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My GRE Diaries


msb2012
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Hello,

 

 

first of all I'm not English native speaker. I'm practicing since January. I want to discuss with you about my performance in practicing. In my preparation I used Kaplan book, Barrons, Cracking the GRE, and Manhattan (8 books).

 

 

 

 

- In quant I do well, I got between 16 to 19 correct answers out of 20.

 

- but the problem in Verbal. I do very very bad in verbal. I got between 4 to 7 correct answers out of 20.

 

I'm going to apply in fall 2014 for MS Computer Science and as you know they require high scores in quant, but what I see that some top schools require (good) or (average) verbal score, we can say something between 150 to 160.

 

 

Here is the point, I waste my time with the verbal without any improvement at all. However, I see myself get improved in Quant while practicing. So, What can I do with Verbal ? I want only 150 to 155 at most. It's very difficult to memorize a huge number of words. I see it impossible at least for me.

 

 

Please I need you advise.

 

 

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Hello,

 

 

first of all I'm not English native speaker. I'm practicing since January. I want to discuss with you about my performance in practicing. In my preparation I used Kaplan book, Barrons, Cracking the GRE, and Manhattan (8 books).

 

 

 

 

- In quant I do well, I got between 16 to 19 correct answers out of 20.

 

- but the problem in Verbal. I do very very bad in verbal. I got between 4 to 7 correct answers out of 20.

 

I'm going to apply in fall 2014 for MS Computer Science and as you know they require high scores in quant, but what I see that some top schools require (good) or (average) verbal score, we can say something between 150 to 160.

 

 

Here is the point, I waste my time with the verbal without any improvement at all. However, I see myself get improved in Quant while practicing. So, What can I do with Verbal ? I want only 150 to 155 at most. It's very difficult to memorize a huge number of words. I see it impossible at least for me.

 

 

Please I need you advise.

For the verbal, try purchasing a Latin roots guide.  I was homeschooled and my parents used the Latin Roots workbooks when I was in middle school.  They really helped me when it came to the verbal GRE.  Also, there is a tool on the SAT website (a test for entering undergrads) to send you a word each day by email.  Very helpful if you have time.  Otherwise I would write the words on flashcards and keep them with you to review when you have a few minutes waiting for class to start or waiting in line.

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Can you give me the name for a good books for latin roots ? 

 

and What is the benefit of using it? What I mean How can I use it for my GRE?

Edited by msb2012
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I would definitely suggest trying to memorize the top 100-200 words in the GRE. It's hard to get it all in your head but you just need the right techniques and enough time. I used a flashcard app by Kaplan on my iPad to do this, and it helped a lot. You can also purchase flashcards, write the word on one side and the definition in the other, and go through them at least once a day. Once you feel like you know certain words really well, remove them from your pile and focus on the ones you don't know. Try writing sentences with the really difficult words. 

Edited by yorkies
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As you stated, your main challenge is not being an native english speaker. Since the GRE changed in the summer of 2012, the vocab is much more contextually focused. This means that memorizing words has less of an importance and understanding the nuances of the english language is worth more. So- In my opinion, reading a ton of higher-level books/magazines is the best way to spend your time. Also, speaking as much english as possible would help. Between now and the fall, you'd have 4 or 5 months and I think with a concentrated effort you could definitely increase your verbal score. I never found the vocab words to be very beneficial, but that's just my opinion. Best of luck!

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Today I started practicing in Princeton Review 1014 Questions.

 

I choose one drill for Text completion and one drill for Sentence equivalence

 

 

In Text completion I got (3/10) correct answers.

 

In Sentence Equivalence I got (0/10) correct answers. 

 

Very very bad start.

 

 

 

Actually In most of the sentences I got the story, I understand the sentence, and I can pick a right answers from my own words. But, when I look to the choices I don't know any one of them, I can't choose. Most of my choices depend on eliminating one answer that I don't feel it's right, then I use my luck. Nothing more :(

 

 

 

I'm very confused since I do well in Quant. In last practice exam I got (36/40). So, I'm sure that I need to increase my verbal score to have a great applications since my GPA is very high.

Edited by msb2012
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Try this: http://quizlet.com/51933/top-100-gre-words-flash-cards/

And here's an android app: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=in.notworks.flashcards&hl=en

Try using that on the go, when you're waiting for something. 

And then work on making your own flashcards, writing them down I find really helps. Even though memorizing a huge list only won't get you very far I still recommend it because you need to know what the words mean. Then read, read, read as suggested above and look up all the words you don't know.

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The Verbal test is really about having a super large vocabulary range, it does make things a lot easier. Quite often, the texts are easy enough to understand as a whole but because of specific words some sentences are obscure. My personal experience is that, if you are lucky enough to get paragraphs on domains you already know then good for you, otherwise just do what you can on the day. I got 155 in the Verbal test (hardly stellar but 160 is probably the highest I could aim at), some texts were ok, others were not so I got a mixed bag.

 

I'm not a native speaker myself, my English is fluent enough to get me through most situations but GRE's Verbal test is really about academic vocab and I feel the best thing to do is to memorize words as much as you can.

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Today I practiced on Princeton Review 1014.

 

In reading comprehension I got (4/11) correct answers (there were a long passage in a very very very unknown topic in biology with 4 questions ).

 

Actually I'm done now. I don't have more time to spend in this worthless section.

 

 

Let's be honest.

 

 

 

I do very well in Quant (85% - 90%), What I want now is some top universities offers MS Computer Science or MS Software Engineering or MS Information Systems and they don't look ever on verbal section

 

 

My GPA is high (3.8/4) + I can get quant score between (85% - 90%) + I don't need any funding (I'm TA in my country and have fellowship) + I have recommendations from full professors and my college's dean + I will write the best Statement of purpose as possible.

 

 

please suggest me some good schools and I guess that I should forget USC - UCI - UCSD

 

 

my time is important for me and I should spend it in something valuable. IELTS or TOEFL for example :)

 

 

thanks

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Well... YOU are the one who will know if schools are the best for YOU. Even if a lot of universities offer programs in Computer Science, what you want is a program that is right for you. For instance : you might be more interested in theoretical research, in which case universities where professors have a more practical or pragmatic approach to education might not be the best one for you. Or maybe you want to specialize in a particular field of Computer Science that is not really of interest to professors in some other university...

 

The best thing is to take the time to go through all programs of universities, and then pick the ones which catch your eye. Then check what each faculty member does and check the ones that do the kind of work you are most interested in. Then you'll know whether that person is right for you, and as a consequence : if the program is right for you.

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Are you serious about practicing for this?  You cannot take a few practice sections and expect to improve after a week.  Seems what you are looking for is a specific skill you can pick up that will make you instantly better.  It doesn't exist.  I spent months practicing.  While I agree that your quant score is the most important, all scores will get to your schools of interest.  Many top schools get hundreds of applicants for a few positions.  How do they decide the order of applications?  Many will use some weighing of the GRE and GPA.

 

I don't think your verbal GRE score will hurt after the initial screening process.  Unfortunately they may weed you out of the top applicants.  It all depends on the committee and their policy with respect to international students.  You can always call the program and explain your concern and see what they say.  Don't just assume they won't care about your low verbal score.

 

Also, is your "85-90%" score in quant your percentile or just percent correct out of the section?  To prepare, I would say take 4-5 full practice tests.  The first is your baseline.  Then as you study and practice, take tests on regular intervals to see how your scores improve.  Those full tests will give you a much more accurate score.  Take your score and match it to the current percentile ranking.

 

Do I think the GRE is a bad test of someone's potential as a grad student?  Yes.  It may be even worse for international students.  But it is still required, so you should take it seriously.  You will be competing against many other highly qualified applicants, no matter what school you apply to.

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Well... YOU are the one who will know if schools are the best for YOU. Even if a lot of universities offer programs in Computer Science, what you want is a program that is right for you. For instance : you might be more interested in theoretical research, in which case universities where professors have a more practical or pragmatic approach to education might not be the best one for you. Or maybe you want to specialize in a particular field of Computer Science that is not really of interest to professors in some other university...

 

The best thing is to take the time to go through all programs of universities, and then pick the ones which catch your eye. Then check what each faculty member does and check the ones that do the kind of work you are most interested in. Then you'll know whether that person is right for you, and as a consequence : if the program is right for you.

 

Thanks for your response.

 

What I'm talking about is (I need some universities that don't care about verbal score). I still remember a university from the top 150 mentioned in the CS department website that "they don't care ever about verbal score" 

 

 

That's what I need

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Are you serious about practicing for this?  You cannot take a few practice sections and expect to improve after a week.  Seems what you are looking for is a specific skill you can pick up that will make you instantly better.  It doesn't exist.  I spent months practicing.  While I agree that your quant score is the most important, all scores will get to your schools of interest.  Many top schools get hundreds of applicants for a few positions.  How do they decide the order of applications?  Many will use some weighing of the GRE and GPA.

 

I don't think your verbal GRE score will hurt after the initial screening process.  Unfortunately they may weed you out of the top applicants.  It all depends on the committee and their policy with respect to international students.  You can always call the program and explain your concern and see what they say.  Don't just assume they won't care about your low verbal score.

 

Also, is your "85-90%" score in quant your percentile or just percent correct out of the section?  To prepare, I would say take 4-5 full practice tests.  The first is your baseline.  Then as you study and practice, take tests on regular intervals to see how your scores improve.  Those full tests will give you a much more accurate score.  Take your score and match it to the current percentile ranking.

 

Do I think the GRE is a bad test of someone's potential as a grad student?  Yes.  It may be even worse for international students.  But it is still required, so you should take it seriously.  You will be competing against many other highly qualified applicants, no matter what school you apply to.

 

 

Hello sir,

 

If you read my thread, I mentioned in the first line that I started practicing since January. I saw a good improvement in my quant. However, No improvement at all in verbal.

 

 

Actually I don't know how to calculate my score. I started Kaplan practice exams (DVD), In the last 2 Quant exams I got (19/20) & (17/20). So, I found it 90% but I don't if this is the right way or no. Actually I'm going to have a full practice test (powerprep II) on Sunday and I'll write my result here.

 

 

When I talked about the universities, What I heard that some universities ignore verbal score at all, even there are 2 equal students, they don't look to their verbal scores (almost for Engineering and computer science). 

 

Also some universities publishes the averages for the admitted students last year. For example SDSU published the averages for admitted students last year in MSIS program. GRE average 70 percentile, with minimum a 25 percentile in each section. 

 

This is what I want to know about some universities, but there is no sources :(

 

 

thanks

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Definitely take practice tests and get the score from that.  It might not give you the percentile, but you can always match your score to the current percentile listed by ETS on their website.  The percentile is a weighted score, and is determined by the scores obtain by your peers.  This makes percentiles a "moving" target that can change depending on test questions and how well others do on it.  Make sure to read about the scoring and how the test is structured.

 

I know you have been practicing since January, but the suggestions others are posting here will take more time, especially to acquire the vocab and other skills.  It may be a long shot, but don't give up until you know what your full scores and percentiles are on the practice tests.

 

I know there are no sources regarding admissions.  That is because each program does things differently.  This whole admissions thing is a giant black box that only admissions committees know.  If you have a few programs you are interested in, contact them!  They'll most likely tell you as much as they can.

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I'm incredibly serious when I say you should purchase a dictionary, or download a dictionary app for your phone.

 

English is not my first language (Russian is) and I read the dictionary to learn many words at once. Even more, keep a thesaurus or thesaurus.com with you as you're reading the dictionary. When you encounter a word you don't know the meaning of, make an index card, or a list and write the word + definition down. THEN, go to the thesaurus, and write down a couple synonyms and antonyms for that word.

 

This is more strategic for someone trying to learn the language for practical use rather than a test like the GRE, but the dictionary and thesaurus are the basic tools for the english language. I've been speaking English for over 10 years now, and I've actually scored better on exams in English than I have in Russian. I find myself more proficient/fluent in English than Russian now, too. 

 

Take this seriously if you want to go to a grad school in the US. You'll need to write lab reports and communicate with people. Knowing the logistics as well as the syntax and alternates in the language can only help you.

 

Have you thought about getting a private tutor? 

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Also, is your "85-90%" score in quant your percentile or just percent correct out of the section?  To prepare, I would say take 4-5 full practice tests.  The first is your baseline.  Then as you study and practice, take tests on regular intervals to see how your scores improve.  Those full tests will give you a much more accurate score.  Take your score and match it to the current percentile ranking.

This is exactly how all of those paid courses go - Kaplan, Barrons, etc. They do a baseline test, then every 2-3 weeks, they give another full length exam to see how much improvement is going on.

 

That's the only way to prepare for these exams - take full length timed practice tests every week or two. Don't spend your time studying inordinate amounts of material only to find out that it made no difference to your scores. If you take 2-3 tests and your scores don't improve, change your approach to the material.

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Thanks gatorgrad,

 

Actually I'm good in communication and writing. In my country we have 1 English class everyday from elementary school to high school (12 years). In addition, My study in university was in English for 4 years (All courses) + Preparation semester before entering BS program containing 4 English classes (Reading + Writing + Listening + Grammar) from 7 AM to 1 PM 5 days a week with weekly quizzes and final exams to improve our language. When I started BS program everything was in English, textbooks and references were in English, language of communication was in English, and exams also.

 

 

When I saw a movie or series or TV show, I don't need a subtitles ( I can understand more than 80%), sometimes I need English subtitle and it's fair enough. So, my language is good. My problem with the damned vocabularies that I never heard and I will never use at all.

Edited by msb2012
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Hello everybody

 

today I had a bad experience with ETS powerprep

 

I got :

 

Quant: 156 (27 correct/ 40)

 

Verbal 136 (7 correct/ 40) (5 of them are RC's)

 

 

I'm not surprised with verbal, I know myself.

 

In quant, I feel that I didn't do very well. When I reviewed the answers I found 2 things.

 

 

First, I didn't manage my time well (I answered last the 2 questions from first quant part wrong due time).

Second, I changed my mind in two questions, I left the right and went to the wrong choice. 

 

I think when ignoring time and stress, I may got 32 or 33 correct answers.

 

 

In the last weeks when I was practicing on Kaplan's DVD, I got (19/20) & (17/20) & (17/20), with one or two minutes left for each section. The level of questions was the same as ETS ( I thinks ETS have 2 or 3 difficult questions in the whole quant sections).

 

 

I think it's because of the stress, when I put myself in a complete simulation to the real exam, I was getting worried all the time and spending more time specially with the first half of questions.

 

 

The last thing is What about adaptive scoring? I got 27/40 which is 68% and I got 156 (ETS only divided correct to whole answers) Nothing happened about adaptive scoring !!!  

 

 

 

So, any suggestions? analysis about my situation?

 

 

note : I'm going to take barron's full test on DVD tomorrow

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Here is a link to the most commonly used vocabulary words on the GRE:  https://www.vocabulary.com/lists/194479.  This site is also a great way to learn new vocab, as it tests you on words repeatedly in different ways and gives detailed notes on usage.  

 

Also, something else to think about... And I don't wish to discourage you at all from your top choice, but are you sure there isn't another program that either doesn't require the GRE verbal or perhaps one that will accept a TOEFL score to support your application and compensate for a weak verbal GRE score?  I only mention it because I have heard foreign students talk about how much easier the English is on the TOEFL.  Even native English speakers have immense difficulty with the GRE verbal because they purposely try to trick you!  

 

I wish you the best of luck and hope you get into the program of your choice :)

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I'm not a native speaker either and IMO Greek/Latin roots help native speakers only (who have studied these subjects as 2nd/3rd language in school)

Use Kaplan Verbal workbook, I liked it very much because it explains all answers in detail (not only why A is correct but also why B, C, D are wrong) this thought process trains u well for multiple answer correct part.

 

If you are having trouble with sentence equivalence and blanks I suggest that first build a vocabulary of top 300 GRE words (from Kaplan or new Barron's) then solve these questions WITHOUT looking at options. Make up a word in ur mind which u think is correct after reading the sentence. Then go through options and look for words similar in meaning to the word which u picked up in mind. Works every time for me.

Edited by Bhrigu
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