Quant: 170/170 Verbal: 159/170
I gave the GRE on 5th September, 2019. The first and most common question about GRE is the amount of preparation. While this totally depends on your aptitude for the type of questions asked in GRE, I’d say you should give anything between 1 and 3 months for it.
- Official GRE Verbal Reasoning Practice Questions
- Official GRE Quantitative Reasoning Practice Questions
- 5lb. Book of GRE Practice Questions
- GRE Flashcards app
- Barrons’ 800 GRE words (available online)
We will get to analytical writing (section 1) later. Section 2 consists of one verbal section (20 questions in 30 minutes), one quantitative section (20 questions in 35 minutes). Section 3 consists of one verbal section, one quantitative section and one unscored section which can be either verbal or quantitative. The order of sections within sections 2 and 3 vary.
I started my preparation in mid-June. Per day, I gave about 2-3 hours to GRE. My total preparation time was about 140 hours.
The quants section does not have questions of high difficulty. However, you need to practice a lot if you want to score 165+ in quant. I started with Manhattan 5lb. The questions in this book are a little above the level of GRE, so don’t be demotivated if you cannot answer all of them correctly in one attempt! I then did the questions in ETS’ official quantitative reasoning book, which corresponds to questions you can expect in the actual test. If you are aiming for a high score in quant, doing these two books is a must.
The verbal section is often seen as daunting by most students. And this is partially true. Most students get a higher score in quant compared to verbal. For the comprehension based questions, the books mentioned above will suffice. For words, you must be familiar with the words in the above two lists. Many of the words in both lists coincide. From the GRE Flashcards app, the common and basic sections are enough. It is important to know that rather than knowing the actual meaning of the words, you are able to make sense of them in a sentence.
So the preparation of verbal and quant sections went on simultaneously. I did the words whenever I could in free time (travelling to college etc.). By the time I was done with this much, it was the beginning of August. This is when I booked my exam for 5th September.
Since I was now done with the compulsory books, I moved on to solving tests. I gave the following tests: Manhattan (1), Princeton (1), Kaplan (2), ETS Official Tests (Powerprep 1 and 2), and Crunchprep (1). These were all free of cost. If you want to give more of these tests, you need to pay for them. These 7 tests were enough to give me confidence for giving the exam, so I did not buy any other.
Granted, I could have given more tests, but the month of August was a hectic one for me in college along with other commitments. Hence, I did not get time to attempt any more tests anyway. PS: ETS Powerprep 2 is the most important test of all these and should be given about one week before the final GRE. This score will be closest to your actual GRE score.
Around 25th August, I started my preparation for analytical writing. There are 2 essays in analytical writing:an issue essay, where you can take your stand for, against or neutral towards the topic; and an argument essay, which mentions an argument given by the author. You are required to analyse the topic and discuss the validity of the argument.
I went through the 10 issue and argumentative essays each given in Manhattan 5lb. There are also sample essays available online, posted by ETS itself. These are essays actually submitted by students during their GRE exam. In addition to this, I practiced the essays in Powerprep 2, Crunchprep, and Princeton tests. Crunchprep and Princeton provide you with a score for essays as well, but these scores will differ compared to your actual exam (I got a 6/6 in Crunchprep and 3/6 in Princeton).
By 1st September, I was done with all tests, words and prep books. For the four days before the exam, I did not touch any prep material except revising words and math formulae for about an hour on 4th September. There was also a mid-term break in college from 2nd September, which meant I had nothing keeping me busy. This 3-4 day break just before the GRE is essential, as you need to relax before attempting the final exam. Remember, the GRE tests your ability to remain calm (a big challenge for me) in addition to your Math and English skills.
On the day of the exam, reach about one and a half hour before it is scheduled to start. The exam room is cold, so make sure you wear layers. Also, you must have your passport as identification for the GRE.
Given the preparation and series of tests, the difficulty of the GRE was not surprising or alarming. Keep in mind that instead of practicing extremely difficult questions, it makes more sense to practice questions which match the level of the actual exam.
All the best!