MS planning Step 2 : The GRE exam
As mentioned above, this is a mandatory test to do an MS in the USA (in most of the Universities). There is no running away from it. Now some FAQs on the GRE exam
- When should I give the GRE exam?
The best time to give the GRE exam is when you are in TE Semester 6. Many people give it in BE, but this will only add to the already hectic schedule of semester 7, that includes hunting for a project, actually doing the project while visiting the office. Giving the GRE at this time is not recommended. The March-April of semester six is the best time to give the exam. Alternately, you can give it in the July of semester 7, only if you can resume studying immediately after semester 6 exams are done. By doing this, you will be done with your GRE before your project starts.
Realistically speaking, only 10% of the students follow this time table. The one told above is the ideal one. However, you must, under any condition, give the GRE before September end. You can give it in October too, but then be sure to miss some deadlines and be in a hurry to finish the document work while your semester seven exam is on and in the process take a beating in the seventh semester.
- When and where is the GRE test conducted?
The test is conducted for 12 months on all days except Sundays and bank holidays (both Indian and American), thrice daily (9 am, 1 pm, 5 pm)
To see the details of the test centers located in india, click here and follow the instructions given below :
Select “GRE General Test” from the drop down list.
Wait till the page refreshes.
Select “India” from the 2nd drop down list.
Wait till you are re-directed.
Click “Locate a Test Site”.
There you have the list of all the 11 testing centers in India.
- How do I register for the test
The best way to register for a test is by doing it online. Go to their websitehttp://ets.org. Just follow the instructions. It is easy. You will need an international credit card. The name on the card has no relevance. It can be you parents’, neighbour’s, friends’, relatives’. It doesn’t matter. The test fee was 140$ when I gave it. It was 160$ when I registered for a friend in June 2007. I don’t know the current fee.
USGuide’s tip : Register for the test the day you complete around 1000 words. Take the date 2 months (or a little more) after achieving this feat.
USGuide’s tip: If the date you are looking for is not available, don’t get depressed. The dates open up quickly. Keep studying for the exam. Take the date as soon as it is available. The available dates can be seen on the website mentioned above. The availability is different for different centers in India.
- How long is the GRE test score valid?
It is valid for 5 years. So if you give it in semester six, say March 2007, the score will be valid till March 2012. You will graduate in June 2008. If you want to do a job for 2 years, you will be done in 2010. You can still apply to the Universities on the score you got in TE.
- Can I reschedule the exam?
Yes you can reschedule the exam. Be sure to do it at least 10 working days before the original date. The fees for rescheduling were 50$ (this figure is subject to change. See their website for latest policies). However, be careful, you cannot reschedule the exam to the next year. Meaning, if you have your exam on November 20, 2007 then you can reschedule it not beyond December 31, 2007. That means, if your original exam date is December 31, 2007 then you cannot postpone it. You can only cancel the date and take a fresh appointment.
- Can I cancel the exam?
Yes you can. But why do you want to do it? Exactly half of the original test fee will be refunded. No more, no less.
- Can I change the test center?
Yes you can. The fee for doing this is 50$ (again subject to change)
The answer of the last three questions can be found on their official website.
- Can I retake the exam if I am not satisfied with the current score?
Yes you can retake the exam at least a month after giving the test for the first time. But avoid this option, unless you fair really badly. Some universities take the average of the two scores, some take the best of the two. It depends on the University. You cannot cheat them too. All the scores for the tests taken in the last 5 years appear on your mark sheet.
USGuide’s tip : Don’t think of retaking the exam. If you are unsure of your preparation, reschedule it. If you are well prepared, no one can stop you from getting a satisfactory score.
- What is the cut-off score required to go to the US
There is nothing like a cut-off score. People with scores of 1600 and 1000 both can go to the US, just that their university rank will differ a lot. Generally, a score above 1100 is enough to go to a medium ranked university. A score of 1400+ is needed to go to a top ranked university. Again, GRE is just one hurdle. You score doesn’t guarantee anything.
- What is the format of GRE?
The GRE CBT exam is of 1600 marks – 800 for the verbal section and 800 for the quantitative section. There is also a analytical section that doesn’t affect your score, but the score (out of 6.0) does come on your marksheet.
The exam is adaptive. That is, the questions change the way you answer. If you go on answering questions correctly, the difficulty goes on increasing. If you do a mistake, the difficulty falls. If you get an 800 in quantitative section, it need not mean that you answered all the questions correctly. For example, out of 30 questions, if you answered a difficult question incorrectly, and someone else answered an easy question incorrectly, the latter one might get a 780 while the earlier one can get an 800 too. Yes, it is confusing.
USGuide’s tip : Always try to answer the first 10 questions correctly. You will generally end up with a good score.
- How long should I prepare for the GRE exam?
The time period for which students have studied for GRE in the past range from 10 days to 6 months. Personally, I feel the exam doesn’t require more than two and a half months to 3 months of studies
- How should I prepare?
The quantitative section (mathematics etc.) is a cake walk for engineering students. Getting 800 is possible and not that difficult too. All you require is a maximum of 1 to 2 weeks of studies. The analytical section, well, it doesn’t affect your score. You can practice it for 2-3 days and see some sample answers. The verbal section is by far the most difficult section in GRE and the one that has been the thorn in the flesh of test takers for years. It requires mugging up of a grueling 3500+ word list containing words that most of us have never heard of. The types of questions are antonyms, sentence completions, analogy and reading. Getting 800 in verbal is incredible and impossible. Majority of the three months that I mentioned above go in mugging this word list.
USGuide’s tip : The Barron’s book is the best for verbal. For quantitative, try Kaplan’s or Princeton’s.
- What about score reporting at the time of the exam?
This is a very tough question. I will answer this , but first let me tell you what score reporting means.
The GRE test is conducted by ETS. After the test is done, our score is stored with the ETS forever. Now, when we want the University to know the score, we can’t do it on our own because obviously the University won’t believe us. Only the ETS can report it to any University and we have to tell ETS the Universit to which we want to tell the score. This is called score reporting. How it is done, we will talk about that when we come to applying.
Back to the question, the fee for reporting your score is $12 per university. However, ETS offers you to report your score to 4 universities for free after you are done with the exam. The problem is, at this stage, you haven’t started with the research of Universities. You can skip this section, no problem, just that you will have to spend more later. Or you can ask some senior for 4 univs. If nothing works, you can always close your eyes and click on some university. It is free, so it doesn’t matter.