities programs value verbal and writing skills more.
Overall, knowing your strengths and weaknesses helps you prepare better. It is suggested to dedicate a bit of extra time to your weaknesses while not forgetting to brush up test areas you are good with.
The GRE can be intimidating if you are not prepared for it mentally and physically. The mental exercise you will get with your preparation plan, whereas the physical exercise is something you’d have to take care of yourself. While preparing for the GRE, or any other test, it is important to keep your mind and body relaxed.
A few precautionary steps like exercising, eating healthy, and getting enough sleep will help you focus on the test day as well as during the preparation. The GRE is nearly 4 hours long and getting through the exam without getting frustrated or physically exhausted will help you score your best. Hence, eat healthy, exercise regularly, and try not to study too much.
There are various sources for students to gather material for GRE preparation. Free practice papers for GRE preparation are available online. What is important for candidates, especially those who are self-preparing, is to gather legitimate material that will actually help prepare and score better on the GRE. ETS has free as well as paid preparation material for GRE aspirants.
Some other popular GRE preparation material providers include Kaplan, The Princeton Review, Magoosh, and Manhattan Prep. ETS is by far the most reliable and accurate provider of GRE practice papers and study material.
Read More About GRE Exam Pattern
To attempt General GRE test, candidate must polish his / her verbal reasoning skills which includes analyzing and evaluating written material and synthesizing it further. It assesses candidate’s ability to analyze relationship among component parts of sentences and recognize relationship among words and concepts.
There are three types of questions in verbal reasoning section:
The questions will be from a passage of one to five sentences out of which three or more blanks will be given to fill. Partially correct answers will not be marked. Candidate must get a sense of the passage before answering the questions and he / she must first attempt the questions that seem easy. Candidate must try to get sense of the words or phrases that seem to complete the sentence and then act accordingly while choosing the correct answer.
Quantitative reasoning helps to assess candidate’s ability to perform basic mathematical functions, understand elementary mathematical concepts and solve problems using the quantitative mathematics. It is assessed on the basis of four criterias:
Analytical writing includes two separately timed analytical writing sections- Analyze an Issue and Analyze an Argument. Candidate shall exercise his / her comprehension and analytical skills in this section of the test. In the first section, candidate will have to read and analyze the passage to prepare his / her own arguments on the basis of the articulation of the facts. However, in the second section, candidate shall check the soundness of the facts put forward by the author in the passage. Here are the details to both the sections of Analytical Writing section of GRE test:
Content Specifications for GRE Physics Test are as follows:
GRE Physics Topics
Kinematics, Newton’s laws, work and energy, oscillatory motion, rotational motion about a fixed axis, dynamics of systems of particles, central forces and central forces and celestial mechanics, three - dimensional particle dynamics, Lagrangiann and Hamiltonian formalism, non - inertial reference frames, elementary topics in fluid dynamics
Electrostatics, currents and DC circuits, magnetic fields in free space, Lorentz force, induction, Maxwell’s equations and their applications, electromagnetic waves, AC circuits, magnetic and electric fields in matter
Optics and Wave Phenomena
Wave properties, superposition, interference, diffraction, geometrical optics, polarization, Doppler effect
Thermodynamics and Statistical Mechanics
Laws of thermodynamics, thermodynamic processes, equations of state, ideal gases, kinetic theory, ensembles, statistical concepts and calculation of thermodynamic quantities, thermal expansion and heat transfer
Fundamental concepts, solutions of the Schrodinger equation (including square wells, harmonic oscillators and hydrogenic atoms), spin, angular momentum, wave function symmetry, elementary perturbation theory
Electrons, Bohr model, energy quantization, atomic structure, atomic spectra, selection rules, black-body radiation, x-rays, atoms in electric and magnetic fields
Introductory concepts, time dilation, length contraction, simultaneity, energy and momentum, four-vectors and Lorentz transformation, velocity addition
Data and error analysis, electronics, instrumentation, radiation detection, counting statistics, interaction of charged particles with matter, lasers and optical interferometers, fundamental applications of probability and statistics, dimensional analysis
Nuclear and Particle physics (such as radioactive decay, nuclear properties, reactions, fission and fusion, reactions, fundamental properties of elementary particles), Condensed Matter (crystal structure, thermal properties, x-ray diffraction, thermal properties, electron theory of metals, superconductors, semiconductors), Miscellaneous (mathematical methods, astrophysics, computer applications)
GRE Chemistry Test content specifications are as follows:
GRE Chemistry Topics
Data Acquisition and Use of Statistics - Errors, statistical and considerations
Solutions and Standardization - Concentration terms, primary standards
Homogeneous Equilibria - Gravimetric analysis, solubility, precipitation titrations, chemical separations
Instrumental Methods - Electrochemical methods, spectroscopic methods, chromatographic methods, thermal methods, calibration of instruments
Radiochemical Methods - Detectors, Applications
General Chemistry- Periodic trends, oxidation states, nuclear chemistry
Ionic Substances- Lattice geometries, lattice energies, ionic radii and radius/ ratio effects
Covalent Molecular Substances - Lewis diagrams, molecular point groups, VSEPR concept, valence bond description and hybridization, molecular orbital description, bond energies, covalent and van der Waals radii of the elements, intermolecular forces
Metals and Semiconductors - Structure, band theory, physical and chemical consequences of band theory
Concepts of Acids and Bases - Bronsted Lowry approaches, Lewis theory, solvent system approaches
Chemistry of the Main Group Elements - Electronic structures, occurrences and recovery, physical and chemical properties of the elements and their compounds
Thermodynamics - First, second, and third laws, thermochemistry, ideal and real gases and solutions, Gibbs and Helmholtz energy, chemical potential, chemical equilibria, phase equilibria, colligative properties, statistical thermodynamics
Quantum Chemistry and Applications to Spectroscopy - Classical experiments, principles of quantum mechanics, atomic and molecular structure, molecular spectroscopy
Dynamics - Experimental and theoretical chemical kinetics, solution and liquid dynamics, photochemistry
Structure, Bonding, Nomenclature - Lewis structures, orbital hybridization, configuration and stereochemical notation, conformational analysis, systematic IUPAC nomenclature, spectroscopy (IR and 1H and 13C NMR)
Functional Groups - Preparation, reactions, interconversions of alkanes, alkenes, alkynes, dienes, alkyl halides, alcohols, ethers, epoxides, sulfides, thiols, aromatic compounds, aldehydes, ketones, carboxylic acids and their derivatives, amines
Reaction Mechanisms - Nucleophilic displacements and addition, nucleophilic aromatic substitution, electrophilic additions, electrophilic aromatic substitutions, eliminations, Diels Alder and other cycloadditions
Reactive Intermediates - Chemistry and nature of carbocations, carbanions, free radicals, carbenes, benzynes, enols
Organometallics - Preparation and reactions of Grignard and organolithium reagents, lithium organocuprates, and other modern main group and transition metal reagents and catalysts
Special Topics - Resonance, molecular orbital theory, carbon acidity, aromaticity, antiaromaticity, antiaromaticity, macromolecules, lipids, amino acids,peptides, carbohydrates, nucleic acids, terpenes, asymmetric synthesis, orbital symmetry, polymers
Content Specifications for GRE Mathematics are as follows:
GRE Mathematics Topics
Material learned in the usual sequence of elementary calculus courses - differential and integral calculus of one and several variables - including calculus based applications and connections with coordinate geometry, trigonometry, differential equations, and other branches of mathematics
Elementary algebra: basic algebraic techniques and manipulations acquired in high school and used throughout mathematics
Linear algebra: matrix algebra, systems of linear equations, vector spaces, linear transformations, characteristic polynomials, and eigenvalues and eigenvectors
Introductory real analysis: sequences and series of numbers and functions, continuity, differentiability and integrability, and elementary topology
Discrete mathematics: logic, set theory, combinatorics, graph theory and algorithms
Other topics: general topology, geometry, complex variables, probability and statistics, and numerical analysis
GRE Literature in English Content specifications are tabulated below:
GRE Literature in English Content Categories
Cultural and Historical Contexts
History and Theory of Literary Criticism
Content Specifications for GRE Biology test are tabulated below:
GRE Biology Content Categories
Cellular and Molecular Biology
Cellular and Structure Function (Enzyme activity, Major metabolic pathways and regulation, biological compounds, Membrane dynamics and cell surfaces etc), Genetics and Molecular Biology (Genetic foundations, Chromatin and chromosomes, Genome maintenance, Bacteriophages, plant viruses, animal viruses, Recombinant DNA methodology etc)
Animal structure function and organization; Animal reproduction and development; Plant structure, function and organization, with emphasis on flowering plants; Plant reproduction, growth and development with emphasis on flowering plants, Diversity of Life
Ecology and Evolution
Ecology (Environment/ organism interaction, behavioral ecology, population ecology, community ecology, ecosystems); Evolution (Genetic variability, Evolutionary consequences, History of life, Macroevolutionary and microevolutionary processes)
Content Specifications for GRE Psychology Test are tabulated below:
GRE Psychology Content Categories
Sensation and Perception (Attention, Vision, Audition, Gustation, Somatosenses etc), Physiological/Behavioral Neuroscience (Sensory structures and processes, motor structures and functions, cognitive neuroscience, hormonal factors, comparative and ethology, states of consciousness, theories, applications and issues etc)
Learning (Classical conditioning, Instrumental conditioning, observational learning, modeling etc)
Language (Syntax, Meaning, Speech Perception and Processing, Reading Processes, Verbal and Nonverbal communication, Bilingualism etc)
Memory (Working memory, long term memory, types of memory systems and processes etc)
Thinking (Representation, Problem solving, judgement and decision making processes, intelligence)
Social Perception, cognition, attribution, beliefs; Attitudes and Behavior; Social comparison, self; Emotion, affect, and motivation; Conformity, influence and persuasion; Interpersonal attraction and close relationships; Group and Intergroup processes; Cultural or gender influences; Evolutionary Psychology, Altruism and Aggression; Theories, Applications and Issues
Nature - Nature; Physical and Motor; Perception and Cognition; Language; Learning, Intelligence; Social, Personality; Emotion; Socialization, Family and Cultural; Theories, Applications and Issues
Personality (Theories, Structure, Assessment etc); Clinical and Abnormal (Stress, Conflict, Coping, Diagnostic systems, Assessment, Causes and Development of Disorders, Treatment of disorders, Epidemiology, Prevention. Health Psychology etc)
Measurement Methodology and Other
General (History, Industrial-Organization, Educational); Measurement and Methodology (Psychometrics, Test Construction, Reliability, Validity, Research Designs, Statistical Procedures, Ethics and Legal Issues etc)
As mentioned earlier, General GRE Test is assessed on the basis of three sections in particular, which are:
The present section provides some preparation tips and tricks that a candidate may apply while appearing for General GRE Test.
The makers of General GRE Test have come up with official test prep book. The book includes a copy of the POWERPREP II, Version 2.2 Software CD — includes four complete practice tests (two in the book and two on CD), hundreds of authentic test questions, explanations for many answers, test-taking strategies, sample essay responses with reader commentary, etc.
The book is also available in eBook versions- POWERPREP II, version 2.2 is Mac- and PC-compatible.
GRE Sample Test papers and GRE Practice Test are made available for candidates to view general advice, sample questions with rationales, scoring guides and tips for answering the questions. For the computer delivered general test, you can use the POWERPREP practice test facility. It is free and available at the official website. Free Practice books for subject tests are also available at www.ets.org/gre
The timed tests simulate the test taking experience, including the test-taker friendly design features like moving back and forth and changing answers within a section, as well as the on-screen calculator. The sample General GRE Test will include: one full-length paper-delivered test, test-taking strategies, sample Verbal Reasoning and Quantitative Reasoning questions with explanations, sample Analytical Writing topics, scored Analytical Writing responses and reader commentary and information on how the test is scored.
Preparation material for differently abled persons is equally available. Many materials are downloadable, and others can be ordered from ETS Disability Services. Some preparation material cannot be downloaded such as Braille, recorded audio or hard copy large print, if candidate needs any of these or any other material in a format not listed here, he/she should contact Disability Services Monday to Friday 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Contact details are as follows:
Phone: 1-609-771-7780 or 1-866-387-8602 (toll free for test takers in the United States, U.S. Territories and Canada)
Monday–Friday 8:30 a.m. – 5 p.m. ET (except for U.S. holidays)
Attn: GRE — Mail Stop 05Q
Mail: ETS Disability Services
P.O. Box 6054
Princeton, NJ 08541-6054 USA
Ques. How to best prepare for GRE?
Ans. Preparing for GRE in the best possible manner involves making a study plan, attempting practice papers while focusing on time management, working on your weak and strong areas, enhancing GRE vocabulary by reading more, and staying consistent. Signing up for an online GRE preparation program or an offline coaching center may assist with the preparation, but is never a necessity.
Ques. How long does it take to prepare for the GRE?
Ans. It usually takes 6-12 weeks for candidates to prepare for the GRE. The preparation time also varies from person to person. People with less free time should always start preparing for the test at least 2 months before the paper.
Ques. What are some good books for GRE preparation?
Ans. There are several books and guides to prepare for the GRE. Some of the most popular ones with the best reviews and recommendations are mentioned below.
Ques. Is preparing for GRE hard?
Ans. The GRE test can be a really tough nut to crack for those who have been out of school for a while. The math section of the GRE may be easier than the SAT, ACT, and GMAT, however, it is very tricky and requires practice. Verbal section of the GRE is one of the biggest reasons for dread, especially for non-native English speakers. However, with enough time and dedication, anyone can score decently on the GRE.
Ques. What is the syllabus for the GRE test?
Ans. The GRE General Test has three sections: Analytical Writing, Verbal Reasoning, and Quantitative Reasoning. Question types for each section are mentioned below.
To browse the syllabus of GRE Subject Tests, click here.
*The article might have information for the previous academic years, which will be updated soon subject to the notification issued by the University/College
GRE (Graduation Record Examination) is one of the ...
Keeping in mind the public health concerns caused ...
The Graduate Record Examination, commonly referred ...