Jumpstart your GRE Prep with Oak’s exclusive Study Plans

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One of the most important steps in preparing for the GRE is planning your study schedule.  Many a time, despite being fast learners, students fail to score high in the GRE only because of haphazard study methods. A structured prep plan helps you to systematically cover all the topics, manage time, and stay focused and motivated until your test day. At Dilip Oak’s Academy, along with GRE Coaching, we guide our enrolled students to study in a methodical manner through our exclusive GRE Study Plans.

Depending upon your GRE date (ETS registered/tentative), we provide you with a customized study plan for either 1 month, 1.5 months, 2 months, 2.5 months, 3 months, 3.5 months or 4 months.

Each study plan includes a step-by-step preparatory guide with day wise and week wise guidelines for Verbal Reasoning, Quantitative Reasoning, and Analytical Writing Sections of the GRE.

While each study plan varies according to the duration, it broadly includes:

  • Vocabulary Learning and Practice
  • Verbal Reasoning strategies and practice
  • Quantitative Reasoning strategies and practice
  • AWM essays brainstorming
  • ETS Material Practice

All the study plans comprise rigorous learning and practice modules for each of the above sections. To help you keep a track of your preparation, we also send you daily and weekly goal-setting reminders.

Along with these, the study plans also include access to our exclusive online learning tools: Focused Practice, Test Prep and CBTs that help you study in a more organized manner and allow you to track your progress.

Focused Practice

  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

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

CBTs

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

Who can avail the study plans?

Only those students who have enrolled for GRE Coaching at Dilip Oak’s Academy can avail these study plans. To jumpstart your GRE prep and unlock our comprehensive study plans, register for our Online GRE Coaching.

You can then request for the suitable study plan by submitting us the details of your enrolled batch, Roll Number and GRE Test date on gre@dilipoakacademy.com.

The plan will be sent directly to your inbox on your registered email ID.

What are you waiting for? Register for our October 1 GRE batch here: https://www.dilipoakacademy.com/gre-online.html and along with study plans, avail 30% discount on the coaching fees!

 

 

A High-Frequency GRE Vocabulary Punch… from the Panchantantra

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This story from the Panchatantra contains 19 high-frequency GRE words. See if you can understand the meanings from the story otherwise, the meanings are given below.

Mandavisarpini was a white flea. She lived in the folds of the luxuriant bedclothes on the bed of a king in a certain country; she lurked about in them at night and fed on his blood without anybody noticing. One day, a bug managed to enter the beautifully decorated bedroom of the king. When the flea saw him, she cried, “O bug, what are you doing in the king’s bedroom? Leave at once before you get caught!”

The bug replied, “Madam, even if I were just a nugatory good-for-nothing pest (which I most certainly am not), it would not be right to treat me this way, because I am your guest, and one should welcome a guest with comity and humility. It is the duty of the host to offer refreshments,” the bug continued, “and though I have fed myself with all types of blood, I never have I had the opportunity to savor the blood of a king. It must be very savory, for a king’s life is filled with all kinds of opulence, and so he must satisfy his palate with only the most magnificent culinary marvels. So, if you will permit, I would love to taste the king’s blood.”

The flea was dumbfounded.

“O Bug, you have a painful bite which feels like a barb perforating the skin, she said, “so the king will surely wake up when you bite him. I feed on the king’s blood only when he is in profound sleep. I can permit you to feed on the king’s blood only if you promise to wait till he is asleep.”

The bug agreed: “I promise to wait till the king is asleep, and only after you yourself have fed will I feed on his blood.”

Soon after they had resolved on this plan, the king came and lay down to sleep. The bug could not control himself, and decided to take a tiny bite of the king right away. As the king had not yet fallen asleep, he jumped when he felt the bug’s sharp bite. Distraught, the king shouted to his servants: “There is something in my bed that has bitten me! Look for it!”

On hearing this, the bug quickly ran to a corner of the bed and camouflaged himself by standing in front of the dark wood of the bedframe. The servants scrutinized the bedclothes sheet by sheet, and found the flea in one of the folds. They killed her at once, thus allaying the king’s anxiety, and the king then went to sleep in peace.
Thus the wise say: Beware the false promises of strangers and friends alike. You are the one who will end up paying for them.

GRE Vocabulary and Meanings

  1. luxuriant (adjective): splendid, shining, and beautiful: “He watched her as she combed her luxuriant brown hair.” “The actress came to the awards ceremony dressed in a luxuriant green sari.”
  2. lurk (verb): to move stealthily and cautiously so as not to be seen: “At night, rats lurk in the ground-floor rooms of our house.” “I never walk on the university campus at night, because they say that thieves lurk in the woods there.”
  3. nugatory (adjective): worthless: “Throughout my teens I continuously wrote poetry, most of which now seems nugatory or positively hilarious.” “A degree from a third-rate university is nugatory.”
  4. comity (noun): courtesy; consideration; kindness: “Political refugees deserve to be treated with comity by the host state while their applications are being considered.” “I wouldn’t recommend that hospital: I sensed a distinct lack of comity on the one occasion when I was treated there.”
  5. humility (noun): humbleness; lack of pride: “Despite his fame, the actor always treated his fans with humility and gratitude.” “When approaching the god in worship, you must always assume an attitude of humility.”
  6. savor (verb): to attentively appreciate a positive experience, particularly a taste: “Just savor the bold flavor of this new Italian wine I bought today.” “I hate it when other audience members talk at concerts while I’m trying to savor the music.”
  7. savory (adjective): tasty; having a pleasing taste: “This bhaji is much more savory than I expected: in fact, on the basis of its appearance, I thought it would taste disgusting.” “A little spice makes food more savory; too much spice just drowns out the taste.”
  8. opulence (noun): splendor of wealth; splendid show of wealth: “Having been quite poor before he became famous, the young actor was unprepared for the opulence of his new lifestyle.” “He’s a man of simple tastes, so he is very uncomfortable with the opulence of the expensive new house his wife forced him to buy.”
  9. palate (noun): the top of the mouth, once thought to be the location of the faculty of taste; the faculty of taste: “Our food will delight your palate with tastes you’ve never even imagined.” “There’s no point in taking him to fancy restaurants: He has the palate of a street dog.”
  10. 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.”
  11. dumbfound (verb; almost always in the form of the past passive participle dumbfounded): astonish; appall: “Philosophers of every generation concern themselves with the same set of eternal mysteries that dumbfound the human mind.” “I was dumbfounded when my wife of twenty years sold all our property, emptied our bank account, and fled to Bolivia.”
  12. barb (noun): a thorn; any sharp piercing object: “As he ran through the forest, barbs and branches tore his clothes.” “Bees and wasps have a poisoned barb in their tail with which they sting their enemies.”
  13. perforate (verb): to penetrate; to cut through: “The bullet perforated his left side and lodged between his left lung and his heart.” “Use this machine to perforate the pages so that they can be bound.”
  14. profound (adjective): very deep: “The wreck of the Titanic lies at the bottom of one of the Atlantic Ocean’s most profound chasms.” “The old professor’s students were amazed by his profound knowledge of his subject.”
  15. resolve (verb): to decide (also resolve on): “I resolve to study Japanese for an hour a day until I have attained native fluency.” “After ten hours of deliberations, the prime minister and his cabinet resolved on a declaration of war.”
  16. distraught (adjective): distressed; upset; alarmed: “At the airport, distraught friends and family of the passengers waited anxiously for news of the missing plane.” “I became distraught when my wife still had not returned home at eleven PM.”
  17. camouflage (verb): to conceal something by making it look similar to its surroundings: “Deer camouflage themselves by standing amidst tall dry grass that is similar in color to their brown coats.” “He camouflaged his cricket bat by leaning it against the trunk of a tree.”
  18. scrutinize (verb): to examine or search very carefully: “Even if you have edited your written work thoroughly, you will find errors that you had missed earlier if you scrutinize it again” “Every day I scrutinize the online newspapers for stories about genetically modified crops.”
  19. allay (verb): to neutralize or lay to rest (fear, anger, hunger, or some other negative feeling or experience): “She tried to allay my fear of flying by telling me that in fact one is more likely to be stabbed to death by a monkey than to die in a plane crash.” “The health minister sought to allay the public’s anxiety about Ebola by announcing that every person coming into the country would now be thoroughly screened for the disease.”

GRE Score Reports: Things You Should Know

Score Card

The first thing you should know: take your GRE about 1 ½ to 2 months before your earliest important deadline. It is going to take approximately that much time for your score reports to reach the universities you have chosen as score recipients (i.e. the universities you chose to send your score reports to). Here’s what the ETS says:

Getting Your GRE ScoresAbout 15 days to a month after your test, you will be able to view online and print out, for your own records, your score report in the PDF format shown below:

Examinee GRE Score Report Image

Having seen the format, you probably have some questions: for example, why are the scores for the Verbal and Sections given under two different headings: prior format and current format? And what is the estimated current score under prior format for?

Well, before August 2011, the GRE used to score the Verbal and Quantitative sections on a scale of 200-800 instead of between 130-170 as they now do. According to the ETS, GRE scores are valid for 5 years. This means that GRE scores taken in September 2011 will continue to be valid according to the ETS till September 2016. Until then the ETS has to provide a way of comparing the old and new scores. They do this by providing:

  • an old score equivalent for tests taken under the Revised General GRE format (taken on or after 01 August 2011)
  • a new score equivalent for tests taken under the earlier GRE format (i.e. before 01 August 2011)

This is why the scores for the Verbal and Quantitative sections in the PDF shown above are given in two columns: ‘Prior Format’ and ‘Current Format’. This allows universities to easily compare the scores of students who have taken the older versions of test and those who have taken the newer one without too much difficulty. The ‘Estimated Current Score’ column (under ‘prior format’) was specially meant for candidates who had taken the old format of the test and for whom American universities needed an estimated equivalent score in the new format.

Somewhat pointlessly, the ‘estimated current score’ is also given for students who have taken the new version of the test (the Revised General GRE as it is called) – this is pointless since they already have an actual score in the new column. But we guess, since the ETS had the columns, they had to fill them up! Perhaps, reports after August 2016 will be simpler. Practically, however, this comparative data will not make much of a difference to you since most universities do not accept GRE scores that are older than 3 years. So, American universities probably stopped accepting September 2011 reports in September 2014.

Here are some other important links to check out:

Can I ask the ETS to show universities only the scores I want them to see?

Free GRE score reports

Ordering additional GRE score reports

And just in case, you are interested here’s the PDF format the score report that the universities you are applying will see if you have asked the ETS to send them a score:

Graduate Institution GRE Score Report Image

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.”

Centre Shock: The Unexpected Challenges Your GRE Test Center May Throw at You!

Hi folks! Today’s post is a write up by Shraddha Barawkar, an engineering student (see brief bio below) about her GRE test experiences at the Prometric Center at Goregaon. We thought it might be interesting for all you GRE candidates out there to hear about how things worked out for her.

 


  • Name: Shraddha Barawkar
  • Branch: Mechanical Engineering
  • College: Pune Vidhyarthi Griha’s College of Engineering and Technology
  • GRE Date: 5 December 2014
  • GRE Center: Prometric Testing Pvt Ltd
  • Center Location: Techniplex I, Goregaon (West), Mumbai

 

Ideally, you should enter your GRE test center full of pep and leave it with a smile! But if you don’t prepare for conditions at the test center or think about travelling there, you may be in for an energy drain that can wipe the smile right off your face. And that can throw off your performance in the GRE!

One of the first things I realized is that it would have been better to be at the test location the day before. I live in Pune and my GRE test center in Goregaon West, Mumbai, was about 120 kms. away – that’s for non-Maharashtrian readers! (Google map and more details here) So, I had to wake up at 4 a.m. and eventually left my house at 6.30 for Mumbai. Not a good idea on the day of the exam!

However, it was early morning, there was only light traffic and so we reached the outskirts of Mumbai at 10 a.m. I heaved a sigh of relief: I had a 12.30 p.m. slot, there were still 2-½ hours for my test and we thought it would take only half an hour to cover the approximately 25 kms to the test center. But by then, the traffic had started up and so, it took us 1-½ hours. As a result, I didn’t even get to have breakfast in peace. Luckily though, my father was able to grab a couple of wadas for me from the vendors outside the center. Finally, at 12.25 p.m., I walked into the center.

My test room was on the 8th floor. As I entered the room, I saw 50 expressionless faces looking blankly at me: those of my fellow test-takers. Simultaneously, I was hit by a sharp temperature drop, from 300C outside, to around 180 inside. I felt as if I had entered a graveyard, and my hands started shivering. Nevertheless, I put a smile on my face and tried to converse with some of the folks there, but they were very reticent, adding to the nervousness I felt because of chill in the room. I could feel myself losing focus and giving in to the desire to just to get the exam over as soon as possible! The atmosphere at the test center, I realized, doesn’t help you to settle into the right frame of mind to take the test.

Shraddha's Overall Evaluation of the Test Center

Somehow, eventually, the formalities got over (passport, ID checking etc.) and, a painful half an hour later, we were asked to put our bags and accessories in the lockers. Then, one by one, we were sent to the main exam room. I relaxed a bit at that point, since I thought that the formalities were finally over. But I was wrong! Inside there was yet another room where I was asked to remove my blazer, unchain my back pockets, raise the collar of my formal shirt and unfold the lower portion of my jeans. This was all done by male authorities, which as a woman, I found quite embarrassing. Finally, I was sent to the test room.
During the exam itself, I encountered two important problems: firstly, typing with nearly numb fingers was a tough job in the analytical writing section. Secondly, during the 10 minute-break halfway through the test, I thought going to the waiting room would be a simple matter. But again I had to complete formalities involving signatures and time entry in order to check out. After the break the whole process of apparel checking was repeated which, took another 3-4 minutes. I was not aware that I had to include time for these things in the break as well and it was only by luck that I had come back early from my break. These circumstances made the GRE a tougher nut to crack!

You might wonder, why I am telling about you my frustrating experiences. It’s because I don’t want you to get demoralized by these things; I want you to be prepared for the worst. The first challenge lies in overcoming the unfavorable conditions at the test center. Only then can you attain the calm state of mind that you need to solve tricky GRE questions!

In conclusion, here’s my advice: if your test center is not located in your home town, you should be at the test location a day before. Find out about nearby places to eat and travel routes and times. Take into consideration traffic conditions too, and try to reach an hour early! You should also eat properly before the test and wear warm clothes. Sometimes the washrooms are far from the test rooms. So, be prepared for a long trek there and, if you are at the Goregaon center, all the formalities of signing in and signing out too!

Hope this helps folks.

This is Shraddha wishing you all the best to give your best!

ETS ScoreSelect for the GRE: a Boon …More or Less!

For students who have given the GRE more than once, the worry has always been that the universities will see their low scores along with their high ones. To deal with this problem the ETS launched the ScoreSelectTM feature some years ago. ScoreSelect allows you to decide which GRE scores will go to universities and colleges which means that you can omit poor scores from your graduate school applications. If you are retaking the GRE therefore, or have GRE scores that you are not keen to show the universities, it seems that ScoreSelect will allow you to breathe a little more easily. But you should be aware that this apparent boon does have its limitations.

Firstly, you won’t be able to mix and match your best maths and verbal performances from separate tests to create a super report. ScoreSelect only allows you to send score reports as a whole. Secondly, if you want the full flexibility that ScoreSelect offers then, it comes at a price.

As the ETS explains, after test day, you can send Additional Score Reports and select the ScoreSelect.

  • Most Recent option — using which, you can send your GRE scores from your most recent test
  • All option — using which, you can send your GRE scores from all tests in the last 5 years.
  • Any option — using which, you can send your GRE scores from one OR many tests in the last 5 years.

As you can see, it is the third option that gives you full scope to exclude the ‘bad’ scores you don’t want the universities to get. But, at this point, i.e. after test day, you will have to shell out $27/- per report. On test day, on the other hand, when you can choose 4 universities to send your score report to AT NO ADDITIONAL COST, this magical option is not available. All you have is the ScoreSelect Most Recent and All options. In short, if you want to get the full benefit of the ETS’s ScoreSelect option, you will have to pay for it at the rate of $27 per score report. As someone once said, there’s no such thing as a free lunch!

The third problem is that universities are all aware that you may be making use of this facility – and so, some may ask you to send score reports of all the GRE tests you have taken in the last 5 years anyway! If that’s the case with a university that you have selected, then you are stuck, and ScoreSelect is not going to help you.

So, the option exists. But it’s expensive, and it may not always be possible to use it. But, if the university you are applying to is willing to let you show them just the best side of yourself then, if you need it ScoreSelect is always there. Proceed thoughtfully!

How to Save 180 Dollars When You Take the GRE and TOEFL

Most of you know that preparing for the GRE test involves things like hours of practice and learning lots of words and formulae by heart. For the TOEFL, as you are aware, you have to brush up on your grammar. But you most probably never thought that preparing for these tests would involve thinking through which universities or colleges you would like to apply to. But it does, and here’s why: saving the 180 dollars referred to in the title is as simple as selecting the 4 names of universities from a drop-down list. Here’s how it works.

At the end of the GRE test, the ETS allows you to choose 4 universities to which they will send your GRE test score to WITHOUT ANY ADDITIONAL CHARGE. This is the ‘free score reporting’ feature, so called since the payment for reporting the score to those four institutes is included in the GRE registration fee. The TOEFL has a similar feature. The difference here is that the selection of the university or college you would like to send your free scores to needs to be done BEFORE the exam – any time after you have booked the TOEFL exam date up to 24 hours before your TOEFL test date.

Most students don’t make use of these useful money saving features since they generally don’t decide which universities they want to apply to before their GRE or TOEFL exams. The reasoning is that the choice of university depends on the GRE test score hence, university selection can be done only after the test. So, students normally request what the ETS calls Additional Score Reports (ASRs) only after they have selected universities to apply to (according to their GRE score). At that point they end up paying a fee of 27 dollars for each additional GRE ASR they request and 19 per TOEFL report. But, if you have already made use of the free score reporting feature, you make a saving of $27 + $19 = $46/- per university and $184 for all 4 universities!

But how do you select which universities you want to apply to before you have even got your GRE score? Well, you should have some idea of what universities you want to apply to beforehand – after all, on the basis of your GRE test scores you will only be making a selection of 4 for ‘free score reporting’ from that list; and though you may not have your GRE test scores in hand before the actual test, your mock tests will give you some idea of what scores you can expect. To make that list, talk to seniors or get on to some good discussion forums. This is something that you have to do in any case.

If, on this basis, you can make you make up your mind about what universities you would like to apply to before the GRE and TOEFL exams, you’ll be able to keep that $184 /- in your pocket! That works out to over 11,000 rupees, and you could buy a pretty decent smartphone with that amount or… plan a trip to Goa!

Also check out the link at the end of this sentence for what to do about sending scores to ‘unlisted institutions

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: 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).