Getting accepted at the top university is determined by multiple factors. One is scoring well in the enquired entrance exam. Over the years, GRE has been one such exam wherein students from across the globe work hard to exhibit the highest score. A good GRE score can enhance your admission application to your dream university. Thus to help you prepare well, we have shared an interview insight from a student who had the highest score on GRE. Rajvardhan Oak, GRE 333(169 quant, 164 verbal, 119 TOEFL), Pune Institute of Computer Technology (Computer Science), Admit from University of California – Berkeley for Fall 2018 for MIMS, with concentration in Cyber Security.
Read along to learn more about what and how did he work to achieve the highest GRE score?
- When did you decide to turn for higher studies and prepare for GRE?
I realized towards the end of my first year that I am inclined towards the sort of courses and programs not offered in Indian universities. I thus decided to pursue higher studies in the USA, and thus, GRE was a prerequisite.
- How was the approach and what material did you refer to?
My approach was quite unique, and sort of bold as well: I took a mock test with absolutely zero idea of the syllabus, pattern or question types that would be there. As I scored nearly 320, I knew that I could cross 330 if given proper advice and training. I had joined a coaching class in Pune, and used their material. At the same time, the books by Manhattan, Princeton and Kaplan also proved to be helpful.
- Verbal is a weak point for a lot of Indian students. What was your take on it?
I was an avid reader as a child; as a result, I was already familiar with many of the so-called ‘GRE words’. What I realized during my preparation was that one must never lose touch of verbal. Going over the words and meanings daily is essential. Cramming hundreds of words in a single day isn’t the solution; at the end you retain only a few. I did around 30 new words daily, and revising over the words learnt so far. At the same time, I read several long articles on topics unfamiliar to me (Black history, psychological advances, literary figures, art forms, economic reforms), which often were the center of several passages in the reading comprehension.
- Tips for the writing section.
The most important thing to keep in mind during the writing section is the typing speed! Practise beforehand so that you are comfortable thinking up and typing your essay in 25 minutes, leaving 5 minutes for proofreading. Another essential thing to do is plan your essay. Structure is very important; your ideas should flow from one to the next. You can read up a few authors on common themes (education, environment, psychology, media, youth) so that you can quote them. Finally, make sure that you surpass the word limit. Shorter essays are not well-received.
- One short of a perfect 170 in quants! If given a chance to reappear for the exam, what would you do differently?
You had to rub that in, didn’t you. Well, I really don’t know where I went wrong. I think that given a second chance, I would have concentrated more and checked my answers once again. Also, I would want to focus more on data interpretation questions.
- TOEFL points at 119 looks pretty cool! Which section you think was tougher and what kind of preparations are needed for the test as a whole?
The speaking section was the toughest. That’s because you have hardly half a minute to think up your answer and then speak it out with minimum grammatical errors. TOEFL needs a preparation of just 2-3 days; the official TOEFL guide by ETS is more than sufficient.
- How many Mock Tests did you give? How were they useful?
I took several mock tests. All of them proved to be extremely useful. Mock tests show you where you stand. Also, you can analyse the correct and wrong answers later to identify your weak spots. The most important mock tests are the Powerprep tests by ETS. They simulate the test and scores perfectly.
- How was the exam day? What tips would you like to give for the D-Day
I was, of course, quite nervous. I’d just say be calm and confident. Carry some dry snacks with you to your exam centre. And double check that you have taken your passport with you. It’s normal to be nervous, but relax, and keep in mind that, this can always be redone.
- Which Universities are you aiming for and why?Also we would like to know about your dream jobs post university.
My dream universities were CMU, UCB and Stanford. I got accepted into UCB and CMU, and will be going to UCB in Fall 2018. Post graduation, my dream job companies include Amazon, Facebook, Microsoft, Google and Salesforce. Fortunately, these companies recruit several students from UCB each year.
- How did your cheat day look like? Any recreational activities or hobbies you pursued?
Well, every day was like a cheat day. GRE is not like JEE you have to spend 12 hours a day studying for it. I studied for a few hours daily. My recreational activities included reading, writing and watching movies. And, of course, hanging out with my friends. My friends have been an immense support.
- How can one score an exemplary 119 in TOEFL? Let us know the secrets from your Pandora’s Box.
TOEFL is extremely easy; nothing as compared to the GRE. As an avid reader, I had a good command of the language. So reading and writing sections were quite easy. For listening, the key is to concentrate and note down whatever you hear; you never know what will be questioned later. As far as the speaking section goes, speak slowly and clearly. It’s okay not to use fancy words or say a lot of things. Just make sure your answer is clear, correct and complete.
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