How To Score A Perfect 170 In GRE Quantitative Section Image
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How To Score A Perfect 170 In GRE Quantitative Section

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Nikhil Mohan, GRE - 335 (170-Q, 165-V, TOEFL - 117), Graduate from National Institute of Technology Karnataka, Surathkal (ECE). Admit from University of California, San Diego for ECE (Signal and Image Processing).


  • When did you decide to turn for higher studies and prepare for GRE?

I was always sure about pursuing my higher studies. When I entered my 5th semester is when I started looking into the preparations I had to make to pursue my higher studies. I started preparing seriously for GRE during the winter holidays in my 3rd year and took the exam on December 22nd.

  • How was the approach and what material did you refer to?

I took a few practice tests before I started preparing seriously to judge my level and to let me know where exactly my weak points were. I improved my vocabulary to a large extent by going through the Magoosh Flashcards seriously. I found them very useful and I would definitely recommend them. I also signed up for the Magoosh test series. Its a decent investment because it really paid off, and you don’t want to be in the position where you have to retake the GRE and shell out an extra 200 odd dollars.


In this video Saumya talks how to crack GRE quants


  • Verbal is a weak point for a lot of Indian students. What was your take on it?

This is really an individual specific question. I think students generally know whether their command over the english language is good or not. In my case I was pretty comfortable, so I just focused on improving my vocabulary and sentence structure. If you find that you’re a little weak, I would suggest you start early and read a lot of GRE style passages and books.

  • Tips for the writing section.

Keep a clear head when you’re attempting the section. It’s the first section you’ll be taking so you’ll be relatively fresh. I practiced mainly by writing a basic schematic of all the points I want to cover. This helps a lot, because then at the end you won’t have to edit your essay so much. Practice atleast 4 to 5 different types of essays and have a friend go through them. Keep about 5 minutes at the end so you can go through your passage and remove those random spelling or grammatical errors.

  • It would have been a perfect 340 if not for the Verbal section, if given a chance to reappear for the exam, what would you do differently?

Difficult to say really. I guess improving on the text completion and sentence equivalence sections would have helped to get those missing 5 points.

  • TOEFL points at 117 looks pretty cool! Which section you think was tougher and what kind of preparations are needed for the test as a whole?

Take TOEFL after your GRE, as preparing for GRE is more than enough for TOEFL. The only section that you need to work on will be Listening and Speaking. For non native english speakers I suggest you to sign up for some online TOEFL preparation sites ( I used Magoosh), or atleast get a list of the basic questions they ask you and have a friend who speaks well ask you these questions. Answer slowly and enunciate clearly. Most people have the tendency to speak too fast to give the impression of fluency, but I strongly suggest against this. The listening section should be pretty ok, mainly because a lot of us watch a myriad of english shows and movies. Just practice listening carefully and learn how to take short notes during the lecture.

  • How many Mock Tests did you give? How were they useful?

I took about 5 full length mock tests. 2 were by ETS only, 1 from Kaplan ( Their entrance test!) and the other 2 from magoosh. I used to practice a lot of questions from the verbal section to get my weak areas sorted out. Take an initial practice test, to find out your weak areas so you can start working on them immediately. The last 2 tests should be taken abut 2-3 days before your actual exam. Don’t worry if you mess up. I never crossed 329 in any of the mock tests.

  • Which Universities are you aiming for and why?

My area of interest is Signal Processing and Machine Learning. The main universities I was aiming for were GaTech, Umich, UCSD and UT Austin. While doing my undergrad I used to refer to a lot of papers published by these universities, so I knew they were good. Also their courses are very much aligned to my interests and seemed ideal for me.

  • How can one score an exemplary 170 in quants? Let us know the secrets from your Pandora’s Box.

Maths has been a relatively strong subject for me, so I didn’t have to brush up on my fundamentals or anything. However, I am the type of person who is kind of careless and I make a lot of silly mistakes. Practice problems from any standard GRE book, so you can familiarize yourself with the different types of questions. Data interpretation questions are particularly tricky and annoying, so practice them. Get used to reading the questions carefully and you should be set.

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