How Should Engineers Prepare For GRE?
I don’t know if you know this, but as an Engineering student, you enjoy a significant advantage over all the other sections of the student population giving GRE.
Remember the grind you’ve been subjected to since your schooling years, and specifically in the four years of Engineering study?
It’s all about to pay off now!
As an Engineer, you’ve done far more complex mathematics as part of your course than what will be asked of you in the GRE. So, technically, the scales are tipped in your favor to score a perfect 170 in GRE Quant.
Are you surprised?
It is really possible.
Cracking GRE Quant after becoming an Engineer is like trying to regain your old handwriting after a long vacation. It takes some regular practice, but it’s achievable!
The GRE Quant Syllabus is based on the concepts taught to you at high school. Even if you are slightly out of touch with Algebra, Arithmetic, Geometry, Probability, and Statistics, you have studied the underlying concepts in depth sometime in the near past. You will still be able to pick them up from where you left and run because it is logical science. There are specific methods and limited variations to a question. Once you are armed with some quick techniques in your arsenal, you can use them as and when required to dash to the finish line.
GREedge Pro Tip: When you solve a maths question and get it right, be sure to go back and understand how the problem was crafted. This is called the Hacker’s Approach. Spend a minute or two to visualize and understand the mathematical concept(s) employed in the question. This helps you grasp the concept as well as spot similar questions, even if they superficially appear like a new one!
But, as always, there is a catch. There is another section called the GRE Verbal that carries equal weightage and is surely not as easy as Quant.
Most GRE aspirants, especially those who speak good English, underestimate the standard of difficulty in GRE Verbal. Because of this fatal error, many bright students miss out on a stellar GRE score.
According to ETS, the mean Quant and Verbal scores of GRE aspirants aiming to study MS in top universities is 158.9 and 148.7 respectively.
That is a whole 10 point difference in scores!
Why does this happen?
Though there is always an emphasis on improving our English skills, we generally don’t find opportunities to do so. We converse in our native languages with our parents, friends, and neighbors. The only times we encounter English is in school, that too only during exams for some.
But even for Engineers who are familiar with English, the GRE Verbal poses a challenge because it relies on an argumentative style of writing, the kinds encountered in newspaper editorials and academic journals/essays. This means that the passages and sentences are arguments on a specific topic, where the author gives his or her opinion on it.
Moreover, most Engineers who do read, read only fiction and novels where we read stories. The information in such writings is straightforward. But when it comes to GRE RC passages, they are excerpts from academic texts; we need to understand the implied meaning and read between the lines. This can be quite a task without adequate practice.
Besides, since Engineering is a highly technical course, most colleges do not stress on developing English and vocabulary as a priority. This becomes a major drawback when you give GRE because you will suddenly find it overwhelming to focus equally on both Quant and Verbal, thereby missing out on both.
So, how can you maximize your advantage as an Engineer and overcome your Verbal trouble?
Our experts say,
GREedge Pro Tip: Go ahead. Focus on Quant and get that perfect 170. Don’t disperse all your energy trying to do both. Most universities abroad pay very close attention to your Quant score rather than your Verbal score. But do make sure you cross the 150 mark with GRE Verbal!
Work smart and with a STRATEGY!
You can do it, really.
Think about it, if you can score a perfect 170 in Quant, the minimum score you need in Verbal to achieve a target 320 score is just 150.
Here’s how you can work smartly to achieve a target 320 score.
Step 1: Vocabulary – There’s no way around it.
It’s time to address the (most) difficult part of GRE and learn GRE words. You don’t have to learn all 3500 of them. If you are a regular reader, you are probably already familiar with about 1000 words. Even if you aren’t, aim to learn 1500-2000 words.
If you target to learn 35 words in a day, you can easily master 2000 words in 2 months.
Step 2: Read twice a day!
I know it sounds like a medicinal course, but you’ll slowly learn to enjoy it.
But read what?
You don’t have to bring out the hardbound classics and old novels.
You just have to spend 15 minutes, twice a day, in reading editorials and opinion columns of leading newspapers like The Hindu, Economist, The Guardian etc.
All of these publications are available online.
Step 3: Study GRE Verbal selectively.
You’re studying smart, not hard.
Don’t sit through endless practice sessions of complicated Text Completions, Sentence Equivalences, and Reading Comprehensions.
Target the following:
#1: Become an expert at solving single and double-blank TC questions. Don’t get unduly worried about the triple-blank TCs because they generally tend to be a bit complex and you don’t get credit even if you get one of the blanks wrong.
#2: While an RC feels like a giant mountain to scale, any trekker will tell you that you climb a mountain in stages. You can master small segments that will help you tackle RC as a whole. Focus on questions such as the Main Idea of the passage, the Purpose, and the author’s Tone. You can easily master this with a bit of focused practice. Likewise, factual questions based on ideas described explicitly in the passage are not difficult at all.
#3: Aim to solve only short and medium length RC passages. You can skip long passages if you find them time-consuming. Thus by focusing your energy on select parts of GRE RC, you can reach a milestone, rather than be frittering your energy in everything and struggle at the base of the mountain.
#4: Improving your vocab sufficiently is enough to tackle Sentence Equivalence because you need to select two words that mean the same. However, bear in mind that you need to also understand the context of the words correctly.
- To give you a small example of how vocabulary can help in your overall Verbal prep, consider the following words: Appalled, Astounded, Aghast, Amazed
- While all four words mean “to be shocked”, the context in which they are used differ greatly.
- Appalled and Aghast are used to convey dismay. They are generally used in a negative setting.
- Mother Teresa was appalled to see the pitiable condition in which the poor lived in India.
- She was aghast when she realized that she had deleted her entire presentation from her computer.
- But Amazed and Astounded can be used positively.
- He was amazed by the scenic route to his hometown.
- The young boy’s flawless rendition of Beethoven’s Sonata astounded the audience.
- But Amazed and Astounded can be used positively.
Step 4: Practice! Practice! Practice!
Ensure you get as much of practice as possible. The more tests you take up, the better. You will be confident about your exam day and by solving lots of questions, you increase your chances of encountering questions in your actual GRE that you have come across before.
In 4 simple steps, you can beat the world average for the GRE Verbal score! Now, that’s really something!
Get the best out of your advantage as an Engineer and achieve your goal to study at a top university!
Comment and let us know what issues you face with your online GRE preparation and we will get back to you with solutions!