Wednesday, September 19, 2007

GRE: Dispelling Myths

I've been seriously mobbed with questions from friends about the GRE, ranging from how to crack the RC (Reading Comprehension) Section to "Whats to be done on Test Day" questions.

And they all think GRE is something beyond their reach, something equal to the IIT or CAT. The recent spree of low scores from their friends, whom they believed were worth more, has no doubt fuelled this notion.

Honestly speaking, the GRE is pretty much simpler than all our college exams, and if you know the right techniques, its as simple as our 1st Sem English Exam.

I speak as a guy who prepared not more than 15 days, with only about a week of full-fledged preparation, and scored 1420 (Verbal-630 and Quants-790). And believe me, its got nothing to do with innate ability. (In fact, with just innate ability you wont go far in any test)

In this article I shall dispel the myths and ridiculous notions circulating within student circles and lead you on the pathway to true success (by whatever yardstick you measure your success) in GRE.

  • Each and every study material has its own approach, although the most popular are Barron's and Lyceum Word Clusters (Mama Easy). The important thing is to focus on the approach given in the study aid and master it, instead of trying to learn from each and every literary work ever compiled regarding the GRE. Thats ridiculous. (More on study materials later in this article)

  • Equally ridiculous is the idea of students looking up Orkut, Hi5 and blogs for updates on "latest" GRE questions that contain every question complete with all the answer choices. Crazy ain't it? If you ever thought any student could remember more than a few questions (and all 4 answer choices) after the grueling test, you've never grown up. Why anybody with some common sense would know all these questions are DAMN FAKE, and are as useful as a solitary wicket in an abandoned match.

Wake up guys- would you be so paranoiac as to look up horoscopes for predicting your score? Reading those questions amounts to that. There're some good sites that do post useful content (questions worthy of reading), but its really unnecessary to go through them for an exam of GRE's level (not so damn tough). Imagine trying work out every possible combination for addition of two numbers?? You just gotta have the basic idea.

  • I know innumerable friends of mine who have literally MUGGED UP Barron's and Word Clusters and still botched their GRE and thereby their beloved MS plans. Their scores cannot even be mentioned here. They're at Rock Bottom (no I aint talkin about The Rock's finishing move). And yeah- they could give the meaning of every word you could ask. So what does really guarantee success?

Here's the secret to GRE success right out of the horse's mouth (the golden rules):

First of all- take a few tests (Barron's CD is best for such diagnostic tests) and mark down your problem areas, whether it be vocabulary (the lack of it) or Reading Comprehension or sentence completion, essays, etc. Be true to yourself and mark them down. I've listed down below ways to tackle them. You don't need fancy material or read out-of-the-world questions (that's what you get in those damn sites), but only good old principles and their simple implementation. Just tackle these problems- and you're through.

  1. Reading Comprehension (The Perennial Terror): This has been an age old problem with all test takers, so I noticed. And they're at a loss as to how to eliminate this. The problem arises from the fact that most engineering students are NOT regular book readers (No! Not even the syllabus books :-D ). Thereby most of them are slow readers. And even then they cannot grasp the important points soon enough.

There're many ways to solve this, but the best way I found is:

Just read the whole passage (repeat read not skim) word by word. Make sure you have read each and every word without skipping anything. Try to grasp the basic outline or idea being discussed, and remember some of the stand-out names of persons, places etc of the passage. Take about 3-4 mins for every first question of the passage (including time to read the passage). Take about 45 secs for each following question. With practise you should be able to identify critical points in a passage and grasp them faster.

I know the above method will just not work for you, initially (because you're a slow reader silly). But trust me- its the best there is. Just practise as much as you can. Because once you've mastered this, however long the passage is thou shall feel no pressure at all.

Remember, it's just a matter of tackling the problems. You don't need magic, rather you need logic.

More on the next episode...

1 comment:

Sriram said...

Nice da.Really nice.I'm gonna link this post in my blog.I admire the way in which you said "Anybody reading these fake questions ought to know they;re as good as a solitary wicket in an abandoned match"..