My GRE Experience

Volume Three: God Stop With These Blogs Already

Seriously. Are you bored of reading me write about the GRE? Do I have nothing better in my life to write about? Find out next time, on DragonBall Z! (Dear reader, forgive the 90s kid his jokes).

Section 1 of 6 [Part 1: Analyze an Issue] : Is this blog is worth reading?

If you have been following my short GRE series (if so, god bless your indulgent soul), you may want some closure as to what my overall GRE Experience was, and if your analysis of the issue so succintly stated in the heading above is in the negative, feel free to skip the detailed and smug ramble to the very end! If you’d like to have a chuckle on the way, considering stopping by section 4.

Section 1 of 6 [Part 2: Analyze an Argument] : This blog is worth reading.

Welcome! The GRE is the first of many steps in applying for graduate and doctorate programs around the world, and with a validity of 5 years is certainly one worth getting out the way. As a working professional, as many of you may be, it is not easy to devote time for studying after a hard day of work, and managing all 24 hours of your day assumes critical importance in this journey, as it does in many other facets of life. If you are a student, you may find this much easier to manage.

Section 2 of 6 [Quantitative Reasoning] : Forty Nights (of sleep) and Forty Days (of resisting sleep)

My overall GRE preparation lasted around 40 days, from the day of registration to actually giving the exam, with around 2 hours a day spent in preparation on average. For the record, I find it quite ridiculous to measure preparation by number of hours of study. 30 minutes a day of focused preparation with a clear understanding is worth its weight in gold compared to spending 4 hours in a day in a distracted haze. It all depends on the kind of learner you are. Devote as much time as you think you need! 1 hour a day is a great place to start. For all members of the procrastination nation out there (I’ll tell you guys my membership ID tomorrow), registering for the GRE before preparation is an excellent tool. I find the thought of spending more than $200 a great motivator to not waste time and get preppin’!

Section 3 of 6 [Verbal Reasoning] : Prepare. Persist. Persevere.

Dramatic title notwithstanding, it is very easy to get bored in the middle of preparation. 40 days is not a short time, especially if you cannot see regular progress (practice test score not improving? Don’t worry. I only crossed 330 in my very last practice test). If you don’t have any self-motivational techniques to stick through this whole process, now is great time to develop them! The GRE is the key that unlocks a higher plane of knowledge (disclaimer: no universities paid for this glowing praise), and at the very least you can brag to your friends about how high your score was. Or who knows, you may even write a hedonistic blog post!

Section 4 of 6 [Quantitative Reasoning] : I’ve run out of numbers for this section to make sense

Um, what’s 10 times 5? If you answered 50, please skip to the next section. If you didn’t, perhaps an alternate career choice may suit you better than finishing this blog.

Oh wait, I found a number!

Dad I got 168/170 in quant!

Where did those 2 marks go?

Well, I think one dropped out to start Facebook, not sure about the other one.

Section 5 of 6 [Verbal Reasoning] : A Comprehensive? Preparation Guide

Please note that while this is a personal experience and may not work for you, I have tried to generalise as much as possible.

  1. Place heavy focus on test-taking strategy. All the memorized vocabulary in the world will not help you if you write the involved verbal reasoning section with anything but the utmost focus.
  2. Learn the exam pattern by heart, and know how you’re going to tackle the sections as they come. The GRE has a fixed format (so cleverly adopted, if I may be so brazen, as the structure of this blog post) as to which questions will appear in which order. Learn it.
  3. Practice multiple tests to devise a personal test-taking strategy. Since you know the format (refer above), all you need is to refine your test taking strategy to suit your unique strengths. Strong with vocab but weak with reading comprehension? Whizz through sentence equivalence and spend more time on reading passages. It’s that easy.
  4. Each question type has a unique way of attacking it. I highly recommend the Magoosh online video series as reference for this, these strategies are the single biggest reason I was able to get a 169/170 in verbal reasoning.
  5. Don’t neglect the analytical writing section, scored out of 6.0. A score of 4.5+ would certainly boost your application, and a low score (< 3.0) may hurt it.

Section 6 of 6 [Experimental Section] : tl;dr - I got 337/340, Here’s How:

I feel bad ending this post with a second list, but hey, you asked for it!

  1. Practice. (banal behavior, but beyond bypassing)
  2. Learn some new vocab every day. (10 new words is doable!)
  3. Refine test taking strategy. (a yet more stultifying task, but stick with it champ!)
  4. A calm, relaxed, focused mind. (chillax to the max the day before, plus a good night’s sleep)
  5. A positive attitude (sorry). You got this. The GRE ain’t nothin’.

If anyone would like to ask my more in detail about my experience, please free to contact me through any of my social media channels, listed in the footer below! And if you find where the second Mark disappeared, let me know, I think my dad is still looking for him.

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20 Words for GRE (Continued)

Volume Two: The Preparation

Note: keep an eye out for the vocab guide at the bottom!

The process of studying for the GRE can be quite stultifying; repeated days of learning and revising new words, practicing reading comprehensions, and eliminating mistakes in quantitative reasoning. It is easy to disparage the act of repetition and revision as inane, and resort to our base, phlegmatic state of lazy procrastination. We must flout all such urges to procrastinate, as the exam date grows nearer, building incipient tension with every passing day. The outcome of our journey can be abortive if we are not assiduous in our dedication to preparation. We must expunge all notions of self-doubt and similarly obviate practices which waste the limited time we have each day.

The Routine

My daily preparation begins at 6:30 AM with the stentorian voice of Google Assistant, redolent of school days when my mother would play the same role. An initially sordid mood at waking up in the chilly, lurid Bangalore morning is made less doleful by a warm mug of coffee and some fresh fruit. Walls painted with notes and word meanings begin the day, and reinforcement learning (Deep Learning folks represent) is followed throughout the rest of the day via the Magoosh app and self-dictated voice notes with tricky words. It may also be helpful during your own preparation to be importuned for meanings by a study buddy, fulfilling a symbiotic relationship of accountability. Overall, what may seem as a peregrination to success, marked by exulting highs and fretful lows, the journey to prepare for the GRE is not nebulous, but very well-defined in this platitude: practice makes perfect!

If you’re preparing for the GRE, my genuine advice is this:

  1. Don’t get complacent (oh the GRE is easy!)
  2. Don’t lose hope when the verbal section makes you want to cry!
  3. Practice
  4. More practice
  5. Even more practice

Vocabulary Guide:

  1. stultified: lose enthusiasm due to tedious routine
  2. disparage: discredit, not think its important
  3. inane: silly
  4. phlegmatic: hard to rouse to action
  5. abortive: fail to produce intended result
  6. assiduous: show great care and perseverance
  7. expunge: obliterate
  8. obviate: eliminate
  9. incipient: beginning to happen
  10. flout: resist, diregard authority
  11. stentorian: loud
  12. redolent: strongly reminiscent/smelling of
  13. sordid: dirty, dishonest actions
  14. doleful: sad
  15. lurid: very bright, shocking
  16. peregrination: journey, esp. a long and meandering one
  17. exult: celebrate a lot
  18. fretful: irritation, distress
  19. nebulous: unclear, vague
  20. importune: persistently annoy someone to do something
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Welcome to the 20 Words for GRE series

Volume One: Game of Thrones

Disclaimer: all readers will be subject to my acerbic wit, and I take no responsibility for being injured by its sharpness. I encourage all readers to try to infer what a word means from context, before referring to the dictionary below.

The concept behind this series is the use of GRE vocabulary to create a story that will both help me prepare for the verbal section of the exam, express my didacticism by having some fun and sharing it with you to learn along with me, and perhaps dispell any diffidence regarding doing well in the exam.

I’m also trying to regain a little of the wonder and magic that taciturn 12-year-old Aniket was perpetually lost in, his nose so deep in an alternate universe he once crashed headfirst into a mailbox on his way home from school.

A Polemical Essay on Trite Storytelling

Prosaic stories are not my cup of tea. The overuse of the hackneyed concepts of good vs. evil, boy meets girl and saves the world, are things that are a frivolous mockery of good literary practices. Too often, the fastidiousness of an author in their world building and plot pellucidity is sacrificed to add extraneous themes to drive the plot forward (refer Game of Thrones Season 8, where the creators’ powers over writing should have been circumscribed).

In the case of Game of Thrones, by season 8 the show was characterized by regular bouts of capriciousness: the tone would sway unpredictably from attempting to significantly develop a character in very ephemeral periods of time to logically perplexing plot devices. The creators when called out seemed to prevaricate, and eagerly switch topics. These practices gave a show which was once replete with the complexity of real world politics, wonderfully consistent grey character arcs, and shocking twists that were not written just to shock the audience an ending that was borderline egregious.

At the close, I apologize to the reader for the prolixity of this post, and hope this concept has not left you too apathetic to return!

If you liked this series, please let me know in the comments or through one of my social media channels and I’ll get to work on another one!

Vocabulary Guide:

  1. acerbic: sharp and forthright
  2. didacticism: act of excessively schooling someone
  3. diffidence: shyness, lack of self confidence
  4. taciturnity: quiet, reserved
  5. polemical: very critical, disputacious writing/speech
  6. trite: lacking originality/freshness
  7. prosaic: prose and not poetry, unromantic
  8. hackneyed: unimaginative
  9. frivolity: mockery of something, no seriousness
  10. fastidiousness: attention to details
  11. pellucidity: very clear
  12. extraneous: irrelevant
  13. circumscribed: restrict power within limits
  14. capricious: sudden changes in mood
  15. ephemeral: small amount of time
  16. prevaricate: speak or act evasively
  17. replete: completely filled or supplied with
  18. egregious: shockingly bad
  19. prolixity: tediously long
  20. apathetic: showing no interest or enthusiasm
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Welcome to my Blog!

Now that you all clearly know how hard I try to come off as a programmer, welcome to my blog! After spending the past 10 years thinking of a title and procrastinating the creation of this blog until coming up with the perfect one, I improvised with what I thought was a placeholder, but may end up being the final working title (I quite like it, thanks to my Samsung buddy Aravind for the inspiration).

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