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Preparing for the GRE and achieving a score of 318 - My approach.

Updated: May 17

My aim was not to achieve the highest possible score of 340 but rather to attain a score that would be sufficient for my desired course at Michigan State University, where the average score requirement was stated as 314 on their website.

Like everything else in my life, I followed a process.

Preparation materials: I subscribed to Magoosh, which was recommended by a few peers, and it turned out to be the best decision I made. Additionally, I used the official ETS guide.

Step 1: The Challenging First Week.

At the start, I found the Math section to be difficult. I struggled to remember basic formulas and had difficulty solving problems correctly. I almost regretted scheduling my exam five weeks later. However, I persevered. I read everything and reviewed the formulas every day until I could remember most of them. I also downloaded Magoosh's free guide to formulas and made my own notes and additions. Regarding the Verbal section, English was not my strongest suit, although I had developed decent reading skills from my extensive reading of books. I practiced English sessions from Magoosh and the official ETS guide. As for vocabulary, I focused on learning words in context, particularly the top words for the GRE. I utilized various word lists available, picking and choosing from different sources. This constituted the extent of my English practice.

Step 2: Practice, Practice, Practice.

For the following 2-3 weeks, I dedicated myself to extensive practice. I set a daily target of solving around 100-120 problems. My practice sessions were structured as follows:

  1. Solve problems from Magoosh.

  2. Review and redo the problems that I struggled with or couldn't solve correctly from Magoosh.

  3. Solve problems from the official ETS guide.

  4. Review and redo the problems that I struggled with or couldn't solve correctly from the official ETS guide.

  5. Identify areas where I lacked confidence and practice those specific areas using resources like Kaplan, Barron's GRE, Manhattan, and Princeton.

  6. Review and redo the problems that I struggled with or couldn't solve correctly from Kaplan, Barron's GRE, Manhattan, and Princeton.

  7. Review and redo all the problems from Magoosh and the official ETS guide.

I believe that extensive practice is the key to cracking the GRE Math section. One major challenge I encountered was that most books did not have problems similar to those in the actual exam. The official ETS guide should be treated as a bible, and every problem in it should be solvable quickly. Time management is crucial, and it can only be developed through rigorous practice.

Step 3: The Final Stretch.

Undoubtedly, practicing with official ETS practice tests is of utmost importance. I completed all the available Official ETS practice tests, and my final scores fell within the range of the score I ultimately achieved. Here is the breakdown of my practice test schedule:

  1. One ETS official test.

  2. Practice tests from various sources.

  3. Review and redo problems from areas where I struggled.

  4. ETS official tests.

During the last week or two, my focus was solely on these practice tests.

Step 4: The Analytical Writing Section.

I spent approximately 60 minutes practicing for this section. I referred to the official guide and website for probable topics and read high-scoring sample answers and the expectations outlined in various blogs. This was my not-so-secret approach, which worked well for me. I can't guarantee it will work for everyone, but I hope it proves helpful. If you'd like to discuss your study plan or customize it based on my experience, feel free to reach out to me through the contact form

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