Devavrat Sathe, GRE 333 (166 verbal, 167 quant and 4.5 AWA), Undergrad from Insistute of Chemical Technology (ICT), Mumbai
He spills his secrets for crossing 330 in GRE for Yockers.
- When did you decide to turn for higher studies and prepare for GRE?
I had known for a long time that I wanted to pursue a career as a research professional, probably since before high-school. Pursuing graduate studies was therefore an obvious choice and since almost all of the graduate programs I was interested in required the GRE, the decision to take the exam was a very straightforward one and had been on my mind ever since I was a freshman at ICT.
- How was the approach and what material did you refer to?
My approach was quite haphazard initially as I tried to balance GRE prep with an internship that I was pursuing in the summer. It was only in July (my exam date was 1st September) that I managed to streamline my efforts. My approach involved practicing a lot of questions (both math and verbal), trying to understand my weaknesses and shifting focus to those areas after the first few weeks of self-assessment. I found Magoosh flashcards as well as the Manhattan 5lb book and 8 book series the most useful during my prep.
- Verbal is a weak point for a lot of Indians. What was your take on it?
I think that inculcating a reading habit is immensely helpful. I have always enjoyed reading a lot and didn’t find the GRE vocabulary too challenging. I believe that contextual understanding of words as well as interpreting sentences with complicated structures is the real challenge in the verbal portion. To achieve this, as well as to gain familiarity with the vocabulary, it’s best if one picks up a reading habit right from their freshman year.
- Tips for the writing section.
It is important to understand how are well written articles and high scoring AWA attempts structured. Once a person understands and develops their own structure for the issue and argument pieces, it is just a matter of how a particular issue prompt may be expanded to fill this structure or how the presented argument can be analyzed and improved. Personally, reading a lot of New York Times and trying to understand the concept of logical fallacies in arguments really helped me with this. Having a plan of attack before attempting the AWA section is absolutely crucial.
- What things, if given a chance to reappear for the exam, would you do differently?
I’d probably not do anything differently, except attempting more mock tests. That would help me get further accustomed with the testing process, possibly even reducing last minute anxiety that gave me horrible insomnia the night before the test.
- How many Mock Tests did you give? How were they useful?
I took eight mock tests. I believe mock tests are best not for building skill in the different sections but for improving mental preparedness. Taking such a long test can be extremely draining and it can become difficult to focus by the end and only mock tests in controlled exam-like settings (only one 10 minute break in the middle, no food/water other than during the break) can help with this. I myself took some nine mock tests before the exam.
- Which Universities are you aiming for and why?
I have applied to doctoral programs in Materials Science and Engineering at the University of Delaware, Georgia Tech, Penn State and the University of Minnesota, Polymer Science at the University of Akron and Macromolecular Science and Engineering at Case Western Reserve University. These programs have excellent research in polymeric materials, which would help me leverage my background in polymer engineering and the work there also matches my research interests.
- How can one get a score of 330+. Let us know the secrets from your Pandora’s Box.
While having rock-solid preparation obviously essential, the danger of scoring low despite very successful mock tests is very real. Here, the difference between getting a sub-330 and a 330+ score is whether you have your head in the game on D-Day. Being careful while answering questions, maintaining my composure and not trying to guess which section is experimental, was what helped me most during the test. It is also very easy to be fazed by the adaptive nature of the test- it is essential to not pay heed to it and to avoid second guessing answers from previous sections.