Lakhs of students from India have a strong desire to study abroad. Of all the countries they aspire to study from, the U.S.A has always been the dream destination. But for many, this ambition has remained a dream because of lack of proper information and planning. Many students do not realize in order to fulfil their ambition of studying in good universities in the USA, they must start planning and preparing at least one year in advance. Right from preparing and writing the prerequisite tests like GRE, TOEFL, IELTS, the students have to select the right universities, apply, get an admission, prepare documents, attend the visa interview before they can step into their dream destination. For students planning to study MS in the US, the journey begins with the writing of the GRE test. According to the information available, more than 90,000 Indian students have taken the GRE test in 2013. The number is increasing every year. Therefore, it is important that a student who is planning to study MS in the United States know the following information.
The GRE - Graduate Record Exam is a test taken by the students who want to get admission for MS (Master of Science) in American Universities. Nowadays, many business schools in the US are also accepting GRE scores instead of GMAT for admission into MBA programs.
GRE is conducted by the ETS - English Testing Services. The ETS also conducts the TOEFL and SAT tests worldwide.
The GRE is a prerequisite test which evaluates a student’s IQ. Apart from students from the USA, all international students have to write GRE to get admissions into MS programs. When students from all over the world apply to the American Universities for admission into the MS degree, the universities find it very difficult to give admissions only on the basis of academic performance – because the academic percentage vary dependent on the standard of the college/university the student is from. Therefore, the GRE is a common platform where all students are given the opportunity to show their calibre.
The GRE has three components: Analytical Writing, Verbal Reasoning, and Quantitative Reasoning.
On the Analytical Writing, which is the first section in GRE, the student has to write TWO essays – Analysis of an Issue and Analysis of an Argument. Both the essays have to be directly written on the computer, For each essay the student gets 30 minutes of time. The topics for the essays are already published on the GRE website – www.gre.org. From the pool of essays on the website, the computer will randomly select one topic on the day of the test and display it on the computer screen. The student has to write an essay on the topic in the allotted time of 30 minutes. Both the essays are scored on 0 – 6 points scale. The final score will be an average of both the essay scores. A score above 4 is considered necessary for admission into good universities.
There are two 30 minutes sections with 20 questions in each section. There are 3 types of questions on this section:
This has two 35 minute sections with 20 questions in each section. The question type includes Quantitative Comparison, Multiple Choice and Numeric Entry.
The GRE also includes either an Unscored or Research section.
The GRE is a computer adaptive test. The questions on the Verbal and Quantitative are graded into various difficulty levels. Based on the student’s performance, the computer can either raise or reduce the difficulty level. The ETS calls the GRE a section level adaptive test because based on the student’s performance on the first section of Verbal/Quantitative, the second section can be either easier or more difficult than the previous section. The students’ score increases as the level of difficulty increases. The New GRE is more student friendly as it allows the students to go to the previous questions as well as skip questions and go to the next question in the section within the allocated time for the section.
The scores for both Verbal and Quantitative sections are given on a scale of 130-170 reported in one point increments. The total score on GRE is 340. The Analytical Writing score is 0 to 6 on a point five scale.
Most universities expect the students to have at least 300 plus on both Verbal and Quantitative. As most students from India are going for technical programs, the focus is on the Quantitative section. It is advisable that students aim for 160 plus on Quant and 150 plus on Verbal in order to get admission into good U.S. Universities. A score of 4 on Analytical Writing is a must.
Preparation for GRE should begin at least one year before the student goes for admission. The US Universities have 2 intake periods for admission each year. Fall semester in August and Spring semester in January. As the deadline dates for admission falls atleast 6 months before the actual intake, students have to be ready with the scores before the deadline dates in order to apply to the universities in time. If a student is planning for fall semester (August intake) he/she must be ready with the GRE – TOEFL/IELTS scores by December. If a student plans to apply for Spring semester (January intake), he/she must have the scores ready by August. As preparation for GRE- IELTS/TOEFL takes 4 to 6 months, students must start atleast one year before their admission time.
Students preparing for GRE and intending to do well on the Writing and Verbal section, must improve reading and vocabulary skills. Regular reading of newspapers, magazines and books will improve both reading and vocabulary skills. The reading on GRE is more focussed on Critical Reading. The reading done must be not only to understand the content but also analyse, evaluate in order to solve problems. The vocabulary on GRE is definitely challenging and unlike the old format of GRE where one could memorize the words and answer the questions, the current GRE requires contextual interpretation of words. Therefore, simply memorizing words will no longer work. Learning to understand the meaning of words in the context is a must. Thus a good reading habit becomes the foundation for a strong GRE score.
On the Quantitative section though the mathematical concepts are from high school level, the thinking applied to solve these problems come from the Master’s level. The Analytical writing section is not testing the student’s language skills but rather his/her power of reasoning in presenting an argument as well as assessing and evaluating an argument. Such skills are integral to the American University’s course curriculum and are therefore tested on the GRE.
Stage 1: Learning the concepts and applying them in practice questions. Here the help of a good GRE trainer makes the process much more easy.
Stage 2: Practicing on Questions under timed conditions, revising and learning from one’s mistakes.
Stage 3: Taking as many practise tests - both on paper and computer will help the student to face challenges of the test on the real test day.
Some additional useful information about GRE
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