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Interview with Praveena


99 percentile on the GRE Verbal

Why did you write the GRE?

I was going to join my husband in the US. I was going to the US on a dependent visa which did not allow me to work there. I figured that my best bet was to do a Masters program. Admission into a non-management MS program required a GRE score.

What materials did you use to prepare?

I did not have access to any high quality training centers as I lived in a small town. I had to rely on books to prepare. I was fortunate that I read a lot and had a few friends who could teach me the key GRE techniques. I would recommend that everyone get good quality coaching if it is available as your techniques are the single most important factor in getting a good score.

The books I used were the official GRE question bank, Kaplan, Arco, and Princeton review.

What was your strategy for the Verbal section?

I had always heard that the GRE verbal part was really difficult and that it stumped a lot of people.  After an analysis of the GRE sections it was clear to me that vocabulary played an important role. 

Given the role one's vocabulary played in obtaining a good score, a key focus of mine was to improve my vocabulary.  I also understood that good techniques could significantly improve a student’s standardized test scores.  Therefore, after focusing on building a good vocabulary, my next priority was to identify and develop good techniques to crack the various types of questions.

What was your strategy for developing a good vocabulary?

I decided to tackle it, a few words at a time. I started with a list of all the words that commonly appeared on the GRE, learning about 10 words at a time. Those that I still found difficult I noted down and read through several times a day. It also helped me to think of and remember simple sentences in which really difficult words could be used.

I also used other techniques like developing word webs, entomology, flash cards and quizzes.  testclassroom.com is also offering a free daily email service that will help with your vocabulary.


Interview with Praveena (Part 2)

This week Praveena takes more reader questions. Feel free to email any questions you have to care "@" testclassroom.com


You mention that you focussed on identifying patterns. Can you share an example?

Yes, identifying patterns really helps you reduce the amount of time required to get a top score. Although this is important for both the GRE verbal and math sections, I personally believe it to be more important for the GRE verbal section. For example, I believe the GRE test writers like to test a lot of words from the medieval period. So reading a few books or stories about the medieval period will help you quickly learn words that have a high probability of showing up in a GRE test.

We have helped the tutors at testclassroom.com develop some of these techniques for their classroom sessions. They have also identified key words that they teach in their online classes and share through the GRE "word of the day" daily emails.

How important is the GRE verbal section when compared to the GRE math session or the combined score?

There is no blanket answer for this question. Usually schools look at the GRE verbal, math and AWA scores. It depends on a number of factors. Some factors are:

The admissions committees of the schools you are considering: At the end of the day, the acceptance decisions are taken by a group of people. There is no prescribed formula. Over the course of time, admissions teams develop different points of view stated or unstated.

The applicant profile: The importance of the GRE verbal score varies based on the applicant. For example the admissions team may look at the GRE verbal score of an international applicant more closely than at that of a student from the US or UK where English is the primary language.

The program you are applying to: If you are applying for a literature program, the GRE verbal score may be more important than when applying for a math program.

The immediate purpose: Often the GRE score is used by teams other than the admissions team. Some examples are: a scholarship decision, a teaching assistant selection, or a job interview or a summer internship. Here language skills play an important role and the GRE verbal score could be an important indicator of your language skills for the decision making authority.

In general, I would encourage you to write to the admissions teams of the schools you have shortlisted to get the most specific answer to this question.

Did you have a target score in mind when you started preparing?

No, I did not have a target score in mind when I began preparing. I was only aiming for the highest possible score. This was the case for both the GRE verbal and math sessions.

How much time did you allocate for GRE verbal vs. GRE math section?

When I started preparing, my intention was to devote an equal amount of time for both these sections. As I progressed in my preparation, I began to fine-tune my preparation focus. I would identify the areas that I was strong in and those areas that I was weak in and spend more time on the weak areas.

Interview with Praveena (Part 3)

Why did you decide to attend graduate school?

Honestly, I decided to attend graduate school because it was expected of me! I loved to study and was good at what I did.

Why did you choose your university?

My husband was doing his MBA and so I decided to go to the same university .

What was the best part of graduate school for you?

I loved the extracurricular activities the universities in the US offered. I also liked the lab facilities that our university had. They are significantly better than most universities/colleges in other parts of the world.

What advice do you have for a student going to do their MS in the US?

Live life to the fullest. Get the most out of your time in school. Study hard, be involved in as many activities, clubs and societies as you can. Make as many friends as you can. They are the best part of school!

Did you work during your masters program? What kind of work did you do and why?

I did work during graduate school. I worked as a teaching assistant to a professor. I also did part time projects for a telecom consultant which was very interesting. Most colleges need teaching assistants and this was a great way to get to know faculty well, make some money for tuition and above all learn a lot from the experience.

Did you do an internship between your first and second years? Please describe your internship? How did you get your internship?

No, I did not do an internship. My husband and I traveled through the south east coast of the US by car. This road trip was one of the most fun things I have done so far in the US!

More next week………

Email Praveena any questions you have at
care "@" testclassroom.com.

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