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Umul: Retaking the Revised GRE after Taking the Old GRE

Here’s Umul’s advice for preparation and test day, based on his exam experience. If you’d like to read others like these, or submit your own write-up after you take your exam, head over to our Student New GRE Experiences page. Enjoy!

“Hi, this is Umul from Pakistan. I took my new GRE today, and I feel I should write about it so others can learn from my experience just like I learnt so much from them.

I previously took the old GRE and my score was a 1160, a 700 on math and a 460 on the verbal around early 2009 (i.e. almost 2.5 years ago). I messed up both of my sections pretty badly, since I totally ran out of time on the math section and the verbal section I just did not get. After landing the Fulbright scholarship, they asked me to retake my GRE as they wanted me to improve my quant score for getting into better universities.  I am going for a Masters in energy resources, hence my math (I am guessing) was not competitive enough as a foreign student. Also, my undergraduate degree was a BSc honours in Mathematics from LUMS in Pakistan.

I have been working for the past three years and had to retake my GRE on short notice, so I prepared in a roundabout way for a month: for verbal, I mainly used word lists from Barron’s and Kaplan’s high frequency list, which I think was enough, as I knew most of the words on the test.

My first section was math, which went very well. The questions were easy, since I had really practiced my math timing: I prepared according to the 30 minutes for 30 questions strategy. which made it easier, since the actual test is 35 mins and 20 questions. The second math section was tougher, which I could tell by the difficulty level of the questions.

The second section was verbal, which I completely messed up! I think I hadn’t practiced verbal timing much, although I had practiced doing  questions a lot.  I panicked and guessed on about 5 to 6 questions on the first section. However, ETS was very helpful, they gave me a baby-level second verbal section, to help me get through the exam, so the second verbal section was very easy and I am guessing I did fine on that one after messing the first one completely. So, people out there, don’t be scared– if you mess up , the program makes sure that if you’ve panicked but still know your verbal, you won’t automatically drop to a  130-type score!

So my final score was 150(450)on the verbal and a 163(780) on the math. I was expecting a bit better on the math as it went extremely well, and was relieved by the verbal :P. But (oh well) my target of improving my math score had been met.

What would I do differently?  I wish had worked more on the Verbal timing than doing the actual questions as I didn’t think the timing would be  a problem. The new GRE expects one to comprehend stuff really fast and makes you do lots of critical thinking!

The best place to practice is the 23 Tests by ETS– it gives loads and loads of practice material and it has an old Analytical ability section, from which lots of one-sentence critical reading passages are given. Also, practicing on the comp is a must. There’s very limited software available, but I guess one has to make do!

Anyway, best of luck to all you future GRE takers!”

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