How to prepare for GRE & GMAT

How to prepare for GRE & GMAT


How to prepare for GRE & GMAT

There were times when an Indian Science or Management student would wade through mounds of books; prepare tirelessly to get into coveted IITs and IIMs only to realise that his sole desire is all but elusive. Well, thanks to modern test preparation methods, making it to the world’s reputed universities has become easier today. In a bid to seek admission in foreign universities, over 1,00,000 students take the Graduate Record Examinations (GRE) and almost one-fourth of these take the Graduate Management Admissions Test (GMAT). Certainly, such tests do require a bit of toil, but it is essential to ascend to the rarefied realm of graduate school.

Both the tests, unlike their Indian counterparts, are not jarringly difficult, but do require a fair amount of ‘smart’ preparation. Though the amount of hard work required is proportionately less, the chances of being in the best schools are higher. The main advantage in taking either of these tests is there is no negative marking.

So, you can make the best calculated guess and get a correct answer to a difficult question without having to unnecessarily worry about the penalty. The scores in both these tests matter significantly as these convey an accurate sense of test-takers’ intellectual capability to perform within a timed test-taking environment.

Setting a benchmark
Out of these two tests, GRE makes the cut for being the most widely accepted one, for both master’s degree and business courses. Most B-schools such as Harvard, Yale, Stanford, Wharton, MIT etc, accept the GRE score. With a GMAT score, a test-taker can only apply to select management programmes at 1,700 universities and organisations around the world. But whichever test you wish to take, scoring well is all that matters.
So, what makes a good score? Scoring the 90th percentile would be considered decent. That’s almost 330 (of 340) on the GRE and 700 (of 800) in GMAT. Content-wise, GRE is easier than GMAT especially with respect to the Mathematics component. If you are a grammar and reasoning savant and find GMAT’s Verbal section easy, GRE’s esoteric and daunting vocabulary in contextual questions might confuse you. The Writing section (dubbed as Analytical Writing Measure on the GRE and Analytical Writing Assessment on the GMAT) tests your ability to formulate a critical response. It might be anathema to a science student. However, it will be the deciding factor if you wish to get your research paper published. These three make the basic framework of both the tests.

Even if the picture that you get for both the tests confuse you, scoring in the top 20% is not hard, which you can, even if you are not able to answer a dozen questions in either Verbal or Quantitative Reasoning section. Remember, if it is difficult for you, it is difficult for others too. The best piece of advice will be to provide yourself with ample time if you are taking any of these tests. One must remember that improvement comes gradually and one must learn to be patient. Some tips and strategies to help you out:

*A majority of potential test-takers simply start their preparation without knowing exactly where to begin. This is one of the greatest blunders you will make when you begin your GRE-prep journey. Don’t rush. Get to know your weak areas first. Subsequently, you can work on these in order to have a stronger foundation.

*Though GRE has come a long way from testing you for obscure words, a strong vocabulary would certainly help you score well in the Verbal section. It is essential to know both the literal and the symbolic usage of a word.

*Your preparation should be so concrete that you are not frazzled by the timer. Avoid committing the grave mistake of getting stuck on one question when you can answer the easier ones in less time. You should practise by answering the easier questions first in less time and then spend the rest of the time on the difficult ones.

*Your GRE preparation should not be limited to just taking more and more tests rather it should analyse your strengths and weaknesses. Plan a schedule to overcome your weaker areas by regular practice. So, go the whole hog and realise your dream of getting admission into a good college abroad.

(The author is an English language expert with TCYonline, an Edtech company)