My Journey to a 321 GRE Score

Cultivate a habit of reading and be honest with yourself while reviewing and learning from your mistakes

Hey there!

It’s finally time to spill the beans about my GRE experience and share my test prep strategies and materials. My GRE journey has been one of dedication and perseverance, leading me to a score of 321 (Verbal: 155 > 69th percentile, Quant: 166 > 91st percentile, AWA: 4.5 > 82nd percentile).
I hope my insights and tips will prove valuable to those preparing for this challenging exam.

So, grab a cup of coffee and settle in as I take you through my preparation style, study materials, and tips for each section!

Analytical Writing Assessment (AWA) – Mastering the Art of Effective Essays:

I must admit, I underestimated the Analytical Writing Assessment (AWA) initially, but I took it seriously a month before my test day. To hone my skills, I turned to the GregMat+ platform, which proved to be a worthy experience. Here’s how I prepared:

  • GregMat+ Videos: I started by watching GregMat’s AWA videos (Playlist in the Youtube – Free version), gaining insights into effective essay writing. He is an excellent orator and teacher.
  • Daily Practice: Each morning, I randomly selected both Issue and Argument tasks from the ETS pool and wrote essays based on a proper AWA template that I learned from GregMat platform.
  • Review and Refine: I used grammarly (you can use now ChatGTP) to correct spelling and grammatical errors and compared my essays with model essays to assess my logical development and task response.
  • Mock Tests: Before one week of my actual GRE test, I took four mock tests from the Princeton platform, focusing on their AWA score services. Even though they are not 100% accurate about their grading, but you will get an idea about your score. For original evaluation, you can buy ETS service (E-rater) with 20 dollar.

Verbal – Mastering Vocabulary and Text Completion (TC) & Reading Comprehension (RC):

Vocabulary is crucial in the Verbal section, and mastering Text Completion (TC) and Reading Comprehension (RC) skills is equally important. Here’s how I tackled these areas:

  • Vocabulary Learning: I created a vocabulary notebook, learning 1500 words with proper context from various word lists, including Prep ScholarGregMatPowerscore Repeat-offenders, and Magoosh Advanced Word List. I usually add similar words together, and practice daily at least for 30 minutes. Revision is the key here (more than learning new words).
  • Practice Materials: I used a variety of materials for TC and RC practice, including the Official GRE Guide, Official GRE Verbal 150 Questions, GRE Big Book (Only RC and TC), GMAT Official Guide (Only RC), GMAT Official Verbal Review (Only RC), and Latest LSAT tests (Only RC).
  • TC Tips: I learned how sentences are formed, quickly identified subjects and verbs, and paid attention to discourse markers (but, however etc.). I also applied GregMat’s strategies, such as the math strategy, time contrast strategy. GregMat is the best source for GRE verbal.
  • RC Tips: I developed a fundamental and active reading habit by reading articles from credible sources daily. In terms of practice, I mapped passages, analysed question types, and maintained an error log to track my progress and repetition of mistakes.

Quant – Building Concepts and Strengthening Problem-Solving Skills:

Quantitative Reasoning demands a strong conceptual foundation and effective problem-solving skills. Here’s how I tackled this section:

  • Concept Building: I referred to materials like GRE Math Review, Manhattan 1-6, Magoosh Video (Free in Internet), and GregMat+ videos to develop a comprehensive understanding of the concepts.
  • Practice Materials: For hands-on practice, I used the Official GRE Guide, Official GRE 150 Quantitative Questions, Manhattan 5lb Book, and GMAT Official materials.
  • Quant Tips: I frequently reviewed concepts while solving problems, identified weak areas, and strengthened them with deeper knowledge and time-saving tricks. Maintaining an error log helped me to track my mistakes and progress.

Final Six Tips – A Recipe for Success: I want to share some final tips that helped me boost my score and enhance my overall test-taking experience:

  1. Powerprep I at the Beginning: Take Powerprep I (Free mock test by ETS) initially to assess your starting point and plan your preparation accordingly.
  2. Stick to Official ETS and GMAT Materials: Rely on official ETS and GMAT materials for your practice; third-party mock tests may not accurately reflect your performance.
  3. Focus on Weak Areas: Concentrate on improving your weak areas rather than dwelling on your strengths.
  4. Take Mocks and Focus on Time Management: Start taking mock tests around 20 days before the exam and work on time management.
  5. Eat Light on Exam Day: Keep yourself energised with a bit of chocolate during the breaks.
  6. Read and Stay True to Yourself: Cultivate a habit of reading and be honest with yourself while reviewing and learning from your mistakes.

    P.S. For Life Science Student, before taking this painful exam, read this article published in Science:
    ‘GRExit’ gains momentum as Ph.D. programs drop exam requirement.

    Best wishes for you!!

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