Tips and tricks for the GRE

Hello everybody,

First of all, I thank all of you for the good wishes and congratulations that you have sent... either as mails, PMs, or anyhow. I have also been getting a lot of mails from people asking for tips and tricks and how I made it to the 800 in quants and 700 on the verbal. So if you are prepared for a lot of gyaan (which I love shelling out), here you go:

1. How long does it take to prepare?

A: There is no definite time frame. But about 2-3 dedicated hours a day, for about two-and-a-half months is enough. Then, again, it is dependent on your level. To find that out, I'd suggest that you should take one paper-based test that is there in the front of the book (Barron's, Kaplan, anything... or even the Big Book). If you score about 750 on the quants, and about 500 on the verbal (no cheatings, etc) then the time frame I've said should be enough. If you scored more, great... you should try to get to around 1550!! But if less... well, spruce up depending on how much less.

2. From where do I do the quanti section?

A: Keep in touch with the section along with your verbal prep. Ignoring this section can mean the difference between a 780 and a 800. Try to get all your answers right when you practice the tests from the Big Book... no big need to do the practice material from the books. But again, if you stand currently at about 600 on the quanti, please do all the exercises. For the probability and statistics questions, I'd suggest that you catch hold of some CBSE XIIth grade books and do them from there. It is more than enough. Remember, the tests on the different books like Kaplan, Princeton, Barrons are a tad bit easy. You will get a taste of the real thing on the Powerprep ones.. they are good.

3. Verbal Section: Vocab and the Barron's Wordlist

A: Yes, you have to read this one... there is no shortcut. I will suggest that you should start with the lists and go through the Norman Lewis book (a red one titled "Increase your Word Power" or something) in parallel. Make sure you do all the exercises as the author suggests in the book --- word for word. Once you are through, you'll be having a feel that you really know some words. Flash cards do help, trust me... I read most of the Barron's lists through the flash cards one of my sisters had prepared for herself, going to and fro on my office bus. It looks a bit weird, but they are good. After that, when I sat down with the Barron's book... I could see that I knew many words.

4. Reading comprehension

A: The best way to tackle this is to practice. One RC a day continiously for 2 months should be enough to help you spot the right answer. Most importantly, please go through the methods and things suggested in the Kaplan's book as well as the Barron's book. This goes not just for RCs, but analogies, sentence completions and antonyms as well. The methods in these books are really good, and they will tell you much more lucidly how to tackle them than what you can gather from my mail.

A word about the books here should be befitting. Please read the Kaplan's and Barron's book cover to cover. There is a virtual treasure-trove of information that is of immense help and can help you find answers to most of the questions you may be having. The Princeton's book is OK, but I think it is relatively easy and not as good as the Kaplan's and Barrons.

5. The Big Book

A: Yes, even if you haven't bought this one, do so. I bought it from Hyderabad when I visited my friends. There is a place there called Kothi and there is a line of book stalls just opposite the bus stand. You can get the book there for about 250 bucks, although the shopkeeper will start from somewhere around 270-280. Trust me, these 250 bucks will be your best investment. The verbal questions are really GRE standard, and I think one or two questions were among those that I had already seen on the Big Book. One verbal test daily and one quants test once every two days should be enough practice from this book.

6. AWA --- Essay writing

A: This one again is heavily dependent on practice. What I'd suggest is that you write your essays, and then mail it to the group. When somebody does mail an essay, PLEASE EVALUATE IT. Believe me, it takes just about 4-5 min to evaluate 2 complete essays and then you can have a good buddy. Besides, this is a mutually beneficial affair and I personally benefited immensely from this. A sample essay I wrote:

7. General tips and tricks

A. PLEASE TAKE YOUR PASSPORT TO THE TEST CENTRE. I was about to laugh out loud when a (sweet) lady came in and told the test admins even more sweetly that she did not have her passport with her. Well, her condition after she was told (in the sweetest possible way) that she needs a passport to be let in fobade the laughter.
B. Get your first 6-7 questions correct. When I was taking the powerprep tests, I got the first (and fifth) verbal questions wrong on my first test, and the second (and fourth) wrong on the second. Consequently, my scores plummeted to 590 and 620 respectively on these sections, although the quanti scores were ok (800 and 790). This happened one week before the actual test, and I cannot properly express what I had felt on the last few days because of this.
C. Don't forget to read magazines and newspaper editorials everyday. And do hunt up words which you do not know. As for example, I remembered the words UMBRAGE and PECADILLO from a newspaper article although I had read them in Barron's because I hunted them up then and there. Now, you have seen these words in my mail. Go and find your dictionary, right now!
D. There are numerous sites such as that offer a lot of information for GRE people. Try google, university webpages, and anything that you can lay your hands on and to narrow down on these sites... build a good list of bookmarks and keep practising. I believe that the Princetons, Kaplan's etc also have free online tests. Subscribe to the word of the day from the site, and make sure you read through the entire mail everyday. Most importantly, join lots of Yahoo and Google groups, and try to answer questions that other members pose.

Finally, let me assure you that I will be ready to help if anybody has any more questions on the GRE or graduate school admissions. But first of all, please go through all these sites:

Xap Student Center
ACT, GRE, SAT, Free Test Prep from (with Redesign).
Sindhu World Enterprises - GMAT GRE TOEFL tips materials helps links, Computer-based test, CBT, computer-adaptive test, Computer based test, CAT, ESL, EFL, EnglishMaster, computer-based TOEFL, computer-based GRE, computer-based GMAT, preparation, guide, information, materials, practice, question, examinations, answer, explanation, free, download, software, listening, structure, grammar, reading, writing, verbal, quantitative, analytical, issue, argument, essay, pool
GRE Test Preparation software practice test
GRE Secrets- Raise your GRE test score with our GRE test prep study guide
GRE Test preparation software - GradMentor - TOEFL preparation, GRE preparation, GMAT preparation, free TOEFL materials, free GRE materials, free GMAT materials, TOEFL GRE GMAT practice samples, TOEFL GRE GMAT score teach course, computer based test, CBT, computer adaptive test, CAT, English Master, ESL, EFL, EnglishMaster, guide, information, materials, practice, question, examinations, answer, explanation, listening, structure, grammar, reading, writing, verbal, quantitative, analytical, issue, argument, essay, pool ESL/EFL and GRE/GMAT communities
Peterson's Education Portal¨CCollege, Graduate Program, Test preparation, SAT, Scholarship, Financial Aid, Distance Learning
TestMagic - Free GMAT, GRE, SAT Test, TOEFL practice
English Exercises Online
Gre Bible - Pellucid Learning Systems.Download Free Gre Study KIts Practice tests, Vocabulary, Essays Download, Free Gre Material, Vocabulary Word lists
Beat the GRE system with this GRE Test Prep package!
Online TOEFL TWE GRE GMAT AWA Writing Centre
Today's TOEFL Essay Samples
Free TOEFL Preparation Exams, TOEFL Test, and Lessons
GRE Test Information :: TestMagic
Confusing Words
The Phrontistery: Obscure Words and Vocabulary Resources
ESL Resources for Students
Prep4Exams Portal - Prep4exams Methodology
Taking the GRE Test [StudyBeans]
Road2abroad Univresity listings USA, Australia, Canada, Uk VISA season info
TestMagic - Free GMAT, GRE, SAT Test, TOEFL practice
GRE Practice Test Questions
JSTOR - The Scholarly Journal Archive

That was my set of bookmarks... I have bared all my weapons now. Believe me, I spent 5-6 months building them...and these are just for the GRE preparation... I have many more up my sleeve which will be published in due course of time.
Chalo guys all the best! I took my TOEFL this Saturday on 20th and scored 240-297 on it... I am awaiting 290 on that.
Addendum: this site was suggested by manikanth and looks good:
New additions by Praveen and Swaminathan: and

Added later on 18th May, 2005... since this post is apparently being followed by some junta:

I hope this old set of tips should help you regarding RCs:First of all, you need to understand that the reading comprehension is actually a treasure hunt and nothing more. All that is being asked has its answer somewhere in the passage given, and so you must look for the right area in the passage. Keeping that in mind sure helps... for example when you think you have read something about the question in the passage somewhere, and are about to answer from memory, don't! Go through the passage again, and find the exact thing that you were trying to remember, and then you can go ahead and answer a question.

Next, eliminate outrageous answers outright. By "outrageous" I mean any answer choice that mentions something not mentioned in the passage. It may be that the passage is about wildlife conservation, and you get an answer choice that seems to fit in, except for the fact that it mentions poachers or government apathy, etc. --- anything that was not there in the passage... chuck it out straight away.

Also, it helps to keep a pencil and paper at hand and manually cross out answers that you have eliminated like that. You know, A B C D E looks a lot more confusing than A B C D E where you have eliminated B, D and E and can actually focus on A and C. (Sorry this blogger does not allow a strikethrough).

To add to this list I have another piece of advice which, although repeated, I guess is a life-saver in itself. And that is, read the way the various books such as Kaplan and Barrons ask you to tackle the RCs or anything for that matter. Practice their sample examples religiously, and I am sure your standards will improve. Finally, don't panic. If you see that something is taking a lot of time, you have to make an educated guess, much like the way a captain decides to send four of his men through the enemy territory while he saves the other 46. You have to take mental decisions, and tough ones at that, to be able to triumph. At the end of the day, the GRE is not about how much you know but it is about how well you can steel yourself for the challenge!

Finally, if you have come here from google or any other search engine, looking for GRE tips or tricks, and if the above has been helpful, please consider a small donation: you'll make my day!! :)


  1. Thanks a lot for the suggestions Sudipta..
    And you already know i am the most eligible person for these bible like suggestions..


  2. Sachin, gee, thanks, man! Chalo at least I got one non-spam comment here :)

  3. Sunilseo, advice taken.. your links will also remain

  4. Sudipto da u r great.Nice link of sites u have provided.

    tanoy (Wbsa)

  5. Hey Sudipta..
    thanx for taking your time out and writing this guide.


  6. Arati, wow! This is turning into a bulletin board. Just kidding... hope taht CD helps anyone who buys it.

    Tanoy, thanks, dear! :) I always knew that I am great!

    Sri, hey, thanks man! And all the best!

  7. Nice guide.
    Is the red book - "word power made easy"?

  8. Hey Sudipta,
    I am here to thank you. Your tips and trick helped me alot. I got 590 in verbal and 780 in Quantitative. My essay score did not come yet. I might have done better than this but you know sometimes you think speed is more important than mugging too much one single question. Besides, my RCs were tough and taking too much time.
    Well, it is done now. Feeling somewhat relaxed.
    Thanks again.
    Wish you good day.

  9. Mintykulkarni, my pleasure, ma'am (sire?) !!

    I am glad that these old posts were of some help

  10. dude.. wat does PECADILLO mean?
    i can find only pecidillo!!!!!!!!!

  11. Janum, Take a look at this:

  12. hiiiii sudipta,
    i am new to blogging and i post lot of free gre materials in my blog. i am looking for help from experienced and established bloggers like you to extend my reach by providing a link to my webpage in your blog so that it will be easier for people to find me on the internet. i am eagerly awaiting your reply. please checkout my blog and leave a comment. hoping to get some encouraging reply from you. please help me.

  13. goodness, that's a very comprehensive write-up on the GRE. sadly, i didn't come across it before my own test. I decided to take the GRE two weeks before the d-day and managed an 800 in quant and a 770 in verbal, but only because of my avid and life-long interest in words and familiarity with standardized tests (had taken the SAT I & II a few years back) and also, much panicking in the days prior to the test.

  14. Sherene, thank you very much! But your scores are awesome, and much better than what I managed. You have an avid interest in words? Its a real shame that you don't have a blog -- would've loved to read it! Welcome to the blog, anyway. :)

  15. Dear Sudipta,

    Thanks for setting up this wonderful site. I’ve just finished reading your suggestions. I am about to start taking preparation for the GRE exam. Remembering the words of the barron’s list is really something challenging. I have found that it is helpful to remember a new word only when I try to compose a sentence using it. Barron’s book provides sentences with each word but I like creating my own ones. So I would like to ask whether you know about any sites that checks (or better suggests) the grammatical issues of sentences.

  16. Dear sudipta,

    Thanks for setting up this wonderful site. I’ve just finished reading your suggestions. I am about to start taking preparation for the GRE exam. Remembering the words of the barron’s list is really something challenging. I have found that it is helpful to remember a new word only when I try to compose a sentence using it. Barron’s book provides sentences with each word but I like creating my own ones. So I would like to ask whether you know about any sites that checks (or better suggests) the grammatical issues of sentences.

  17. Anonymous, if you simply want to check if a sentence is grammatically correct, type it in MS Word. Otherwise, I'm glad this is turning out to be of so much help.

  18. Judy, welcome aboard! :) I had a look at the website - it looks interesting (especially since it seems to allow you to create your own flashcards).

  19. very information site about GRE

  20. This is a very useful post. I'm going to take the GRE this year and I'm getting more and more nervous every day. I even made a blog about it.

  21. Rahyal, I'll let that link be there.

    Ally, well thanks - will let your link remain.

  22. hey sudipta..i know its late to reply to dis post..but i badly need help..

    first of all..i have xactly 4 weeks to study for the gre..lets assume that i have not evenm started....and currently i am very tensed wrt to my please help me out in any way u can..

  23. Pawan, first of all, set your expectations right: if you take a test right now and score 1100, don't expect to make it to 1400 in a month. I am sorry to say this but you have to understand this. Next, make sure you get into the habit of sitting at a spot fixed for four hours at a stretch: no restroom breaks, hunger, thirst - nothing. You wouldn't have time to go through the word list. Instead, go through all the exercises in all the books or tests you can find. And if you don't know a word, look it up in the dictionary after you take the test. That should help you remember stuff better. In terms of math - make sure you practice enough and don't go below 780. That is one part you can do easily. AWA essays: well, practicing one or two with the help of a friend will help.

    Finally, good luck! :)

  24. Hi Sudipta... thansk for posting your tips and tricks.... i m planning gre in oct.... m not a techni cal person so not in touch with maths....rather studies.... planning for admission in feb.... can i give later in nov or so??? and wht is your advice for me..


  25. Anonymous, it depends on what universities you are interested in, and their application deadlines. Evaluate yourself, take the test and gauge your own reach. Afterwards, take your decision and go in full steam. Good luck!

  26. GRE exams needs a lot of practice and mock test. When I appeared for GRE in 2006, I made sure that I had more than 30 sessions of mock tests before leaving for actual GRE exam. Remember, in most of the countries GRE is a computer based test, and mock tests should be CBT too!

  27. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  28. @sudipta mam-hello mam..!! actually i m a 2nd year engineering student and i m really dedicated for the preparation of i m confused dt how shud i start my prepration..please help me...

  29. Anonymous, since you are actually a 2nd year student, this is what you need to learn first before commenting:

  30. Word of warning about the GRE Teaching in Chennai folks who run They are running a scam and they fool people every day. DO NOT attend their classes - you will fail.

    I told you, right... posting spam comments on my blog in spite of my warnings will get you negative publicity?

  31. Good information about GRE. its need is still required. some useful material about GRE Vocabulary Guide

  32. Hey Sudipta it was awesome that you are still replying to the post nice work.............:-)

    1. Thank you, Manoj - although as you can see I am often late on my replies. :)

  33. Hello there, first of all, I would like to graciously thank you for this vital piece of information. However, I wish to ask whether is it the name of the book "THE BIG BOOK" or is it available entitled something else?

    1. Hey Prakhar,

      Unfortunately I do not know the modern name of the Big Book. It has been about 7-8 years since I prepared for the test, and do not have any idea of the things now. Good luck to you anyway. :)

  34. Hiii sudiptha i m mounika i studying engineering final year nxt i m planning fr ms i think its became too late fr me but still i m in conuse and i m nt getting hw to prepare fr the gre n tofel exam can u give me any ideas

    1. Did you take a mock test to find out where you are? That is where you should start!

  35. Interesting to see how this will shape up in the future. At the moment, most people applying to B-school with the GRE are those who are also using their GRE scores to apply to specialized master's programs in other business areas

    GRE Analogy

  36. Thanks for sharing the Information..It would be helpful during GRE Test Preparation.

  37. To crack the Verbal, one should be aware of 3500+ GRE Word List. Rather than learning, one should start using it regularly to Familiarize with it.

  38. Nice post actually your post are very good to read and it is useful and give more updates, good work you are doing well.
    Hadoop Training in Chennai

  39. Nice post this information is very useful to all the student and very impotent to know Reading ,Writing and General tips are very useful .
    Cloud Computing Training in Chennai

  40. Hi, As long as blogs like this exists, we won't find any trouble in finding questions to solve. You can even join Best GRE Coaching classes but the importance of online blogs will never going to get down.

  41. Thanks for sharing this valuable information with us. Keep on updating.
    gre training institutes in chennai | gre centres in chennai


Post a Comment

Popular Posts