Oak’s Online GRE® Prep Tools

As the GRE® test is computer-delivered; the test-taker has to be comfortable with solving questions on the screen. After years of appearing for paper-based tests, this may be a little daunting for the average college student in India. One of the best ways to boost your confidence on the test day is to get used to the computer-based delivery of the GRE® test.

Dilip Oak’s Academy offers an online suite of practice modules and tests. This online suite will help you prepare on the go! The suite includes Focused Practice, Test Prep, Mock Tests, and Vocabulary App and has hundreds of GRE-like questions for both the Verbal Reasoning and Quantitative Reasoning sections. A single sign-in will be your key to unlocking all the online features.

FOCUSED PRACTICE

(Available for our GRE® coaching students only)

  1. Reinforcement of the classroom coaching by helping you keep in sync with the concepts, tricks, and tips taught in the class
  2. 400+ questions for Verbal and Quantitative Reasoning
  3. Topic-wise questions for Quantitative and Verbal Reasoning

 

STUDY PLANS

(Available for our GRE® coaching students only)

  1. Carefully designed according to your GRE® test date
  2. Wide variety of plans — one month to four months
  3. Sent directly to your inbox: a detailed preparation method with built-in milestones to help measure your progress
  4. Regular reminders to help you prepare for the GRE® test in a more systematic manner

 

TEST PREPOaks Test Prep

  1. Personalized Dashboard to track your progress
  2. Customized according to the question types and difficulty level
  3. Convenient timed and untimed modes for practice
  4. Instant Review and question summary
  5. In-depth explanatory answers to gauge where you stand

 

Oaks GRE TestMOCK TESTS

  1. Actual GRE® test experience with full-length timed tests according to the ETS® pattern
  2. Analytical Writing section: Get essay scores and personalized feedback by our experienced evaluators
  3. Detailed Analysis: question by question break up of your performance to help you gauge your strengths and weaknesses
  4. Explanatory Review: help you understand what went wrong and how to get it right the next time

 View our Plans & Pricing for Oak’s Online GRE Prep Tools

 

VOCABULARY APPOaks Vocabulary App

  1. 1500 high-frequency GRE® words
  2. Images illustrating the meaning of words
  3. Sample sentences, and audio and text pronunciation
  4. An interactive audio-visual tool with test mode

You can buy the Vocabulary App from Google Play or App Store

Gourmets and Gourmands; Photographers and Philistines: Food, Photos and a GRE Vocab Feast

(The following passage on food photo sharing contains 38 GRE words. If you find it difficult to understand, read through the explanation of the meanings of the words (given with illustrative sentences) and then reread the passage.)

The food photo sharing phenomenon (or what you might call the visual department of gastronomy) is in full swing. New tools such as Foodspotting and Eat.ly are constantly proliferating. Add in the photo-handling capabilities of sites like Foursquare and it’s no surprise that the “eat and tweet” trend has inundated social media feeds. Interestingly enough, this flood of food images is being engendered not just by gourmands or even specialist food sites, but ordinary philistines like you and me who have no expertise in food beyond our own pedestrian predilections. Showing – not just telling – others what you’re eating is becoming mainstream. So is vicariously enjoying others’ food. Why is everyone suddenly so keen to snap their snacks (and gorge on images of the food that others eat)? Does this simply reflect a universal human desire to share things that gives us pleasure? Is it showing off or, is it a drive to gain status? What is the genesis of this new drive? And how is it changing our approach to food and eating?

There are lots of theories about why people like to share pictures of food. Some experts suggest it’s because eating is one of society’s most essential communal activities, and sharing food photos is the next best thing to convivial experience of eating together. Others speculate that food photos allure us because we have always started a meal by ‘eating with our eyes’, preparing ourselves for the actual culinary experience by savoring its visual aspects first. Others still, conjecture that food has become something of a status symbol, and sharing a photo of a meal, particularly from a buzz-worthy restaurant, is as much about establishing one’s place in the social media hierarchy as it is about documenting what we ate today.

The interesting thing about food photography is that it combines two subjects that really resonate with society as a whole: food and culture. Meals, for example, are often a time when people come together to celebrate life and human relationships. So, a food photographer is a visual food anthropologist. It’s not just about the food on the plate; it’s also about the context: the moments, the connections, the scenes, the places, the stories. Think about how people relate to food and what connects them to it. Some of the most interesting photographs come out of this relationship. Mobile phones and social media are at the heart of the food image vogue because social media provide the space where a lot of us document and curate our lives and, mobile phones allow people to capture and share their experiences wherever they are. A new element has enlivened the routine of dining: snapping photos of your meal before you eat is now becoming commonplace in places ranging from the fanciest restaurants to your local café and even in less reputable dives.

Of course, filtered photos of food are no surrogate for the experience of the meal itself: they cannot replace the aromas and sensations of preparation and consumption or, the conversations that take place at the table. As for the snaps themselves – these are merely the yeast with which we leaven the pleasures of the Net. Now that’s food for thought!

1. gourmets (noun): people who are experts in food and wine (often contrasted with gourmands – see below) “He’s very easygoing about everything else, but where food is concerned, he’s a gourmet, eating only the best he can afford.”

2. gourmands: people who enjoy eating fine food and often eat in excess (for the gourmet quality is the important thing; for the gourmand quantity is more important than quality): “He’s a typical gourmand and is quite capable of finishing off two whole tandoori chickens all by himself.”

3. phenomenon (noun): an observable thing or event; a remarkable or astonishing thing or person: “Tsunamis used to be a rare phenomenon, but in recent years they have become alarmingly frequent.” “Nobody had any idea that this small-budget independent film would become such a phenomenon at the Oscars.”

4. gastronomy (noun): the pursuit of refined eating experiences; an appreciation of good food: “Gastronomy is one of the traits that separate humanity from the animals.” “As a lover of fine food, I believe that any man who knows nothing of gastronomy does not deserve to be called civilized.”

5. proliferating (from the verb proliferate): multiplying; increasing in number: “During the nineties, call centers were rapidly proliferating in Mumbai and Bengaluru.” “NGO’s do not seem to be proliferating at the same rate as they were a few years back.”

6. inundated (verb): flooded with something; poured into (something) in great quantity: “After the storm, an underground pipe burst and inundated our housing society with drain water.” “When they heard the news of my mother’s death, my friends and family inundated my inbox with condolences.”

7. engendered (from the verb engender): given birth to; produced; created: “Hailstorms are engendered by atmospheric conditions that used to be rare in this part of the world but have recently become quite common.” “The current mood of anger against government and corporate corruption was engendered by a wave of scandals in recent years.”

8. philistine (noun): someone who lacks higher culture; an ignorant, crude and unrefined person: “She is a well-read person, but she’s very lonely because her husband is a philistine who does nothing but watch the idiot box and play video games.” “He’s such a philistine that he thought that Satyajit Ray’s notable film ‘Apu Samsaar’ was a Salman Khan film.”

9. expertise (noun): a high level of knowledge and skill in a particular domain: “The professor declined to supervise my PhD because her expertise was in a slightly different domain.” “Although he was the president of a major computer manufacturer, he had no expertise in programming.”

10. pedestrian (adjective): commonplace; ordinary; unexceptional: “All the reviews of the film were extremely positive, but I found it pedestrian.” “As a singer he is pedestrian, but as a guitarist he is really extraordinary.”

11. predilections (noun): preferences; likings: “His fatal heart attack was the result of his lifelong predilection for ghee-rice.” “Our dear old dog Nandi had a predilection for chasing cars which ultimately led to his death.”

12. mainstream (adjective): commonplace; conventional: “Twenty years ago, almost no one had a mobile phone; now they have become so mainstream that even labourers have them.” “Once, only village people and goondas got tattoos, but in recent years they have gone mainstream, and now any college student or housewife might have one.”

13. vicarious (adjective): done or experienced indirectly or through a substitute: “This video game gives you the vicarious experience of being a fighter pilot in Afghanistan.” “Today I used Bing Maps to take a vicarious walk through the streets of Tokyo.”

14. keen (adjective): eager; enthusiastic: “I have to admit that I’m not very keen to accept his lunch invitation: I find his company so boring that I have difficulty staying awake.” “I have always been very keen on horror films: I’ve seen about thirty in the last year alone.”

15. gorge (verb, always in the phrase gorge on): to eat a huge quantity of something (also figuratively): “On Saturdays I stay at home and gorge on chivda while reading vampire novels.” “On Saturdays I stay at home and gorge on vampire novels while eating chivda.”

16. universal (adjective): occurring everywhere; valid for everyone and everything: “The Canadian government provides universal health care coverage.” “A universal dengue vaccination would totally eliminate the disease within a generation.”

17. genesis (noun): origin; birth; beginning; process of coming into being: “Today, the world is witnessing the genesis of a new political world order.” “The American space program owed its genesis to the country’s military rivalry with Russia.”

18. communal (adjective): relating to a community: “Eating is the most basic communal activity.” “As a radical individualist, I have no interest in communal activities like festivals.”

19. convivial (adjective): characterized by collective happiness and enjoyment; relating to enjoyable group activities: “The convivial atmosphere of the wedding reception was ruined when the bride’s brother punched her new husband in the face.” “Even though he was generally a solitary man, he did look forward to convivial family occasions like birthdays, weddings, and holidays.”

20. speculate (verb): to guess on the basis of evidence: “Police speculate that the serial murderer may have known his victims personally.” “Environmental scientists speculate that global temperatures may have begun to rise not long after the beginning of the Industrial Revolution.”

21. allure (verb): do draw; to attract; to fascinate: “The fundamental principle of advertising is this: if an advertisement can allure the viewer’s senses, then he will remember the product.” “I didn’t want to accept the university’s job offer because I could see that it was not a first-rank institution, but they tried to allure me by telling me that it would be a permanent position.”

22. culinary (adjective): relating to cooking and food: “Among the things that most attracted her to him were his culinary skills.” “For me, the most memorable thing about our trip to Europe was the great variety of culinary experiences we had in the countries we visited.”

23. savor (verb): to attentively appreciate a positive experience, particularly a taste: “Just savor the feeling of a cold, sweet drink sliding down your throat on a hot summer’s day .” “I hate it when other audience members talk at concerts while I’m trying to savor the music.”

24. aspect (noun) one side or dimension of something: “Every aspect of a problem must be considered if an effective solution is to be found.” “Rightly understood, religion and science are two mutually complementary aspects of the same single, unified reality.”

25. conjecture (verb): to make an informed guess; to speculate about something known on the basis of known facts: “The detectives conjecture that the murderer must have thrown the murder weapon in the nearby river and fled on a train from the nearby station.” “Historians conjecture that the temple must be about one thousand five hundred years old.”

26. buzz (noun): chatter; excited discussion of a popular thing: “This popular new clothing store has generated a lot of buzz all over town.” “You can gauge the success of a new establishment by how much buzz it’s creating.”

27. hierarchy (noun): an ideal structure in which things are ranked in ascending grades of value: “Human beings have always tended to place themselves at the top of the hierarchy of living things.” “Within his first year at the company he was already getting promoted and climbing the corporate hierarchy.”

28. document (verb): to record in writing; to record with written or photographic evidence: “We have to document all our expenses on this trip so that the company will reimburse us.” “The photographs in this book document the story of India’s struggle for independence.”

29. resonate (verb): to be meaningful to someone; to make sense; to express feelings that reflect and bring out one’s own feelings on the subject: “The prime minister’s speeches, which paint an optimistic picture of a prosperous future for the country, resonate with the country’s ambitious youth.” “The story of his struggle to escape from poverty through education and hard work resonates with millions of poor people.”

30. anthropologist (noun): a scholar who scientifically studies human behavior: “An anthropologist must be a completely objective observer of human culture, and must never interfere in what he observes.”

31. context (noun): the situation and circumstances surrounding a thing; the “bigger picture”: “A biography cannot effectively tell the story of its subject’s life unless it also presents a full picture of the social context in which he lived.” “You can’t believe everything people say in the context of a heated argument.”

32. vogue (noun): craze; popular interest in a particular thing: “Italian cuisine is currently enjoying a vogue, but like all vogues it will soon pass and be replaced by another one.”

33. enliven (verb): to make something lively or interesting: “We can always count on the professor to enliven a dull party with his vast general knowledge and bizarre comments.” “Amir Khan briefly enlivens this otherwise boring film with a hilarious five-minute appearance.”

34. reputable (adjective): having a good reputation; respected: “No matter how smart you may be, if your degree isn’t from a reputable university you’ll have trouble finding a good job.”

35. dive (noun): a cheap, low-quality restaurant: “I love eating in this dive, but my wife thinks the place is so disgusting that she won’t even enter it with me.”

36. surrogate (noun): replacement; substitute: “For ensuring good health, there can be no surrogate for vigorous daily exercise.” “Saccharine was the first surrogate for sugar.”

37. aroma (noun): a smell (almost always in a positive sense): “I actually prefer the aroma of coffee to its taste.” “The aroma coming from the kitchen tells me that today’s supper is really going to be something special.”

38. leaven (verb): (said of yeast) to make bread “rise” when it is being baked; (figuratively) to make anything more lively or interesting: “He knows something about everything, and has the most interesting way of talking, so he’s always been the leaven of any get-together he attends.” “Novels were the leaven of my life during the four mind-numbing years I spent earning a bachelor’s degree in a subject I hated.”

Vocabulary Vitamins for the GRE Available Here!

Here’s our challenge for you: a cursory glance at this blog (and even this introduction!) will radically improve your vocabulary. Read it and see if it doesn’t! If you find the words challenging, take a look at the explanations below the article below. They are all from the high-frequency GRE list.

Any journey gives you a chance to take an exciting break from the soporific routine of everyday life. In fact, travelling to places and cultures very different from your own can be a visionary experience. In some cases the sights and sounds of an exotic locale can seem surreal. But going solo takes travel to a different level altogether.

It is true that solo travel can have its disadvantages. Most of us would be wary of going solo because of the difficulties we might face: communication problems, cultural misunderstandings and loneliness among them. On the other hand, people who have never traveled on their own before often describe their first solo trip as a liberating experience. Traveling alone gives you the chance to fully indulge your own curiosity and predilections without being hampered by a companion’s prejudices, tastes, or preferences. You can do exactly what you want to do – all the time. Always wanted to try surfing? Sign up for a class and go for it! There’ll be no one sitting on the beach bored and impatient while you’re out on the waves having a great time. If you are connoisseur of food, a vacation alone will give you opportunities to experiment to your heart’s content with the local cuisine. And there are attractions that will augment the pleasure of the experience. A frenzied shopping spree at the local markets, especially for a solo woman traveler, can be an exhilarating experience.

Further, a little preparation and common sense can spare you the difficulties of solo travel. A detailed itinerary, a meticulous study of maps and other local information is the ticket to a smooth vacation. Also, as unfamiliar sights and sensations inundate you, you must take care not to be gullible or overconfident. Without a companion to watch your back, you are potentially vulnerable to antisocial people and hazardous situations. However, a solo traveler can also blend in more easily than a group; and not drawing too much attention is a good way to stay safe. And there may be compensations: solo travelers who clearly need assistance often have the good fortune to experience the benevolence and magnanimity of the locals. So, traveling solo need not necessarily is more dangerous than going to the movies or having dinner by yourself in your own city.

And, there is a final reward for the adventurous of soul: if you are willing to put away your fear of the unknown, you will discover the paradox at the heart of solo travel: traveling alone far from your roots and all you have known, you will discover not merely new places, you will discover yourself!

vocabulary vitamins

OK, for those who had a little difficulty with the blog or just want a sharper understanding of the vocabulary, here are the 23 high-frequency GRE words that this blog covered along with their meanings, and illustrative sentences. Find the ones you had trouble with and read them through.

Cursory (adjective): done or made quickly: “Even the most cursory look at the organization’s records shows problems.”

Radical (adjective): favoring extreme changes in existing views, habits, conditions, or institutions: “The new president has made some radical changes to the company.”

Benevolence (noun): an act of kindness, disposition to do good: “People either think their benevolence benefits them materially, or gain satisfaction from altruism.”

Visionary (adjective): relating to a vision (that is, a hallucinatory dreamlike experience); marvelous and unreal: “His visionary paintings seem to come from another world.” (Noun) having or showing clear ideas about what should happen or be done in the future, [She is considered a visionary leader amongst her peers]

Prejudice (noun): a bias or assumption; a poorly founded belief: “Many people have the prejudice that only native speakers can teach a language well.” “At first I doubted that he could really be an expert programmer because he didn’t have a degree, but I abandoned that prejudice as soon as I saw how brilliant his coding was.”

Surreal (adjective): seemingly unreal; giving the impression of being unreal; very strange: “I just had a rather surreal conversation with a man who came up to me on the street and told me that aliens from another planet were about to invade the earth.”

Indulge (verb): to give free rein to something; to allow something to follow its own inclination: “I didn’t really want to listen to him talk about his problems, but I indulged him because he was obviously so lonely.” “When someone insults you, you should not indulge your impulse to insult him in return: just walk away.”

Predilection (noun): a preference or tendency: “She has a predilection for chocolate soy milk.” “My dog has an embarrassing predilection to steal people’s floaters and chew them to pieces.”

Soporific (adjective): causing sleep; boring: Only an enormous cup of coffee can keep me awake during one of his soporific lectures.”

Wary (adjective): cautious (of something): “I’m wary of getting into a conversation with her, because once she starts talking she doesn’t stop for hours.”

Augment (verb): to increase something by adding something to it: “You need to augment your CV a bit. Are there any projects or work experience you may have left out?” “We can augment the effect of this drug by adding another.”

Inundate (verb): to flood; to overwhelm; to come at in great quantity; to flood with something: “I assure you that once you complete your M Tech at our college, companies will inundate you with job offers.”

Gullible (adjective): too ready to accept what one is told; too easily persuaded: “Shortly after getting off the plane at Mumbai, a gullible tourist paid a street vendor five thousand rupees for two samosas.”

Itinerary (noun): the plan of a journey: “Why is the bus stopping here? I didn’t think this town was on the itinerary.” “Once I actually start driving I tend to forget about the itinerary and just follow my heart.”

Meticulous (adjective): very careful and thorough; giving attention to details; reflecting or characterized by such carefulness: “He is an extremely meticulous programmer: his code is always perfect the first time.”

Vulnerable (adjective): in danger of being injured or attacked: “Homeless women are far more vulnerable than homeless men.” “The country was vulnerable to attack from the east because all its forces had been moved to meet the attack on its western border.”

Hazardous (adjective): dangerous; perilous: “He has been convicted twice for hazardous driving.” “This housing society was built on ground contaminated with hazardous chemicals.”

Magnanimity (noun): bigheartedness; greatness of heart; selfless generosity: “It requires great magnanimity to truly forgive someone who has badly injured you.” “He was known for the magnanimity he showed to his friends, whom he never hesitated to help with money or other assistance whenever they needed it.”

Connoisseur (noun): someone who has gained a profound knowledge of some thing or activity by frequently exposing himself to it over a long period of time: “He became a connoisseur of Japanese films by watching thousands of them over the years.” “I consider myself something of a connoisseur of idlis, having eaten tens of thousands of them over the years.”

Cuisine (noun): a type of cooking, usually defined by its national origin (Chinese cuisine; Continental cuisine; Mexican cuisine): “I don’t like Italian films much, but I love Italian cuisine.”

Frenzied (adjective, past participle of the verb to frenzy): characterized by extreme excitement, agitation, and distress: “When the dogcatcher caught the dog in his net, the animal at first made frenzied attempts to struggle free, then became still as if he realized that there was no point.”

Exhilarating (adjective, past participle of the verb to exhilarate): thrilling; causing a feeling of extreme happiness and excitement: “Climbing to the summit of a mountain is an exhilarating experience.”

Paradox (noun): an apparently self-contradictory or impossible thing, situation, or statement: “The most intelligent men are often the least effective leaders: history shows us this paradox again and again.”

Cracking the Verbal Section 2: Turning Verbal Debility into Verbal Ability

Cracking the GRE Verbal Section

(Note: debility means weakness or disability; verbal debility here means a weakness or disability relating to the verbal section. Also, check out the other difficult words in this post. To get the meaning, just hover your mouse over them.)

 

How to Improve Vocabulary

1. Get those Vocab Lists, Look up those Dictionaries

As we said in our previous post, a good grasp of vocabulary is instrumental to achieving success in the Verbal Section. To improve your vocabulary, start by learning word meanings, synonyms, and antonyms. In order to do this you will need to find a good GRE list on the net – there are several available – and look up the synonyms and antonyms on a good online dictionary e.g.

On every handy piece of software to download and install on your laptop, phones, tablets, PCs etc is wordweb (http://wordweb.info/free/): it will give you words, meanings, sample sentences etc. for every word you hover your cursor over.

(Note to Dilip Oak’s Academy students: you already have VaiVocabulary – this gives you the word list along with synonyms, antonyms, easily confused words and a whole lot of revision features.)

2. Learn, Revise, Repeat

Developing an effective vocabulary also means consistent learning and revision so, start learning well before the exam – at least three months is recommended – and set up a learning and revision schedule. Make regular revision an integral part of your schedule: unless you revise regularly and repeatedly, you won’t remember any of that difficult vocabulary you are learning.

4. Target the Tough Ones

When you revise, mark out any words that you tend to forget: they need extra revision. The more you tend to forget them, the more they need to be revised; and the more you revise them, the better you will remember them!

5. Start Small

Doing all the learning and revision required can be an arduous task so, start with a good 500 high frequency GRE® word list. A short list like this will be a good stepping stone to the longer ones; and learning it will help you in overcoming the mental blocks associated with vocabulary learning.

6. Put it in Context

Keep in mind that simply memorizing words by rote is not enough, however; and developing a good vocabulary is not merely a matter of memorizing meanings of thousands of words. Often students notice that simply knowing the meaning of an obscure GRE word does not guarantee selecting the right answer in the exam. A proper understanding of exactly how to use vocabulary is necessary. It is this knowledge of usage that helps you to choose the right word for the given context. It is therefore advisable that, along with all your efforts to increase your vocabulary, you focus on getting a clear understanding of how to use these GRE words and which words fit in a particular context.

 

Developing Good Reading Habits

Apart from going through word lists, developing good reading habits is also crucial. One way in which this helps is getting an understanding of usage and context as we saw above. Secondly, though the GRE® is not a test of general knowledge, the reading comprehension passages in the verbal section cover a variety of topics and areas. Some background knowledge of the subjects being discussed in the passage you are reading is always useful since it is always easier to understand something that is at least somewhat familiar than something that is completely unfamiliar. For both these reasons it is imperative that you read a variety of articles from newspapers, magazines, and the web. Sites like the ones below give you access to an eclectic collection of very high quality writings.

http://thebrowser.com/ (easier but nevertheless intriguing reading – good to start with: it stimulates your interest and gets you reading without bogging you down with difficult words or convoluted sentences)

http://www.aldaily.com/ (more complex stuff, really long articles – get into this slowly)

Reading through this material at random can ensure both plenty of practice for comprehension and exposure to vocabulary in context.

(Note for Oak’s students: check out this link)

 

 

Cracking the GRE®: Verbal Reasoning 1 – the GRE exam’s Toughest Nut to Crack

Vocabulary tough nuts

First, here’s some basic orientation for GRE® rookies. The GRE exam incorporates 3 types of section:

  • Analytical Writing (the essay writing section which is scored on a scale of 0-6 with half point increments)
  • Quantitative Reasoning (which tests Maths skills)
  • Verbal Reasoning (which tests English skills – both Verbal and Quantitative Reasoning are scored on a scale of 130-170 in 1-point increments)

Typically, cracking the GRE requires 4-12 weeks of preparation. A major chunk of this time will inevitably be invested in preparing for the Verbal section. Why is this so? Firstly, a lot of Indian students taking the GRE are engineers or others for whom the Quantitative Reasoning section is not a major problem. But Verbal reasoning includes questions on Reading Comprehension, Text Completion, and Sentence Equivalence which require good reading skills and an extensive vocabulary. However, most Indian students don’t tend to read much and, as a result, these are precisely the skills and knowledge that they lack. So, the Verbal Reasoning section is a tough nut to crack. What difficulties does it throw up?

Doing well in reading comprehension entails, among other things, an ability to read challenging unseen passages on unfamiliar topics, locate relevant information within the mass of details given in the passage, understand assumptions and implications and, get the main point. Choosing the right options from among several close alternatives requires insight, and discrimination, and the ability to recognize correct restatements and inferences.

 

In Sentence Equivalence or Text Completion questions, a proper understanding of the logic and reasoning of the sentences plays an important role: without it you won’t find the correct approach. Then, there are the vocabulary challenges. We all know that word meanings in the English language can be quite tricky. The GRE exam makes this problem even trickier by offering you close choices in Sentence Equivalence and Text Completion questions – ones which require you to understand the nuances of meaning and usage of words. Understanding usage and context therefore play a very important role in eliminating the wrong answers. Further, the wide variety of sub-question types and the high difficulty level of the questions is a challenge to most students.

Given the difficulties verbal questions pose, preparation for the Verbal section means developing a thorough mastery of vocabulary, reading skills and the strategies for tackle them successfully. Naturally, doing well in the Verbal section takes intensive preparation and practice for all students. You have to start well in advance, have the right resources and a good study plan. Our next blog will give you a few tips on how to move closer to attaining prowess in this difficult section.

 

Cracking the GRE: Are You Ready for the Analytical Writing Challenge?

Are you ready for AW?

AW Challenging… Really?

If you ask students to name the most difficult section in the GRE, most engineers would say: “Verbal Reasoning” and most non-engineers would say “Quant”. Hardly anyone would suggest that Analytical Writing plays much of a role either in cracking the GRE or getting an admit for an MS in US. For most students taking the GRE exam, therefore, the Analytical Writing section (also called AW) is a surprisingly challenging part. There are several reasons for this.

The Problems of the Engineer

  • First, if you are like most students who come to Dilip Oak’s Academy, you have lost touch with essay writing long ago – your last encounter with this lost ‘art form’ was probably 3-5 years ago in the 10th standard, and whatever you did learn about it has long been buried under the load of highly technical data that you had to stuff your head with during your bachelor’s course.
  • Second, as an engineer (or even a non-engineer) you don’t even understand why AW should be included in the GRE at all (check out this article if you are still not clear).
  • And third, you probably think that since you did essay writing in school, you should be able to manage this section without too much trouble.

However, the AW section is important and it demands that you meet a very specialized (and exhausting) set of requirements.

Why the Big Fuss about AW?

1. Do you understand the issues?

The first Task in AW is always the Issue essay where, you have to think deeply about topics that you most probably have never read about or ever thought you would have to tackle. So, for example:

  • Do you think that getting exposure to another culture will help you understand the culture of your own country?
  • How do you think that a civilization should be judged – on the basis of its scientific and cultural achievements or on the basis of the well-being of its people?
  • And finally, do you think that people in public life should be required to hold to the highest ethical and moral standards and do they have any right to expect privacy?

(For the actual topics, see the pool of issue topics here.)

On these unfamiliar topics, you have to come up with a variety of specific examples that show your insight into the topic; and you have to use these examples to examine the central issue from a variety of different angles. At the very least, you are expected to address both sides of the issue.

2. Getting into arguments

In the Argument essay (see the argument topic pool here), which is the second Task you will tackle in the Analytical Writing section, you have to do several things. Among them, you may have to:

  • evaluate the given argument and its line of reasoning
  • raise questions about its hidden assumptions and flaws
  • set out the evidence required to strengthen or weaken it or
  • examine whether its predictions are likely to come about.

You need to know how to do these things and you need to practice them so that, you can analyze and type in smooth, seamless flow. Further, in both these types of task, you will have to fine tune your essay to meet the specific requirements of the question type you are dealing with in that particular task – and there are 6 different question types in the issue task and 7 different question types in the argument task.

Summing up the Challenge

This means that right at the beginning of the exam, you will have to put in an hour of intense analytical effort to identify the key elements in the argument or issue topic and to produce well-written essays which meet the precise requirements of the task. For this your mind will have to be focused, alert and clear and your fingers will have to have the stamina to put in the 20 minute-burst of near-continuous typing required to generate an essay of 350-450 words, the minimum required to adequately cover an analytical writing topic. It’s not the Olympics but, you need to be physically and mentally prepared for the task. So, here’s the bottom line: if you want to be competent at the AW tasks, you will need careful, well-planned preparation and practice. Make sure you do this well beforehand.

Note: If you are a student at Dillip Oak’s Academy you can take a free Analytical Writing Counseling Appointment (scroll to the end of the page on this link for further details).

Cracking the GRE: Getting Hit by the Analytical Writing Bomb – Why You Must Prepare for Analytical Writing

The AW BombFirst Things First

Here’s a fundamental reason why you should prepare for this section: it is the first section that you will face in the GRE exam – this is always the case. The Verbal and Quantitative Reasoning sections come in random order, and they only come in afterwards. Only Analytical Writing (AW) has a fixed place in the order of sections in the exam, and that place is right at the beginning of this arduous test. It’s a fact you can’t change, it’s a fact you can’t avoid; and it’s a fact that is fundamental to cracking the GRE.

How It is Supposed to Go

Ideally, you should be well prepared for AW. If you are, it should work out like this: you crack the essays. This gives you a surge of positive energy that sets you up to do well in the following sections. The end result? The confidence you gain in AW helps you get through the other sections with flying colors. You walk out of the test center with your head held high, lifted up with the expectation that now you will get some good admits. It’s a happy thought.

The One Thing You Forgot…

On the other hand, imagine this scenario. You know that your GRE score is of paramount importance and you have put in three or more months of grueling effort to make sure that you do well in the Verbal and Quantitative Reasoning sections. You haven’t really done much about Analytical Writing (after all, the only thing you have to do there is write a few essays, and how difficult is that going to be?). But apart from that you are fairly confident that at this stage nothing is likely to mess up your chances of a great GRE score.

…Turns Out to Be the One You Shouldn’t Have

Image credit: Stencil Revolution
Hugging a bomb?

However, the GRE test begins with AW. As you get into the two essay tasks, each with its specific demands and requirements, you realize that there are important things that you don’t understand about the essay tasks, about analyzing the topics and about how to tackle the specific requirements of the question types. It begins to dawn on you that doing a bit of reading would have given you handy examples to use in your essays. You also realize belatedly that that you should have worked on your language skills; and there’s a sinking feeling in your stomach that tells you that you should have practiced so that thinking and typing would be a smoothly flowing process that would fit into the given time.

The Bomb Explodes

Now, however, it’s too late. You are not prepared for AW; and getting hit by all the challenges posed by the AW tasks right in the beginning of your GRE is a big shock. You somehow manage to get through the AW section, but you have lost confidence, and that hits your ability to perform optimally on the subsequent portions of the test – and your performance on the following sections suffers. Not a very good ending after several months of effort.

The Moral

What’s the moral of the story? Don’t take this section lightly – it sets the tone for your performance in the other sections. Start preparing well in advance and set yourself up for success in AW. For those of you who are feeling a little lost, don’t worry, we have some tips for you that will help you to get a grip on this section in a forthcoming blog. Keep your eyes open for it.

Note: If you are a student at Dillip Oak’s Academy you can take a free Analytical Writing Counseling Appointment (scroll to the end of the page on this link for further details).

Cracking the GRE: Why You Can’t Ignore Your AW Score

Why You Can't Ignore Your AW Score

What Albert Einstein had to Say

A simple survey of most GRE students will show you that Analytical Writing (also known as AW) tends to be one of the most underrated sections of the GRE.

  • Firstly, the general perception is that getting an admit for an ‘MS in US’ depends mostly on your Quantitative and Verbal scores.
  • Further, the AW section is scored on a scale of 0 to 6 which, hardly seems worth bothering about compared to the 260-340 score scale of the other sections of the GRE. So, most students don’t give much importance either to this section or to being adequately prepared for it.

But, as Einstein once pointed out, “Not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted.” This is certainly true for the AW section of the GRE exam. Especially if you are an ambitious student, you can’t afford to do badly in Analytical Writing. In fact, there are 2 compelling reasons why you should give this section of the exam careful attention. As you will see, good preparation for the GRE will not only help you cracking the GRE, but will help you during your ‘MS in US’ even afterwards.

1. AW Scores Count

Think of it this way: getting a 5 or 6 in AW might not ensure a great admit but an AW score of less than 3 is very likely to deny you one (more about that below). On the other hand, getting a good AW score can give you an edge over the competition. Suppose you and another applicant have a the same GRE score (say, 320/340), a similar academic record and similar work experience. However, there is difference between you: in AW, the other applicant has a 2.5 whereas you have a score of 3.5. The difference in the AW scores is likely to help the admissions committee decide in your favor.

So, if you are very confident about the excellence of your academic record, and that your GRE scores for the Verbal and Quantitative Reasoning sections are going to be great, then maybe you can afford to ignore this section. Otherwise, especially if you are aiming for a top-ranking university, you should think of the competitive advantage that a good AW score can give you.

2. It is Good to Aim High on the AW Section

This is especially true, if you are looking at PhD. programs, or aiming for top-ranking universities and departments. In fact, for some high-ranking programs, an AW score of 4.0 or above is a basic requirement. The reasons for this are quite simple.

  • The professors in most top American universities and departments are looking for students who have good English writing skills. You might be a bright student brimming with great ideas, but what good are those ideas if you cannot convincingly communicate them in your reports, research papers or thesis?
  • Having the requisite language skills also ensures smooth completion of graduate school assignments such as thesis writing or publishing articles in peer-reviewed journals. This is important, since good writing skills on your part gives professors confidence that they don’t need to invest any additional effort in correcting badly written manuscripts or training you in writing.
  • Furthermore, professors often require students to help them in writing manuscripts of research papers or with writing grant proposals. Such activities are an important part of being a good graduate research assistant and it really irks professors if they cannot rely on you for assistance in these matters.

For these reasons, if you are a GRE test taker who is serious about getting into a top ranking graduate program, it is important that you be adequately prepared for the AW section. Your scores will tell your prospective professors whether you are someone who they should choose or someone they should avoid; whether you are someone whose work they will be able to read and enjoy or will have to spend long hours on, painfully correcting every line; whether you are going to be someone who helps them or someone who can’t be counted on to contribute. Guess who they are going to prefer?

GRE News: Now Available from ETS The Official GRE App

Ripples from the smart phone revolution started by technology giant Apple are spreading out everywhere. Apps for mobiles for a variety of organizations and services are being rolled out in increasing numbers. Now, the ETS has got onto the band wagon with its launch of the first-ever official GRE® test prep mobile app on the App Store.

According to the ETS, the app, which is based on the second edition of The Official Guide to the GRE® Revised General Test, gives users access to authentic GRE® test questions from past administrations of the test, answers and explanations by ETS and the ETS’s own tips and strategies for the GRE®.

With the app users can quiz themselves, track their progress with category-specific results, and even count down the days left till their test date. Two versions of the app are currently available:

Continue reading

Make Learning GRE Vocabulary Fun for Yourself with this Hilarious (But True) ‘History of the English Language in Ten Minutes’

Here’s a fun help for GRE verbal section preparation – especially for those students who find learning the vocabulary a bore! This hilarious video by the Open University, England gives you insights into the ingredients that have been combined to create that wonderful melting pot that we call the English vocabulary.

Some highlights: Shakespeare’s contributions to the vocabulary of the English; before that the additions to the language through the invasions of tribes such as the Jutes, Angles, Saxons and the role of conquerors such as the Normans from France and the Romans. Towards the end of the video there are even parts on the role of the Internet, of America and even India! Definitely worth a watch, maybe even several! Happy viewing!

 

P.S. just in case the embedded video is not working here’s the link:

The History of the English Language in Ten Minutes

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