The New GRE format is both tougher and manageable from different perspectives. My scores were 165 verbal, 165 quant and 4.5 in the Analytical Writing. Time management I feel was at the crux of getting a decent score. This is how I went about preparing:
Applying for Computer Science meant that the quantitative score is for the utmost importance. It is absolutely essential to forget the usual ego that most engineering students have (‘oh this is class 6 stuff’ etc.). The first step was to solve the *entire* ETS Official Guide to the Revised GRE. I went through each and every sum in that book. The Math Review was also quite helpful. Would recommend working through every problem in the exercises that follow each review section in that book. Special emphasis should be given to probability, combinatorics (permutation, combination) and statistics – the trickier questions usually are from here.
Along with doing the Math Review from the ETS book, I started solving Kaplan’s Math Workbook. The strategy I adopted was simple. I calculated the time I should be taking to complete one question — around 1.5 minutes if memory serves. The Kaplan Math Workbook had timed math Problem Sets. I would do those under very strict timed conditions. Now the ones I couldn’t solve/ran out of time with – I would go back and solve the Math Review of that chapter. Or do that chapter from the Math Workbook itself. All this in tandem with plodding through all the exercises in the Workbook. The level of this book is not very high – but its pointless solving too many tough sums from every book one can lay one’s hand on, I personally feel. If one has ample time, or has started practice beforehand, the NOVA Math book has quite a few nice, tricky problems.
I ended up solving ETS and Kaplan twice – after I finished once I went over the thing again.
Having a decent reading habit since childhood, also being not that essential for a CS applicant, I did not go overboard with this. I made a combined word-list out of Barrons, Kaplans Verbal Workbook etc. Out of this, I made a much smaller list of the words whose meanings were not at my fingertips (being brutally honest, no case of ‘I knew this but cannot remember at this moment’). After each iteration, I would make a new word-list from the words whose meanings I had trouble recalling instantly – would test myself by covering the meanings and just looking at the words.
Then I solved ETS Official Guide verbal sections, Kaplan verbal. The Reading Comprehension parts were the most challenging. Again, the trick is to do those questions under timed conditions. Figure out how much time on average is to be spent in that sections. Then allocate time accordingly. There is not much to say here other than loads and loads of practice. Barrons came in handy, along with Kaplans and ETS book.
Just looked through the sample essays given in ETS book. Can’t say much about this other than it is best to try to be as logical as possible.
Finally, I did the PowerPrep and the online Mock Tests that come with buying a Kaplan book.
Aruni Roy Chowdhury
GRE Score 330/340 (Year 2012)
First year MS/PhD student, School of Computer Science, UMass AMherst