GRE® Preparation Online
The Ultimate Guide
If you are looking to apply to master’s courses abroad through the GRE®, you’ve reached the right place. Treat this as your ultimate guide to preparing for a high score on each section of the test.
Make no mistake - this isn’t one of your generic online articles that are all froth and no substance!
Included here are important strategies which will boost your accuracy and speed. If you are preparing for the GRE® and aspiring for 320+ scores, all you have to do is read till the end and implement these tips.
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What is the GRE® & how is it structured?
The GRE® is the most widely accepted test for graduate admissions in graduate and business schools worldwide. It is conducted by the Educational Testing Service, often referred to as the ETS.
In India, the GRE® is conducted as a Computer Based Test (CBT) at several Prometric and non-Prometric test-centers at most major cities.
Note that the GRE® is more of a test of your analytical skills than your technical knowledge and has 3 sections, Verbal Reasoning, Quantitative Reasoning and Analytical Writing Assessment.
There is no common question paper or even a set of question papers for the GRE® preparation. Rather, there is a database of test questions of assorted difficulty levels. There are three sections in a GRE® test paper: Quantitative Reasoning, Verbal Reasoning and Analytical Writing Assessment.
|Quantitative Reasoning||Verbal Reasoning||Analytical Writing Assessment|
Section 1 (12 questions)
Time: 21 minutes
Section 1 (12 questions)
Time: 18 minutes
One Analyze an Issue Task(1 question)
Time: 30 minutes
Section 2 (15 questions)
Time: 26 minutes
Section 2 (15 questions)
Time: 23 minutes
The GRE® is an adaptive style test, which means that your performance on Section 1 of Verbal and Quantitative sections determines the difficulty level of Section 2 of the Verbal/Quantitative sections. For example, if your answers to the set of questions in Section 1 are mostly correct, then the difficulty of questions in Section 2 would be higher. However, if you score less in Section 1, the difficulty level of Section 2 will be reduced. The test-takers start with questions of average difficulty level in Section 1. Your net score in GRE is dependent on your raw score as well as the difficulty level of the questions you got correct.
This section comprises high-school level questions in geometry, algebra, arithmetic, applied maths, data interpretation, and data analysis. In this part, you have to answer as total of 27 questions within a duration of just 47 minutes.
The intent of this section is to test your ability to comprehend written text, form conclusions and figure out relationships between two or more parts of a sentence. You get 41 minutes to answer as total of 27 questions.The three types of questions that come in this section are Text Completion (TC), Sentence Equivalent (SE) and Reading Comprehension (RC).
This is an important, but often overlooked aspect of the GRE® preparation. The AWA measures your critical thinking ability and analytical writing skills. This section intends to test your ability to form a convincing theory and how persuasively and coherently you defend it over the course of several paragraphs. You are required to write one essay within 30 minutes:
You need to compose an Issue-Based Essay
This question would test your convincing skills. Its topic will be based on a general everyday issue, and you would be required to express your view on the said topic. You should provide sound reasoning to support your views and use examples to make your point.
eBook: An Introduction to the GRE
What is a good GRE® Score?
What exactly is the ideal score you should be targeting on your GRE? Well, roughly speaking, GRE® scores are divided into three categories: excellent, good and modest.
Depending on the history of selection in your desired course, at the universities you are applying to, you can set a target GRE® score for yourself. You can also try the free GRE® Score Predictor to see how much you'd score on the GRE® if you took it today! The feedback that you get along with it can really help you plan how much effort you need to put into each topic to prepare for your target score.
Note that for most master’s programs in STEM fields (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math), universities prioritize applicants with higher Quant scores; So try aiming for a perfect or near-perfect score in this section.
Scores to target on each section:
To be among the top 10%, the score you should be aiming for is a 328 or above, with a 5 on the AWA.
For being amongst the top 25% of the GRE® scorers, the score-range you should be aiming for is 317-327
For being amongst the top 50% of the GRE® scorers, the score-range you should be aiming for is 305-316
And here are the GRE® cutoffs of the top ten schools in the US:
|University||Average GRE® Score (Verbal + Quant)|
|Massachusetts Institute of Technology||325 (160+165)|
|Stanford University||327 (160+167)|
|University of Berkeley||323 (157+166)|
|California Institute of Technology||328 (160+168)|
|University of Michigan, Ann Arbor||321 (155+166)|
|Carnegie Mellon University||323 (156+167)|
|Purdue University||320 (155+165)|
|Georgia Institute of Technology||320 (156+164)|
|University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign||327 (157+167)|
|University of Southern California||317 (151+166)|
Check out the GRE® cutoffs for the Top 35 US universities in this eBook
As you can see, every single university has an average requirement of at least 320, so anything above 320 could be considered a good GRE® score.
What is a good score to target on each section?
The following table shows the GRE® scores of students at different countries(July 2015 - June 2020). Data shows that Indian-test takers, on average, tend to fall behind on the AWA and Verbal sections, but perform relatively well in the Quants section. So if you are just getting started with your GRE® preparation, the Verbal section can be your key area of focus.
|Country||Number of Test-Takers||Verbal||Quantitative||Writing|
Here are the stats of test-takers for the period July 1, 2019 - June 30, 2022:
|Test||Number of Test-Takers||Average Score|
|Verbal Reasoning Measure||17,27,225||150.05|
|Quantitative Reasoning Measure||17,30,288||152.80|
|Analytical Writing Measure||17,22,231||3.50|
As for any exam, the smart strategy would be to play to your strengths while also ensuring to brush up your weaker areas with regular practice. Thus, if you are an engineering or maths/science graduate who is more comfortable with numerical problems than with GRE® level reading comprehension or vocabulary, you should ideally aim for a perfect 170 on the Quant section and 160+ on the Verbal.
eBook: What exactly is a good GRE® score?
How long does it take to prepare for the GRE?
The time that you will require to prepare for your GRE can depend on a wide range of factors. Your target score, your current level of preparation, the amount of time you can devote each day and your natural learning speed all play important roles in determining how long your journey takes.
While there is no hard-and-fast rule, an analysis of AdmitEDGE students shows that a majority of 320+ scorers spend 60 days on their GRE® preparation, as you can see in the graph below.
The exact amount of time that you will need to prepare might be different though, based on your diagnostic test score and time-availability!
But we can also see that the 2nd largest chunk of students prepared for the same score in less than 30 days - a remarkable feat indeed! So how did they plan their GRE® preparation in such an effective manner? Let’s find out!
Daily time allocation for GRE® preparation (Quants & Verbal)
- 1 hour 15 minutes for the Quantitative section: Cover one topic for 45 -60 minutes then take a test for 20-30 minutes. Carefully review the mistakes made after the topic based test.
- 1 hour 15 minutes for the Verbal section: Half of this time should be spent on Reading Comprehension. It is important to learn 30 words a day for a good GRE® vocabulary.
Of course, the effectiveness of your preparation is not just about how much time you devote to learning and practicing, but also on how efficient and organized your study plan is! That brings us to our next, which is also one of the most important topics.
Crafting a personalized study plan
Organized and consistent practice is of utmost importance and hence, a study plan that revolves around your time availability, target score and current level of preparation is something you need to set up even before you start preparing for the GRE®.
Since all of these factors are likely to vary from one student to another, so will the method for GRE® preparation that is best suited to your needs! For example, you might be someone who is more confident with GRE® Verbal than Quant, have less than 2 hours a day to prepare or only be free in the evenings!
So what should your study plan be based on?
Your current skill level: Your current skill level is essentially what you’d score on the GRE® if you were to take it today! This can easily be mapped by a diagnostic test that mirrors the structure and pattern of the actual exam. Depending on how familiar you already are with the GRE® syllabus, the time you’ll need to prepare for a 320+ score might vary.
Take a look at how much you would score on the GRE® if you took it today - try a free GRE® Diagnostic Test now!
A closer analysis of our students who scored 320 and above on their GRE® revealed that their average score on the diagnostic test prior to starting their GRE® preparation was 311.
Graph made using data of over 1000 students who scored 320+ on their GRE® based on their diagnostic test scores.
More interesting facts our student data threw up:
- The average score boost for students over their diagnostic test score was 13 points.
- As for students who had taken the GRE® before, the average score boost over their previous GRE® score was 9.5 points!
Depending on where you currently stand, you might need to devote more or less time to your GRE® test prep to achieve your target score, which brings us to our next point!
Your target GRE® score: It shouldn’t come as a surprise that more ambitious goals necessitate more effort, time and discipline as compared to more conservative targets! Preparing for a higher target score will require a comprehensive study plan that systematically helps you tackle your weak areas while also building on your strengths. Learning happens systematically with regular test and progress evaluation.
Time allocated every day for GRE® preparation:
“Long-term consistency trumps short-term intensity” - Bruce Lee
Nothing can hold truer when it comes to preparing for an exam like the GRE!
When you have set aside a time period as long as six months for your GRE® preparation, it is easy to lose focus early on, as there is seemingly a long time ahead of you to prepare! However, it is recommended that you devote at least an hour a day each for Verbal and Quant preparation.
With working professionals and final year college students already saddled with work or projects and other commitments, time is at a premium; which is exactly why their study plan has to be one that doesn’t interfere with their schedule, while still getting them prepared for their target score!
Since all of the above factors are bound to vary from one student to another, it’s extremely imperative that your study plan is one that is completely personalized - tailored to your current skill levels, target score, and your time availability for effective GRE® Preparation!
Case in point: AdmitEDGE alumnus Karan Saluja.
Student: Karan Saluja
Profile: Alumnus of BITS Pilani, Working Professional at Amazon India, working 12 hour shifts
Target Score: 330
Diagnostic Test Score: 309 (V - 148 | Q- 161)
Achieved Score: 332 (V - 163 | Q - 169)
As demonstrated by Karan's diagnostic test results, his problem was in the Verbal section - both in tackline Reading comprehension, Text Completion and Sentence Equivalence question types, and in understanding GRE Vocabulary.
Moreover, as a professional working 12-hour shifts, his work timings necessitated a study plan for highly-effective GRE® preparation that covered all the learning in a way that didn’t interfere with his schedule.
Accordingly, a study plan was drawn up for Karan up by his trainers that focused on refining and perfecting him on topics he was weak in, before moving to the rest.
So if you are wondering whether a busy schedule can come in the way of a high score, our answer is , 'not really, you can overcome it'! There is nothing that cannot be solved with the help of a well-structured GRE® preparation study plan, woven around your existing commitments without interfering with them.
eBook: The perfect 30-day study plan for a 320+ score
You can follow the steps given below to create a study plan and ensure that your GRE® preparation is completely tailor-made to suit your needs:
Step 1:Take the GRE® diagnostic test to determine your strong and weak areas.
Step 2:Take topic-wise tests to map your progress on each section, followed by full-length tests that closely mimic the pattern and difficulty level of the real GRE®.
Your daily GRE® preparation target should include:
- 1 hour 15 minutes for Quant: Cover one topic for 45-60 minutes then take a test on the topic for 20-30 minutes. Carefully review your performance of the topic-based test.
- 1 hour 15 minutes for Verbal: Spend half of this time on Reading Comprehension. Learn 30 words a day for a good GRE® vocabulary.
Step 3:Brush up your knowledge of AWA topics. A good AWA score can really strengthen the value of your application, more so if you are applying to a research-oriented or thesis-heavy program such as Ph.D.
Step 4:Once you cover all the topics in all the sections, take mock tests and at least 3 full-length online practice tests to familiarize yourself with the pattern, features and timing of the GRE® before you experience the real deal.
Now, let’s look at how to prepare for each section of the GRE® - Verbal Reasoning, Quantitative Reasoning and Analytical Writing.
Planning your GRE® Preparation (Verbal)
Did you know that among the GRE® test-takers from India in 2016-2017, the average score in GRE® Verbal was only 145.5 27% percentile score.
While the questions and vocabulary on GRE® Verbal can indeed be challenging for non-native speakers of English, many mistakes can be avoided by clearly understanding what is asked!
Now, developing a reading habit can really help you with getting ready for the Verbal section, boosting both your vocabulary as well as reading speed. Since RC passages are often academic in nature, practice reading newspaper editorials, opinion pages, and longform articles on a range of topics like science, philosophy. literature, politics, society, and culture.
Scoring a 160+ in GRE® Verbal puts you in the 84th percentile or the TOP 16% of the world’s GRE® test-takers!
Imagine that on your university application!
What does the GRE® Verbal section contain?
The verbal section of the GRE® tests your Verbal reasoning skills in the form of three main types of questions:
- Text Completion
- Sentence Equivalence
- Reading Comprehension
Now, at the heart of GRE® Verbal lies another important topic that you should master i.e GRE® Vocabulary.
Though you’ll never be directly tested on these words, there are more than 3000 special words that appear in GRE® Verbal question statement AND answer choices.
Knowing their meaning and context of application is essential to cracking questions and scoring high in GRE® Verbal.
The graph below, shows the time spent by students on the three types of questions in the Verbal section. As you see, students spent most of the time on Reading Comprehension (RC) questions. Actually it is okay because 10 out of 20 Verbal questions would be based on RC passages. Text Completion (TC) and Sentence Equivalence (SE) comprise the rest.
1) GRE® Verbal Strategies for Text Completion
- In Text Completion, you will have to complete the sentence by choosing the correct answer for the given blanks.
- In your GRE®, you can expect three types of Text Completion questions:
- 1. Single-blank
- 2. Double-blank
- 3. Triple-blank
- These questions can be tricky to solve. For example, to answer the questions, you should be able to identify information that may not always be explicitly stated. You may have to derive meaning from the given context, understand sentence structures, and finely extrapolate meaning from the few given words in the question statement that can be loaded with information
- If you are curious to know more about this, check out our FREE eBook packed with sample questions and solved examples called, The Ultimate Guide To GRE® Verbal
2) GRE® Verbal Strategies for Sentence Equivalence
- A Sentence Equivalence question also looks like a Text Completion question, except that you have to choose 2 synonymous options that convey similar meaning of the sentence when used in the same blank.
- For example, take a look at this GRE® style question!
- What's your guess?
- The correct answers are: Option A & Option C
- The question statement states that “everyone knows that if there was another world war, it would be fought over water. It plays such a big role in our lives. Yet, ironically, we do not know much about water.”
- Now, look at the given context clue in the sentence - "since"
- “since it is widely agreed that if there is another world war, it would be waged over this precious resource”
- In simple terms, it means, "water is so precious that it can become the root of all conflicts and people generally agree with the view." So, the blank we are looking for should mean something that is related to "conflicts". To choose the right options, it is important to know the meaning of the words.
- Nemesis: The cause for someone’s or something’s downfall.
- Water has been described as the most probable reason for the next world war. Therefore, this word fits the blank.
- Affliction: Something that causes pain, damage or harm.
- Synonym alert! This word could fit the blank as water is a precious resource that can be the root cause for the next world war, causing great suffering.
3) GRE® Verbal Strategies for Reading Comprehension
- Ask any GRE® aspirant, what’s the one section that they are worried about, and the answer is always GRE® RC. This is especially amplified by the fact that RC forms 50% of the Verbal section.
Section 1 - Verbal
Allotted Time - 18 minutes
|Module||Time Spent||No. of questions|
|TC - One Blank||2.78%||1|
|TC - Two Blank||5.56%||1|
|TC - Three Blank||8.33%||1|
Section 2 - Verbal
Allotted Time - 23 minutes
|Module||Time Spent||No. of questions|
|RC||60.87% or 69.57%||7 or 8|
|TC - One Blank||2.17%||1|
|TC - Two Blank||4.35% or 8.70%||1 or 2|
|TC - Three Blank||6.52% or 13.04%||1 or 2|
|SE||13.04% or 17.39%||3 or 4|
- So, what’s the key to crack this particular question type in GRE® Verbal?
- Well, most GRE® aspirants tend to think more practice could fetch great results. But here’s some data that tells a different story.
- As you can see, when it comes to cracking GRE® RC, cracking the right answer is not just about practicing concepts but also about learning how to read a passage & what to interpret from it. simple practice will not do. It is important to learn how to understand the author’s point of view, make assumptions and inferences, and connect ideas to answer the questions correctly.
- Get your ultimate free handbook on GRE® Reading Comprehension today! It contains effective techniques to solve RC questions using the Identify, Eliminate, and Attempt approach, and provides solved examples of actual GRE®- style passages.
- Download the ULTIMATE HANDBOOK for RC Preparation
- Get rid of your GRE® Verbal blues now! Watch this 10-minute video guide on scoring a 160+ in the easiest possible way!
If there is one thing that can make preparing for your GRE® a whole lot easier, it is mastering the extensive vocabulary involved! However, that can be pretty challenging, given that there are over 3500 words involved!
The good news, though, is that you can target a score of 160 and above by knowing the top 1000 high-priority words (the ones that occur most often), and by paying attention to the context in which the words are used.
Download the entire list of high-priority GRE® words for a 160+ score here!
GRE® Verbal Strategies for Fast Vocabulary Building
- Understanding Learning the different ways in which concepts of Text Completion, Sentence Equivalence, &and Reading Comprehension questions can be tricky is one thing, but what ties it all together is your sound knowledge of the GRE’s advanced vocabulary.
|Current Skill Levels||Average Score Boost to 160+||GRE® Words Mastered|
- Most 160+ scorers spend ample time, not just ‘seeing’ GRE® words which is only looking at the meaning and & usage of the word but also in ‘mastering’ GRE® words, which includes taking practice tests &and regular revisions.
- If you’ are targeting a 160+ in GRE® Verbal & you’re and are currently in the 145 range in your diagnostic score, J
- ust take a look at the volume of words mastered by students who scored less than 145 on in their diagnostic test score, but achieved a 160+ in on the actual GRE® (Verbal)!
- Download the eBOOK on How to score 160+ in GRE® Verbal by Learning GRE® Words?
- Take a look at this video on learning GRE® words to know how you can learn up to 50 words a day!
Planning your GRE® Preparation (Quantitative Reasoning)
Scoring a perfect 170 on the Quantitative section of the GRE is something most test-takers from engineering backgrounds target. Given the fact that most questions are based on the concepts that students learn at in high-school, it is no surprise that Indian students have a considerable edge over global competition in this section.
However, know that the pursuit of a perfect Quant score leaves no room for the slightest of errors or improper time management!
Read on to ensure that your GRE® Quant prep is effective, fast and accurate!
What are the different types of GRE® Quant questions?
The GRE® Quantitative Section, has two sections. You get 21 minutes for section 1, containing 12 questions and 26 minutes for section 2, containing 15 questions. Four types of questions are asked in Quant.
Quantitative Comparison: These questions require you to find out the relation between two quantities. You need to select one of the four answers where the choices will be as follows:
- Quantity A is greater
- Quantity B is greater
- Both the quantities are equal
- The relationship cannot be determined from the information given
Multiple Choice Questions: These can have one or more correct choices in the given list of 4-5 choices. Often, it will not be specified as to how many correct answers are there, but you’ will have to mark ALL the correct answers to get the score. Remember that the GRE® does not have any partial marking system, and no points will be given for some correct answers out of many.
Numeric Entry Questions: These questions will require you to enter numbers in the form of integers or fractions.
The general format of the GRE® Quant section comprises nine problem-solving questions, eight quantitative comparison, and three data interpretation questions. Click on the link below to download a list of sample GRE® Quants questions that closely resemble the ones found on the actual test.
Check out our eBOOK on Sample GRE® Quant questions here
How to score a perfect 170 in GRE® Quant
Based on data collected by AdmitEDGE, the following graph shows the time spent by students on the six topics of the Quantitative Reasoning section. The graph shows that students spend most of their GRE® preparation time on Arithmetic and Geometry - which is quite natural, as questions from these 2 topics form the bulk of the GRE® Quant section. Geometry is also one of the tough topics on the GRE®, giving rise to some really tricky questions that often catch students off-guard.
Here is a peek at how much time students at AdmitEDGE typically spent in preparing for a perfect Quant score of 170:
When compared to the Verbal section, it’ is a lot easier to score full marks on the Quants section. However, a few silly mistakes or improper time management often hold back students from achieving 170, even though they might be familiar with all the required concepts. Here’s how you can stay clear of such traps and go for the score you have always wanted. Just to give you a quick recap, the GRE® Quantitative Reasoning section includes the following topics and question types:
|Multiple Choice, Single Selection|
|Multiple Choice, Multiple Selection|
We found that on average, students spend quite a lot of time on the three main topics during their GRE® preparation:
- Applied mathematics - which includes topics like Speed, Time, Distance, Work, and Venn Diagrams.
- Data Analysis
Of the 1220 questions in a section 1 and 15 questions in section 2, the number of questions you can expect on each topic is shown here:
Section 1 Quant
Alloted Time: 21 minutes
|Module||No. of questions||Difficulty||Priority|
|Arithmetic (Including a few questions from Applied Mathematics)||2||Easy-Medium||5|
|Algebra (Including a few questions from Applied Mathematics)||3||Medium-High||3|
|Data Analysis - Set Members (Data Interpretation)||3||Easy-Medium||4|
|Data Analysis - Discrete (Iincluding Venn Diagram)||1||Medium-High||2|
Section 2 Quant
Alloted Time: 26 minutes
|Module||No. of questions|
|Arithmetic (Including a few questions from Applied Mathematics)||4|
|Algebra (Including a few questions from Applied Mathematics)||4|
|Data Analysis - Set Members (Data Interpretation)||0|
|Data Analysis - Discrete (Iincluding Venn Diagram)||4|
Though the number of questions from Algebra, Arithmetic, and Geometry are higher in volume, the difficulty level of questions is higher in the topics, Data Interpretation, Data Analysis and Applied Mathematics. That is why students who score a 170/170 in Quant usually prefer to master these topics first, usually starting their GRE® preparation with them.
Here is a list of the top mistakes to avoid in the Quant section if you’re looking to score BIG:
1) Not prioritizing high-yield topics
- Most 170 scorers spend over 60% of the time devoted to GRE® preparation on learning, out of which a larger portion is spent on dealing with tricky topics like Geometry, Applied Mathematics and Data Analysis. However, if you are preparing on a tight schedule, it’s a good idea to focus on topics that have a higher representation first, such as Arithmetic, Algebra and Geometry. You can spend the remaining time practicing the topics that are harder for you, and identify where exactly you are make mistakes. This will allow you to allot more time for learning important concepts and ensuring no knowledge gaps exist by the time you take your GRE®.
2) Falling prey to trick questions
- The GRE® Quant questions are designed to test how alert you are. Defeat these trick questions by solving assorted questions of varying difficulty levels, especially from topics like Geometry, Sequences, Permutations & Combinations and Probability!
3) Making careless mistakes!
- The difference between a almost perfect score and a perfect score lies here! Often, in a rush to finish the paper faster, students end up making easily-avoidable mistakes even though they are familiar with the concepts and formulae. Check the units and signs carefully before starting your calculation and double check if you are unsure about any step. Be sure to avoid:
- Marking an answer just because it appears in your calculation
- Choosing only one answer in a multiple selection question
- Rounding off incorrectly, especially in a numeric entry question.
4) Forgetting formulae!
- There’s nothing worse than sitting on a question, knowing that you could solve it, if only you could remember the formula! Create a formula book that you update and revise from regularly - or simply just download the GRE® Math Formula Book for a perfect 170. It contains all the formulae you will ever need for your GRE® preparation, organized in one place.
eBook: GRE® Math Formula Book for a perfect 170
5) Spending longer time on a question
- If you keep track of your time with a watch during practice , don’t. Remember you are not allowed to wear a watch in the exam. Instead, familiarize yourself with using an online timer that helps you keep track of time! If you feel you are stuck on a single question, flag it for review and move onto the next. You can always revisit the questions you have flagged after completing the rest.
- Dream of scoring a perfect 170 in Quant? Watch this video to know what every Quant top-scorer has in common
Analytical Writing Assessment - Getting a 4+ Score
The GRE® exam starts with the AWA section. Although it is often overlooked by students as it is scored separately and does not form a part of the final GRE® score, universities have a separate cutoff for the AWA score too, which usually hovers around the 4.0 mark.
Your AWA score assumes special importance when applying to Ph.D. or thesis-centric programs, where you’ll be required to write a lot of well-researched, analytical content. So if you are applying to one, your GRE® preparation will be especially incomplete without a healthy dose of AWA practice.
You get 30 minutes to complete one essay task in the AWA section - Analyze an Issue!
In order to score a 4 and above on the AWA, first, you've got to know what this section constitutes! Take a look at the factors you need to get complete clarity on, before commencing your AWA prep.
1) What is the AWA section and what does it comprise?
Know more about the section before preparing.
- What is the AWA section about?
- How is the AWA section scored?
- What is the importance of the AWA Section
2) What is an Issue Analysis?
Understand these points before moving on with your preparation.
- What does the issue task consist of?
- What should your essay cover?
- How can you manage time to score well in AWA?
- What kind of AWA scores do universities look for?
Now, that you know what the AWA section is all about, here's a step-by-step breakdown that will help you understand what is expected of you.
What does the issue task test?
- It tests your ability to understand and simplify complex ideas- a skill that will be needed for you during your higher studies.
- This section is not meant to test see your knowledge on any specific content. It merely tests how well you can reason and support an issue topic.
How is the AWA Section scored?
- The AWA assignment is scored on a scale of 0 to 6 with 0.5 point increments.
- Your essay responses on the Analytical Writing section will be reviewed by e-rater, computerized software developed by ETS as well as by experienced essay readers during the scoring process
What is the duration of the AWA Section?
- The AWA section is 30 minutes long for the single issue task that you need to compose.
What are the different topics in the AWA issue essay?
- The topics vary from technology, art, education all the way to politics with each containing several sub-topics. Hence, the best way would be to equip yourself with the current state of affairs.
- The good news is, the topics are always drawn from a fixed pool of around 200, which you can find on the ETS’s website. Now, though it might not be possible for you to prepare for all of them individually, you will know the kind of topics to expect, and will have the opportunity to do your reading on the ones that you are not too sure about.
- Click here to view the full list of issue topics.
Parameters on which the AWA section is evaluated:
- Development of the issue given 0n the topic.
- Identification of the key features of the topic and good analysis of each one of them.
- Supporting of important points with insightful examples and logical analysis.
- Development of ideas in a clear, organized manner, with appropriate transitions to connect ideas cohesively.
- Proficiency, fluency, and maturity in sentence structure, use of good vocabulary, and idioms
- Command over the elements of standard written English, including grammar, syntactic variety, word-usage, spelling, and punctuation.
What does each score mean?
We now know what the AWA section entails, how it is scored, and how to prepare for it. Let’s now look at what each score level means by looking at it from an examiner’s point of view - starting with a perfect 6, down to a 0.
- Six: The essay has been presented excellently. The ideas presented and the supportive reasoning points have been rendered superbly. Throughout the essay, the author has developed a coherent and logical thought-flow. The examples utilized are contextually appropriate and are employed in the right places. Overall mastery over the language is demonstrated throughout, adeptly using metaphors, figures of speech and correct idiomatic English, with no grammatical or spelling errors
- Five: The essay is a pretty compelling one! The author has been able to correctly identify the different facets of the given topics and has been able to build upon them coherently and logically. Transitions or shifts between ideas take place seamlessly and the quality of writing is consistently of high quality. Examples have been used where necessary and proper rules of grammar are adhered to. Flaws, if any, are not serious.
- Four: Presents a reasonably good analysis of the topic and displays an acceptable level of mastery over the language. The flow is proper but feels disconnected at places. Examples are used, but not completely relevant contextually. Some minor grammatical or syntactical errors found.(Note: This is a fair score. Most good universities need an AWA score of 4 or above.
- Three: The essay is competent, generally speaking, but has numerous flaws. There is a certain degree of analytical thinking demonstrated, but not engaging. Ideas are presented but are not developed adequately.There are frequent grammatical errors, and the command over the language is not adequately strong. Sentence structure lacks variety and insufficient examples are used to back up points made.
- One: A fundamentally flawed essay. It is barely coherent, incomplete or extremely short. Ideas have not been expressed or developed and arguments are either deficient or illogical.
- Zero: (Note: While it is rare for an essay to be marked 0, it happens in cases where the section has not been attempted at all, is written in a foreign language, or if only the question has been copied.)
It is essential to note that the AWA is an essential part of your GRE® preparation and hence, requires you to devote at least some portion of your time to it for practice.
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eBook: Effective AWA Writing
Helpful Tips - Time-Management for the GRE
Utilizing your time well on the test is very important for your GRE®. When you only have a few days or weeks left to take the test, the best way for GRE® Preparation would be to take full-length practice tests. They will help you decide how to tackle time crunch during the actual test as well as develop your own strategies for the D-day.
Taking full-length GRE® style tests will also help you get acquainted with the test pattern, apart from familiarizing you with using on-screen calculator, online timer, and other tools, just like in the actual exam.
The ETS offers free GRE® PowerPrep Practice Tests, so make sure you attempt them before writing your GRE!
The following are the five rules that you should absolutely follow in your GRE® test:
- Answer the questions that you know and return to those you are not sure of later, if you have time.
- Do not waste time on simple questions and on those that you cannot solve.
- There is no negative marking, so don’t leave any question unanswered or blank.
- Keep an eye on the timer in the background, since you will not be allowed to wear a watch inside the test center.
- Become familiar with the available tools, such as the onscreen calculator.
So, is time the only factor that can lead you to a great score? No, although it is one of the most important ones. Getting a score of more than 320 also depends on:
- The Study Plan you follow
- The quality of your GRE® preparation
- Your time-management skills on the test
- Your efficiency in avoiding careless mistakes (the biggest score defeating factor for many students)
Target timeline for solving a set of 20 questions:
|Question Number||Suggested Timelines|
|5th Question||8th min|
|10th Question||16th min|
|15th Question||24th min|
|20th Question||32nd min|
Check out our video on Preparing for a 320+ in 30 days!
Set your Biological Clock
In the last two weeks before your GRE® date, take full-length adaptive GRE® mock tests at the same time as your actual GRE®. For example, if your exam starts at 10 in the morning, make sure you take a GRE® mock test at 10 AM everyday during the last two weeks. Ensure that you practice the AWA section too along with Verbal and Quant. This helps you simulate the actual exam experience and can make the real test feel like another practice session!
This will help you:
- Build your focus, concentration & stamina.
- Hone your time management skills
- Be familiar with the test format and other online tools.
Now that you know just what you need to get started with your GRE® preparation, your journey to your target score should be a lot smoother. Keep this guide handy, if you feel it can be of help with planning your prep. If my answer has been of assistance to you, make sure you give it an upvote! Have any doubts? Leave them as comments and I’ll get back to you at the earliest!
All the best!