Scoring high in the GRE : All you need to know

Hello everyone, this is Ayush here. I am currently a 5th year Undergraduate student of IIT-Bombay, pursuing Electrical Engineering for my B.Tech. I took GRE in August, 2016 and managed to score 162 in verbal, 170 in quantitative aptitude, and 4 in analytical writing. So, here goes…. All you need to know to get a great score in GRE.

Exam pattern:

First of all, there are 2 writing tasks. One of them is issue-based and the other one is argument-based. This is followed by at least 2 sets of both verbal and quantitative parts of the paper, and an extra from either verbal or quantitative. Out of the 5 sets, one will not count towards the score and it is to be selected randomly.

Books referred: (Click on the book links to buy)

The official guide to the GRE ( for verbal and quant)
Princeton’s new GRE (for writing)
Barron’s essential words for the GRE (for words)
Magoosh’s words deck for GRE

Note : I found that buying the books was much more helpful for me. Simply because, having a hard copy of the books in front of me made me want to study them. Secondly, given the extended periods of time that have to spent studying these books, it becomes much more convenient than the e-books (which college students are used to using, however). Trust me, it will be a worthy investment. (Books won’t cause any unnecessary distractions. But your laptops would for sure :p ).

General Tips:

The quantitative and verbal sections can need very different efforts and strategy for each candidate.
Writing is not an essential and important part. Aim for decent marks in that section.
Cramming up the words is less important. Don’t go for 3000 words for something like that. Even the word fill ups in the exam need you to apply context. There are different types of question in the verbal section.

About My Preparation:

I started my prep 2-3 months before my GRE. My go to book is The Official guide to the GRE. This is a must have book. The first step is to go over the pattern of the exam, type and difficulty of questions in each section. In the preliminary analysis, quantitative aptitude was easy for me, whereas verbal and writing were difficult. My vocabulary was poor and my immediate priority was to learn the words using Barron’s. I divided the 800 words into 30 words a day to learn and 30 to revise. In the initial 4-5 days, I parallely finished the theory for quant and practiced questions from the official book. I was fairly comfortable in quant and didn’t practice it other than taking tests.

After finishing quant, I read about the verbal section and also solved exercises from the book. I did the easy ones first. After finishing by vocab for the first time, I did the medium and hard exercise sets. I started solving question sets from various sources (online and offline) that I could find. I always worked on my vocabulary, restarting after completing the set of 800 words, as well as some words from Magoosh’s deck.

I started taking tests (online and offline, all free ones). Using the scoring trends, I put in extra work in sections like paragraph reading and comprehension. I used Princeton’s new GRE to prepare for analytical writing and practiced on some topics available from the pool on GRE’s website. My aim in writing was to score a decent enough marks and hence I did not put in a lot of efforts there.

For the last week or two, I solved any paper or question set I can find. I also revised my vocabulary.

That’s about all you need to do to get an awesome score in the GRE! Most importantly, just be focused, cool and calm. Give the paper with full confidence, and all shall go well.

All the Best !

Ayush Baid

Electrical Engineering, IIT Bombay

Let me know what you think in the comments below !