Okay lets get this finished.
6) When to Start Preparing?
That is one question that depends entirely on you. All you need is focussed study. Try and remember your good old JEE days. Its not about how much you study, its about studying smart. Some start preparing after 5th sem, some after 6th sem, some just before the exam. It depends really, on how you can prepare, how much do you actually prepare and certain other factors.
It is not a necessity really to start as early as possible. However, it is a definite advantage. Relieves you of so much pressure. I took up GRE classes at the start of my 3rd year, and to be speaking honestly, it really didn’t help much; rather it didn’t help me at all.
Just keep this one thing in mind though, DO NOT TAKE THIS EXAM LIGHTLY. That is the worst mistake you can make going into the battlefield. You may hear many people say “Arre 10th class ki maths aati hai yaar, ye kon padega..” or “Abe simple english hai bhai.. pehle se hi padhte aaye hai ye to ho jaega..” Please DONT do that. This is not your end semester or mid semester exam for which you can start preparing one week in advance. This does require some meticulous study, specially for the ones who THINK they are good at Ingliss.
7) Which Institute?
Jamboree, Mahavir Jain Academy, Time or whatever institutes there are.. all are absolutely useless, money laundering businesses. DO NOT go there. There are ample resources available on the internet for FREE and which are much better than those classes. The only advantage of signing up for those classes is that you would be regular (for a few weeks). Everything falls flat after initial alacrity.
I tell you this because I have seen many, including myself falling victim to this. You just cant get your lazy asses up and travel for around and hour just to learn a few new english words. It just doesnt happen. So, serious advice, DO NOT TAKE THOSE CLASSES. Instead, get yourself enrolled at some online course for some INR 5-7k and save yourself a good 20k. Your dad will never be more proud of you 😉
7) What to study?
Okay there are three parts on the GRE. AWA, VERBAL and QUANTS. You must be familiar with them. Each section worth 170 each except for AWA which is rated on a scale of 6.0. Remember one thing, each section is important. QUANTS is as important as VERBAL. Practice it as much as you have practiced VERBAL.
The most difficult part, ostensibly! There are two parts for which you will have to prepare. First is to build up your vocab. And if you ask me, DO THIS FIRST. Do not simply jump into solving questions. Build up your vocab first. This is a relatively easy task made to look extremely difficult by some. There are many ways to build your vocab. Although I am not an expert on vocab and neither my vocab is out of this world sorts, I am content with the words I know and in general, I can easily comprehend a foreign author novel without having to refer to my dictionary. So thats good for me. Many of you might claim you already have that level. Well, good for you! Take up a novel and start reading. Be honest with you and see for yourself how many times you need to look up the dictionary.
Firstly, start reading newspapers. They are excellent source of new and unknown words. NO, not HT CITY, pick up Hindu or Statesman, or even TOI, but start reading that, editorials basically. Secondly if you have an android or iOS phone, there are plethora of apps available. I personally suggest Magoosh FlashCards (Also on WP8 and desktop). They are excellent. Very very good!
One piece of serious advice, please do not read any word list that starts with “abase, abash, abate…” You will end up nowhere! That is why I personally recommend you guys Magoosh FlashCards. Many words come up from those on the actual GRE. Building up your vocab should require you around a month or two with serious dedication, its not something that you can just store, its a never ending process. The more you know, the more you need to know!
After the vocab, comes the implementation. There are three types of questions on the GRE. RC, SE and TC. I wont go into redundant details of these sections, you can find them anywhere on the internet or perhaps you might know what they are! I would, on the other hand, recommend you guys to sign up for GROCKIT lessons. Yeah, google that. The guy explains everything so clearly and is so articulate, everything just embeds on in you brain. After the MJA debacle, I turned to these online resources and cursed myself to having paid 25k for learning abase, abash, abate.. You really would not want to do that, except, of course, if you really dont care about your money!
Another very important part is to increase your reading speed. In general, we have a reading speed of around 110-120 words per minute. You need to triple this rate. Many people tend to read consciously, some do it sub-consciously. What are those? Conscious reading is when you mouth the words as you read. Sub-conscious reading is reading it in your mind. This is how we have been taught to read. Changing this habit wont be easy.
How to do this then? It is simple. It requires serious effort not for long, just a few days (3-4 in my case). To read, you just need your eyes to skim through. Repeating the words you study slows you down. So you just need to eliminate your mouthing of words. To do this, plug in your headphones play a nice songs whose lyrics you are familiar with, and start singing as you read. Just skim through what’s written, hovering your eyes over each sentence.
Sing out the song loud. And at the same time, keep reading. You will not understand a word of what you are reading initially for a day or two. That’s okay! Keep doing it. You just need an overview of what’s written. Also, make notes. You do not need to know the exact details. After a day or two, you will start understanding some part of it as your brain accustoms itself to this technique. Within a week you should be perfect with it. What’s more, it is so advantageous during your last minute revisions (although it didn’t help me fetch any extra marks, but the satisfaction of having read everything is good! :p)
Speaking of reading, please read lots of boring novels. Boring to the point that they may kill you. The idea is to accustom yourself to the extremely long and boring passages that appear on the test. If you get a science based section, you will read it without a fuss. However, the GRE is also for students from humanities, arts and literature side. So, there are a lot of passages from typical literature stuff. Stuff that you would fear more than your coursework. So, practice that too!! Start with “The Fountainhead”. That is on the lowest rung of boredom! :p
For Maths, revise the formulas. I assume you are pretty much familiar with the very basics of mathematics like the Pythagorus theorem, linear equations and all, but do revise them once. It wont harm you, I promise! My first mistake was to not revise anything in quants. I ended up scoring 160/170. That is really not good when you claim that the questions on your GRE quants are from your 10th standard book. So revise all the formulas once, especially the statistics.
Writing section. Two parts: Analyse an issue and analyse an argument. There is nothing I can say really about these, just go to GROCKIT or some other youtube video that explicitly explains everything about this. Practice is the key to this section. Write as much as you can. Get it reviewed by someone. There are sample essays on the internet that tell you how a 6 pointer essay looks like, how a 5 pointer essay looks like. SO get the idea there and practice.
8) Some Extra freebies:
Join the group MS-in-US on facebook. It is full of all kinds of people. Literally, all kinds. There is another site, stupidsid.com; extremely helpful in terms of college selections. It has detailed information about almost every college that you might apply to in terms of faculty and pedagogy, placements, campus, life, girls(mentioned as eye-candies there :p) It includes every information you might need. Although it does seem a bit outdated to me. Nevertheless, it is a good guide.
9) Finally, what’s a good score?
Ooh! That is a toughie, boy! You might think of 310 as a good score (many at MSinUS FB group do!), you might think of 325 as a bad score and might want to take a re-test. It depends on you, your ambitions, your aim. There is one thing thats an absolute surety: You’ll get a score that you deserve. There are many test series available on the internet, but I find official GRE one the best. Its the most accurate too. The score you get there (provided you have taken the test with the same sincerity that you’ll have when taking the actual test) will be more or less the same (+-3) on the actual GRE with the same preparation you have now.
So, thats it! Good luck with the GRE! It is really as simple as you make it! If you need any further help, you can always contact me!