Updated on Apr 29, 2021
How often do those who score 339/340 in the GRE drop the idea of pursuing a grand Master's degree from the US? Well, why wouldn't you if you have greater plans! Yocket Editorial Team talks to Shruti Rijhwani, Engineering graduate from BITS Pilani on her absolutely enormous feat of scoring 339 in the GRE and her ideas for tomorrow!
Yocket: Congratulations on your achievement, Shruti. Tell us a little about your academic background and how eventually you appeared for the GRE?
Shruti: I have just finished the final year of my Bachelor's degree from BITS Pilani, Pilani Campus. I studied Computer Science. I appeared for GRE on the 24th of July 2014.
Yocket: For how long did you prepare before the attempt and what do you think about it in retrospective?
Shruti: My schedule was rather hectic- a lot of pressure and no fun at all. I kept less than a week to wrap up all the course content for the exam. Although it was possible to do so with some intense hours of study, I would recommend to anybody that a similar study plan can be accomplished successfully over a period of three weeks without panic and relatively casual study.
Yocket: In brief, tell us how you would suggest people to prepare for quant, verbal and the analytical writing part to score high in GRE
Shruti: Frankly, I didn't really pay a lot of attention to Quant. For somebody who has done High School mathematics in India, quant is more of revision than actual study. So all I did was that I read up parts that I had forgotten and took up practise tests. These made me confident enough.
For GRE verbal, I would suggest that practising the difficult questions makes a lot of sense as none of the practise tests I did were as difficult as the main paper.
I used the following for verbal prep:
I scored 5/6 in the writing part. I will suggest a lot of practise and going through the samples essays on topics given by ETS themselves. Practising all isn't possible but a few try outs help planning time management.
Also, the most important thing to do before starting your prep is to take a diagnostic test and identify question by question where you are faring well and where you need to put in more effort. This should be done well in advance to plan the study accordingly.
I was reasonably well in quant but in verbal I had a little work to be done.
Yocket: You know how entrances work in India; tell us how GRE works differently and of course, in your case it has worked so well and you have scored really high in the GRE!
Shruti: GRE does work differently. The exam test general proficiency in quant and tests students on vocabulary that they will come across during the course of study. This is not subject oriented and that makes scoring well in GRE achievable.
Yocket: Tell us about your graduation stats and your plans for the future? Which course will you be pursuing and how are you planning to manage your preferences?
Shruti: Well, I have decided not to pursue a Master's immediately. In fact, I have secured a Microsoft research fellowship which I will be reading for now. I plan to do my PhD from the US in Computational Linguistics. As of now, I have not decided upon the place as a PhD is more professor specific rather than University specific.
Yocket: A lot of generic things like books and classes can be done away. Do you suggest any such cool things to study?
Shruti: As I mentioned earlier, I prepared for a really short duration of less than a week. Understandably, I didn't join any classes and to be frank, I have no idea about the classes for GRE.
A lot of people have problems with the verbal section as remembering a lot of words without absolutely any context become difficult. Learning words and meanings are redundant for me. GRE tests you on the practical and contextual use of the words so it is a lot better to read more,try to see how the words can be used in routine life. For that purpose I used Barron's 1100 as it used the words in the form of stories which made the preparation make sense.
You need to do a lot of self study. You need to read and understand. Even if you join a coaching class, you should make sure that a separate all out effort must be put in by you as self study.
Yocket: What are your other interests and Hobbies? Do you think any of them actually help eventually for these exams?
Shruti: Reading helps a lot in general and for GRE in specific the fact that I have been an avid reader over years helped me in the writing and the verbal section.
I would also suggest people to speak in English regularly. It works well in this case. What that means is that when one gets habituated to English, he adapts to it as something natural. For me, English has been my first language. I think in English so most of my interaction is in English and I'm most comfortable in the language. It becomes a lot easier to comprehend even difficult sections.
Yocket: Very well. What would you advice to the future aspirants?
Shruti: Umm...Well the first thing is start early. Identify weaknesses and give yourself enough time to work on those weaknesses. For me it was easy because English is my first language but I do understand that for everybody in India it's not the same.
The 2nd most important thing would be to ensure that you cover all the type of questions. Questions are all standard and even the writing section is highly predictable. Practise the topic sets and have a general framework for each topic ready in the analytical writing part.
The 3rd would be practise. There's no escape from practise. Also, because there's no great variation in the GRE papers, practising enough makes one familiar with the crux of the paper.
Yocket: That is right, Shruti. Congratulations once again and surely your inputs will be really useful to future aspirants. All the very best for your plans for the future!
Shruti: Thank you!
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