A quick run-down on what exactly comprises the Graduate Record Examination. You basically have to answer three sections, one each of Quantitative, Analytical and Verbal, and also one unidentified research section which could be on any one of the three. The questions are all objective and u just have to pick an answer from the choices available. Of course, its a lot more than just picking...so let's take a look at the questions u can expect and test how good your picking skills are....
VERBAL Iconoclastic, parochial, sacrilege, zephyr... if you think these words belong to either Greek or Latin, then it's time to pull up your socks. The GRE is particularly tough on Verbal Ability. Out of the 38 questions in this section, normally, 7 are on sentence completion, 9 on analogies, 11 on Reading Comprehension and 11 are on Vocabulary (usually antonyms).
Let's see how you fare on these sample questions:
Identify the answer choice which is most nearly opposite in meaning to the given word.
Choose the word pair that best expresses the relationship of the high-lighted word pair.
(2) CAT: FELINE
(a) Fish : aquatic
(b) Dog : domestic
(c) Horse : mare
(d) Lady: feminine
Choose the word or set of words that best completes the sentence Sentence completion questions measure the ability to recognize the overall meaning of a sentence and decide which of five words or set of words can best be substituted for blank spaces in a sentence. You must consider each answer choice and decide which completes the sentence in such a way that the sentence has a logically satisfying meaning & can be read as a stylistically integrated whole.
Are you a good reader? If so, how many words can you read per minute? 200? Then, your reading speed is not much to boast of, after all. The average reading speed is somewhere between 300 and 350 words per minute; 500 to 550 is considered excellent. But speed in reading taken by itself has no meaning.
The author wants you to comprehend the meaning. Those who do plenty of so called bed-side reading (Murder in Bedroom/Bathroom variety) usually nurture wrong notions about their reading comprehension skills. For the reading matter in these tests is of more than mere functional variety requiring keen attention.
The purpose of these tests is to see how well you grasp the contents of a piece of writing and how fast. The passages ranging from 500 to 1000 words vary in content, from socio-economic problems to ecology, aesthetics, Black American poetry, Jewish ethical code, ergonomics, or genetic engineering. You are sure to find a passage on a scientific topic. The passages, however, are not highly technical in content or style; they are couched in language that an average educated person is expected to be familiar with.
The section comprises 30 questions on Quantitative comparison, Problem Solving and Data Interpretation. The questions are designed to measure basic mathematical skills, understanding of elementary mathematical concepts, the abilities to reason quantitatively & to solve problems in a quantitative setting. Quantitative Comparisons:
In Quantitative Comparison, two mathematical quantities are mentioned, one in column - A and another in Column - B. You are to compare the two and determine which of the following is true. 1. the quantity in column A is greater 2. the quantity in column B is greater 3. the two quantities are equal 4. the relationship cannot be determined from the information given -
Column A Column B 1. 0.06 1/6 2. 3 (105) + 3 (103) +5 80.305
Tackling this area requires a sound background in the basics of Arithmetic, Algebra & Geometry of the 10 th/11th std level & a good knowledge of everyday facts, such as the number of days in July, or the meaning of such terms as counter clockwise. A great many of the problems in the section are simple Arithmetic, followed by Algebra & Geometry. You are also required to interpret data from graphs, charts and tables.
The questions on Data Interpretation are based on tables, graphs, bar charts and pie charts. You are required to interpret the data depicted in these. This could involve determining the trends across years, calculating growth rates, and percentages.
From Oct 2002 the analytical section has undergone changes. For details refer to article: Changes in GRE
Started Oct 2002, the GRE is tougher on engineering junta.
The GRE has traditionally consisted of verbal, quantitative, and analytical sections. Engineering and science students from India have always found the quantitative and analytic sections to be relatively easy nuts to crack. It's the Verbal that they dread. Now, the analytical section is undergoing a radical transformation. It will be identical to the test called the Writing Assessment, which was introduced in October 1999. as an optional test.
The change has been made in order to:
(1) help admissions committees assess higher level critical thinking and analytical writing skills of applicants,
(2) measure a test taker's ability to make and critique arguments, which is central to the work done by graduate students in most fields.
What the test look like...
The verbal and quantitative sections are unchanged - they will contain 30 and 28 multiple-choice questions respectively in computer-adaptive format. The Analytical Writing consists of two analytical writing tasks:
1) A 45-minute "Present Your Perspective on an Issue" task. An opinion on an issue of general interest will be stated. You are asked to address the issue from any perspective(s) you wish, as long as you provide relevant reasons and examples to explain and support your views
2) A 30-minute "Analyze an Argument" task. You are required to to critique an argument by discussing how well reasoned you find it. It does not matter whether you agree or disagree with the position presented, you have to assess whether the argument is logically sound. These two tasks are in a sense complementary.
Sample topics for Writing Assessment Issue task
"It is often necessary, even desirable, for political leaders to withhold information from the public."
"The greatness of individuals can be decided only by those who live after them, not by their contemporaries."
More sample topics can be viewed at http://www.gre.org
along with scored essays. GRE POWERPREP Software will be sent to you when you register with ETS for the test.
To Write or to Type
For the analytical writing section you can choose to type or handwrite your responses. Typed responses will take abt 10-15 days to report scores, while handwritten ones will take upto 6 weeks. Each essay receives a score from two trained readers, on a 6-point "holistic" scale. (the 2 scores are averaged)
A score of 2000 in the present GRE will be roughly equivalent to a score of 1300 in the new GRE and a grade of 4.5 in the Essay section.
Bottom-line: Analytical writing is a skill that cannot be picked up in a 6 month crash course. This makes it crucial to build strong English skills from school level itself, reading "deeper" books and arguing with your dad on issues other than pocket money.
Pssst: In case you're thinking of taking GRE before September to beat the new format, it’s too late. As per informed sources, all seats are booked as even FEs from IIT Mumbai have registered!