Keshav R Bhat
“Having the average GRE score required by the university you are applying for is sufficient, as your acceptance depends on the rest of your resume as well”, says Keshav R Bhat who completed his Bachelors in Mechanical Engineering from College of Engineering, Guindy, Anna University. For those aspiring to pursue Masters abroad (especially in USA), one must clear a vital exam - Graduate Record Examinations (GRE).
The GRE question paper is divided into three main sections, namely, Analytical Writing, Verbal Reasoning, and Quantitative Reasoning. The total time given to complete the exam is three hours and thirty minutes. Also, GRE is conducted based on an adaptive algorithm; adapting the difficulty level based on the number of questions one has answered correctly in the previous section. The trick to get a high score is to answer correctly, as many questions as possible in the first section.
“First step while preparing, is to know where you stand. For this, you have to take a free mock test and check your score”. Keshav wrote his GRE in August 2019. He started his preparation for GRE from January 2019, spending about two hours a day. He also attended online coaching classes. But, for those who are strongly motivated, coaching classes are not an ‘absolute necessity’.
Generally, universities abroad, start accepting admissions during November/December every year. So, a good time to start preparing would be from January/February, so that by July/August, one will be ready to take GRE.
”You must plan your preparation based on your mock test score”. If one gets a score of 315 or above, Keshav believes that one hour every day for about 3 to 4 months should be sufficient.
ETS, an educational testing and assessment organization, provides 2 free mock tests and then paid mock tests. For books, there is ‘Manhattan Prep’s 5lb Book of GRE Practice Problems’ which is essential for Quants. There are also official guides from ETS and separate question banks for Quants and Verbal sections are also available.
For Engineering, one has to focus more on Quants. Whereas, for non-engineering or non-STEM major, the Verbal score is more important. It is safe to score above 167 (90%) in Quant section and about 154-158(70-80%) in Verbal section.
GRE is USA-specific and it’s mandatory in universities there. However, certain universities in Germany and Canada also consider GRE scores. US universities also require TOEFL scores. The point of TOEFL and IELTS is to validate one’s English proficiency. Scoring above the threshold is enough and these scores do not majorly affect the chances of getting accepted into universities.
Cracking the arduous GRE test with a score of 328 and a TOEFL score of 116 due to his hard work and perseverance, Keshav got accepted into Georgia Institute of Technology, a public research university in Atlanta, Georgia. Keshav’s message to those preparing for GRE is, “GRE score only acts as a filter. Coaching institutes portray GRE as the only defining factor of your profile, which is not true. Once your score is above the required threshold, your acceptance depends mainly on your resume, SOPs and LORs. Research the average GRE scores particular to the university you are applying for and aim for that score.”