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Extracurriculars are always an add-on to your profile. Any achievements at the state or national and international level are considered important. Working for social causes such as for an NGO or charity trusts on a regular basis
Rajvardhan Oak, GRE 333(169 quant, 164 verbal, 119 TOEFL), Pune Institute of Computer Technology (Computer Science), Admit from University of California – Berkeley for Fall 2018 for MIMS, with concentration in Cyber Security.
I realized towards the end of my first year that I am inclined towards the sort of courses and programs not offered in Indian universities. I thus decided to pursue higher studies in the USA, and thus, GRE was a prerequisite.
My approach was quite unique, and sort of bold as well: I took a mock test with absolutely zero idea of the syllabus, pattern or question types that would be there. As I scored nearly 320, I knew that I could cross 330 if given proper advice and training. I had joined a coaching class in Pune, and used their material. At the same time, the books by Manhattan, Princeton and Kaplan also proved to be helpful.
I was an avid reader as a child; as a result, I was already familiar with many of the so-called ‘GRE words’. What I realized during my preparation was that one must never lose touch of verbal. Going over the words and meanings daily is essential. Cramming hundreds of words in a single day isn’t the solution; at the end you retain only a few. I did around 30 new words daily, and revising over the words learnt so far. At the same time, I read several long articles on topics unfamiliar to me (Black history, psychological advances, literary figures, art forms, economic reforms), which often were the center of several passages in the reading comprehension.
The most important thing to keep in mind during the writing section is the typing speed! Practise beforehand so that you are comfortable thinking up and typing your essay in 25 minutes, leaving 5 minutes for proofreading. Another essential thing to do is plan your essay. Structure is very important; your ideas should flow from one to the next. You can read up a few authors on common themes (education, environment, psychology, media, youth) so that you can quote them. Finally, make sure that you surpass the word limit. Shorter essays are not well-received.
You had to rub that in, didn’t you. Well, I really don’t know where I went wrong. I think that given a second chance, I would have concentrated more and checked my answers once again. Also, I would want to focus more on data interpretation questions.
The speaking section was the toughest. That’s because you have hardly half a minute to think up your answer and then speak it out with minimum grammatical errors. TOEFL needs a preparation of just 2-3 days; the official TOEFL guide by ETS is more than sufficient.
I took several mock tests. All of them proved to be extremely useful. Mock tests show you where you stand. Also, you can analyse the correct and wrong answers later to identify your weak spots. The most important mock tests are the Powerprep tests by ETS. They simulate the test and scores perfectly.
I was, of course, quite nervous. I’d just say be calm and confident. Carry some dry snacks with you to your exam centre. And double check that you have taken your passport with you. It’s normal to be nervous, but relax, and keep in mind that, this can always be redone.
My dream universities were CMU, UCB and Stanford. I got accepted into UCB and CMU, and will be going to UCB in Fall 2018. Post graduation, my dream job companies include Amazon, Facebook, Microsoft, Google and Salesforce. Fortunately, these companies recruit several students from UCB each year.
Well, every day was like a cheat day. GRE is not like JEE that you have to spend 12 hours a day studying for it. I studied for a few hours daily. My recreational activities included reading, writing and watching movies. And of course, hanging out with my friends. My friends have been an immense support.
TOEFL is extremely easy; nothing as compared to the GRE. As an avid reader, I had a good command over the language. So reading and writing sections were quite easy. For listening, the key is to concentrate and note down whatever you hear; you never know what will be questioned later. As far as the speaking section goes, speak slowly and clearly. It’s okay not to use fancy words or say a lot of things. Just make sure your answer is clear, correct and complete.
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